It's officially been 5 weeks of being in Rome, and I'm loving it more and more each day that I'm here. Time is going fast though, so my friends and I have been trying to make the most of it, while still keeping up with our schoolwork of course. Since the last time I have written my blog, I brought up how Stef and I were going to Venice for four days, which we did and it was one of the best trips I have ever been on. Words can't even explain how much fun I had and how beautiful Venice really is.
Getting to Venice, though, was a bit challenging, yet entertaining, as Stef and I thought we were going to miss our train. When I got out of class, I got my bus ticket and waited to cross the two crosswalks to get to the other side of the street. I got past the first one, but I was stuck at the second one due to the light turning green, which meant the Italians were able to continue driving like crazy people. The problem was that while I was stuck in the middle our bus came to its stop, and if I were to try crossing to get on it I would not be here right now typing this haha. So that bus left, and then Stef and I started getting a little worried as we waited for the next one to come. It was supposed to come soon, but then we checked google maps and it said 30 minutes until the next one, so we started walking fast. We tried to find cabs, but it's different in Italy because you can't haul a cab over, you have to go to the taxi signs, where they are all located and waiting. Well, as Stef and I are power walking up the street, we can't find any taxi signs. After 10 minutes of trying to figure out what to do, we see the bus we need to go on to get to the train station stop up a block ahead, and Stef and I booked it. We almost pushed people to the ground because we were running so fast. Finally, we get to the train station about 20 minutes before our train was supposed to departure, and we look up at the screen to find our platform number, which ended up saying that our train was 65 minutes late. So all of that worrying and sweating for nothing!
Besides that whole fiasco that happened, we did arrive to Venice and Stef's family picked us up. They were so welcoming and friendly, and they really treated me like one of their own! I honestly felt like I was home because of how well they took care of us. That night they took us to see more of Stef's family at one of her relatives house that was awaiting for us to arrive. Once we got there, they all started kissing us on each cheek and "Ciaos" were being yelled out left and right, it was incredible. After saying our greetings to one another, we went to eat on this long table that was set up with three plates on top of each other. That's when I knew I would not be leaving hungry. The first course was baskets of fresh bread and tons of fresh Venetian seafood that I still don't know the names of. The second course was pasta with even more mixed seafood in it, and the third course was salmon with thinly sliced potatoes on top of it. I am literally drooling right now just thinking about it. I absolutely loved it, and it was probably some of the best seafood I have ever had. By the time dessert rolled around, I could not move. My stomach hurt so bad because I just ate so much seafood, so I really could not eat as much dessert as I would have liked. They made homemade tiramisu, these zeppole donuts, and some other stuff that I wish I had more room for in my stomach.
After we all finished eating, we said our goodbyes and headed back to the house of the family we were staying with for the weekend. Stef and I immediately fell asleep once we got accommodated, and woke up nice and early for the big day ahead of us. Before we left though, we obviously had to eat breakfast, and what better way than to have homemade pancakes served to you before going to the island of Venice! I missed pancakes too, and they did such a good job with it. We then got dropped off to take the water boat to the island of Venice, and once we got there, I was in awe. It was stunning. We were lucky to go this weekend too because it was the last weekend of Carnivale, and it is a huge thing in Venice apparently. We saw all these people dressed up in these glamorous costumes, and Stef and I got ourselves a mask too. We walked around all day and went into the Doge's Palace, St. Mark's Square, all these different shops, and topped off the day with a gondola ride! That was a really cool experience, and one I will never forget. After we did almost everything there is to do on the island of Venice, we headed back home on the water boat and went out to go eat, you probably guessed it, pizza! I got pizza with zucchini on it (my attempt at trying to be a little healthy here), and it was so good. The place was filled with all Italians, and I really felt like I was getting the true Italian experience during my time that weekend.
The next day we headed out to Burano and Murano, which are two other islands on the Venetian Lagoon. We stopped at Burano first, and I think that may have been my favorite place so far. This island is known for its colorful houses, and it wasn't quite as touristy either, which was a nice change up, and I just fell in love. It was quieter, more colorful, and simply breathtaking. After walking around there for a couple hours, we went to Murano, where this island is known for its homemade glass. Unfortunately, we didn't end up seeing them make the glass because we were too late, so we walked around all the different shops to look at the glass already made. All the different glasses and glass shapes were astounding, and I made sure not to knock anything over or else I would actually have no money left for the rest of my staying here. Once it started getting dark, we got on the water boat again to go back to their house and Stef's cousin made us grilled chicken with mushrooms and onions for dinner, and then we were treated with Venetian desserts that they only have during the time of Carnivale.
Sadly, we had to leave them Sunday night, and it was genuinely hard to say goodbye to them! They were so nice and it felt like being home, which is what made it even more difficult. They took such good care of us, and I couldn't thank them enough. Venice, overall, was an experience I will never forget, and I would absolutely love to go back again someday in the future. For right now though, we are in the midst of planning more trips that I am sure will be as wonderful as the others I have been on so far, such as Barcelona, Spain, where I will be leaving to go to tomorrow! I'm excited and nervous to leave Italy, just because I have become acquainted with this country and we will be flying out tomorrow. I know it will be worth it though and I can't wait to come back here and talk about that trip in more detail. Ashley and I are also visiting Milan next weekend to see my dad's good friend from work who lives there, and I am eager to go there as well. As much as I miss Sacred Heart and my family back home, my study abroad experience has been nothing short of incredible so far and I know I will be back home before I know it, so I'm going to make sure I keep soaking up every minute! Until next time, Ciao!