Well I guess I'll start this off by saying that this past weekend I went to Milan, so if you already hate me and want to stop reading, now would be the time.
Alright, so we left (we meaning Er, Be and I) at 6am because we had a 10:40 flight and we really did NOT want to be late. We met at 5:45 and started walking, duffel bags thrown over our shoulders, to the bus station. I might add that Er decided to bring a rolling bag instead of a duffel, so all of Murcia heard us coming over the cobblestone streets. After about a 20 or 25 minute walk (we're too poor to afford a taxi) we got to the bus station. The sun had yet to rise and wouldn't for another two hours, so it was more or less pitch black. For those of you who know me well, I dislike being awake before the double digit times (ex. 10am), let alone before the freakin' sunrise. But it was for a good cause, so we went and bought our tickets and boarded our bus for Alicante. An hour later we got to the airport and had some free time so we walked around the duty free store to look at all the things we couldn't afford. We had all this free time, mind you, because airport security in Europe pales in comparison to ours. It takes about five minutes to get through and no one cares whether your shampoo is under 3oz or you have an exotic monkey in your backpack. I did, by the way. His name is Jorge.
We met up with some friends from our university who were coming with us and headed for our gate. For those who are wondering, this part is also unorganized in Europe. There are no boarding groups and no one really understands what a line is so it's every man/woman for themselves. We boarded the plane for our 2 hour flight to Milan and we were up in the air! I, as per the norm, slept the whole way. We landed in Milan at 1pm, and to our immense surprise, it was covered in snow. Like, absolutely covered. As in I was immediately angry that I left my beanie in my apartment because I was about to freeze and die in the frozen tundra that is Northern Spain. We all picked up our bags and attempted to find a bus that would get us to the city center - we landed in Bergamo which is an hour outside of Milan. We found one for 5 euro and we were off! When we arrived in Milan we all split up to find our respective hostels - the girls and I hopped into a taxi and the exceptionally patient taxi driver waited for us to find the street address of our hostel. 10 minutes and 11 euro later, we were there!
We were staying in a room for four so we had no idea who our roommate would be - the first night was a wordless Chinese girl who decided that the best way to deal with our American bullsh*t was to ignore us. Also I am 97.3% sure I saw a pH testing kit in her back which she took with her to the shower... Don't ask me, man, I didn't even have shower shoes. Our first day we rested in the hostel for a bit before heading out into the frozen streets to walk around and stop in a few shops - how can you not go shopping in the fashion capital of the world? Granted, we didn't actually shop because we're dirt poor and spent all our money actually getting to Milan (tickets were only 50 euro by the way, once you're in Europe it's pretty cheap to get around). We stopped for pizza and coffee and oh my goodness gracious was it good. I got some life-changing margharita pizza and some type of coffee (that I can't pronounce without sounding like an idiot) that had a bit of hot chocolate in it - it was DELICIOUS. We continued to walk around the city for awhile before deciding to take a break in the hostel before going out that night. Those of us who can nap - me - napped. Those of us who can't - Erin - did not. We went to a bar and got some delicious Long Island's and then headed elsewhere where you got free food with one drink order - which is my kind of place. We wandered the streets for awhile - Abbe and I being the only sober ones, we led the pack back to the metro and to our respective hostels.
Also, I feel like it's important to mention the lack of a language barrier on this one. Thus far I have only visited one country in which I did not know the language and have the ability to communicate, and when I was in that country, my friend spoke the native language so we had no problem. Going to Italy, none of us knew the language. Honestly, I was a little apprehensive. I get a lot of crap for my love of languages but honestly my fascination with them is twofold. I absolutely love learning new languages because I think they're beautiful and they make more sense to me than other things. But the other side of all of this is that I feel a strong desire to be able to communicate with people no matter where I go. I don't want them to have to be able to speak English - I want to know THEIR language. And so, going to Italy was a bit nerve racking initially, but I needn't have worried. I could speak with an Italian in Spanish and have them respond in Italian with ease, and there was no problem understanding on either side. The words are different; they sound different and the Italians give each of these words their own gestures, but there is truly no problem understanding. I honestly spent the entire weekend being repeatedly fascinated by the use of both languages and how well they worked together. I know it's the linguist in me but come on - how cool is that?
The next morning we woke up at 8:45 to get out into the historic part of the city and sightsee for the day. As we walked outside for the metro we saw that it was going to be an exceptionally long and soaking wet sort of day if we didn't purchase some umbrellas to fight off the wintry mix, so Er got a yellow one and I got a red one for 3 euro each, and as super dumb as this may sound, it kind of made our pictures 100x better. The red and yellow stood out beautifully against the gray of the buildings and the lighter gray of the cold-weather ridden sky. We decided to take it slow - we took the metro into the city and then started working our way throughout - when we got too cold we would stop for coffee or a snack. This actually worked out pretty perfectly! We started off with breakfast - I got a machiatto because I felt obligated to do so due to an ongoing joke with my father - and we got "tostas" which we assumed were the Italian version of Spansih "tostadas" - aka a piece of bread. We were sadly mistaken and were each brought two full sandwiches for our enjoyment - so we enjoyed. We walked for awhile and found the Duomo - a beautiful gothic cathedral.This is where I got the picture of the pigeons! There were men standing right next to the metro and even knowing they just wanted money I let them tie a bracelet to my wrist and give me dry pasta as he led me over and held my hand out so that the birds would come to me - it was totally worth the few euro I gave him afterwards AND I had gloves on so guess who gets to avoid bird flu - it's me. Then we walked a bit more and stopped for coffee. We soon happened upon one of the oldest malls in the world (Galleria V. Emanuelle II), which had shops that a young college student such as myself can afford going to at any time - like Prada and Versace. If I'm being honest, the three of us decided to go into one of these stores just to say we did and walked in to about seven people waiting to help you find just the right 3.000 euro bag - so we rapidly walked out and tried to avoid making eye contact. We then stopped for some freaking amazing gelato - those of you who are my Facebook friends got to see the beautiful delicious wonder that is hazelnut and chocolate gelato with nutella in it - we stole the spoons we used to eat the gelato with because it was that good and we wanted something to remember it by. Then we walked some more and found the Castello Sorzesco - a never ending, beautiful, historic castle with huge courtyards and articulate stonework inside. It was astounding. Every time you turned a corner you were amazed by its sheer size and detail. Lastly we headed for the Teatro della Scalla - one of the world's oldest opera houses! As a matter of fact it took us a long while to find it, and when we did, we realized that it was RIGHT next to the mall we had visited earlier... directions aren't really our thing. We stopped for some amazing pasta at this point - ravioli and traditional spaghetti - and headed home to give our super numb toes and fingers a break! We rested for a bit and then our new roommate came in! Her name was Cynthia and she was a self declared moneyless world traveler. She was stopped in Italy and headed eventually for Egypt, and while she seemed like a very nice girl, we decided to bring our valuable belongings with us to dinner. We split three dishes for dinner so that we could get a bit of each - they ended up being spinach cannolis, gnocci and margharita pizza - and when that filled us up, we decided the only option was to continue with dessert. Er got tiramissu and I got some sort of chocolate hazelnut cake concoction that was more than delicious. We went home for the night and attempted to head to bed at a decent hour, which didn't happen, because we had to be up by 4:30 for our flight home. We finally got back to Murcia around 2pm after a long day of travel and I spent the rest of the day hanging out with Ines and relaxing - I was mostly too tired to function.
Despite my tiredness, I did finalize some travel plans with my mom and Er last night!
For those of you who don't know, Er and I bought our spring break tickets to Malta this week and today we took care of the hostel!
Mom and I also figured out our travel plans yesterday! SHE'S COMING TO VISIT IN SIX WEEKS! While she's here we're going to visit Cartagena, Porto (Portugal) and Tangier (Morocco)! I cannot even tell you how excited I am.
If I'm being honest, it doesn't even feel real. I cannot believe that I get to say I went to Milan for a long weekend and I'm spending my spring break in places like Portugal, Morocco and Malta with two of my favorite people in the whole wide world. Who gets to say things like that? It's absolutely insane. I wake up every single morning so much more than grateful for the life I get to live.
This morning, I realized Milan really did get the best of me - I woke up with a sore throat, a headache and a fever. Well played, Milan. I spent the vast majority of my day in bed with my flatmates thinking I was dead or dying - unfortunately that's how it felt. I'm hoping that since I slept my life away today, I'll make it to class without a problem tomorrow! I should probably shower first, though...
Oh! The word of the day is rompecorazones, which means heartbreaker. I know that this word is usually reserved for people, but personally I think it could be used for Europe as a whole. It is going to break my heart to leave this place. I fall more and more in love with it every single day and I think that leaving here is going to be one of the hardest things I'll ever have to do. There is a reason my parents wouldn't let me buy just a one way ticket here - if I hadn't bought a round trip ticket, I probably wouldn't come back any time soon. I just love it here, so much.
My stay in Milan did make me realize something - as beautiful and wonderful as Italy is, I belong in Spain. Not because it's so much more expensive in Italy, and despite how wonderful the food is, Spain is where I am supposed to be. I am so in love with Spanish culture, the people, all of it. Visiting other places is absolutely amazing, but I couldn't be happier that this is where I get to live, even if only for six months. It is so much more than perfect here. To me, at least.
Anyway, classes start up again tomorrow - yay! Time to be social and make friends or something? Guess I'll give it a shot. Tomorrow I have Literature, Syntax and Transaltion... Someone say a prayer for me.
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I wrote this blog while living in Spain my second year of college - figured it wouldn't hurt to share.