18 May Home Sweet Home
Pyjamas. Laptop. Television.
Ah, the luxuries of being home.
I’ve been home since Sunday morning at 3am, a little later than my expected arrival at 10pm the day before. My flight was delayed 4 hours, leaving me to hang out in Venice’s Marco Polo airport for a wonderful 11 hours before finally boarding the 9 hour flight home.
It was an inconvenience, but a minor one in comparison to everything I had been able to experience on my European adventure.
Leaving from where I last left off:
Barcelona was the next city on the list to see. We arrived by plane and immediately felt the humidity as we stepped outside. It was a nice change from the chilly temperatures we had experienced throughout the earlier part of the trip.
The city was beautiful. It was built on a wide range of hills/mini mountains that required climbing up steps, walking up steep roads, or taking outdoor escalators to get anywhere. Having seen tons of museums already, my friend and I decided just to walk [hike] around the city. We saw some amazing architecture by the famous Gaudi including his Park Guel, and his huge cathedral.
I loved this part of our trip, not only because of the amazing weather or architecture, but because we were able to meet up with some people we knew from back home who were in the city on exchange. We were invited to go out with them and some of their exchange friends. It was fun, despite heading to a club at 2am… the usual time good old Canadian establishments start kicking you out. I was more than surprised that I was still awake to make it there. The next night, after more city exploration, two of the people we knew took us out for a really nice dinner.
From there, we headed to Milan, our first stop in Italy. Despite the gigantic cathedral in the heart of the downtown city center, it seemed very similar to a North American city. I was a little surprised, but it was nice. I did a SLIGHT bit of shopping… not much, though, since my friend isn’t too much of a shopper.
One of the best parts of Milan, and our trip so far, was the ridiculous experience we had in a Roman restaurant, in Milan, near our hotel.
We happened to stumble into this restaurant on recommendation of the hotel’s concierge, and realized the menu did not have a speck of English. To our luck, a friendly man, who was sitting at a table with others who were doing small jobs around the restaurant, came to us and asked us, in broken English, what we wanted to eat. He kind of deciphered our requests and walked into the kitchen to as the chef to prepare our orders. To accompany the meal, he gave us free bottled water as well as free espresso shots after dinner. It was very generous of the owner, we thought, to give us so much free stuff.
During that dinner, a young man who looked about our age, came into the restaurant and sat at the same table with the restaurateurs. He politely asked us to go out for drinks with him later and we agreed. We came back to the restaurant a few hours later and joined him, as well as a young woman who was a little younger than us and said a quick hello and goodbye to the man and the others at the table.
We got to know the two people we were with as a young man who lived above the restaurant and a young woman who was the daughter of the restaurant owner… The restaurant owner, however, being the chef, not the man who had so graciously greeted us and had given us all those free things with out meal. Apparently, the week prior, this strange man had walked into the restaurant, started drinking, and had done so all day, every day since. The family who owned the restaurant had become so accustomed to him being there, they just let him be. Lucky for them, he was good for the money and had been paying his tab every so often during the week.
We laughed about the man over drinks for a little while, until the daughter’s phone rang, saying it was her mother. It turned out, it was the crazy drunk man who had taken her mother’s phone, calling her to tell her that he had ordered pizza [at 1am] and told us to come back to the restaurant. There, he kept trying to feed us this pizza as well as white wine, whiskey, and beer.
Every backpacking student loves free stuff, right?
We left that night, will full stomachs without paying much money at all, and having made new friends. The next night, we made sure to stop by to say goodbye, and thank you, to which they offered more free bottled water and wine. Such a sweet family!
After our Milan adventure, we trained to Florence, and again, just walked around the city. Even though we were slightly sick of museums, there was one we just had to see. You cannot go to Florence without seeing Michelangelo’s David in the Academia museum. It was a spectacular piece, that looked even better surrounded by paintings and other sculptures that weren’t even half as well done.
Other than that museum, we simply toured the streets, taking in the atmosphere. I wasn’t only people watching, however, as I kept lookout for gelato stores. Unfortunately [or not], our allergies had gone nuts in Florence and the only cure for me was to eat cold gelato. I don’t know what it was, but the continuous ingestion of that amazing delicious dairy goodness just made my nose feel better! I ate an embarrassingly large amount of gelato those few days…
Venice was the last stop in my adventure and was the most unique of all the cities I had seen. I knew it was on the water and it had gondola rides and all that… but I had never expected that the ENTIRE city had water running through it. We had to trek up and down stairs to cross back and forth over mini rivers and streams to make our way around the city. It was unlike any place I had ever been and it was an amazing experience just to be in it.
And as I mentioned before, I had ended my trip with a full experience of Venice’s lovely airport before I flew home to be greeted by my mother, who graciously picked me up at 3am.
I finally went to bed at 5am that day, ending my 3 week long adventure around Europe.
10 years ago, I never would have thought that I’d be able to even think about doing this adventure. It wasn’t because I was young and hadn’t thought about doing a trip like this, because I had. My dad would constantly retell stories of his adventure around the other side of the world to my brother and I, telling us that someday, we too would take the trip. No, it wasn’t because I was young, but it was because of the amount of pain my body was in. I never thought I would ever be healthy enough to survive walking around cities for 12 hours a day or carrying a huge backpack around while trying to find a hotel.
I owe the entire trip, and my ability to experience what I did, to my ostomy. Without it, I would still be in pain, I would still be weak and tired, and I would still be stuck in Canada.
So thank you, ostomy, for allowing me to take the adventure of my life.