Interrail #5: Milan & Venice

Eight days into my trip and I would be swopping lovely Spain for lovely Italy. Would you believe me if I said that I had never been to Italy before? Well I hadn’t and I can tell you: I’m in love! A Rome trip has quickly gotten kicked up my travel wishlist in any case. But getting from Spain to Italy was a bit of a pain. My initial plan was to get on the TGV back to France, change trains to Geneva and there change for Milan. Alas, it was not to be. The French railways decided to have track works and thus I missed my first connection. I was kindly given a new route but there I everything also went haywire. I got stranded in the lovely town of Chambéry Challes-les-Eaux and stayed in a hotel (at the cost of the French railways mind you!) Instead of 10+ hours, it would take me 30 hours to get to Milan.

But I didn’t REALLY mind. I mean, with views like these from your train who would be complaining? And I had plenty of Harry Potter audio books to keep me company and there was another lonely traveler in the exact same boat, so it was alright. We ended up having a walk in the town and going out to dinner and all the while he was giving me tips on what to do in Milan and Venice as he was Italian. That’s one thing that’s great about traveling by yourself: you meet people you’d otherwise never have met. Anywho these views are from: The Pyrenees, a sunflower field in the south of France and the French Alps.

After an exhausting journey I arrived in Milan and was immediately rewarded with these modern yet fun buildings. I found my hotel, changed and set out into town to try and make the most of the few hours I’d have. It was roughly 4 PM and I really wanted to visit the Duomo, so I had to get going if I wanted to see that. With one glance at a map I found I was also very close to the Castello Sforzesco and had a walk around there as well.

Once I arrived at the Duomo it was nearly closing and then the guard told me I wasn’t allowed in. Why? My skirt was too short. So I pulled it down an inch and was allowed access afterall. The indoors are not as impressive as the outdoors, but it was still a nice building to have visited nonetheless. Due to time constraints I wasn’t able to go to the roof. By this time it was 6 PM and sights were starting to close. But one thing I had heard was that Milan was great for shopping. And my it was. I did some damage at Sephora and Kiko and found a ZARA with the most magnificent entrance ever. I bought a loose fitting pair of trousers because I knew I’d be visiting more churches during my travels and I figured to better be safe than sorry.

My next stop was Venice. It’s only a 2 hour train ride away from Milan and you get some amazing views along the way. I was on the wrong side of the train to take any good pictures but just trust me when I say: Alps, lakes and Italian countryside. It took me an hour to find my hotel, which was a converted monastery by the way and had a great breakfast, and found out it was only 10 minutes from San Marco’s square. So off I went. I visited the Basilica and went on top the Campanile bell tower for a view over the city. In the background you can see the Alps rising in the distance and the airport just in front of it.

But what I loved most about Venice is this: the little waterways with bridges and walkways alongside them. It’s so picturesque, it’s like walking through a real life museum. Every corner you turn you want to take a picture. And I took a selfie, just to prove it’s really me making this trip. I am not much of a ‘stand next to object X’ picture taker when I’m on vacation. I just don’t see the purpose of having myself in every picture. So I have at least one shot of myself in every city and that’s it. I took the selfie on Punta della Salute where you have a nice and quite view over the bay and San Marco’s square. I sat and listened to some more Harry Potter before setting out to dinner and my hotel for a good night’s sleep.

My second and only full day in Venice was spent seeking out the Rialto bridge and the surrounding area. I walked along the narrow walkways, sat along the Great Canal for a bit of rest and finished my day with a gondola ride (which I booked the night before via the Internet) and finished off the day with the best plate of pasta ever and a glass of Spritz. That drink seems to be a local thing and I was all about trying local cuisine on this trip, so I had to you know. It was quite nice actually. I made a point of walking along some streets during dusk and as the sun set, the city was covered in a soft glow.

The next morning I woke up early enough to catch the waterbus to the station. I took the shot of the Ponte di Rialto you see in this post at 8 AM on a Saturday morning which is why there is hardly anyone there, because trust me: during the day it’s busy. Venice was just a lovely little town and it’s a bit of a bummer that half of all tourists visiting Italy feel the same way. But the despite the tourists I still loved it and think it’s the most beautiful city I visited during this trip. In tomorrow’s post my journey continues to the land of the Habsburgers, Bohemia and Prussia.

Which cities in Italy do you think I should visit in the future?

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