With a week break before the bread and butter of lectures commence, I was at a bit of a loose end for the first time in a while. Any days of boredom were prevented by a suggestion of going travelling for a couple of days into Italy.
Nothing beats seeing a bit more of the world when possible, as it turns out Stuttgart is in a perfect location from which to branch out into Europe. Equipped with bags, passports, and plenty of water, we set off on a nine-hour journey from Stuttgart airport by coach towards the first destination.
We arrived in Venice, famous for its canals and winding streets, at just past 9 AM on Monday morning. Sleep was pretty hard to come across on the coach; however, it was much cheaper than getting the train.
A one way to the famous northern Italian city cost us less than 40 Euros. If you had legroom your journey was fine however not all of us were so lucky. Time was of the essence, so we dropped our bags off at our hostel (14 Euros a night, it was basic but comfy enough) and jumped on the bus to the centre of the city
The long night of travelling was definitely worth it. It may be a cliché, but the pictures you see of Venice really don’t do the city justice. The absence of big motor vehicles means that it’s very peaceful in most of the streets.
There is the odd motorboat; however, the waterways are predominantly occupied by the gondolas which make for a calming sight. A gondola trip may be a bit pricey but it’s a case of the more the merrier. 22 Euros each to split our group of seven into two boats, it’s worth it to explore the areas only accessible by water transport as well as being able to be part of the streams of traffic in the Grand Canal.
It doesn’t take long to realise that Venice is a photographers dream. Now it’s never been a subject I’ve had a great knowledge or talent with, but the many churches, side streets, and bridges within the city look too good to not capture a picture. The idyllic scene becomes even more impressive once the sun goes down, sitting in a waterside restaurant and enjoying a glass of wine was pretty much perfection. It was almost like we weren’t even students!
We did treat ourselves before heading back to the hostel, 5 Euros for design your own Magnum ice cream; it would have been rude not to.
The night’s sleep in hostel number one was only six hours and it didn’t do a great deal to recharge any batteries, what little sleep we did have was needed and after a full day of walking a sleeping bag on a carpet would have been enough.
Less than 24 hours after we’d arrived in Venice, it was time to hop on the bus once more and head west to Milan. This bus journey was around four hours and came to just 15 Euros, plus there was more legroom and charging ports this time around which made the journey that little bit better.
We arrived in Milan at just past midday. The hostel room was made up with four sets of bunk beds and cost just 12 Euros per person. With comfy beds and plenty of blankets, it was hard to pick a fault. We’d grabbed a 48-hour travel pass on the Metro which was very reasonably priced at 8 Euros, so transport for our stay was sorted.
Arriving at Piazza del Duomo, we were able to stroll into view of the dominating cathedral. It is a phenomenal building, built out of marble it penetrates the city’s skyline and at night it can be seen for miles around. After a long day of winding ourselves around the city streets and metro stations, it was great to come back and sit in the shadow of this amazing building.
Our first day in Milan was capped off with a beer in the garden area of the hostel. We picked up a one-litre bottle of Heineken for just 1.50 Euros in a nearby shop, this was far cheaper than any pub and restaurant we’d come across. Milan was the more expensive of the two cities for food and drink, however, the pizza is good wherever you go and is a margarita cost no more than 11 Euros. It’s also pretty rare to get tap water, so if you do want to grab some in a restaurant try to get everyone to chip in.
The sleep in bunk beds was longer and comfier than our previous night in Venice. Bags were swiftly packed and we headed out into the city for the final day of our trip. It was the last chance to check out the insides (and the roof) of the cathedral.
A few of us decided to have a proper look around, the 16 Euros we paid were worth it as almost an hour and a half was spent viewing the vast inside and the incredible views from the roof.
The day was ended with a steady walk around the square before sitting down on the steps of the cathedral. It had been a draining few days, but it was a time away which was so enjoyable. Plans are already in motion for going away somewhere else in the not too distant future, Venice and Milan were simply the beginning.