April 22, 2017
Six-thirty in the morning the alarm went off bright and early, not that I was sleeping. Between thinking of Gertalian and Chainsaw keeping that motor revved all night, I maybe racked two hours of sleep. I checked my FitBit. It tell me I slept two hours and 27 minutes. Awesome-I’ll be good.
We caught the tram to the airport without issue. We walked to the information desk and asked the guy where we would get our passport stamped, after explaining our situation of ending up in Europe without one.
“I don’t know why you’d need to. But, you can talk to that officer over there if you want, I guess” he told us.
We thank him and walk away. Katie looks at me and I’m at the peak of my frustration.
“Fuck it”, I told her, “I told her. If THEY don’t care, we don’t need to either at this point. No one seems all that concerned about it. We’ve spent the better half of three days now trying to do the right thing.. after doing the wrong thing.. but still. I’m. Done. Let’s roll the dice and see what happens.” That last line has been a seemingly reoccurring phrase I’ve been living by the last year or so, and it’s worked out well so far, so, why not? She agreed with me. We boarded our plane, I put on my eye mask and hit REM before we even took off.
Arriving in Italy and getting to the train station was seamless, minus us not realizing the airport was forty-five minutes outside the city. Note to new backpackers like me: most of these airports seem to be outside the main city, we’ve decided it’s because of lack of space. I hope you plan better than we did.
The language was also new but we were prepped for the barriers. My friends kept telling me that be an avid-pizza eater doesn’t ACTUALLY make you Italian but I was going to prove them wrong. Once at the Milan train station, we lined up in the ticket line to catch the next train to La Spezia. Mo walked up to the lady and asked “could we please get 3 tickets to La Spezia?”
After a long, long pause, the lady looks up from her desk, looks us over and says “What do you want??” We were clearly super inconveniencing her, asking her to provide us train tickets after standing in the “purchase train tickets here” line.
“Three tickets to La Spezia” Mo repeated.
“Sold. Out for today. I have nothing for you” replied Ms. Congeniality. She’s incredibly friendly.
I was worried about this issue but when we were in Barcelona they told us we could only buy the next leg of our ticket once we were at the station, which was why we opted to fly instead of navigate 25 hours of train with 5+ stops and god only knows how long of station-waiting that would be. It caused some serious frustration between the three of us and we all tried very hard to not be super bitches to each other.We were also all running on almost no sleep and hungry, a recipe for a meltdown.
The benefit, for me, of traveling with two professional counselors who are both pursuing their Ph.D’s in Counseling is our “heated” conversations are a lot of “I feel like…” and “I hear what you are saying but..” with zero outbursts or knee-jerk emotional responses. It’s pretty awesome. Another travel tip: be SUPER particular who you choose to travel with. If either of these girls were less than flexible, easy-going, calm, and fun, this would be an entirely different trip for me.
“NO tickets? At all? Anytime? We’d take literally any time.” We had reservations in La Spezia so a sunkcost on that plus added cost of a Milan hotel would have significantly cut into my gelato budget. I was on the verge of tears.
“6:15pm has three.”
“We’ll take that! Thank you! Here’s our RailPasses. Are those 1st class or no?” Katie asked her.
“You’re first class ticket holders?” Then, no NO exaggeration, this lady ACTUALLY audibly sighed AND rolled her eyes.
I I hate to so inconvenience you, and ask you to do your job. First, asking what we want after we’re standing in the ticket purchase line! I’d like to check my lotto tickets, lady. What the fuck else would I be here for? Oh, you don’t want to help with our ticket purchase? I think you may be the one in the wrong job, lady. I’m mentally cursing this bitch out. My #1 biggest peeve that actually makes my heart race with anger is rude people. It’s so unnecessary. There is enough hard in the world, interacting with other people on a simple day to day transaction doesn’t have to be one of them.
Maybe her husband just left her for some American girl and we’re bringing up bad memories and she’s sad and doesn’t know how to process it. This is what I decide to tell myself. This is another little mental game I play with myself when people are super dicks. Give them a story to remember they are human beings, with their own life and trials and tribulations, and just give them grace. Sometimes my stories aren’t always nice, but it helps me stay nice, to them.
With our tickets in hand we felt a lot better. Now, to just kill five-and-a-half hours at the train station. With our heavy backpacks. In Milan. While tempted to explore and not waste an entire day traveling, none of us were physically or mentally up for the challenge. We walked directly across the street to the closest restaurant and sat on the patio.
It was a sunny, warm day. We looked over the menu. Everything was in Italian. The server didn’t speak much English. I was so tired. Tired from the night before, tired from traveling, tired of making decision after decision, from which way to walk to find the ticket station, to which street to cross to go the right direction to what to eat. I just wanted something familiar. And for the first time since I left home almost a month ago, I missed my home.
I finally found the section of the menu with pictures. I ordered a cheeseburger, fries and a coke. I demolished it within a couple minutes of being sat on the table. I felt so much better. I had just been hungry.
Here’s the one picture I took of Milan-🙄. Don’t particularly care if I ever go back, either. 💁🏼
The time passed and we eventually we’d made our train. We arrived to La Spezia and met our AirBnB host at our door in the city center. It was an adorable studio with bright yellow walls and pictures of Cinque Terre, where we’d go to visit tomorrow. We walked to a pizza shop around the corner and ate the best pizza I have ever had in my entire life. And then I ordered a nutella crepe for good measure.
I went to take a selfie with my crepe and the server offered to take our group picture. I told him no thanks, I just wanted one with the crepe. He walked away laughing but definitely confused.
With my belly full and a day of traveling done, I went to sleep to rest for a day of exploring tomorrow.