Almost two months into my stay in Copenhagen and it feels like home. I suppose that halfway through the semester it should feel like home, but as I’ve said before, I doubted that I would ever feel comfortable so far away from what I have called home.
Finding a routine took a lot of work, but it puts everything into perspective when you do normal activities, such as grocery shopping or the weekly ritual of cinnamon rolls on Wednesdays. A local bakery, St. Peter’s, has cinnamon rolls that will make you forget Pillsbury forever. I have been every chance I get. I rave about them.
On the note of food, the feeling of home is particularly salient today as I have just returned from a week long adventure in Italy! I hope you’re hungry because this is about to get all about food. Well, and traveling in Europe. But mostly food.
My program, DIS, has an amazing amount of travel time built in our semester schedule. I decided my first break was going to be my largest trip and planned seven days in Italy, encountering almost four cities and exploring more history than I could have imagined. After weeks of painstakingly planning the cheapest ways to get around, balancing cheap hostels with location, and budgeting for expenses, the day to fly away finally arrived.
I had my intense anxieties from the very beginning. Will my suitcase fit on this airplane? Did I print and bring everything I need? I think I counted my pairs of socks and underwear more than four times. I’ve never been a relaxed traveler. My anxiety was increased by the independence of the trip, having planned each day without the guiding voice of my parents, who are quite the seasoned travelers. With quadruple-checked packing lists, I boarded the plane.
Upon arriving in Milan, Italy, I needed to find euros, which are not used in Denmark. This was the first step in independent travel that I had not thought through. When my card was declined, I am pretty sure I physically shook for a couple minutes. The same terror I felt upon arriving in Denmark rolled over me, as I slowly realized I was in Italy, spoke no Italian, and had no money. Although the issue was solved soon after, with a little maneuvering, it was not the way I wished to be welcomed to Italy.
The day continued mostly in that vein, exhausted and hungry, when we arrived at our bed and breakfast in Verona to find the owner unavailable. Independent travel speed bump number two. Again, the issue disappeared as soon as we got in contact with the owner, but phew, that was discouraging. I am convinced this first day was the storm before the calm. Italy wanted us to work for the precious days ahead.
If you have been holding out for the food, we are there. You have made it. I had the best pizza of my entire life that first night in Verona. I am pretty sure I cried. It was half a meter long, covered in fresh cheese, and the closest to the taste of pure happiness you can imagine.
We had no idea that Verona was going to be our favorite city when we started, but by the end of the trip, we agreed that the small town feel of Verona combined with the Shakespearean legends gives the city a specific feel that we fell in love with. It is impossible not to fall in love with Verona. Juliet’s house is a shrine to love. You cannot ignore it.
Two days later we traveled to Venice, the city of canals. And gondolas! It is a magical city, with water around every turn and endless bridges. We took a tour of the surrounding islands and found tiny wonders on the islands of Burano, Torcello, and Murano; the homes of lace, Venetian history, and glass, respectively. It was in Venice that we ate our first authentic Italian breakfast at a tiny pasticceria with pastries that taste twice as good as they look.
Another two days later, we were boarding a train to Florence! A beautiful city, full of art, decorated with history, and the perfect end to our tour of Italy. We jumped in with art explorations and went straight to see Michaelanglo’s David. Shameless Art 105/106 plug to learn more about how amazing it is to stand in front of this massive beauty.
After standing in awe for a long time, we tasted the fanciest version of macaroni and cheese that was not even macaroni and cheese. It was gnocchi with cheese and truffle oil. It was heavenly.
I have written too many words, but did not come close to doing the trip justice. It was an experience of a lifetime, with intense ups and downs, to find our way through a new country. I will carry Italy with me for some time, but for now, I am loving being back in Copenhagen, with the familiar feelings of my home away from home. I must say, I already miss the pizza and the wine that is cheaper than water. However, more than any feeling, it is peaceful to have a space that is comfortable and open, even if it is temporary.