Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Week 5: Five Things I Learned This Week in Spain and Italy

This week has been an absolute whirlwind. My mom and brother came to visit me in Spain and after two days in Madrid, we headed to Italy. I've wanted to come here since learning Italian in my fourth grade class so needless to say, I was pretty excited. We spent time in both Venice and Florence before coming to Rome and met up with some family and my mom's friend from college. As nice as it is traveling all over Italy, the heat and humidity here are even worse than Madrid and Mumbai, which I didn't realize was even possible. To make matters worse, Brussels Airlines lost my luggage between Madrid and Venice. They lost all my clothes, medicine, contact lenses and glasses, journal, and my DSLR camera. I still haven't gotten my bag back, nor have I received a response to any of my emails to Brussels Airlines, but I'm trying to stay positive and not let this ruin my vacation. Here's what I learned this week:
{my mom, brother, & me in Puerta de Sol}
1. The beauty of not understanding the language. While I still can't say I'm fluent in Spanish, I know enough to understand nearly everything people say, which is something I've definitely appreciated in Madrid. In comparison, my Italian is limited to what I learned in elementary school, so the only sentence I know is the most useless phrase, "Il lupo vive in una casa," which translates to, "the wolf lives in a house." Instead of being frustrated when I can't communicate with locals, I kind of enjoy just being able to appreciate the language from the outside looking in. Italian is so beautiful and has such a unique rhythm and flow and I love hearing it all around me.
{Firenze from up top}
2. Italian food is the best food. I'm cheating here, because growing up in Nutley, NJ means I've already had a huge appreciation for Italian food. Regardless, one of the best parts about being here in Italy is getting to eat amazing pizza, pasta, and gelato. I've been here for over a week now and have eaten gelato nearly every day, and if I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would probably be pizza so I'm pretty damn happy here. The food is fantastic, and calories and carbs eaten abroad don't count.
{gelato in Firenze}
3. The value of comfortable shoes. I lost my comfy sneakers and favorite Birkenstocks since they were in my carry-on, and all I had was a cheap pair of black flats without any support. I spent four whole days wandering around Venice and Florence before I finally found a store that sold Birks and I swear to god my feet have never been so happy. Luckily, I found them before climbing the roughly 900 steps up both Giotto's Campanile and the Duomo... and then back down again.
4. What real wine tastes like. I had a glass of the best wine I've ever tasted in Venice and some delicious wine on a tour we took in the Chianti region as well. Needless to say, this is a huge break from what my friends and I are used to as poor college students and I enjoyed learning some new things.
5. I'm not good at dealing with heat. It is hot here. Very, very, very hot. I feel like as an English major I should have better words to describe how incredibly stifling this heat is but I don't. It's freaking hot all the time and the heat makes me cranky and I'm constantly sunburnt. This makes it a little harder to enjoy the Colosseum tours and wandering around the cities, but I keep reminding myself that I'm only in Italy for a short time. And again, a gelato in the afternoon always helps.
Tomorrow I'll be visiting Vatican City and then I'm off to Barcelona! Any recommendations? Let me know. :) Enjoy a few more pictures from my trip!
~ V

Read also: Week 1Week 2Week 3, Week 4

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