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You in London, me in Padua

Since I've been living in Padua, I've learned that distance isn't measured in kilometres, but instead in hours spent travelling and how much you want to see each other.

My story in this city started a bit like the title of the film*: ready to start an incredible year, and at the same, maintaining a long distance relationship. Although a lot of people think that things like this are incompatible, the advantage of going on an Erasmus exchange to a city with such good transport connections makes a situation like this more bearable.

Since I moved here then, I've had time to go to London three times to see my ragazzo, I've been to Spain once and also gone on a small tour of the closest Italian regions. I've got plane tickets to visit Belgium and Holland (14 euros return price) and, if it wasn't for my exams, I'd also have joined in with a trip from Trieste to Ljubljana my friends are organising.

So, how come it's so easy and cheap to do all these things?

Trains in Padua

To start with, trains in Italy are the most popular form of public transport and definitely the best organised. You can get from Padua to Venice and back for less than 6 euros, or to Verona for 10 euros. These are the regional trains which, although they stink of cows, are a Godsend for students on a tight budget.

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Juliet House, Verona

You also use Freccia-Argento trains, which are like Ave in Spain - high speed trains - but cheaper.

To check out connections and prices, take a look at this site: Trenitalia.

Flying from Padua

Five airports in the main surrounding cities are reachable from Padua. From closest to furthest away, these are: Venice Marco Polo, Venice Treviso, Verona, Bologna and Bergamo.

Venice Marco Polo Airport

Location: Venice/Tessera

How to get there: Take the direct bus from Padua for 4. 50 euros. Journey time is 1 hour 5 minutes. The bus timetable can be found here.

Airlines: All.

Additional information: This is Venice's main airport, offering low cost airlines and normal ones. Particularly good for travelling with easyjet.

Venice Treviso Airport

Location: Treviso.

How to get there: Take the direct bus from Padua for 4. 50-6 euros. Journey time is 1 hour 8 minutes. The bus timetable can be found here.

Additional information: There are lots of cheap Ryanair flights from here.

Verona Airport

Location: Verona.

How to get there: Take the train from Padua to Verona, which takes 1 hour and costs 5 euros, and then the shuttle bus from Verona to the airport, which takes 20 minutes and costs 5 euros.

Additional information: All airlines fly from here, including low cost ones. Sometimes it's worth flying here instead of to Venice Treviso if the flight is cheaper.

Bologna Airport

Location: Bologna.

How to get there: Take the train from Padua to Bologna, which takes an hour and a half and costs 7. 50 euros, and then the shuttle bus from Bologna to the airport, which takes 20 minutes and costs 5 euros.

Additional information: All airlines fly from here, including the low cost ones. A good idea when there are cheap flights to and from here and not to Venice Treviso.

Milan Bergamo Airport

How to get there: Take the train from Padua to Bergamo, which takes two and a half hours and costs 27 euros, and then the bus from Bergamo to the airport, which takes 15 minutes and costs 1. 60 euros.

Additional information: Above all, low cost airlines fly from here. This is where all the Ryanair flights from Milan fly from, and is only of interest when you find flights much cheaper than ones to and from Venice, Verona or Bologna. The trains aren't very frequent, so you may sometimes have to stay the night there. In my opinion, this is the least recommendable airport reachable from Padua.

Tricks for saving money with Ryanair

Whoever's bought a plane ticket online before will know that they charge a 5 euro service fee when paying by card, which you can avoid by using a Mastercard Prepaid card.

These cards are available to everyone. If you're a La Caixa customer, you can apply for a Cibertarjeta, which you can also put money on for a 1% commission charge.

If you're not a La Caixa customer, you can do what I did and get a Prepaid Banesto Mastercard.

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This is an entirely free card which charges you no commission for topping it up. It has to be registered with the customer's bank account number (or at least that's how it works in Seville. Ask at Banesto just in case).

Ryanair prices

Obviously, it's not all roses using this airline, since their main problem is that the airports they fly from and to aren't always close to the destination cities.

Before your journey, I recommend you write up a complete budget of how much the flight will cost you on top of the trains and buses you'll have to catch in order to get to your final destination.

I've already given you an overview of the cost of travelling from Padua to the nearby Italian airports, but on the Terravisión website (the bus company that runs cheap buses to and from Ryanair airports) you can find the bus prices abroad too.

For example, a return trip to London would cost me 37 euros for the flight itself, plus a return journey on the bus from Padua to Venice Treviso airport (2 x 4. 50 euros) and then 14 pounds for the return bus from Stansted Airport to London. This would total 53 euros.

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Whoever said long distance relationships were impossible?

I don't have time for much more today, as I'm in the middle of my exams! Afterwards though, I'll tell you about how they went, so I'd better do OK.;)

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* The film I'm talking about is 'The Parent Trap' - the Spanish version is called 'You in London, me in California'.



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