Despite how much I love traveling—experiencing new places, food, people, culture, food—it can definitely induce quite a bit of stress. I never realized how much work really must go into planning any sort of weekend trip until I was several hours deep, attempting to book train tickets in Switzerland while simultaneously searching for lodging in Copenhagen that wouldn’t blow my entire monthly budget. Plus, I had only recently gotten settled into a routine here in Grenoble. What business did I have plotting jaunts to other cities and countries so soon?
Yet I can say with confidence that the stress is incredibly worth it. This past weekend, my friends and I took a brief, three-day excursion to Genoa, Italy. We wanted our first weekend trip to be somewhere not too far from Grenoble, but also relatively inexpensive. Since none of us has class on Fridays, we took an early bus (5:20 AM, before the city trams even begin running), which had us in Genoa around 2:00 PM. The first day didn’t necessarily bode well for the rest of the weekend: it was raining, our rented apartment was on the 12th floor of a building without an elevator, and our dinner was virtually inedible. We went to bed slightly weary of what was to come.
Saturday, however, made up for the first day, ten-fold. The narrow, medieval layout of Genoa had us stumbling upon cute restaurants and shops we might not have discovered with a well-mapped route. We wandered for hours, traipsing through the Musei di Strada Nuova to avoid the rain, huddling in a kids’ cafe only to have the best hot chocolate of our lives. “Happy accidents” seemed to be the guiding principle of the day. We rode back on the bus exhausted but enormously pleased with our very short adventure.
Some people might be disenchanted by the idea of going to another city (or even country) for only three days. It seems like a lot of work and money for very little outcome. For me, however, I found the weekend trip to be exceptional way to travel. You can get a taste of their destination without spending a fortune on lodging and food and feeling like you’re away for too long. Of course, you won’t have the opportunity to see a lot and explore super thoroughly, but the weekend trip is a way to see if maybe in the future you’d like to return for a longer stay.
I don’t plan on traveling every single weekend—I chose Grenoble for a reason, and I want to have plenty of time to explore and get to know my temporary home. Yet knowing that there are plenty more weekend trips on the horizon makes me all the more excited for the rest of my semester abroad.