I have to admit I am rather proud of myself. I managed to visit my host family in Bolzano, Italy from the exchange I went on when I was in High School for Christmas. I had to wake up at 4 am and ride my bike from Zeist to Utrecht Railway station, catch the train to Schiphol airport, catch a plane to Milan, catch a bus from Milan Linate airport to Milan central station, catch a train to Verona and then another train to Bolzano. I then had to do the same thing coming back to Utrecht except I departed from Milan Malpensa airport. It was quite a journey and totally worth it. I had the best Christmas in Bolzano. It was so lovely to see Rosella, Sandro and Stefano again as well as finally meet Silvia (who was on exchange in America when I spent in Bolzano last time). The food was fantastic but not as good as my company. It was so lovely to not have to worry about any university or managing my life for 5 days and I slept so well because the Saoncella’s house is in the country part of Bolzano and it is dead silent. It was also nice to be in a family environment again …. I felt so at home even though I am literally on the other side of the world. It was also nice to be in a country where I can speak the language. Even though everyone in The Netherlands speaks English, I still feel like such an outsider by not being able to speak Dutch well.
As soon as I landed in Milan I was reminded of how tall the Dutch are. All of a sudden after a 1 hour and 20 minute flight I was considered to be very tall in Italy whereas in the Netherlands I am pretty much normal height and I have grown to get used to that. One of the highlights of my trip was I got to sit next a nun on the train from Verona to Milan and I chatted with her in Italy for the trip. That kind of thing I would never get to do in Australia so I appreciated the opportunity to be doing that. Another highlight was the food. The Italians certainly know how to put on a good feast, I was able to enjoy the best pizza I have ever had one night as well as eat pandoro, panetone, parmigiano, salami, risotto, pasta, sausages, roast meat, prawns, fish, nuts, chocolates, icecream, chocolate salami, biscotti and the list is never ending. I was also lucky enough to go in a light aircraft with Sandro and Silvia because Sandro is a pilot and we flew around the Dolomites and let me say I am a beach person through and through but there is something utterly breathtaking about the Dolomites. They were so magnificent for me because there aren’t exactly mountains like that in Australia. I also had a lot of fun at the Christmas markets in Merano, such gorgeous decorations and just the general atmosphere was beautiful. I should probably also mention that for some unknown reason on my flight home to Amsterdam I got an upgrade to business class… I have no idea why, I’m not complaining but I have no idea why I was upgraded. It was nice to have a fancy lunch on the plane and extra leg room!
Unfortunately it wasn’t a white Christmas but it was very sunny and I think that’s the next best thing. It was so nice to feel the warm sun on my skin in Italy as I have grown used to rainy weather in the Netherlands. We also went to Mass at midnight on Christmas Eve and even though I am not Catholic it was nice to go because a large part of the local community was there getting into the Christmas Spirit.