Adventures around Venice and London! …and Christmas!

Hello!

It’s been almost a month since I’ve written on here…yikes!

Things have just been super busy. We’ve been doing a lot of awesome traveling, and I have some pretty cool adventures to fill you in on. My least favorite part about all of this is the fact that there are only 9 days until I have to come home.

Leaving is not something I’m looking forward to.

Don’t get me wrong, I miss all of my family and friends and can’t wait to be home for Christmas. But the thought of what comes after: school, work, freezing cold weather, that period of extreme boredom that comes every year right after Christmas, and Ohio, is less than thrilling.

However, I just keep telling myself this isn’t the last time I’ll be in Europe, and the thought of coming back one day (hopefully soon!) is comforting in this dark time of depression and empty despair (just kidding). I am really going to miss it though…it does feel just like home now!

Here is a bit of what I’m going through:

When people ask if I’m happy to be home from studying abroad:

study abroad no

When I have to leave Europe:

everything sucks

I found these on other blogs about studying abroad, and I thought they were really funny and relatable. There are some other good ones too. Here’s the link to those blogs:

thetimeistudiedabroad.tumblr.com
thestudyabroadlife.tumblr.com

Okay okay, I’ll stop lamenting and tell you about our adventures instead! Yay adventures!

Our first stop was Venice. What a crazy experience. It rained the entire time we were there, which led to extreme flooding. Venice is known for its water transportation system (they use water taxis instead of land taxis), since all of the roads are basically sidewalks and canals. No driving allowed. It’s a pretty interesting way of life, but I don’t think it’s something I could ever put up with for an extended period of time. I’m sure it’s really pretty in the summertime when it’s sunny and the light is reflecting on the water.

Honestly, I thought Venice would be a lot cooler. It wasn’t my favorite city. Because there is so much stagnant water everywhere, it smells really bad all. the. time…especially in small side streets. That’s definitely something I could not deal with. On the plus side, it is incredibly cheap! I don’t think we had a meal over 4 euros the entire time we were there. They had sandwiches for lunch for only 1 euro and 50 cents…. Unheard of!  And definitely a plus for our rapidly dwindling bank accounts.

The first day in Venice seemed like a fun adventure because they are so prepared for the rain. I was very impressed. It’s like Ohio during October through May when it snows. Faint-hearted southerners may freak out and shut down all of their school systems, but us Ohioans are prepared.

During the flood, they brought out these platforms that they spread through the whole city for people to walk on, and they were selling industrial rain boots on every corner. People had pipes running through their homes and were using big buckets to filter out all of the water. The ground level of almost every building was just a big empty room in case of flooding, so nothing would be damaged. Of course, the locals were all equipped with hard-core fishing boots; the kind that you strap around your waist because they come up to your hip and are made of heavy duty plastic:
fishing boots

Can you say stylish? It’s definitely not the time for being vain about the way you look.

So, at first we thought it was so fun, and we were running around in the flood waters. Some people even took off their shoes to run around, but that ended when we saw a HUGE dead rat floating by. SO gross! There are monstrous rat type things called Coypu in Italy:

huge italian rat

There are some ducks there in case you need to do a size comparison.

Anyway, we were all pretty worn out by day two, not to mention getting kind of sick due to the fact that it was freezing (it snowed a little on the last day!)  So, we didn’t do much. We took some pictures with gondolas (it’s about 75 euros for a short ride, so we opted out), visited some museums and palazzos, and made some funny music videos in the hotel room. All in all, it was definitely a memorable experience!

After Venice, we visited…..LONDON! One of my absolute favorite cities so far in all the land. I can’t even describe it…I just had the best time there! We went to London for Thanksgiving break, so we had about 5 days and 4 nights there. Surprisingly, we found a hostel for just 7 euros a night. So, about 30 euros total. We also found a cheap, Easyjet flight for about 60 euros. Minus sightseeing and food consumption, we only spent about 100 Euro traveling to London. *pats self on back*

The city of London is ENORMOUS. We didn’t even know where to begin! Thankfully, the people are incredibly friendly, and a sweet, old english lady walked us all the way from the train station to our hostel when we asked her for directions. Our hostel was specifically for study abroad students, so it was a lot like a typical college dorm, which actually made it more fun than I thought, and a bit like home! (oddly enough) I stayed in an all-girls room, so I didn’t have to worry about any creepy men in my room either, which was even better!

The first day started off amazing! We headed to the London Eye (the giant ferris wheel) to get a breathtaking view of the whole city from the top.  Then, we explored a cute little Christmas market and walked around the city. At night, we went back to the London Eye to go ice skating! It was magical and completely decorated for Christmas (In my favorite Christmas color scheme: silver and blue). They also played Christmas music the entire time, and it was one of my favorite days ever.

The following day, Sarah and I splurged a little and visited the Harry Potter Studio Tour! We had to. It was on my bucket list, and I would have forever regretted it if I didn’t go. In the beginning of the tour, they have you sit in a giant movie theater and talk to you about the tour. Then, they play a clip from the first movie where Dumbledore says, “Welcome to Hogwarts,” and opens the doors to the Great Hall. At the same time, the movie screen lifted up, and the doors opened to reveal that we were sitting in The Great Hall movie set! The ACTUAL one! It was SO cool, as if he was actually welcoming us to Hogwarts. I couldn’t even handle my excitement.

We toured all of the sets after. Walking through Diagon Alley, and Privet Drive, and the bridge connecting Hogwarts to Hagrid’s Hut was just so awesome. I felt like Hermione the whole time. I mean, I basically am. Let’s face it. We spent about two hours touring the sets, then a couple hours in the gift shop.

After the tour, we went to this place called Piccadilly Circus, which is basically the Times Square of London. We were STARVING, so we went to Thai Town and had a buffet! It was amazing and delicious. Piccadilly Circus was also decorated for Christmas, and it was absolutely wonderful.

The next day, we went to the Camden Markets and did some shopping/walking around because we couldn’t really afford anything. Then we went to Harrod’s (a fancy schmancy department store in Westminster) and saw some expensive cars, clothing and houses. They were also playing Christmas music! yay! Everywhere was playing Christmas music!

We also visited the Disney Store and….guess. what?! Outside of the Disney store, there were bubble machines to make it look like it was snowing on the whole street! Just like at Magic Kingdom in Disney World! There was also a huge tree! My happiness was overflowing. I love Christmas!

Alright, I’ll fill you in on days four and five in London next time, and also Ireland! (sooo gorgeous!) Right now, we’re heading to the Christmas market and out to dinner! Maybe I’ll purchase some souvenirs there. I hope you’re having an amazing day/week! (yay! finals are almost over!)

Miss you and love you lots and lots! 9 more days! 🙂 😦

xoxo Elizabeth xoxo

Writing Playlist:
Trans-Siberian Orchestra

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Posted in: Go

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