Viva Venice! Two Days in Venice and Burano

Venice

On a recent trip to the north of Italy, after completing five days of quarantine in Quattro Castella in the Emilia-Romagna region, we had a couple of days to visit somewhere before heading on to the second part of our trip to Ravenna on the northeast coast.

Friends who had visited Venice had always spoken so well of the unique canal city and photographs always looked stunning, like a glimpse back in time to a golden era of opera, elegant dress, ornate balconies and orchestras. I’d always thought of it as a place I must visit in my lifetime but had never really made any plans to do so, with other trips and destinations occurring first.

Venice was a mere two-hour train journey from Reggio Emilia with a quick switch at Bologna, so this was the prime opportunity to go!

I liked the idea of travelling to Venice by train, and when we got off at Venice Santa-Lucia station, I was delighted to see that you step off and step out into the street and you are immediately there in the middle of the city, boats sailing along the grand canal, past even grander buildings, people milling round in a watercolour blend of blues, whites, lilacs and golds. It looked like a still-life on a giant canvas, despite all the movement.

Continue reading “Viva Venice! Two Days in Venice and Burano”

Portmeirion: A Little Taste of Italy in Wales

It’s been 18 months since I last left the country, when I visited Reykjavik, Iceland. It had long been one of my bucket-list destinations and I loved every minute but I haven’t been on a sunny holiday for 22 months and even that was visiting Córdoba, Spain, where I used to live anyway. So, technically, I haven’t been on a proper holiday since August 2018- a 3 day trip to Lake Como and Milan. That was 35 months ago.

It’s safe to say that I, like everyone else, am dying for an escape from the same scene of my home country to experience again the joys of a holiday abroad. Britain has some very beautiful places and the Covid-19 pandemic and not being able to travel internationally has had the pleasant advantage of spending more time visiting places here and discovering new corners of the country which had long been overlooked.

Continue reading “Portmeirion: A Little Taste of Italy in Wales”

Learning Italian: My Progress Diary (approx 8-10 months in so far)

Background

I have been learning Italian for approximately 8-10 months now since I met my partner who is from Italy, with varying rates of study. Sometimes I’m able to study intensively, sometimes I learn casually/passively and when work gets busy I can go weeks without much learning at all. He speaks fluent English but I firmly believe that learning his native language too is only fair! Learning a language is also interwoven with learning about a culture and vice versa so that’s another important reason for me.

I’ve been off work for the last 2 weeks for the Easter break so have had much more time to focus on learning Italian. In the UK we have been in a third national lockdown for the last four months due to the Covid-19 pandemic which means there hasn’t been much else to do during this time off! I feel I’ve made a noticeable amount of progress over the last fortnight so thought I would write a blog entry tracking where I am after 8-10 months and what I have done so far. The idea is that I will write another entry in around 3-4 months so I can look back and track how I’ve progressed as it is often hard to gauge. My hope is that international travel will resume this summer and that we will be able to get over to Italy in August (4 months from now) and that I will be able to converse on a basic level with locals in Italian.

One thing I knew from previous language learning was that whatever your learning style, it needs to be multi-sensory, frequent and as immersive as you can make it even when not in a country where your target language is commonly spoken.

Continue reading “Learning Italian: My Progress Diary (approx 8-10 months in so far)”

A Guide to Visiting Reykjavik, Iceland

“The sand is so black and smooth which contrasts with the white foam of the sea and the greyish sky overhead. The tide was out but the waves were quite angry as they came roaring and crashing on to the shore.”

I watched a documentary on Iceland in 2008 and my sister went there in 2009. Ever since then, I had waited and waited for the chance to visit the land of fire and ice for myself.

The opportunity didn’t present itself for a while with so many other things over the years, so many other countries. When my cousins told me they would be visiting Reykjavik before flying on to New York, I booked on to the first part of their trip in a heartbeat! While I would have loved to have gone to New York, I’m in the middle of buying my first house alone so this time it was not to be…

There was SO much preparation to do for those 3 days in Reykjavik and the internet was a goldmine for research. I had to buy so much cold weather gear that will probably sit in my wardrobe unused for a long time but at least it’s there for any future trips.

In this blog post, I’m going to pass on what I did, what you need for a trip there and key information for getting the most out of three days.

Continue reading “A Guide to Visiting Reykjavik, Iceland”

A Guide to Spanish Customs (Part 2)

Welcome to part 2 of my guide to Spanish Customs. They may seem strange to anyone not from Spain as they did to me at first.

Read on to find out a little bit more about how it is to live as a local in Spain.

Some of these show how living in Spain isn’t all beaches and sangría but actually a very difficult baptism of fire when new, alone and lacking in local lingo…

(For part 1, click here)

Continue reading “A Guide to Spanish Customs (Part 2)”