Just got to Italy a couple days ago

Looks like I’m the first to make a blog post this semester.  I left the US early because I’m traveling Europe for about a month before classes start.  The plan: Milan > London > Bruges > Amsterdam > Berlin > Prague > Paris > Oslo > then back to Milan!  First I’ll spend two weeks with an old high school friend, then I’ll visit some good friends I met last semester who were exchange students themselves.

If you every get the chance to make friends with exchange students, take the opportunity!  Now that I am in Europe, I get to stay in France and Norway for basically free.

Also, by pure coincidence, my best friend from middle school will be in the UK the same time I am.  And in one more strange coincidence, another high school friend will be studying abroad in Europe the same semester I am.

So I decided to pack the night before I left, and ended up staying up all night.  Luckily, I haven’t forgotten anything important yet, or so I hope.  When I got to the airport, at 4am in the morning, my bag weighed 50.5 pounds.  .5 pounds too much!  So I took out my italian dictionary to carry by hand.  50 pounds exactly!  That’s efficient packing.

The flight turned out better than expected.  My original seat assignment was moved, and instead of sitting in the last row of the plane, I got a center seat with two empty seats next to me.  I actually got to lie down and sleep like it was first class!  Luckily, nothing went wrong, despite two transfers that day and a switch from laguardia to JFK in New York.

While at JFK, I converted my leftover cash to Euros.  An exchange service there gave me 45 euros for 75 dollars.  This was a rip off, but I did it anyway because my dollars would be worthless and I knew I would need some Euro cash when I got to Italy.  I recommend buying Euros before the last minute so you don’t waste your money.

Upon arrival, I found out that my hotel was not close to the airport.  One taxi service told me it was 70 Euros for the drive!  Scratch that.  So I went to the train system map and tried to figure it out.  How would I get to my hotel?  One travel guide was nice enough to look up the address and tell me which town it was in, and which train stop I should get off at.

Well I ended up buying the wrong train ticket.  Luckily, the nice lady selling tickets refunded my mistake after I figured it out.  The ticket from Malpensa to Milan would have been 11 Euros, but I only had to get to Saronno, which was 6 Euros.  Then I got on the wrong train, but I noticed it before the train left.  SO…then I waited around and got on the correct train.

I was kind of worried about screwing up again, so I said to a train maintenance guy, “Mi scusi, Saronno?”  He said, “Si”.  Sweet, my Italian worked!

Finally I got to Saronno, but my Hotel was in Geranzano, which was a small town about 10 minutes outside.  I saw some taxis, and I walked over and said “Taxi?” to a guy standing there.  He yelled at me, “Primo!” and pointed down the sidewalk.  I actually knew that word meant first, so he was telling me to go to the first taxi in line.  Oops!

The taxi driver started speaking in Italian, which I couldn’t follow because it sounds like “Boopity, Boppity, Beepity!”  I said, “Mi dispiace, non parlo bene Italiano…Inglese?”  Then he started speaking with English.  Thank goodness.  Then he drove me to the hotel which cost me 6 euro.

Finally, I got to my hotel.  Mamma mia! What a day!  I think pure luck got me to the right place, because I didn’t plan out my arrival well at all!  For everyone going abroad, make sure you know how you get to your first hotel/hostel/apartment before you leave the US.

Here is a video of my hotel!

http://gallery.me.com/jeepinjake#100043/Hotel%20Concorde&bgcolor=black

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