In June, I met up with a friend that I hadn’t seen for 7 years in Copenhagen. She’s from Sydney and we first met in Austin, but now she lives in London. Since we’re on the same continent, it was super cool to catch up in a new place.
We got in after work, and took a train from the airport, past the center, and to our Airbnb in the Nørrebro neighborhood. All of Copenhagen is hip and trendy, but Nørrebro is known to be more of a creative, multicultural, and young student area with loads of cute shops, cozy coffee shops, and late-night bars. Because we got in a little late, most of the restaurant kitchens were already closed, but we ended up finding a Turkish place for dinner give each other the CliffsNotes on what we’ve been up to the last 7 years. It was during Ramadan, so the restaurant was pretty lively as many families were having iftar, breaking their fast and having a great time. Afterwards, we grabbed a bottle of wine from a corner store and had a grand ole time staying in and watching Ali Wong: Hard Knock Wife.
Bikes as far as the eye can see
It was one of the sunniest and warmest Mays on record for Denmark, and we definitely felt it. We slept with the patio door and windows wide open, and I still woke up sweaty and cranky with the sunlight barging in at 4:30 am. A cold shower and a strong coffee from the Coffee Collective was the cure.
We didn’t have much of an itinerary, so we just walked through the lovely neighborhoods to the center. Around the iconic Nyhavn canal, it can get pretty crowded and touristy, especially on nice days. It was so warm that people were walking and cycling around with just a swimsuit on, which reminded me of Austin summers.
There were some good US to Europe flight deals in April earlier this year, so we had several friends spending time across the pond. We met up with Lauren and Steve in Lugano for a couple days while they were doing the Switzerland leg of their trip. Although Nico had lived in Switzerland for a year, we had never made it down to the Italian area of the country.
Although there is a small airport, it’s much simpler to get to Lugano from another major city. We came from Zurich, which took 2 hours by train, because we were there for a day seeing some of Nico’s former classmates. I went back the same way, but Nico took the train 60-90 minutes out to Milan for a work trip.
The moment the train passed into Ticino, the Italian-speaking canton of Switzerland, the vibe changed. Switzerland has four official languages: German is the majority and spoken in the central part of the country, French is spoken in the west, Italian is spoken in the south, and Romansh is spoken in a small pocket in the southeast. Although the Swiss are very proud of being Swiss and have their own distinct culture, the different linguistic regions maintain some strong cultural ties to the countries bordering it that share the same language. Put in simpler terms and from an outsider’s point of view, the train car’s ambient volume increased and overall atmosphere became more chaotic the further south we traveled 😁
Contrary to popular belief, or at least my belief, Malta is not full of Maltese dogs running around everywhere. I didn’t see a single one… 😦
Sand colored buildings, rocky cliffs, and blooming desert shrubs. Malta is part of the EU and is made up of three main inhabited islands: Malta, Gozo, and Comino. It used to be part of the British Empire, so people drive on the left and English is an official language (Maltese is the national language). N doesn’t like driving on the left, so I finally got to pull my weight with some of the driving.
Straight from the airport, we tried to go to the megalithic Ħaġar Qim Temples not too far from the airport. Unfortunately, we got there just before closing time, and they wouldn’t allow us in. We were still able to walk around the outside of the UNESCO site and check out the amazing blue ocean.
Question, why are so many Italian city names anglicized? Milan (Milano), Venice (Venezia), Florence (Firenze), Rome (Roma), but other city names around the world have been de-anglicized. Beijing (Peking), Mumbai (Bombay), Sri Lanka (Ceylon). I know there are many examples of other anglicized names besides in Italy such as Munich (München), but why is it so prevalent in Italy?
The whole city of Venice and the surrounding lagoon is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so they are not allowed to construct any new buildings. Interiors are updated and maintained, but facades remain largely unchanged. The big beautiful doors of buildings that face the canals were actually the “front” doors back when everyone used boats to get around. The city was founded in the 5th century, and I kept thinking, who had the bright idea to build a city on a bunch of teeny tiny islands??
I have been quite lazy and have been putting off writing about my Italy trip. I’ve got plenty of excuses (adopted a cat, started French classes, interviewed for a job, etc.). But it also just seemed so daunting, so I’ll be breaking it up into bite sized pieces.
First impressions, it’s a big city with some very modern and beautiful areas and some slummy areas as well. The drivers are always in a rush, and can be quite rude (seems like this is kind of just an overall Italian thing).
I stayed in Ostello Bello Grande, and it is probably the best hostel I have stayed at to date. Honestly the only downside my entire stay there was that my dorm-mates the first night smelled like sweaty feet… but that’s a risk you take at any hostel. The staff is incredibly friendly and welcoming, the location is right next to the main train station (and a cat cafe), and they offer free breakfast and aperitivo!
Aperitivos are a sort of happy hour with free appetizers (read, delicious Italian food) offered by restaurants and bars throughout the city. If you want to go out, Deus Café, has an aperitivo with good cocktails. It’s crowded, even on a Tuesday, and seems to be a trendy place frequented by locals.