Onwards, Alone

Today, I left Venice and the people I was travelling with for the last week – a fun week. Rome was pleasantly historic, much along the lines of everything I expected it to be. Florence was beautiful, and Pisa pleasant, a sleepy seaside town that just so happened to have one of the iconic monuments of the world. Venice, while living up to nearly every stereotype about it you can imagine, was filled to the brim with tourists; it hardly feels like there’s anything else in the city – I’m at a loss to imagine who actually lives there that isn’t there to serve the tourism industry. Milan is probably the most instantly “modern” city I’ve seen in Italy, and it pleases me in a little way to find ‘modern’ buildings aren’t the exclusive preserve of the American or Asian cities.

Now… to the bit which probably sounds a bit worrying to Mum, most especially.

I was thinking, reconsidering so many times during my flight out to Rome whether I should stay the extra week or not. Within a day, I had firmly decided I would stay the extra week, travelling by myself, seeing things at my own pace.

Ah, the decisions made on the fly. I remember Studds lecturing me in Japan last year that I wasn’t open enough to leaving things open; now I’ve swung almost completely the other way, still not having a booking for Barcelona, not knowing how I’ll get from Nice to Barcelona, considering an expensive last-minute flight, only knowing that I have a flight booked from Barcelona on the morning of the 10th, and it terrifies me.

I’m still not sure if it was the right decision. I sit here in Milan, and I reconsider whether it’s wise to bother continuing to travel. I’ve made bookings for the train tomorrow to Nice, and the hotel as well, but I still wonder if I shouldn’t hop it back to London for a few days, consider my flight from Barcelona to London a sunk cost and just be done with the whole thing. Perhaps even make a few days in London on company expense by arranging a few days at work.

I don’t know. I felt this instantly when I parted with the others this morning, on a bridge in Venice, but then, when actually sight-seeing in Milan, or indeed even just travelling from Venice to Milan, I was enthralled. It’s the evenings that are the worst, I suppose, because there’s only so much you can do alone at night. Winter by my definition is definitely here in Milan, and that only makes it worse for feeling that keen sense of being alone.

But… but I don’t want to abandon this trip. It’s a telling experience, and I think it will be a valuable one. Going on experience, everything will work out just fine, and this is just my paranoia talking. I’m a Grown Up and I have to show it.

I’m ok, Mum, and I’m just about to call you. I’m ok, guys, I’ll survive this and keep in touch.

Somehow, I’ll turn up at that airport in London on the 11th of November, at 11:30 GMT, bags in hand, hop on that Qantas plane and get home. It’ll be awesome, and something worth talking about. Thumbs up.


Under the Tuscan Sun

Ciao from Florence!

So I wanted to write a “Last Day in London” post, but things got so hectic that I barely had enough time to check that I had money in my account & leave. The post would have started with something along the lines of

The chill of winter is setting in, and the grey ceiling of clouds has all but settled in. I am out of here.

which would give you something of an idea of how ready I was then to just go home and sleep the next two weeks through (and let my poor liver recover from the many nights that lead up to that final day). I was considering calling Qantas, having my flight moved, and just slogging through the next week in Italy because I had already payed for the flight there…

And then I actually arrived in Italy, to 24 degrees of sunshine, blue skies and pleasant evenings. To historical buildings that up until now seemed just that little bit unreal, to delicious dinners to make your mouth water just looking at the menu. That was Rome – and that was disappointing compared to Florence, to long lazy lunches under the Tuscan sun. There really is the hint that the beautiful life, la dolce vita, is just out of sight, around the corner somewhere. I could live here, most definitely. (though occasionally I have reason to doubt the Romans invented plumbing)

I can say that today I woke up in Florence, had lunch in sight of the Leaning Tower in Pisa, and will finish the day in Venice. And that next week I will pass through Milan, stop for a day or two in Monaco, spend days in Barcelona, finish the week in London before finally, finally arriving home in Sydney to rest. And have my 21st at the end of the week after in Melbourne. Wow.