My Italian tour and the nearing end of Erasmus.

Because I’ve been so busy I feel like I’ve neglected my blog a bit by not having blogged for 2 weeks – oops!! The last 2 weeks have been so exciting and full of fun, of course. I’ve said goodbye to a lot of friends – the people who have made my year abroad the most amazing year it has been. I am forever grateful to all of the wonderful friends I’ve made here because they really have enhanced my experience so so much and I don’t know what I’d have done without them all! Shoutout to all you legends!

There have been quite a few chilled days and evenings spent at the park with beers, music and great company recently and I have been loving cruising around Grenoble on my bike; in this weather there really is no better form of transport around this beautiful city! When it’s 25-30 degrees here, it really is hard to fault this place; I am going to miss Grenoble so so much and I would recommend to anyone and everyone to come here, I really couldn’t have asked for a better city to live in for my Erasmus year!

Anyway, after quite a lot of chilling in the sunshine, and a general few days of doing not too much, last Wednesday Ellie arrived in Grenoble! It was amazing that she could come and visit me again, and we had a super duper couple of days and nights here – two soirées with fabulous people as per usual. We probably could’ve done with more than one hour’s sleep though before getting up to head to the bus station in order to catch our 5.45am bus to Turin in Italy… So now to move on to the 4 Italian cities that I visited in the past week, where yes, I did consume a helluva lot of ice cream and pizza, and I’ve also done a slideshow for each city visited (la-dee-da)! Anyway, tiredness aside, we definitely made the most of our time in Turin. We had a lovely Air BnB which was a small apartment in a typically Italian apartment block, and so close to the centre. We were with Liam, our housemate from last year, in Turin, so the three of us did loads of exploring and ate so much yummy food, before cooking a spag bol in the evening which was probably the best spag bol I’ve ever tasted.. Turin is a fab city and I really enjoyed visiting it; it feels a lot more vast than Grenoble but equally not too big. The viewpoint (Monte dei Cappuccini) over Turin is phenomenal and was definitely a highlight! It was a bit cloudy but we were just so grateful that the rain held off (for most of the day)!

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Our night out in Turin was really fun and I tried a sugar shot for the first time – quite literally a sugar cube that is soaked in alcohol and then served in a shot glass.. definitely one that makes your face scrunch up.. Then after not too much sleep that night either, Ellie and I set off on the Saturday morning to Milan. Milan acted as a stopover destination in between Turin and Padova, so we only spent 5 hours there but still managed to see a lot, and we walked so so far. I really loved Milan and it was quite the stylish city that I expected. Coincidentally there was a rally/march entitled ‘Without borders’ through Milan with thousands and thousands of people supporting migrant rights, and it was quite a spectacle; it was amazing to see so many people coming together for this cause. The weather in Milan was faultless, and as was the weather in the next two stop-offs, we got so lucky. Typical Brits walking around with their pasty white legs out!

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A 2 hour train journey later and we were in Padova to reunite with Poppi, Lowri and Naomi; Ellie and I literally dropped our suitcases and ran up to hug the girls. I can’t explain how good it was to be all together again – all 5 of us form our university house for final year and I really can’t wait, such a great group. We spent 3 nights in Padova and we definitely made the most of it: lots of coffee, pastries, pizza, Aperol spritz and Hugo spritz, and not forgetting the sheer amount of laughter that was had between us! Padova is a beautiful little city and I really did fall in love with it, it’s a typically Italian little city with cobbled streets, beautiful small side streets, gorgeous open spaces and just a really nice vibe – Poppi and Lowri are so lucky to live there. We visited the Botanical gardens, had a gorgeous picnic in the park there, and just generally made the most of the gorgeous weather.

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On top of our time in Padova we also managed a day trip to Venice – somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit! Venice lived up to all of my expectations and I really was taken aback by how beautiful it is. Of course I soaked up all of the sights by taking photos at any and every given opportunity (you all know what I’m like with photos). Venice was heaving, as expected, but we still managed to get around a lot of the city. Managing to fit in a trip to Venice meant that I visited 4 Italian cities in just 5 days which is pretty cool! Considering I’d only been to Italy once (Rome) I’m so lucky I had the time to do this trip with my fave girlies.

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I waved goodbye to the girls at the bus station in Padova and then got a bus to Marco Polo airport in Venice; I then flew to Lyon and landed at about 11pm. At this time the airport was completely deserted.. apart from security which happened to be absolutely packed UGH! After having run to completely the wrong side of the airport to get the bus back to Grenoble, I literally then arrived at the bus by the skin of my teeth. Having flown from Italy I landed in a different terminal to usual and it really confused my sense of direction so I was in a right flap. I got on the overpriced bus to Grenoble and was chuffed because it meant that I’d get back to Grenoble in time to then get a tram to my residence, before the trams stop overnight. HOWEVER I arrived in Grenoble only to find that the trams weren’t running due to service works (yet no one was informed about the works).. so I had to pay for an extortionate taxi back to my residence, with a really peculiar driver.

Anyway, I am grateful to be back safe and sound in Grenoble! The last week or so has been an absolute whirlwind and I cannot believe how fast the time has flown by. Being back in Grenoble feels peculiar knowing that most of my friends have now left, but Ciara was still here for the last couple of days so we were out and about on our bikes on Wednesday and enjoyed the sunshine. I have now got my departure certificate signed by the university here, and they are currently finalising my learning agreement, so all admin with the university is done – hurrah!! We went out for some drinks on Wednesday night which was nice – O’Callaghans (an Irish pub) then Tonneau de Diogène (there’s a really cool cellar/cave on the bottom floor of this bar that we sat in), Barberousse (a gin bar shaped like a pirate ship inside) and then the inevitable.. London Pub.

Yesterday was another chilled day, I got a fair bit of packing done, went out on my bike again, sat in the Jardin de Ville with a taco (will it be my last???) with Rich, Alice and Ciara and then we had some gorgeous local ice cream – it was about 28 degrees so everyone had the same idea! That evening we all went to Parc Paul Mistral and sat there with some nibbles, drinks and music for a few hours – this park is lovely and it’s so nice to chill there in the evenings, sooo many people do it. We then got the tram home (heaven with air conditioning) and I went to bed at a sensible time again – which I’ve done for the past few days now so I’m catching up on a lot of sleep.

I’ve done a lot of packing already; my room looks bare because I’ve also taken down all of my photos, posters and bunting!! My parents will arrive tomorrow which I’m so excited about, then they will stay in Grenoble for the weekend, before we pack up everything and drive up North on Monday! We will spend Monday night in the north of France, and then drive back home home on Tuesday.. before I recommence work at my summer job on Wednesday! All systems go. I can’t believe how quickly my Eramsus year is coming to an end!

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