There’s no end of things to do in London – Samuel Johnson wasn’t far off in saying, “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” – but sometimes, it’s nice to get a break. Which is yet another wonderful thing about London: you’re close to 4 large airports. So when an old friend invited me to Italy for a long weekend, I had no trouble saying yes. After all, one of the nice things about postgraduate studies is that they’re focused on independent learning, so you don’t have many classes during the week. As long as I read on the plane, and worked ahead, I was free to enjoy a mini-break.
My friend had never been to Rome before, so we did all the touristy things, like visiting the Vatican (but not until after the new Pope had given his first speech, because the crowds were insane):
and the Spanish Steps:
To me, though, possibly the most exciting part was the food:
As much fun as it can be to play the tourist, though, there’s nothing like being shown around by a local. My friend’s friend drove us all around the city, taking us to her favorite views and pubs, and inviting us to a family dinner. You haven’t lived until you’ve had homemade pizza made by a loving Italian. No matter where you’re going, I recommend meeting up with locals if you can. It just gives you a whole new perspective on the place.
Having said that, there’s a reason tourist destinations are so popular. Which is why we spent our last day on a train to Pisa, to visit the Leaning Tower. I’ve probably seen hundreds of pictures of it over my lifetime, but nothing prepared me for just how extreme the tilt of the Tower was. I enjoyed every second of it – including, of course, the gelato, which was the best I’ve ever had.
I spent the short (and cheap) flight back thinking about how grateful I was that London is so conveniently located for travel. Just one of the many advantages of the place I’m now lucky enough to call home.