Lately I find myself reminiscing about all the European cities I’ve been fortunate enough to visit during my time as a 19-year-old exchange student living in Mainz, Germany. Combining studying and travelling isn’t easy, especially on a tight budget and in the cold winter but I’m so thankful for that experience as it allowed me to immerse myself in the European way of life, step outside my comfort zone and see the beauty in Europe’s architecture, city-life and people.
It was December 27, 2008, when I first set foot in one my favourite countries – Italy. My dad arrived to Mainz three nights earlier and together we flew to Venice one cold winter’s morning. We became fascinated by the Italian people and were intrigued by how they live on an island entirely surrounded by water. On the main island of Venice there are no cars, just bridges for you to cross or alternatively cruise the canals to your destination.
The multi-coloured building façades, singing gondoliers, narrow alleyways and architecture from an era gone-by are all worth seeing indefinitely, as Venice is a place of fairytales. One of the moments I know I’ll never forget is New Year’s Eve when we gathered in St. Mark’s Square for a concert followed by fireworks. Suddenly it began to snow! People became frantic and rushed to get home. As we weren’t staying on the island of Venice itself but rather in an area called Mestre, finding our way back to our hotel became quite a challenge. We squeezed onto a Vaporetto (a water-bus) and held tight as the snow came flying into our faces with the strong breeze! Most of the other aspects from that night are a bit hazy but that part I remember perfectly. It was a difficult start to the New Year that’s for certain!
Venice is a captivating, thrilling and engaging city. If you’ve never been there I highly recommend a visit because quite frankly there’s no other place like it in the world. Go get lost in its alleyways, cross its bridges, cruise its canals and hopefully you too will have stories to share upon your return. Life is short and the world awaits…