Traveling Solo – Milano:Venezia
I was ready for my next stop. I got on the first flight out of Madrid to Milan at 6am. I am not a fan of morning flights but when you are planning a 13day trip to Europe, every second counts. Tip: When traveling to multiple destinations within Europe, be sure to give yourself enough time to commute between one mode of transportation to the other.
I flew RyanAir (a low cost budget airline within Europe – like JetBlue and Spirit in the US) to Milan Bergamo Airport Being a frequent flier in the US does not translate in Europe. I had the worst experience with Ryan Air on my way to Milan; I ended up paying 150 euros to check my bag in at the airport (Lesson#2: Pay for your checked bag online and read the fine print). Anyways, I made it to Milan safe, it was not a bad flight.
RyanAir doesn’t fly to Milan International airport, so I had to take a bus from Milan Bergamo to Milan Central Station. They have tons of bus transfers from Bergamo to Milan Central for 9euros RT and 5euros one way. Some of the buildings looked very similar to the ones in the country I grew up, Nigeria (for a quick minute I thought I was in Lagos). As soon as I arrived Milan Central, it started drizzling. Then I had my first Italian experience; I got swindled by some Indian guy who really convinced me I needed an umbrella for 5euros because it was raining. Later on that day, I found out the umbrella was actually 2euros and it did not even rain……I was so furious lol ….again bargain!!
Where I visited and stayed
Milan was a one day trip. I had to stop in Milan before heading to Venice, so I decided I was going to do some touristy stuff. For the first hour, I was so clueless in Milan Central. I had no knowledge of the language, and I didn’t want to talk to anyone because I didn’t want them to know I was a tourist LOL (I always blend in until I open my mouth to speak).
I decided to get the Metro map, so I could navigate my way from the Central Station to the shopping center downtown Milan (I had looked up things to do in Milan and found the name of the shopping center). At the station, there were a couple of ladies hustling people. They insisted to help secure the metro ticket (yeah don’t fall for that). They help you get the ticket, then ask for a tip for their “unborn” child. Milan reminds me so much of NYC.
I finally got on the train to Via Montenapoleone. I went window shopping, walked around downtown Milan, and had me some good ole Spaghetti. I love Milan (I know I keep saying I love every city, but I really do). I bumped into a photo shoot for Milan Fashion Week. Yup, I stayed and watched. Milan is a very upscale working class city with a lot of fashionable people. I felt I was on NY Fifth Ave. for a second, well except that I was dragging my suitcase with me (actually I live out of a suitcase, so this is normal 😦 ).
Around 3pm, I headed to the train station to catch my train to Venice where I spent the next 3 days. The train ride wasn’t too bad – 2.30hrs from Milan to Venice. I sat across this cute Australian couple, who have been married for about 30years; traveling the world for 3 months ( if you don’t know, Australians take the longest travel vacations, they love to travel).
I was glad to leave Milan, it was so cold. Venice was warm and the atmosphere was more laid-back.Venice was absolutely beautiful and eccentric. I love that everything is on water. Of course, I couldn’t communicate in Italian to anyone, so I took my printed directions and started looking for my hotel. I asked a couple of people for directions and they led me in the right direction (You will find a lot of tourists in Venice, so don’t worry you are not alone).
I stayed at this boutique hotel called Alloggi Santa Sofia, I found on Trip Advisor. It was a very clean venetian style home. There was free breakfast every morning. The staff was very nice – although they did not speak English – I was able to get by (Yes, I had to learn a lil Italian to survive). I had my own shower and bathroom. (Yes, this was a big deal because the past days I had been sharing bathroom in the hostel). I gave myself a romantic treat in Venice :). Alloggi Santa Sofia is about 15mins to Santa Lucia train station, but quite a walking distance or water taxi ride to the touristy area of San Marco.
How I spent my days
When they say Venice is the city of love and romance, it sure is!! This town is so beautiful, from the canal rides on the Gondola’s to the nice stroll via the connecting bridges, this place is definitely a place for couples, and of course singles (hot Italian men everywhere). My first night in Venezia, I slept in after eating some delicious Italian pasta meal from a restaurant I walked into.
Prior to my trip, I read on a website saying the best way to discover Venice is to get lost in the city. This was exactly what I did. By this point in my trip, I had become a guru navigating the streets in Europe. It’s nothing close to what we have in the US, the street names are in small letters on the side walls of the street. You literally have to look for them.
I just wandered the little town, crossing one bridge to the other, discovering hidden restaurants and stores. By the way, they have amazing hand made jewelry in Venice – made from the famous Murano glass (which is made in Venice on Murano, Island). They have daily trips to Murano Island. I packed a lot of jewelry from Venice. To catch a great view of Venice and see the great bell, be sure to get to the top of the St. Mark’s Campanile.
The next 2 days in Venice was all touristy, I went sight seeing in San Marco – I took a tour of the beautiful Basilica di San Marco – this place is breathtaking (future husband take note *wink*). Most tourist attractions in Venice are not free. In general, Italy is more expensive.
I ran into this on one of my random street walks. Air Conditioning is a big deal in Europe.
I did a grand canal tour, and I got on the famous Gondola ride (don’t leave Venice without experiencing this). Although the Gondola rides are not cheap, it is totally worth it. You can rent as a couple or a group. It is about $100 – $150 for a ride for up to four people, depending on the duration of the tour (also NEGOTIATE).
There was only ME and I didn’t want to spend $100 on the ride, so I started hanging around looking for groups of 3 that may be looking for an extra person. Finally, I met this cool family of 3 from California who wanted to get on the Gondola but needed a 4th person *haha* thats how we ended up going on the Gondola ride tour together PERFECTO!!!. Our driver was such an Italian beauty, very cute looking guy with blonde hair and blue eyes. He taught us how to paddle the Gondola – it is such a daunting task.
Foodie: I found this really nice Italian restaurant, right beside the Basilica. I don’t remember the name of the place, but I promise I know how to get there. I quickly made friends with the waiter, who apparently was in love with me. He was super cool; he spoke English, which was great.
I ate the best seafood pasta ever at this restaurant. I went there everyday for a meal. I ate Pasta for breakfast, lunch and dinner in Venice (YES I LOVE PASTA and why not have it in Italy). Pasta and Wine kinda days (waiters in Spain and Italy will pretty much hustle you till they can convince you to come to their restaurant).
My days in Venice quickly came to an end, it was time to head to my next stop: BARCCAAAAAAAA!!!.