13:42. train to Pisa: €12,40
18:25. plane to Seville: €22,00
21:00. bus to Seville city center: €2,40
two nights at a hostel down the street from the cathedral: €22,00
08:00. bus to Seville airport: €2,40
09:20. flight to Milan: €29,99
12:30. metro to the Duomo and back: €3,00
15:30. train to Arezzo: €39,00
Total transportation and housing cost for a trip to Seville (1550 km away from Pisa) with a mini side-trip to Milan on the way back:
€133,19 after being had for €30 by Trenitalia
One-way flight from Oklahoma City to Cleveland, OH (1535 km away): $216 or
One of the most singularly compelling reasons to live in Europe for an extended period of time is the price of travel. Seriously, mass transit here is excellent and cheap, thanks to the population density of Italy been equivalent to Oklahoma’s, if everyone in Texas, Arkansas, and Kansas moved to Oklahoma. This semester, I have come to realize how much I love taking trains. Ryanair is scary cheap, but more than 90% of their planes land. Ahead of schedule, that is.
Anyway, this past weekend I and a couple of other students headed out to Seville, Spain to take a break from mangando la pizza to try comiendo las tapas. We successfully navigated trains, planes, and buses to get to our destination with only our wits and a couple of years of high school Spanish class to guide us. High school was almost four years ago for me, and if you know my wits, you’ll understand that we spent those few days flying by the seat of our pantalones.
I loved Seville. I love walking around old cities and seeing the layers of time on every brick of every building, every cobblestone of every street, and every flying buttress on every catedral/duomo. But maybe the most memorable part of the trip was the feeling of adventure that comes from being 1500 km away from the nearest people you know. Maybe it was getting kicked out of the Cathedral of St. Mary, the largest cathedral in the world, (for what we still don’t know; they just got really sassy) or maybe it was getting kicked out of the health food shop’s outside table area for bringing Burger King over from next door. Maybe it was the time we got off the train right before it left because we thought we needed to validate our tickets (hint: we didn’t need to, and some nice loiterers let us know in time to get back to our seats).
There’s something marvelous about walking around an old place like Florence with someone as knowledgeable as Dr. Duclaux to help us on and off trains and buses (and Dr. Fagan to generously volunteer to pay our fare sometimes). But it is a truly liberating feeling to successfully travel around three unfamiliar cities (four if you count Bergamo) armed with nothing but “¿donde estamos?” and some offline iPhone maps.
And I still remember when I was afraid to walk anywhere in Arezzo by myself.