What a time to be alive! Missing trains, paying fines, and the best of times. The last week has been a busy one for me, but I was lucky enough to spend the 10 days before that with Nicole (my sister) and Stephen (her boyfriend). And we had QUITE the adventures!
After they arrived late on a Friday night, we immediately headed into Piazza Verdi to enjoy some beers, catch up, and plan for the next 10 days. Our exploration together began in Venice on Saturday and Sunday. And I finally got to go on a gondola!!! We had a fantastic time exploring the city of canals, and enjoying lots of wine. Although we did lots of walking, we saw just about all of Venice and it was spectacular.
Next stop was Cinque Terre. Nicole and Stephen had decided to go explore on their own as I had class on Monday, but that didn’t work out too well. Their train arrived late at the connecting station, so they missed their second train, and they decided to return to Bologna instead of waiting 4 hours for the next train. It was a bummer they missed that connection, but I got to show them my favorite city. We even climbed one of the towers and the view from the top was amazing!
Because I didn’t want them to miss out on seeing Cinque Terre, I decided to go with them on Tuesday. This is where their visit became very interesting. The cities were all beautiful and we had fun in each of them, but time came to head back to Bologna and rest before our next trip. We managed to get on the right train to La Spezia (our first connection), but in La Spezia we misread some signs and ended up on a train headed back to Cinque Terre! Ooops. We got off in Vernazza, the city Nicole and Stephen had liked best because it was the most alive with people, and started looking for the next train.
Unfortunately, there were no trains coming for at least another hour and a half, so all we could do was wait. Now typically this wouldn’t have bothered me, but, it was already 8pm and getting pretty cold. Also, we knew that getting to La Spezia was just a small part of our journey back, we would need to buy new tickets at that station and make several more stops before getting back to Bologna. Originally we had planned to arrive home around 10pm, now our earliest return time was going to be 7am the next morning!
Once we made it out of Cinque Terre and back to La Spezia, we planned out our next trains, bought our tickets, and headed out to see the surrounding city. And it was a ghost town. While there were lights on everywhere, shops were all closed and very few people were walking around. It makes sense since it was about 10pm and we were stuck in the city until about 1:30am, but we couldn’t even find open bars!? Luckily, we came across a small pub that was still open and sat down for some wine while we waited.
Our next stop was Pisa, at about 2:15am. We hopped off the train, debated for a few minutes, then headed to see the tower. At 3:30am, we saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa. In my opinion, the tower was so much cooler at this time of night, no one around, and it added to the exhilaration of our adventure from Cinque Terre back to Bologna! I’d highly recommend a late night trip to Pisa (less tourists and crowds).
FINALLY we were headed to Florence, our last stop before Bologna. Funny thing about this was, we had planned to go to Florence later that day but all of our stuff was in Bologna! We spent about an hour in the train station, then around 7am we were headed back to Bologna. After such a crazy, sleepless journey we were all excited to be back. We got to Nicole and Stephen’s hotel, took some showers and a quick nap, then gathered all our stuff for the weekend and off we went!
Once we were back in Florence, from Wednesday afternoon to Friday morning, we had a blast! Things began going a little more smoothly, and I got to see a lot of new things I missed the first time I was in Florence. We even saw a rainbow over the city when we climbed to the top of the duomo!
After Florence, we made our way to Rome. This was my first time in Rome, and it was incredible! Although the city is much bigger than Bologna, and the other cities I’ve been to, I absolutely loved it. We purchased 72 hour bus passes, which worked out perfectly because we took the bus everywhere during the weekend. Nicole, Stephen, and I were in Rome from Friday afternoon to Monday morning, then they flew home to California and I took the train home to Bologna.
Rome is so exciting because there are so many ruins to explore and they are all mixed in with the city. Old and new. We were also lucky enough to see some amazing sunsets while in Rome. The way the ruins looked with the sky on fire behind them was just breathtaking. And it was so much fun finally seeing the trademark tourist things like the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain!
I had an amazing time exploring with Nicole and Stephen, showing them around Italy, especially Bologna!
Now, my last few days in Bologna are coming up, with one final paper due this week and all of my friends leaving by Friday. Luckily, I have a few extra days to spend in Italy, and Matt Lam is coming to visit!!! I’m so excited for our adventures to Rimini and San Marino, then a couple of days back in Bologna so I get to show him my favorite city before we fly back home to California!
Until next time, grazie per leggendo! xx
Oh P.S. – Nicole wrote a little bit for me to share:
“Visiting Paulina in Italy was such an adventure! From the first night when Stephen and I arrived sleep deprived and jet lagged and went straight to partying in the piazzas of Bologna to getting on the wrong trains and having to spend the night in train stations and seeing the leaning tower of Pisa at 3:30am….there was not a dull moment during the whole trip! Thank you so so much for showing us around your home away from home Paula! You are so lucky to live in Italy and hopefully we’ll all be able to go back and explore more soon!”