Six Months in Europe – An Update on My Traveling Life

Anne and I in front of El Duomo - Milano's Famous Cathedral

I have embarked on six months living around Europe and hopefully at some point Israel. To get fully caught up on how and why, visit some of my past posts, especially the following one: Be My Next Local…In Europe and the Middle East.

At this point, I am three weeks into my travels and I have to ask, please bare with me as I jump around with my writings…they will not be in sequential order or for that matter real-time. Since I’m still working for myself as a consultant and manager of social media marketing for companies, my trip is also busy with work. That means this is not a vacation for me, its working remotely. My way to go!

In the meantime, here are some updates and in the coming weeks I’ll be writing up more detailed posts about each area I’ve been to so far: I spent the first six days in London (see blog post “First Stop, London“), then flew over to Milano, Italy for my 30th birthday and a dear friend’s wedding (more to come on this but in the meantime, hear about the start of my time in Milano from the post “The Best Way to Visit Milan, Italy“). Then this whole past week was spent in Geneva, Switzerland with my Aunt Amalia who works for the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). She was attending a health conference there, which gave us the chance to spend time together and enjoy Geneva for the first time (more to come on this visit so keep checking back in).

Cathedral View in Geneva

Most of the travel up to this point has been partly on my own in terms of getting to and from locations. Otherwise, I have been with friends and family where I have stayed. But today I began the part of my travels that is full-time sola, as they would call me in Italian…I’m traveling and staying in places by myself.

Spring Flowers in Geneva

So last night I booked a small room in Venice, bought my train ticket this morning a few hours before it was scheduled to leave, and then enjoyed a beautiful scenic train ride from Geneva to Milano where I changed to my final train for Venice. It doesn’t seem like its been only one day. Instead, it feels like a series of days, but I’m not tired…it doesn’t wear me out even when I think back over all I experienced and saw today.

Town of Brig - In front of Train Station

The mountains and lakes in Switzerland were amazingly beautiful to enjoy from the window seat I had on the train. In the part of Switzerland I was traveling through, the country also borders France so I could say I have been in three countries today since the train took us through several French villages. I had to change trains in Brig, which is on the Swiss side of the Swiss/Italian border. From there I passed through a town called Domodossola, which is located in a large valley surrounded by mountains. At this stop two Italian men got on the train and had their seats next to me. They took notice of me from the beginning and the one sitting directly next to me introduced himself as Massimo (that’s right, like the name of the Italian guy in “The Wedding Planner“).

Train from Geneva to Venice

From there, it was quite the entertaining journey! Neither one of them spoke very good English and I speak very little Italian and get by a little better with Spanish. Along with learning that Massimo and his friend Vincent were train drivers, we enjoyed discussions about sports we had in common like hiking and skiing. Massimo all too generously invited me to visit him in Domodossola and I let him know I would not be returning to that area for some time so I wasn’t going to be taking him up on his offer…that and I had just met him and hardly knew him. Arriving at Milano central station, they insisted on getting me an espresso with them and then helping me to my train and even onto the train and to my seat. I thought this was great and felt that I was still being cautious since I kept within arms reach of my bag, which they wanted to carry for me. And the bag was so heavy that it was great to have their help and there was no way they would get far at all even if they did try to take off with it…it really is that heavy.

Italian Friend, Massimo

A little bit of Italian help...

Sunset train ride to Venice

Now began the last leg of my journey today to Venice. Settling into my window seat, I enjoyed the sun as it got lower and lower in an ever clearer sky the further away we sped from Milano. I got a little bit of writing done, however quickly put away the laptop so I could take in the vineyards, small cathedrals, villas, and castles that dotted the green landscape that was undeniably Italy. What was I doing having my eyes anywhere else but the scenery outside? I decided that it was more important for me to just sit back and take it all in.

When I arrived at Venice’s Lucia Station, I thought I had access on my phone to the walking directions for my hotel, but I didn’t. No big deal, things like that really don’t bother me…I just asked an older gentleman who worked at the station about the hotel. He recommended I take a water taxi since it was a bit of a far walk and getting darker, and pointed me in the right direct just outside the station doors.

Love at first sight...Venice!

I stepped outside…and there was Venice…the first Italian I think I could be in love with…that is the city, not a man. Seeing it the first time at night was still beautifully surreal. It was romantic and magical, yet had such a sense of reality to it…such a feeling of substance or gravitas, as the French would say. The water taxi was gorgeous and getting to my comfortably affordable little hotel (the Hotel Mignon) was done with no hitches and the help of an old man who owns a bakery shop around the corner. Perhaps that’s where I’ll venture to for cafe and breakfast tomorrow morning.

So for now, ciao con amore from Venice. There is much more to come!