I spent the first of my spring like breaks venturing to Italy, unleashing a new desire to travel, and regaining an appreciation for maps.
Saturday morning, I said good bye to my señora and I took off down my rock paved road with my little luggage to the bus stop for the first of many ways of transport. Myself, and 4 of my new friends took the first bus to another bus station where we boarded our 5 hour bus to Madrid. Arriving in Madrid we maneuvered our way through the metro system and finally arrived at the Madrid airport. We flew into Rome, arriving at about 10pm. From the Rome airport we only had one option of taking a rather expensive taxi van, 80 euros, to our hostel. Exhausted from the countless ways of transportation and an entire day of traveling we were awaken with the first sights of the Coliseum. The Coliseum, lit up in the night sky, surrounded by a dusting of snow, was a sight I will never forget. The size of the Colisuem, was and still is astonishing – to have a structure that grand in the middle of a city is breathtaking.
Rome consisted of walking around the Coliseum (it was closed because of snow – the taxi driver said it was the most snow since 1985 in Rome), touring the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel the Pantheon and a trip to Trevi Fountain (2 coins thrown). Rome is a gigantic city that requires miles of walking which is perfect as it encourages indulgences in Italian cuisine. I may have enjoyed one of the best meals of my life at a restaurant in Rome at Trattoria dell’omo http://www.trattoriadellomoroma.com/ I had spaghetti noodles with mussels. It was seasoned simply but perfectly. In Rome I also enjoyed my first tastes of Italian gelato, my first cannoli (pistachio and it was delicious), and a dish of ricotta and spinach ravioli.
From Rome we took a train to Florence. This was my first train experience in Europe and it was delightful. In Florence we saw the Duomo, it is impossible to miss as it is one of the largest Cathedrals but the exterior of it is rather unfortunate – green and pink marbled tile. I loved walking around Florence, the narrow streets reminded me of the streets here in Granada. There was also a chocolate festival in Florence this week, which may be influencing my love of this city. Chocolate liquors and chupitas, bites of random chocolates, pistachio truffles, chocolate bananas were all sampled and adored. Other culinary delights in Florence came in the form of many pizzas, one in particular which was composed of an array of clams and other shelled sea creatures atop tomatoes covering a thin layer of crust. The last day in Florence we spent walking up to the Piazzale Michelangelo which gives way to a panoramic view of the city. I sat upon the steps, eating a salad I picked up from a grocery store, beneath a clear blue sunny sky, overlooking the city as well as the countryside – a perfect moment. The tranquility of this spot further clarified my new found love of Italy. It was the perfect way to say goodbye to a beautiful city.
I made my way to Venice, aboard my new favorite method of transportation- the train. Once arriving, and eyeing the beautiful waterways and colorful buildings, I instantly regretted only having one night in this city. I spent the short amount of time strolling through the city in my newly acquired Venetian mask supporting the Carnaval celebrations. People of all ages were dressed up in costumes, eagerly being photographed with and by onlookers. To have a gondola ride in Venice would have been ideal but given the frigid February air I was easily able to resist. One day.
As the trip was coming to an end I kept thinking of being back at home and telling of my first European travels only to remember that I was not headed home but my journey would continue on in Spain for a few more months and the sharing of my stories face to face would have to wait. After a long week of traveling it was a bit exhausting to think of arriving back in Granada and transitioning back into my Spanish life and I longed for the ease and familiarity of the states. Arriving back in Granada, I was greeted by weather changing to spring and reminded of my love of Spain.