From then on, everything got better, I was right in the center of Siena, I had my own balcony in Siena, I was offered free cappuccino and a thirty minutes massage for free as well (didn't take the massage...not sure why, because my back really needed one).
Siena decided to kick my ass on my arrival. Getting of the bus at the train station, I had to walk to the city center with my heavy backpacks, and it was a pretty long walk if I must say. I found it weird, but funny, that you have to get inside a shopping center to catch some endless rolling stairs (that are inclined by the way, so the entire time I had to force myself not to fall on my back because the weight of the bag would push me down) in order to get to the historical center of Siena.
As usual, I got lost, or couldn't figure out where I was from my map, so I just sat on some stairs in the middle of the ground and stayed there for a pretty long time, because I had seen the pictures of how the street from the hotel was suppose to look like, and I was sure I wasn't even close to getting there!
I finally decided to get up, but for some reason my backpack didn't want to get on my back, or I was out of strengh, but a very nice man came running from across the street to help me - saving the princess in distress I see! And then I just found a policeman and asked him to help me with my typical phrase "Hello...I'm lost!" and he was great, got his map of Siena from the car (because it seemed my map sucked!) and told me where to go, endind the phrase with "it's about 2km from here" (Oh Great! 2 more km to go!). Backpacking is like going to gym every three days. I feel like my legs shall look pretty hot by the time I get back home because the poor things are working hard these last few weeks!
The path to the hotel was hard, but OH MY GOD was it worth to climb the stairs to the 4th floor after such a long walk! I was first put in a room right next to the reception that was ok, but not amazing for the thirty euros I was paying. And then, for some reason, the owner went to ask me if I wanted to change to a room with a balcony for the same price and once he showed it I was like "Hell, Yes!"
From then on, everything got better, I was right in the center of Siena, I had my own balcony in Siena, I was offered free cappuccino and a thirty minutes massage for free as well (didn't take the massage...not sure why, because my back really needed one).
Can I say these two days, wandering around Siena and drinking cappuccinos in my balcony made me feel like a princess? And for a moment there I also felt like Elizabeth Gilbert while she was in Italy, because all I wanted to do was write, write, write, and I was so happy to be in Italy that I can't even put it into words!
After exploring Umbria, Siena was just what I needed. I got two nights of a room all to myself, away from the hostels and sharing a room with ten people, and it made me good. I got to relax and enjoy Italy in a different way and it felt so good! I remember thinking "I could so get used to this life! I love this!"
Tip: If you're getting from Perugia to Siena, I suggest you get the bus instead of the train (you'll have to go to Florence and change to Siena and it will take you 3 to 4 hours and it's more expensive). The bus leaves just outside Perugia train station, across the street, and if someone tells you to buy the ticket inside the bus, it's not true! Go a little before the departure time and on the left side of the street you have a travel agency where you buy you're ticket for 18€. The bus ride will be of 1h and it will leave you at Siena's train station.
I still cannot believe this is really happening. After months of planning and dreaming of making a big trip, I am now on the road, happy to have made the best decision of my life.
While I was planning my backpacking journey around Europe, I didn't know what to expect. I would dream that I would have this moment when everything would make sense, and I did. As I sat on my balcony in Siena, drinking a really nice cappuccino, I suddenly got a smile on my face and had to stop a tear from rolling onto my face. This is it! This is what I want to do. And the smile on my face remained there for a very, very long time.
I've always been the kid who couldn't figure out what to do with her life. I've played so many sports I even lost count. I've changed my mind about what I want for my future like a million times, and I always felt lost because of it.
"What do you want to be when you grow up?" the question of my nightmares for as long as I can remember, because it sucks when you're the only person you know who can't decide on a career.
It's now two weeks since I said goodbye to my mum at the airport as I cried like a baby thinking "what the hell am I doing?" and I can tell you with no doubt that yes, goodbye is hard, it really is true that stepping out the door of the comfort of your home is the hardest part. Face it, going alone to the unknown world is scary. It's like you do the same thing everyday for as long as you can remember, and out of the blue you're on a plane to a place you've never been to, and there's nobody waiting for you on your arrival. Yes, it's the scariest thing I've probably done in my life, butI knew it would be and I still wanted to go.
So, two weeks after leaving home, one flight, nine trains, six buses and eleven new places visited, here I am, in a country where everything fits into perfection, where food, language and culture mix into a country in a shape of a boot, and with places that make me smile and cry all at once everytime I arrive somewhere new.
In two weeks I've stayed at the worst hostel in the world where I had to turn into a ninja to jump to my bed since there were no stairs, I've freezed to death with my 20kg backpacks on, I've beaten a guiness record by getting sick in less than 24h after leaving home. I had the strongest believe I was going to die in the craziest city I've ever been to. I've gotten in the worst train in the world that was so old it rained inside. I got lost and frustrated and thought I was the worst traveler ever which got me to loose a return ticket that I had to buy again.
I've discovered plans fall apart and no matter how much you plan, sometimes it's just not meant to be and things won't turn out the way you want, and sometimes you'll fall on your ass in the middle of historical ruins - it happened, yes! - and you'll have to get up and laugh about it.
I've yelled at a begger in Naples and was so scared of this city I even forgot to buy postcards. I've walked in streets I had only seen in pictures, and I can tell you photos aren't fair to many place I've now seen with my own eyes.
I've climbed a tree to steal oranges, and I've been kicked out of my seat on the train because I was travelling first class (my ticket was for 2nd) and I didn't know. I've been told "miss, no pictures" as I thought "yes sir, pictures!" and even after being caught I keep taking them - I was in the Sistine Chapel so of course I was going to take pictures!
I've talked to strangers and every single time they were kind and helped me even if they didn't understand much of what I said. There are good people everywhere in the world. Don't be scared or fooled by what you see in the news. The world is field with good and kind people that will help you on your way, just have a little faith!
I almost lost the only bus of the day because Italians fooled me into thinking I could buy my ticket inside the bus (LIES!), and as the bus came I had no ticket and had to trust my backpack to an Indian girl (like I said, have a little faith that people you meet along the way have a good heart) and run to a travel agency to buy it. Crazy Italians!
I've felt like a superwoman carrying my backpacks (try walking lost for 2 hours and then climbing the stairs to the 4th floor with 20kg in two backpacks, I dare you!). I'm sure by the end of this trip I'll have legs like a dude.
I've discovered that chinese people are everywhere and they walk the streets in packs of dozens with their selfie sticks all over the place, and I found out that most Italians only know one phrase in English and it's their favorite: "I don't know", because when you work at the train station ticket office and you don't know what train goes to the next town, I believe there's a problem there gentleman!
And I had this brilliant idea of hopping on the first bus I saw in San Gimignano and ended up in a place called Poggibonsi (yep, that exists) with no idea how to get back to Siena.
I've got tricked, TWICE, by buying very expensive pizza that ended up being microwave pizza. And I think I might be having a relationship with pizza (happy Valentine's Day?), because I eat it all the time - I've eaten pizza at 10am three times! I am in pizza heaven so give me a break.
You cannot say no to pizza when you see a pizzeria every four steps of your way, it's impossible.
To sum it up, I've been having fun playing Elizabeth Gilbert on the eat part of her journey.
The start of the trip was specially harsh on me. Horrible hostel, rain and cold, getting sick, having my favorite place in Rome under construction, feeling at home but overwelmed with the experience of being alone in a big city with no one to fall back on and paying a very expensive taxi ride on my arrival.
Rome had been my love for over a year, right after my first visit to the city, and this time I feel I didn't give it the time it desserves.
I went back to Rome again, this time to meet family for three days and it was a pretty cool thing. I did a very diferente life than my alone days. We've eaten well, tasted the best cappuccino and the best gelato in Rome and ate fresh AMAZING pasta on the Spanish Steps, and I stole oranges after climbing a tree of some garden on our way. Life's pretty awesome right now!
Campania: naples, Pompeii & Sorrento
This city did not treat me right. I got so scared I just wanted to cry, since people's warnings got me believing I would get my backpacks stolen or possibly get killed. It all turned out just fine, but Naples has a weird vibe and it's too messy for me. Pompeii was good in the way I made a friend at the hostel to go with, but the weather was horrible, and we ended up lost in the ruins for 2h and only got to see two bodies, which kinda sucked. Still, I also have to go back to Naples in a near future because I really, really, want to visit the Amalfi Coast and climb up Mount Vesuvius!
Umbria: Perugia, Assisi & Spello
I want to go back, NOW!
Umbria's small towns were pure perfection. I don't think I was ever as happy wandering narrow streets as I was here. It was like time travelling into a Ken Follett novel but with much nicer flowers in the picture. I cannot even explain to you the colors of this places, so much better than gold! I'm telling you I lived a short fairytale right here, and these places are in my heart. I could have stayed there much, much longer and still be blowned away by Umbria over and over again. I know I am coming back, I just know, because I have to.
tuscany: Siena, San Gimignano & Florence
Is it possible to fall in love everyday for a new place? Siena was a surprise, but one I was already expecting and I'm happy it was just like I imagined it. Even after eating the worst bread in this town - I keep getting tricked because of my tourist looks, I need to do something about this -, it is in my top places, maybe because I had my own balcony with a top view over Siena that made me feel like I could do this for the rest of my life and be a very happy person.
San Gimignano was the place that took me forever to get there, but it was worth it, still the 8€ microwave pizza and the 2€ coffee was totally unnecessary, but you live and you learn, and I am never asking for a coffee again without asking the price first!
And then there's Florence, THE PLACE! I wasn't expecting such a big city and so many people everywhere, but this place is incredible and I cannot even start talking about The Duomo, because there're no words or pictures than can make justice to it. It is the most amazing monument I've ever seen, I can't even understand how can someone build something like that, honestly it's impossible, it's like they built the impossible to the human hand! And Ponte Vecchio of course is amazing as well, but it's kinda hard to enjoy with all the selfie sticks all over the place (seriously, people are nuts with their selfie sticks!)
I cannot wait to experience what next weeks have to offer me.
The next few days include going back to Rome and up to Florence again, Lucca (maybe Pisa if I feel like it), Venice, Verona and Bologna - and some smaller towns along the way, because apparently I've also discovered on this trip that I am a bigger fan of smaller places than packed cities.
My day was a total mess! From the moment I woke up I knew things wouldn't turn out the way I wanted.
This was my plan: wake up super early, get the metro to the train station, get the train to Sorrento and get the bus to Amalfi with the most amazing view ever, wander all day between Amalfi and Salerno, and then go back to Naples to eat the best pizza in the world.
Waking up super early went down the drain since I had a VERY annoying guy on the bed on top of mine, who decided to be the worst roomate ever and ended up talked all night and making so much noise doing god knows what. And since I couldn't really sleep, by the time my alarm clock rang, I was way too tired and said the typical "five more minutes and I'll get up". Well, I didn't! By the time I got up it was already 9am and I was way too late, I knew I was!
Got out as fast as I could, but I guess when you're in a real hurry things tend to make you later! I only had a 20 and I needed coins to buy to metro ticket, and being Sunday, the only thing open was like a newspaper stand with a very old lady in it. Now, try explaining this simple thing "hello, I need to change this 20 for coins for the metro ticket, please" to a lady who doesn't speak a word of English and can only speak Italian. Come on, I know some Italian (I'm getting better and better by the day!), but that was one hell of a push for my Italian, so between English, Italian, Portuguese and even Spanish, and a lot of gestures and about 30 minutes later I got what I wanted!
After trying to find myself an option to the Circumvesuviana train, I finally accepted that If I wanted to go to the Amalfi Coast (the only thing that made me go to Naples in the first place) I would have to deal with an hour on that train and imagine it was a great ride.
This part I am not proud of, but the problem in Naples, the big one, is the beggers. You cannot move an inch without having someone begging you for some money. I've never seen so many in my life! And their favorite trick is to get the kids to ask for the money which is just mean because they make puppie faces that really make it hard to say no to. At this train line you'll get a man or a woman playing some instrument and very loud (but funny) music, and then the kid (with adorable clothes) will ask people money. So what am I not proud of? Well, I was trying to buy a sandwich for my lunch later, and a boy, young one, maybe 15 years old, kept asking me money. And I said no, but he didn't leave and he insisted again and again, and I ended up yelling at the poor kid. Luckily I yelled in Portuguese so I'm sure he didn't understand a thing, but I felt horrible after.
Hop on the train, and was lucky to have some cuties sitting next to me who at least spoke English, which was funny once they realized I spoke English too and I had understood everything they were saying the entire time. Note to self: after arriving at an unknown train station, don't go to the bathroom, because everybody will basically disappear and you won't know where to go from there.
This is what happened, once I got back up to the station, there was nobody there, and as I got out of the station I didn't know where to get the bus to Amalfi, so I decided to look for it - bad, bad idea!
I was lost. Wandered everywhere and there was no sign of a bus station. Eventually I gave up. It was already too late to get the bus anyway, since it would take 1h30 to get to Amalfi and other 1h30 to get back to Sorrento, so I decided that was it. But if I was not getting to Amalfi, at least I would get to know Sorrento, which was not in my plans at all, but it was a nice (still, definitely not Amalfi by far!).
There's not much to do in Sorrento really. It is a very, very small place straddling in a cliff and with a centro storico with loud souvenir stores, churches, cafes and restaurants. So, if you happen to be stuck in Sorrento for a few hours like me, try to enjoy it the best you can. Walk around, watch the locals, sit at Villa Comunale Park and enjoy the amazing view - you can get a sight of the Vesuvius and Naples across the Bay of Naples which is very impressive and made my train ride worth it.
The train from Naples to Sorrento will cost you 3,6€ (7,2€ round-trip) and it will take about 1h to get there. If you plan to go to the Amalfi Coast as a day trip from Naples, I suggest you wake up with the birds (or earlier) because it will take you 1h to Sorrento and then 1h30 by bus to Amalfi. The bus to Amalfi leaves right outsider the Sorrento train station, so don't go looking for it, like I did. Just wait outsider the train station if it isn't there and it will eventually show up.
Perugia is an immediate likable little town and it's incredible how such a small place can have it all. It will make you travel in time with its shadowy cornered streets, arched stairways and alive Piazzas.
From the moment I arrived, peope were gente and kind as they helped me find my way to the hostel, and by then I knew two nights here wouldn't be enough and I could already feel the bittersweet goodbye.
This small medieval city is for sure my favorite so far. I don't think I've ever said the phrase "Oh my God" as often as I did here!
Even exausted after a 5h bus drive from the chaotic Naples, I got my backpacks down at the hostel and went exploring for the rest of the afternoon. I felt so lucky this time, or maybe I'm just getting better at this travelling thing, because my hostel was exacly in the centre of Perugia, literally one street behind the main square, which allowed me to stay out later and not have to get any bus or metro anywhere.
I walked all the way threw my exploring time and it felt amazing.
There's an inclined elevator that gets you to the storic centre with the most amazing view of the Umbrian vineyards, so make sure you hop on it because it's free and mind blowing! And the best thing to do in Perugia? Walk around an get totally lost! Ain't no better way of enjoy Perugia than that! You don't even need a map - I bought one but that's because I tend to get lost way too much and it gets hard to find my way back -, all you need is a spirit of adventure and off you go. And don't worry about not finding your way to the main square, because you'll find it just fine. All you need is a bit of common sense, and have somekind of direction - like if you remember coming down, just make sure at some point you go all the way back up.
So, if you happen to be somewhere in Italy and Perugia may not be in your plans, make sure to include it,even if just as a day trip, I promise it will be a day well spent and that Perugia will be a giant and pleasant surprise, and by the end of the day, you'll be sad you have to leave and you'll be eager to come back.
Not convinced yet? Scroll down the photos and I'm sure that's all the convincing you need.
Pompeii was not in my plans when I decided to go to Naples, but the first question I was asked once I arrived at the hostel was "Are you going to Pompeii? You have to go!", and it made me wonder If I should go.
My only idea of day trips from Naples were the Amalfi Coast (which I missed, because I'm a huge trol and I managed to get lost in Sorrento looking for the bus. I'll tell you this story some other time), and to go up the Mount Vesuvius - I mean, climbing to the top of a Vulcano sounds AWESOME!).
The weather was horrible, and after spending my first day closed in the hostel of Naples, I had to do something. I was still too scared to go to the center (stupid me), and the Amalfi Coast was not na option with bad weather, and because everybody told me to go to Pompeii, and after finding out it would stay a lot cheaper than going to the Vesuvius, I decided to go for it.
I was incredibly lucky to make a friend at the hostel who was the nicest girl ever, and we went together to the ruins. And God am I happy I had someone to go with. We were both a little scared of Naples and going alone would've been overwelming, because like I said before, the train line that goes to Pompeii and Sorrento is not a very good one, since it makes stops all over very poor areas of Naples and it can get scary with all the graffities, gypsies and beggers.
Small tip: before rushing to get into the ruins, get the map! We didn't notice there was a stand right next to the ticket office that was selling maps and audio guides (I've heard the maps are for free). say this because wandering around huge ruins and not having a clue where you are or where you're suppose to go sucks. We were in Pompeii for around two hours and were lost the entire time. Normally I kinda love the idea of being lost in a place, but old ruins is not part of the list of cool places to get lost.
So we wandered around for quite a long time, and we couldn't manage to find the bodies. I thought they would be somewhere closed to the entrance or at least easy to find, but not really. So we passed by two old guys, I believe guards of the ruins, and the girl who was with me was like "is it too bad if we ask where the bodies are?" say no more! I went to the old guys and played the weirdo part and just asked "I'm sorry, where can we see the bodies?" Ok, see? It wasn't that bad! We moved fast to the place he directed us to and well, we found the bodies, made me jump when I first saw them, but then I counted: 1...2!
"Creppy!!! I want more!" This was were I got disappointed to discovered those where the only bodies at the ruins. Just two! And I'll be honest with you, I thought I would see the bodies sill on the ground on the place those people got hit by the lava, and not into some boxes. Sorry, but it was disappointing.
We still wandered around for quite a while, took a lot of pictures and tried our best not to fall on our asses - which was a very difficult task with the rain and all the holes everywhere!
Hop on the train back, after missing one for a few seconds, and got a funny ride as the two Italian guys in front of us were just way too entertaining. They looked like a couple of boyfriends, sharing the phones of their Mp3 and then having a fight in which one got very mad and the other was trying to apologize, it was hilarious! Ok, it doesn't sound that much funny now, but if you had seen the characters I'm speaking you'd be laughing right now. Just imagine a very Italian (Naples style) with his typical mustach and a shirt that was probably from when he was tem years-old - yes, we had a view of his belly the entire ride!
Eventually I said goodbye to my friend for the day, and I can say it made me feel a little lonely, because yes, I was again alone, and I was in Naples, but well, had to keep going and leave my fear behind or it would ruin my trip.
This journey to Pompeii will cost you 2,6€ (so 5,2€ round-trip. Or, if you want to try save a little Money don't by the return ticket, you can just hop on the train back and you can totally get away with it. I did!
The entrance to the ruins is 11€ or if you're na European citzen under 25 you can just pay 5,5€ (pretty cheap!)
Everybody says the same about Naples: a very dangerous city!
Now, before I even start to tell you about my experience in Naples, I want to tell you the conversation I had while I was still in Rome, with a man at my hostel who was from this scary city:
Him: So where are you going after Rome?
Him: Ah! I'm from Naples!
Me: Great! Can you tell me how it's like?
Him: It's a nice city. But you're meeting friends there?
Me: No...I'm going alone.
Him: (disaproval face) Oh...that's not good. Naples alone is not very safe.
Me: Why? (starting to freakout)
Him: Well...no, it's ok! It will be entertaining! The only problem of Naples is the shooting! They shot all the time.
Me: (totally freaking out) WHAT? Like, with guns?
Him: Yes, yes! But you'll be ok. They don't shoot tourists, just themselves. They have Mafia code.
Me: OH MY GOD, I'M GOING TO DIE!
Him: Don't worry, you'll be back. But not with your bags. Maybe you should take a fake backpack.
ME: (TOTAL FREAK OUT)
This conversation got me searching for options to Naples. I sat in front of a computer for a very long time trying to find another place I could go instead. Seriously, I do not have a death wish, I don't want to go to a place where "they shoot themselves all the time" and where my backpacks will get stolen the second I get out of the train. My freakout session went on for a while there, but after realizing there was no other option and that I would just have take a leap of faith, I got used to the idea.
Are you ready? - A guy at my dorm asked me
No...but I have to go...
After almost getting out at the wrong station, I got out of the train so scared all I wanted to do was cry. I held my bags so hard my hands got super red. I decided it was a good idea to make a badass face, and so I walked my way threw the station with a face screaming "Don't mess with me!". To get to the metro I had to leave the train station with beggers and streets sellers all over the place. Again, badass face (I think this kinda works, because I've watched people from Naples and they always walk with a very serious face).
Speak to no one, look to no one. Please don't cry!!
Almost there, just need to find the hostel now...nop, not this way. Oh God! Lost, I am lost in Naples and I am going to die, right after someone steals my backpacks. Need to check the map, so I need to get my phone. Brilliant idea! Get in the pharmacy! The guy just looked at me and said "Signorina?", me almost crying with 15kg of bags on me "I need help..." - I think I might have looked like a lost puppie because he smile at me, came out and got me in the right direction to find the hostel. I managed to get lost again (in just 30 meters) but I eventually found the hostel.
RELIEF! I'M ALIVE! AND MY BACKPACKS TOO!
It was the biggest relief to find my hostel in Naples was AMAZING! Seriously, everything is good, people are great, super friendly, and I have my privacy at the same time, and I feel perfectly safe all the time. I'm starting to understand how the place you stay can influence your experience of the place.
I only spent a few hours exploring (or trying to) Naples itself, because of the three nights I got here, the first was the day of my arrival and it was raining so much I just stayed at the hostel; And then I took my time to go visit Pompei and Sorrento and by the time I wanted to explore the historic centre of Naples, it was Sunday afternoon, everything closed, almost no one on the streets, and I didn't have a map, so I didn't real feel ok by going further with my exploration and just stayed at main street (because I've heard I should follow my gut, and with a good camara in my hands, I felt it would be a bad idea to keep wandering around with fear of getting lost or ending up in some bad neighbourhood).
Now, is Naples dangerous? Are there shooting all the time? Did my backpacks got robbed? No, no and no!
If you want to visit Naples, you have to come with an open mind. You cannot expect amazing monuments and constructions like in Rome, or pretty, clean streets. The beauty of Naples is in its people, not in the place itself. Yes, Naples is a very dirty city, and yes it has its problems, but besides my fear (which I had because of what other people kept telling me about Naples and how horrible it was), nothing happened, and nothing happened to anybody who was staying at my hostel either.
If you want to understand these people better, you should (you probably will) take the circumvesuviana train that goes to Pompeii and Sorrento, because you'll see the amount of poverty these people live in, it blew my mind. I was told to expect poverty, but I was not prepared to see that many slums and terrible living conditions for the entire 1h train ride.
Should you come to Naples? Sure, do! Naples has a lot to offer, and you have to see with your own eyes and forget about what other people say about this city. "Travelling is discovering everybody is wrong about other countries" right? Don't be a chicken! Or be a chicken but go to Naples anyway. I promise if you're carefull with your things and yourself -like you'd be any other place you travel to -, you'll be ok, because from the people I spoke to here, they were very nice to me, they helped when they saw me lost and they always had a smile on their faces when they did. If you're not comfortable walking around the historic centre, the surroundings are a must: Capri, Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Mount Vesuvius. Just think twice, give Naples a chance. Maybe you'll hate it, maybe you'll love it, but at least you'll know from experience! I'm happy I didn't quit, and ended up going besides my fear, and I already have it on my list of places I'll have to come back to.
Where you ever in Naples? Are you a lover or a hater? Is it in your wish list?
Have I mentioned how much I love Rome? I was in Rome last year, and I've written about it before (Falling in love with Rome; Do not go crazy over Indian souvenier shops in Rome like I did; Getting a bus ticket in Rome), but this city is so amazing that I don't get tired of writing about it.
I don't know what it is about Rome that makes me feel so much at home. It's like I feel incredibly safe walking the streets on my own, and it's ok to get lost once in a while, actually, it feels good to get lost and figuring out my way back to the right path. I even get a feeling that people might mistake me for a local (except when they ask me something in Italian and I totally freeze!). Now that I think about it, I've had a lot of people thinking I was Spanish because of my looks (sure they never heard me speak Spanish, because if they did they would mock me so bad, like someone who once told me I looked like Doraemon talking). I even get the metro and the bus like I am in Lisbon, like I do this everyday! It's like I belong here and I could stay in Rome for a very long time.
I've been really unlucky with the weather this time. Of the three days in rome, it was raining the entire time, which got me sick after only 24hours away from home. I'm sure this has got to be somekind of a record. I think the rain discovered my trip plans and decided she wanted to backpack Europe too, because everytime I check the weather, rain is there. Should I tell her I don't want her company?
There's nothing like waking up when the sun is not even up in the sky when you're travelling. Before I came on this trip, I told myself I would get up early everyday and enjoy things as much as I could, I would get out of the hostel once the sun came up, and I would get back once it started to get dark. Why? Well, I know this is a vacation, but I've worked to hard for 8 months to get here, and I've been dreaming about this for all that time that I don't want to miss on anything!
On the first day I had seen the weather, and I knew I had until about 1pm until it started raining, so I was out of the door by 7.30am, got on the metro and started where I'd planned to start in the first place: Colosseo. First smile on my face was when I asked the metro ticket IN ITALIAN - Oh, Italian, I've missed you so much!
Of course nothing ever happens the way I plan - don't know why I even bother trying -, and as I got to the Colosseo it was raining like hell, and so cold I couldn't feel my nose. I AM IN ROME! That's what I screamed inside my head to keep warm, as I walk the street one foot after another.
For all the plans we've made!
I walked the streets of Rome, taking the steps I had taken a year ago, and for each step I got happier because I kept comparing the person I was the first time I was here, and the person I am now. Can a person change this much in just one year? I mean, year ago I would NEVER even consider travelling alone, and today here I am.
Walking the streets of Rome again got me thinking how I will always regret my decision of not doing my Erasmus in Italy. Don't get me wrong, I LOVED Switzerland, but Italy felt right from day one, I don't really know why, but I just feel at home. Ok, maybe I do know why: ITALIAN (pure joy to my ears) and THE FOOD (Oh My God, this is the best food ever!), and pretty much everything from the colors of the narrow roads to the crazy traffic and the noise all day long, I love it all!
I couldn't have chosen a better place to start my solo travel. By being a city I already knew, things weren't that much scary, in fact, they weren't scary at all, and maybe this is why my trip wasn't that real to me yet. For the three days I was in Rome I had this weird feeling that this could only be a dream, that I was for sure at home in my bed sleeping and dreaming I was in Rome. It only hit me once I hop on the train to Naples (another story to tell).
This might be new, but I had never been at a hostel before, and Rome was my first hostel experience, and let me tell you something: HORRIBLE!
After arriving by táxi and getting totally robbed when he asked me 20euros for the ride, he pointed at the building of the hostel.
Me: That one in construction?
Me: Of course it is...(a million thoughts on the many diferente ways I was going to die started popping in my head).
Driver (looks at me with a mocking face): Good luck, signorina!
It only got worse from here. The guy at the reception was very weird, people in the common area didn't really speak, my room wasn't in the same appartment as the common area, I was put in a room where I was the only girl with six guys (who made very weird noises while sleeping), there were no stairs to the bunkbeds so I had to turn into a ninja and jump to the top to reach my bed - that had sheets with suspicious white stains on them., no breakfast included and there was no security in the rooms - the guy would give each one a key of the bedroom but the door was always open, so anybody could get in and out of the rooms without any supervision. And when you're a girl travelling alone, you have a certain need to feel you're safe in your hostel because it becomes your home for a few days.
I smile at the guy, dropped my stuff in the room and went running down to the street and called a friend in dispair and just said "I am NOT staying here!" and pretty much explained her that if I stayed there I would die because I had booked probably the worst hostel ever and really far away from the centre.
Travelling With RIta
After creating this blog as I did my Erasmus and traveled for the first time, I've made the biggest decision yet and I'm backpacking Europe solo for a few months!