Getting From A to B

Written by carolinepotts March 26, 2024

I am going to miss so many things about Europe when I leave to go back to the States. I will be reminiscing on the memories I have made here for years to come, constantly picturing the sights, the cities, the art, and the nature I have gotten to experience.

Surprisingly, Europe’s transportation is also something I will miss dearly, and I can’t imagine what my experience would be like without it. Here are some of my favorite ways I’ve gotten from A to B!

Trains – Since arriving in Italy, there hasn’t been a week where I haven’t been on a train. Trains have taken me to amazing places like Milan, Florence, and Verona. The train system is impressive and incredibly easy to navigate. The tickets aren’t too expensive, and there are always a ton of options.

On the last day of spring break, I spent the night on an overnight train. My friends and I booked a little private cabin with beds. I realized how exhausted I was as we were boarding our train; my back ached from carrying my backpack around, and my feet hurt from exploring Rome. When we entered our cabin, I breathed an audible sigh of relief when I saw a little bed, just for me. And as zoomed past Italian towns, getting closer and closer to campus, I had the best sleep I’ve ever had on public transportation.

Metros – Upon coming to Europe, I was a little hesitant to ride a metro. While I have previously experienced several subways on family vacations, the idea of navigating public transportation in a foreign language was intimidating. The first metro I used was in Vienna, where everything was in German. My friends and I walked down to the station, purchased our tickets from the machine, and followed the color-coded signs. Fortunately, we found that the metro is extremely easy to navigate and got to see so much more of Vienna because of it! Now, I have been on plenty of metros and have used them to see so many amazing sights and save my feet from miles of walking.

Boats – What’s a better way to travel than on water? I grew up riding boats; my grandpa loves to take his grandkids out to fish on Lake Michigan, and my dad built a boat (called the Sweet Caroline, I must proudly tell you) in our basement when I was in preschool. So, it doesn’t shock me that Venice’s water taxis might be my favorite mode of transportation so far!

It is an expensive ticket (25€ for a 24-hour pass), but very well worth it in my opinion. The water taxis will take you from the train station down the Grand Canal, and we drifted by picturesque views of old palaces, beautiful bridges, and Venice’s famous gondoliers with their striped shirts and long, black boats.

Before leaving for Europe, I was nervous about navigating public transportation here. I come from the middle-of-nowhere, Illinois and have never really had to worry about using transportation other than my own vehicle. Now, I know that public transportation—especially in Europe—is nothing to worry about. It is fast, easy to navigate, and clean. For anyone who is preparing to go abroad, have courage and be creative when booking your transportation. Some of this semester’s most memorable moments have been while getting from point A to point B!