Get ready for the rollercoaster of events that come with travelling. This weekend was no exception with bumps in the road, the sun on my back (which I had not felt in what feels like forever) and sore legs from the go-go-go pace of discovering a new city in a short time span.
My travel buddy, Rae, and I realized halfway through last week that we were missing one vital part of our trip. This missing piece was the plane ticket from Prague to Milan. Important, right? Not sure how we missed that but once we realized it, we were quick to fix that issue.
With my class on Thursday already cancelled, we were all set to take off at 7 a.m. We made it to our gate in plenty of time and even had a chance grab an overpriced coffee at Costa and chill for a bit. Our flight to Milan was short and sweet. I nearly finished my book on the flight and I was even able to journal once we were on our bus to the city center.
Upon arrival, we grabbed a quick bite for the cheap cost of six euros at a nearby cafe. We then were conveniently able to drop our bags at our airbnb’s office near Milano Centrale Railway Station. After grabbing some euros at the nearby ATM, we headed to our first destination. We walked across the city, soaking up the warmth of Italy, to Pinacoteca Di Brera. On the way there, we stumbled across a street market. I bought a shirt and dress from one of the numerous clothing stands. This market also offered various foods, home goods, shoes and trinkets. Once we arrived at the Pinacoteca Di Brera art gallery, we were able to gaze at the foremost of Italian paintings. Brera academy shared a lovely courtyard named Palazzo Brera with the museum.
We caught the Metro after the museum so we could pick up our luggage and find our airbnb for the night. Our airbnb was located in the beautiful Naviglio Grande canal, which was filled with cafes, restaurants, shops and a soft glow from the streetlamps. Our cute little spot offered lots of natural light and it was situated up a few flights of stairs from a modest courtyard full of plants. After we arrived we changed quick and headed out to the Duomo di Milano, one of the most magnificent cathedrals I have ever seen. We watched the sunset over the stunning architecture and then headed back to the canal. Our night was concluded drinks and good company. Our friend from our study abroad program happened to be in Milan that weekend with her boyfriend.
On Friday, my sister and mom arrived in the early afternoon. Before they landed, we enjoyed an extremely satisfying lunch of pasta and red wine at a restaurant in the Naviglio Grande canal. Not to mention, we got to feel the sun for the first time in months. We then met up with Mom and Kelsey who conveniently happened to have a trip to Italy planned for my semester abroad. We had a few hours to chat with them at a cafe then we went to catch our bus to Venice.
Turns out, we were under the wrong impression of where our bus took off from. We were at the Milan Central Station and the bus stop was across town. After booking it across town to our bus station, we ended up missing it. We got new tickets for a train and barely catched it since we had to move all the way back to the central station. Another mishap of our Friday was when our airbnb host messaged us back saying that he could not get the keys to us if we arrived in Venice past nine p.m. Our bus was scheduled to arrive at eleven p.m. So we were out of a place to stay.
On our train to Venice, we realized that the final destination of this train ride was actually Porta Nuova, not Venice. Once we realized this, we found a cheap hotel to stay at near Porta Nuova. This miniscule calamity was not going to stop us from reaching the island. However, there were a lot of bad breaks in one day so we decided to prevent any more from happening that night by staying put. Plus, finding a last-minute place to stay on the main island of Venice would have costed substantially more than just crashing in Verona, the town surrounding Porta Nuova, which is a quaint Italian town an hour out from Stazione di Venezie Santa Lucia. Turns out, this hotel was the best place we could have stayed at. The owner did not speak any English so we made it by using our minimal knowledge of Czech (surprisingly, he knew Czech as well as Italian). He made us a snack when we arrived late on Friday night and breakfast in the morning. We then booked it, once again because we are always extremely punctual (KIDDING), to the ATM at the train station to grab cash to pay the nice man before we left.
Finally, Saturday at noon, we made it to Venice. Once we exited the train station and saw the first canal, it was all worth it. The views throughout the city were uncomparable. Not only was most of the water a marvelous turquoise color but the sun was also out all day. We headed to St. Mark’s square to meet my friend from UK who was in Venice to see us for the weekend. This square was extremely impressive yet crowded with tourists. We ended up seeing a good amount of the city when we walked across Venice to a restaurant that was famous for their tasty tramezzini.
Following that delicious lunch by one of the canals, we checked into our airbnb to drop off our bags and then sat by the water to enjoy the last few hours of sunlight. We ended up sitting on this ledge for at least three hours just laughing, talking and taking in the striking view. The tiny passageways throughout the city gave it a slight village vibe and the buildings clearly represented the rich history that makes Venice the noble place it is. Shops lined these tiny streets and there were little city squares every few minutes of walking. Alex, Rae and I explored the narrow streets of Venice that night and got to take in the beautiful scenery and twinkling soft yellow glow of the lights overlooking the canals on nearly every street. We walked the Rialto bridge, which offered a remarkable look onto the Venetian Lagoon and we ate even more pasta that night.
Yes, my time in Venice was cut short but it was still a check off of my bucket list. Seeing Venice for the first time and watching the sunset over San Giorgio Maggiore was magical to say the least. I would not change a thing about this trip. If anything, the hardships we went through made the destinations that much more worth it.
All body photos taken by Paige Maffett