A couple of months ago the Intrepid group received an email from our co-ordinator Lisa (or “the boss”) advertising the Marie Curie Alumni Association Annual Assembly, as she was asked by the European Commission. The event would be held at the Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, Italy, on the 4th and 5th of March with a day conference on the 4th and a general assembly on the 5th of March. “What a lovely opportunity to meet other Marie Currie fellows and also visit Venice”, I thought.
Tickets and hotel booked, bag packed and ready to leave for Italy and Venice on the 3rd!
The event took place in two locations: the Santa Margarita Auditorium and the Ca’ Foscari Palace, which is the main building of the university. Alex, Etienne, Jessica, Maurits and Marwan, also, attended the event.
During the first day there were many talks regarding the importance of the Marie Skłodowska Curie Association, the Horizon 2020 and the working/funding opportunities someone has after the end of their PhD or post-doc position. There was also a poster session, where many Marie Curie funded PhD students presented their work. Alex took the initiative to give a poster presentation and represent our “gang”. Overall, the conference was quite nice (the location helped a lot) apart from some poor organisational things we had to encounter.
Now: Venice! What a beauty! Nice buildings, nice food, nice atmosphere. I was so amazed by this city and how beautiful it is. Even though it is full of tourists all the time, it was not too crowded at that period.
Apart from visiting all the famous touristic attractions (almost, as I didn’t go everywhere I wished due to bad weather), we also experienced the high tide of Venice. You know, when the weather is so bad that all canals in the city flood and you need a boat to walk around? (Exaggerating) Italians call it “aqua alta”, or “high water” in English, and according to an Italian friend from Venice: “you are really lucky if you visit the city and there is “aqua alta”” (personally I don’t know whether he was being sarcastic or not!). Lucky me, then!
A reminder to all future visitors: have a city map with you and use it as your bible! It is so easy to get lost around the canals and alleys; really nice when you wander around but not when you want to reach a specific destination! (or when half of the city is flooded).
After my amazing trip to Venice I also had the chance to take some days off and meet with my sister at another city in the north of Italy, Ferrara; which is part of the UNESCO world heritage list. Amazing food, amazing people, amazing city!
Last but not least, the coffee! I felt the need to just dedicate these last few lines of this blog to the coffee I drank in Italy! Literally the most amazing coffee I‘ve drunk! Whatever you‘ve heard about Italian coffee is true. I fell in love with caffè macchiato and I know I will miss it.
Things to remember: Maurits missing the train to Gatwick(!); the feeling to walk through a flooded city; the time spent with other Intrepids; the food (prosciutto will never taste the same again); the wine; the drinks; the train from Venice to Ferrara; the time spent with my sis.