Benvenuto a Pavia!

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Saturday, 4 September 2010 at 10:34

In the course of the last few days I have travelled innumerable miles, spoken multiple languages poorly (including English), and have slept in no less than five different beds. I’ve been through France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, and right now I’m sat in my cushy dorm room in Italy.

While the views from my window leave a lot to be desired (hello construction site), the views I’ve seen over the last view days have been incomparable. Having been driven through the endless Belgian countryside, the rolling Luxembourgian hills, over the Moselle, past the Rhine, up and over the Alps at Gotthard, and wandering the streets of Pavia, I’ve seen a lot of amazing views that some people never even see in their lifetime. I’ve slept in a traditional German Gasthaus, and an old Italian casa, and it’s all been good, fun-filled memories.

When I first got down to writing this, I'd been in Italy for less than 24 hours, and was sans internet, sans flatmates, and a long way from home. I'd been in Pavia for five hours, mostly spent looking for my accommodation and annoying professors, secretaries and security guards in the whole town by being lost!
Still, I found my Residenza, and my room, and then found out...I'm so far out of town I'm not even on a road that exists, I'm not all that close to a bus stop, and everything is miles away!

Sure, I may have a posh swipe-card to get in, an elevator next to my room, a TV room which (looking at the layout of this place, is more like a lecture theatre), a games room, and an ensuite bathroom, but I'm not exactly close to the University. I attempted walking back from town yesterday, and it took me an hour in the blazing sun. Honestly, while it was's a ridiculous walk. I can't get a bus pass until I have a tax code, and I've yet to suss out where the nearest tobacconist is, so I can buy bus tickets whilst I don't have said code.

So, instead of waxing lyrical about the journey, let’s do the official rundown:
Day 1 – Wales to France: Standard. A bit choppy on the ferry, but, that’s to be expected.
Day 2 – France to Germany: So very, very long. I think I never want to see Belgium or Luxembourg again, just because I’ve had enough of ‘rolling hills’ for one lifetime! However, the Gasthous was nice, even if things were broken and the owners weren’t there to check us in!
Day 3 – Germany to Italy: Stunning. Possibly the most amazing journey possible to man. While the German end didn’t seem so appealing, once we hit Switzerland everything seemed amazing. Germany does “big” just to put you down, while Switzerland does “big” just to make you go “oooooooo”. Arriving in Italy, I found my language skills to be very rusty, but, there we go.
Day 4 – Certosa di Pavia to Pavia: Rushed. Apart from the fact my family needed to be in Kolmar that night, they took me everywhere I thought the Residenza would be. We visited colleges, the city streets, and so many other places, and yet nobody knew what the hell was going on apart from one woman at the end of a telephone.

Still, I made it here, and managed to get by with my rusty Italian. Admittedly, the Italians insist on speaking to you in English - except for in Carrefour, where the guy spoke so fast I assumed he said "Do you have a loyalty card?", answered "No", and then looked confused when he didn't offer me any bags - much to his annoyance I then queried this, and he replied "I asked. You said no!" Whoops! I've spoken more Italian in the last 48 hours than I have in the last two years, I guess. Most of it is repeating myself so that people will give me a definitive answer, because so far answers to "When..." have all been "Later" -- "When do I pay you?" "Later" -- "When do I get my tax code?" "I'll email you...later."

It's all good though, now we are three days in. Just got to keep at it, until lectures start at the end of the month!


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