I had survived the hostel. I actually slept quite well besides waking up a little earlier than normal to the sound of a snoring Frenchman. Note to self: Use the eye mask and ear plugs you bought next time.
I thought about taking the shower but didn’t. It would be time to checkout soon and I still hadn’t found a ride to Venice. I went downstairs long enough to attempt a wifi connection and found a BlaBlaCar driver heading the the right direction. After contacting him, I translated his pick up location from Italian to English and knew where I needed to go today. It was time to leave.
The metro station wasn’t much more than a 10 minute walk from the hostel. Luckily the automatic ticket terminals had an English option so I was able to get a ticket with minimal effort. The train soon arrived and shortly after I was at my destination. Followed the signs reading “Uscita”, I reached the surface. It was here that I would wait until noon to get a ride from a complete stranger that didn’t even speak the same language. How exciting!
I was feeling less like an outsider today. This was probably because, while on the train, it was easy to imagine I was back in the states again in any other big city. Most things were represented by pictures instead of words, and there weren’t many people around me speaking Italian to remind me where I actually was. Maybe they were all too tired. Regardless, the feeling of being disconnected wasn’t quite as strong this morning. Perhaps I was just growing used to it.
Once to the surface, I saw a McDonalds across the street. I had enough time to have a quick bite to eat and maybe even contact the BlaBlaCar driver while I waited. Sticking with the idea of cheap, I got a hamburger and a cheeseburger. They taste exactly the same as they do back home… which isn’t saying much.
Italy has a law that anyone using public wifi must provide enough information when connecting to be personally identifiable. Most of the time they want the user’s mobile phone number and without one, you’ve got to fall back to using a credit card just to identify yourself. All this was a pain and I wasn’t actually able to contact the driver. No worries. I knew where to meet the driver. I’d just go back across the street and wait patiently, hoping that he’d show up.
I just realized I have no idea what day of the week it is.
On the very short walk back to the metro station, I actually saw a Buell motorcycle like mine! The rider was just about to leave but I stopped him for a quick picture.
The BlaBlaCar driver was right on time and was picking up two other passengers. Both were girls, one from the Netherlands and the other from Italy. The girl from the Netherlands spoke English rather well and we talked for a short while. When she fell asleep, I stayed awake listening to the Italian girl and the driver chat.
With what English the driver could speak, I learned that BlaBlaCar was a very popular way to get around in Europe. The ride went smoothly and soon I was in Verona for many times less than the cost of a train ticket. I paid the driver and began walking. He dropped us off right in front of the Verona Arena so I walked around taking a few pictures. Compared to Milan, there didn’t seem to be as much to see in Verona besides some bridges and few bell towers. I can’t remember who said I needed to go to Verona but I’m not sure why they would suggest it.
Maybe it was this thought that triggered a chain reaction of more negative thoughts that day. Over the next couple of hours, I continued having thoughts like these. Was I growing tired of Italy already? Should I just head north now, making an unplanned trip to Austria on my way to Switzerland? Should I stick with my plan just to see if there’s anything more I enjoy about Italy? Maybe Italy isn’t for me. I’d be having such a better time if I didn’t have this backpack weighing me down. Where am I going to stay tonight? And what’s my plan for tomorrow? How can I keep going like this if I have no way to speak to people and have to keep relying on wifi networks to make plans?
Hours went by while walking throughout Verona as I asked myself all these dumb, doubting questions. I never once thought I wanted to stop my backpacking trip, but I was thinking and worrying about everything else I possibly could. This was really starting to get to me.
I was hungry and I had no one to talk to, so I walked into the next little cafe with a wifi sign on the door and ordered some pasta. I figured sitting in the back of the cafe would buy me some extra time to relax and figure out what was going with me.
I decided to call home. I talked to my parents and just vented. I don’t know how much of what I said to them made sense; not much of it even made sense to me. I was just doubting everything and I never expected myself to feel like this on my trip. My dad offered me some very good bit of advice: slow down. Stop feeling like you need to do anything. Enjoy the time you’ve given yourself.
I was glad I called home. I was already feeling a little better after talking with them and decided that I needed to figure out where I was going to stay that night. I chose some place I thought would help me relax and think about my trip. There was a little bed and breakfast not far from me (according to the map) and so I booked a room and began walking.
I immediately felt considerably better just having a plan for that night. The walk to the bed and breakfast gave me time to clear my head, and after 45 minutes I had reached my destination.
Except that it wasn’t were it was supposed to be. I was in a small shopping district that didn’t appear to have any signs of a bed and breakfast anywhere near me. Oh great. I walked up and down the streets trying to figure out my mistake. I didn’t have an exact street address but new I was in the right neighborhood according to the map I saved at the cafe. After 20 minutes of walking around, I decided to start asking. The first guy I asked had no idea and said I was probably lost. How helpful. I walked closer to where I thought the bed and breakfast was supposed to be and asked two men in a cell phone shop. One man knew exactly what I was looking for and walked me up the street. There was a door here like all other doors around it, but he pointed to the buzzer next to this door. There, in letters smaller than what you’re reading now, was the name of the bed and breakfast. I had finally found it.
I hit the buzzer and the door but no one answered. Luckily a lady was walking into the door and was kind enough to let me in and direct me upstairs. Two flights of stairs brought me to a dark hallway, at the end of which was a kitchen area. The lights automatically lit up as I walked towards the kitchen, revealing that this place was actually quite nice. A wifi router sat in the hallway. I reached the kitchen and sat at the table, a very small but also very nice and clean kitchen. Not knowing what to do next, I walked backed to the router and got the wifi password. I pulled out my laptop and tried to find out if I was arriving too late and if I even successfully booked my room at all.
A short while later, a man staying here came out of his room into the kitchen. I tried to ask him if there was anyone who could help me but he spoke no English at all. Since I was connected to wifi, I used Google Translate to explain to him my situation. After realizing, he was very happy to help and called the bed and breakfast owner. I thanked him and continued to wait. A guy younger than me arrived shortly after and spoke English rather well. I gave him some extra information and was finally allowed into a room. A very nice room. A perfect place to relax.
I think I want to get a dog when I get back to the states.
I spent the rest of the night thinking about all the weird, doubting thoughts I had earlier in the day. I thought about what my parents had told me. In the end, I realized they were right. I was trying to move to fast. I spent most every day of my life up to that point having responsibilities, deadlines, schedules. The thoughts earlier today that I could do almost anything were almost too much to handle. I had saved up the money and given myself all this time to relax, to travel, and to see the world. There was no reason I needed to rush or feel like I had to do anything at all. By the end of the day, I was glad to be able to pinpoint the root cause of all of my anxiety that day.
The other thing I realized that night was how good it felt having a plan for where to stay at night regardless of where it was or if I even made it happen. Just the thought alone of having a place to sleep was a comforting one that helped me get through the day.
Though it was quite a confusing and overall weird day for me, I went to bed happy that night.