In this post, I Tell U about my final trip through the beautiful Cinque Terra and Venice.
25.04.2016 - 27.04.2016 70 °F
This blog entry comes two weeks late, I'll admit. My two day trip (yes that short) to Italy to see the Cinque Terra and Venice was as last minute a trip as is possible. I had booked 3 flights (no not two, I didn't know which day I had to come back) about a month in advance but, besides that, I had still not made up my mind whether to go or to stay an hour before I had to leave for the airport. I had just barely gotten back from Barcelona, only had the opportunity to study for a few days for finals, and didn't know if I could afford to give up another two days by myself. I quickly figured out, though, that it was not a zero sum game after all: I did not sacrifice studying or doing well on finals for that one last trip. My finals went okay, and I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to go to such a beautiful place for my last trip in Europe.
Going on a trip by oneself does not seem like a fun thing to me, or at least it didn't until then. Who would want to be alone and not be able to enjoy the new experiences together with friends, family, or loved ones? This was one of the reasons I didn't want to go. I wasn't scared, per say; I knew I would be okay. I knew that, even though I was flying by the seat of my pants the entire time, booking one night in advance and finding out the ropes while I'm climbing them, I would survive. I just didn't want to be by myself! But something I realized as I hiked for 8 hours in between the 5 cities of the Cinque Terra is that you're never really alone. In these small, historic, and ultra-touristy cities on the steep western coast of Italy, you may one second be hiking all alone, walled off on one side by the huge wall of blue sea and on the other by a thick unforgiving mountain, and then the other meet 5 people from all over the world doing the same thing that you are. And that right there is why you are never alone. My amazing and memorable experiences were shared among so many other people simply by being there together.
It was a Monday night when I left and flew to Pisa. After taking the obligatory leaning against the Leaning Tower pictures, I headed up the coast on a train towards the Cinque Terra, having booked my Airbnb just 8 hours before. I made myself study on every train ride, to combat the other reason that I wouldn't have gone: I had 4 finals the following week. But hey, you only study abroad once right? The thing to do in the Cinque Terra is hike between the cities and enjoy the quaint fishing village culture and beautiful scenery. I did just that, and I am very thankful that I brought my hiking boots. This was probably the hardest day of hiking I'd ever done: I hiked somewhere in the region of 16 miles, almost always straight up and straight down. Most of the time it was me and my thoughts, drumming to the sounds of ferocious waves and a peaceful stirring breeze. After absorbing every ray of the sunset and watching the violent crash of waves for what felt like an hour, I retired to a small scale fish pasta dinner where I met and talked to a recently married couple from UT. It's a small world, and you're never alone. The next morning I hit the 6 hour train to Venice (read: studied the whole time), which is a city I've wanted to go to probably more than anywhere else in the world. It was idyllic and well-preserved, just how I imagined it. You could easily get lost in the labyrinth of canals and alleys barely wide enough for one. This was in fact just what I did for the whole afternoon, until I had to return to the real world via a delayed (due to the airport workers' strike) Eurowings flight Wednesday night (read again: studied the whole time). One of those realities was paying 75 euro for a taxi since my flight was so late, but oh well.
Both of these beautiful Italian jewels are places you'd typically visit with someone else. But I did them by myself, and I loved it. I was able go my own pace to soak in the scenery and was at peace with everything in my life at that time. If you're on the edge about whether to do something or not do something like I was, "go for it!" This was what my dad told me about this trip, and I'm so thankful. In fact, that's what he told me about a semester abroad as well.