day #8: Bologna (cont’d)
Despite a late night, we set our alarm for 09:00am to give us a good amount of time in Bologna. We walked through the ex Jewish Ghetto, whose streets were arranged in a hand shape (bird’s eye view), before visiting the MAMBO. It stands for “Modern Art Museum Bologna”, and because we were students we got free entry. I find with modern art that I either love it or hate it, and there tends to be no middle ground. For me, I experienced the same with this gallery. Whilst I had no clue what was going on in some pieces, others were outstanding. I’ve attached some photos of pieces that I particularly liked!
the leaning tower of bologna
Yep, you read that right. We visited and ascended the leaning tower of Bologna (not Pisa) in the afternoon. Its actual name is the Asinelli tower, and it leans more than the one in Pisa! It just happens to be less well-known and advertised. 498 steps later (I counted!), we made it to the top for some stunning views of the city. Although it was pretty packed up there, we waited until the end when most had already started their descent. After admiring the gorgeous architecture in the Neptune Piazza (there were some questionable statues in the fountain too…), we headed home early. After minimal sleep and lots of walking/ climbing, we all crashed in the flat. It was an early night for all!
day #9: venice
Our earliest start yet (excepting the very first morning), with the alarms set to 05:15am. Why? Because we were taking the train to Venice, where we would spend exactly 12 hours. Due to it being so expensive there, we didn’t book any accommodation and instead were due to take a night train to Munich. Our train got in at 09:20am, at which point we had a little panic because the ticket machine told us the night train tickets would be €80 EACH. Students can’t afford that sh*t! Anyway, after a few tense minutes of waiting to talk to a ticket master, we were relieved to be told that they would actually only cost us €14 each. Still not a bargain, but much better than expected.
I think the beauty of the streets and canals is what hit us all the most. Despite being told how gorgeous they are, it’s something you only appreciate fully upon experiencing it firsthand. We walked over the Rialto bridge and past the historical “bridge of sighs”, which earned its name from its beauty which (supposedly) caused prisoners in the nearby prison to sigh. Whilst it was stunning, I didn’t think it was more beautiful than the other numerous smaller and more quaint bridges. Either way, they all had their own unique characters which I loved.
We then took a water bus (how cool!) to Murano Island, famous in particular for its glass. We watched a free glass-blowing demonstration where we saw how the iconic Murano Glass is blown and moulded into different shapes. My friends bought some jewellery and souvenirs for their family too (I couldn’t find anything I really liked). Back on Venice island, we got ice cream (surprise!) and headed towards Canarregio, the ex Jewish district. This was where we bought ourselves an early dinner, which we ate in a square in the sun.
We arrived at the train station with plenty of time to spare in preparation for our first (and last) night train, which unfortunately was delayed by 40 minutes. Once on the train, we settled down to sleep in our compartment. Beds were too expensive so we had the less luxurious seats, which came in compartments of 6 meaning we were sharing with a (male) stranger. Not quite the “slumber party” we’d imagined!
day #10: Munich
Technically, we experienced the rest of our night train in the early hours of day 10. Despite the train’s claims that between 9pm-6am, we, the passengers, would not be disturbed, we were woken up at midnight by border control. They shone their torches in our faces and looked for illegally stowed immigrants in our compartment. It’s not often that I feel like a criminal, but this was definitely one of those times! Then we were awoken again at 4am by German border control, who demanded to see all of our passports. So much for free movement within the EU!
early morning arrival
Despite the delay, we arrived as planned at 06:15am in Munich. For the first time in the whole trip, I was cold! After dropping our bags off at the hostel we had breakfast in a cafe whilst we planned our itinerary for the day. We headed to the English Gardens first, where we watched people surfing in the artificial wave in the river. It definitely made me want to give it a go! At this point, it was starting to get warmer and so we relaxed in the sun in the stunning greenery, soaking up the atmosphere of a new country. I think we’d been in Italy long enough by this point.
At midday, we merged with two other college friends (Ella & Nell), who we’d be spending the remainder of our trip with. I had the most amazing falafel, hummus & salad pitta for lunch which I got from a place called “Sababa”. Pretty good value for money too. Then, we took the train to the Starnberg lake, which was absolutely breathtaking. I went for a 10km run around a fraction of the perimeter (it was enormous), and this was by far my favourite run of the trip. Surrounded by greenery the whole way, it was a nice change from the noisy city runs I was used to. After my run, I joined the others who were swimming and sunbathing by the lake. This was our first proper opportunity to relax and feel as though we weren’t rushing from A to B.
Back at the hostel, we all started panicking. The last 50 reviews of the hostel all complained about the presence of bedbugs in their rooms. Let’s just say none of us wanted to a) be bitten or b) be riddled with them for the rest of the trip. We tried speaking to the hostel manager, but he was incredibly rude and unhelpful. He ended up by saying to us that he himself had bedbugs, and so we probably did too. No jokes! I quote “I have bedbugs, you have bedbugs, what do you want me to do?”. Two of our group slept on the floor! The rest of us braved the beds…
Interested in finding out whether we did get bitten by bedbugs? Keep your eyes peeled on my Instagram for the next part of my Interrail diary!