Today is my first day back in Galway after a long weekend in Italy (wow, it is still crazy that I get to write and say sentences like that)! I left last Thursday with eighteen NUIG students for a five-day trip to Italy, hosted by the university’s Italian Society. The experience was absolutely amazing! We flew from Dublin to Verona, Italy, a city with amazing historical sites, trendy city dwellers, and de-e-e-licious food! The first night we found our hostel, after taking a couple wrong turns in the rainy darkness, and scoured the cobblestone back roads to find a place to fill our rumbling tummies. It was late, and we arrived at a small pizza place that had been deserted by its earlier dinner goers. With a little extra effort and an exchange of broken sentences and hand gestures, the waitress managed to get us seated and to communicate that pizza was the only option due to the time. Excited to jump into Italian cuisine, we happily agreed and soon had each settled on our own delicious topping choices. For the bargain price of five euro, we expected to get a nice personal pan size pizza to tide us over until morning. Before we knew it, however, the waitress returned wielding giant saucers in both hands. We were awestruck! For five euro, we each got a full, fresh, steaming, melt-in-your-mouth, authentic Italian pizza... we are talking Pizza Hut medium size pies here!
That glorious first evening set the tone for the rest of the amazing adventure. After two days exploring Verona—including a visit to Juliet’s famous wall—we continued on to Padova. During our one evening in this smaller town we explored the market in the beautiful central square, stumbled upon and cheered at a youth futbol game, and tried our luck at navigating an Italian grocery store. After our day in Padova, we again boarded a train heading for Venice, our final destination. Venice was, in a word, incredible! Have you ever been really excited to go somewhere and then found that it didn’t really live up to the hype? Venice is not one of those places! With its winding canals, narrow back roads, and architectural masterpieces, the city was more beautiful than the movies could ever depict. We explored the city and the surrounding islands for two days and capped off the stay with a nighttime gondola ride down the Grand Canal. I left Italy feeling incredibly fortunate for the opportunity to explore these beautiful places.
After five amazing days in Italy, I returned last night late to Galway ready to get to work. The final exam schedules have been released, and I will be spending the next couple weeks working to get all my term papers completed. I am excited for a productive week and a great St. Patrick’s Day this weekend!
Cheers from Galway,
Irish Phrase of the Week: Grand – A phrase used regularly to describe something as being great or to suggest that everything will work out
Example: “We are going to the movie tomorrow. It’ll be grand!”