If you remember several weeks ago, I went to Amsterdam with my core course, Prostitution and Sex Trade in Europe, for a week. During that week, half of DIS students had the week off and half were traveling with their classes. So, this week, I had the week free, and some students were traveling with their classes for a week. This is another aspect of DIS that I love — we get in-depth travel study tours and field studies with our classes, yet also get extended periods of time free to relax, explore Copenhagen or other European cities, or catch up on our schoolwork. It reminds me of my home university, Colorado College, and the block plan schedule, which I already really love. So, now I get the best of both worlds abroad!
Anyways, on my week off I traveled to Venice, Italy, and Budapest, Hungary, with some friends of mine! Just a warning, this post is a tad bit long because I had so much fun and can’t bear to leave out any details:)
Travel day! The week started out with just four of us: Alicia, Nikko, Griffin, and I. We had a late flight out of Copenhagen, at 7:40pm, so we did not arrive in Venice until around 10:30pm.
We took a quick bus over to the island, then our Airbnb hosts met us at the bus stop and walked us to where we were staying — so kind of them! They pointed out local places to eat (that were cheap) as we walked, then showed us to the room — a lovely refurbished attic, which, yes, had very short ceilings that we had to constantly duck under (worse for the boys then Alicia and I… yikes!). Although we were exhausted and it was dark out, we were all excited to finally be in Italy, so we played a couple rounds of card games listening to an Italian CD we found in the apartment.
Lazy Sunday morning… or, not so much. We did sleep in (yay!), and the SUN, yes the sun, was streaming into our windows when we woke up. We finally got to see our view of the fourth-floor attic of our Airbnb, which was absolutely stunning! We could also open the windows and it was WARM outside. I was already in a great mood and the day had yet to even begin!
We were all starving as we hadn’t eaten anything since before our flight the night before, so we ventured out to find some breakfast. Everything in Italy is slow-paced, and although it was 10am, most breakfast places hadn’t opened yet. So, we sat around chatting and drinking coffee until 10:30, when (finally!) the kitchen opened and we could order some food. We were all a bit underwhelmed by our first meal in Venice, however, we had been warned beforehand that the food in Venice is not fantastic, so it was okay!
We then walked to San Marco square, which was packed with tourists, to see St. Mark’s Basilica. There was also a marathon going on right through the square! On the way over, we stopped to get gelato, obviously a perfect food choice right after breakfast. The gelato was AMAZING (I got a sorbet with dark chocolate chunks, and it was heavenly).
After wandering San Marco square for a bit, my friends were hungry for lunch, so we stopped for pizza. We then ventured over to the water taxi stop and took the taxi across the sea to Murano, a small island off the coast of Venice known for its beautiful glass-blowing. (fix this??). Honestly, although the island was beautiful, I was just so happy to be outside in the sun and warm weather (we are talking 70 degrees Fahrenheit here, people). Some of the shops on the island were a bit cheesy and definitely a tourist trap, but we found a few shops with authentic glass jewelry and tableware that was absolutely stunning. We then took the water taxi back home and walked back to our airbnb, picking up pasta, some cheap wine, and a few other snacks at the grocery store on the way home. We decided to cook ourselves pasta for dinner to save a little money, and eating it in our attic kitchen with the windows open and the sun going down over the buildings was almost like a scene out of a movie.
After dinner, we were all pretty wiped from our long day out, so we snuggled up on the couch and watched Call Me By Your Name — not only because it is a fantastically produced movie, but also because it is set in Italy… After the movie, we went to a cocktail bar close to our apartment for an hour, then came home and went straight to sleep, because we had a big day ahead of us tomorrow…
Hiking day!!! I was so so excited for today because as I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, I LOVE nature, and miss living in Colorado and having the mountains right at my backdoor. So, to get to it, today we rented a car and drove to Cortina D’Ampezzo, a small skiing village about 2 hours north of Venice. We walked around the town a little, then drove about a half-hour into the Dolomites, a part of the Southern Limestone Alps.
We drove almost all the way up the mountain, parked and got out to explore! We ended up hiking to several different chair lifts, which was strangely eerie, as we were the only ones around, and the day was pretty foggy. However, the weather held out and we ended up seeing some fantastic views on the mountain. After exploring and hiking around for a few hours, we headed back down the mountain, taking in the breathtaking views of the trees changing colors in contrast to the snowy mountains, and drove back into Cortina for dinner.
Again, we had a tough time finding a restaurant that was open and happened up this cute little Italian restaurant tucked away in a corner of the sleepy ski village. The waiter was extremely accommodating and helpful with my dietary restrictions, the best anyone has been since getting to Italy, which I was so grateful for. I ended up ordering a Risotto with fresh shrimp, scampi, mussels, and prawns, and it was AMAZING. My friends also loved their meals, and afterward, we headed back to the car for our drive home to Venice!
Today was our last day in Venice. We slept in, then walked to see the University of Venice and explore the shopping district a little bit more. Alicia and I got our last Italian gelato, had lunch at a Japanese restaurant (we both have an obsession with pad thai and fried rice…), then we headed to the airport! We had a long flight and layover to Budapest, so we didn’t get into Budapest until late at night. Once we arrived at our airbnb, we met up with three of our other friends, Faith, Josh and Tim who were staying with us the rest of the week. I got my first hummus and falafel for dinner (it was so yummy!), then went straight to bed.
Our first full day in Budapest! Unfortunately, it was back to the cold and cloudy weather… but we made the most of it anyways! I first got breakfast with Faith and Tim, then we headed up to Buda Castle.
We then met up with everyone else, including Nikko’s Hungarian friend, who was so kind to be our tour guide for the day! We saw his university, walked to the top of the Citadella on Gellért Hall for a great view of the city and to see the Liberty Statue, and he taught us how to use public transportation. After our day of exploring, we got a quick snack, then rested before dinner.
We went to dinner at an authentic Hungarian restaurant, which wasn’t really suited for all my complicated dietary issues, but my friends really liked their food! That night we went to the ruin bars, which are bars in the old Jewish quarter built in the ruins of abandoned buildings and stores. The bars had a lot of character and were unlike anything I’ve seen before. Anyone could write on the walls, too, so of course, we all left our names!
Today we slept in, got breakfast close to our airbnb (everything is so cheap in Budapest, about half the cost of eating out in Copenhagen), then went to the thermal baths! The thermal baths are famous in Budapest, with the hot steamy water supplied from hot springs under the city. Its a little smelly from all the minerals, but felt so good, especially since it was cold outside!
We then went back to our airbnb, showered, rested, and headed to the Danube River for a night canal tour! The city was so beautiful at night, with all the old buildings and castles lit up with lights. After the canal tour, we got street food at Karavan, which was super good! I got a really yummy Beyond Burger with some sweet potato fries. We then hit the ruin bars again because it was Halloween, and although we did not dress up, we saw many people in creative and scary costumes!
Our last full day in Budapest! We, of course, slept in (it is break, after all), got breakfast, then headed up to a chairlift that brought us up to the top of a mountain with a FANTASTIC view of the city and mountains beyond. At the top of the mountain, they had a café, so Nikko decided to try Lángos, an authentic Hungarian street food made of a deep-fried flatbread served warm with grated cheese on top.
It sounds funky, and honestly looks weird too, but Nikko said he loved it! Don’t knock it ’till you try it, I guess! We then had an early dinner reservation at a Meditteranean tapas place. This was probably my favorite meal of the trip, mostly because I’m obsessed with hummus, but I got hummus, baked cauliflower, LOTS of gluten-free bread, and shrimp! It was so yummy and I was so full after I realized after looking through my camera roll I don’t have any pictures of this meal… I think I was so excited to eat it I forgot to take pictures before!). After dinner, we all went back to the airbnb and played a few card games, then went to sleep.
Faith, Tim and Josh all had early flights back to Copenhagen, so Alicia, Griffin, Nikko and I were on our own again. We stayed in the airbnb until noon, then got brunch, shopped around a bit, and went to the Budapest Central Market. The day was fairly chill, and we ended up just mozying around the city a bit until we had to go to the airport. We got back to Copenhagen late, and I passed out right when I got back to my apartment. Nothing like a full, jam-packed week of travel that will wipe you out!