Archive for October, 2015

The End is NOT Now

October 26, 2015

Hello! My name is Amber and I’m hijacking this blog!


That’s me on the left – first selfie I made while in Venice. Keep in mind I’m not a selfie person so that might be the first and last picture you’ll see of me this entire time while I write this blog.


Right so who am I and what have I done with Rachel? I am Amber and I’m the younger sister and only sibling of Rachel. A few years back I was told by Rachel and Mr. Goat that for a christmas gift that they were willing to pay my way to get to Europe. I have never been to Europe nor left the continent before so I was understandably thrilled but hesitant. Three years ago was a rocky time for me – fresh out of college and the student loans weren’t accepting monopoly money for payment. Every year I had to decline the opportunity to go because of financial reasons but after the third year Rachel and Mr. Goat broke the news that they are leaving Zurich for a new city in early 2016 so I should cash in that plane ticket soon.

With money still being slightly tight I decided to screw the rules and take the chance anyways. After 6 months of planning I took my first steps into that plane bound for Milan on October 22nd, 2015.


My first destination is Venice and getting there from Seattle isn’t a smooth and easy trip. My first plane left SEA at 7am on October 22nd bound for JFK and the trip was pretty uneventful though I got a couple of shots of the Puget Sound being absorbed by fog in the morning sun which was nice.

seattle fogseattle fog 2

I had a 3 hour layover in JFK and I was excited to explore the airport because I assume ‘famous airport must have cool things to do’ – NOOOOPPPPEEE. Honestly I thought JFK was smaller than Sea-Tac but more crowded. I ended up huddling near a charger station while watching Back to the Future part 1 and 2 to burn time. The flight to Milan was a little more exciting considering that during boarding I found that I got the window seat in the very back of the plane and the seat right next to be will be vacant during the entire flight – can I get a ‘hell yes’! The flight itself was under 7 hours but in reality it was 9.5 hours. Just before the plane got to take-off the captain can be heard on the PA system:

“uhhh…this is your captain speaking, uhhh….we are, uhhhh….having issues with our, uhhhh….gps system and we’ll need to turn around, uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…yeah”

So. Great. Apparently the GPS just needed to be turned off and turned back on but you know that in the aviation world that takes nearly 2 hours. So after that delay we were in the air bound for Milan and dinner wasn’t served until 10pm (for them Europe folks out there, that’s 22:00). The meal selection (for which I was thrilled there was even a meal option) was either ‘chicken’ or ‘pasta’. I put those two options in quotation marks because when I asked the flight attendant if she was given the same choice, what would be her pick.

“Neither” she said flatly. Great, I’ll take the pasta then!

After inhaling my dinner and promptly tried to fall asleep for the entire duration of the trip. I ended up getting four hours of rest on the plane which was apparently very impressive to Rachel and Mr. Goat when I told them but I was trying to aim for the full 7 hours. I got to see the sunrise over the alps during our approach and got some nice shots:


First thoughts of the landscape of Europe. Small. Everything was small about it even as the plane was decreasing it’s altitude. Small towns, small farm lands, small roads, just small everything. When flying over the midwest, you get a sense of just how BIG the USA is by seeing the size of each plot of farmland for each farmer but in Europe its like a Picasso painting. Many mix-match shapes and sizes that have no sense of organization and lack of a grid. There isn’t really a ‘suburb’ in Italy either – at least, from what I saw at 30,000 feet. There are just clusters of villages and towns surrounded by puzzle piece shaped farmlands. HOWEVER the overall landscape of the Tuscan region was undeniably beautiful.

The plane landed safely at Milano Malpanesa at 9:20am and ‘customs’ (if you would call it that) was just a border agent taking your passport and stamping it once. That’s it. First thoughts of Italy while on the ground – American culture was everywhere. Advertisements of Coke Cola, Bugs Bunny eating a taco (for some reason), MIckey Mouse and most importantly it seemed that there was more Americans in public spaces than actual Italians. Granted, I’m in areas that serve a large number of tourist but I never got the initial ‘culture shock’ that I keep hearing so much about.

Thanks to my several years experience working the public transit system in Washington state, I was (somewhat) confidently able to navigate the train system in Milan. I first got a ticket on the train bound for Milano Centrale from the self-kiosk system. The train itself took a solid hour to travel the distance from the airport to the central station in Milan. Once I arrived I needed to immediately get on a connection train bound for Venice (another additional 4 hours). I finally arrived at Venice Santa Lucia at 2:10 in the afternoon to be greeted by my host for the weekend, Rachel and Mr. Goat.

Next entry will be about my entire time during Venice – pictures below as a preview: