The Italian Job
What happened in Italy was just about as eventful as the movie, The Italian Job.
Every quarter the school gave us travel weekends where they’d cancel school and give us extra days to travel. Did I mention I like this school..? And Spain cause they have holidays pretty much every other day. I’m not kidding…in October we had 11 days of actual school.
Literally how my friends and I chose where we were going went like this: we put in the dates into a flight search engine and picked the cheapest one. And that’s also how we almost went to one of the most dangerous cities in Europe, Naples, Italy. We chose one of the only relatively dangerous cities, Milan, Italy.
This was pretty much our first experience traveling, so we were learning as we went and making crucial mistakes along the way. And almost didn’t even make it back.
What’s funny is that before Europe, I had never even taken public transportation. And in this one trip, we took a taxi, a plane, a bus, a trolley, and a train.
In Milan, the fashion capital of the world, there are a few must-sees: the Duomo, (the famous all white Cathedral), the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (the famous shopping mall with Prada and Gucci), and the Sforzesco Castle (a cool castle), the Arco della Pace (“arch of peace,” the city gate), and Sempione Park (a v pretty park), all of which we did all in ONE DAY. You could say we walked a lot that day. And then went back to the Duomo at night, where we climbed a giant lion statue, which I’m pretty sure was illegal..
Since we basically hit all of Milan in one day, we decided to hop and train and ride it into Switzerland the next day because we were so close. Eager and naïve, the four of us bought our 5-euro train tickets and tried to figure out what track to go to/which train to get on.
Mistakes were made. None of us had been to Italy before, and hadn’t even traveled before for that matter. This means that we didn’t know that in Italy you have to verify your train tickets, (which just means sticking it in a machine and getting the date stamped on it), but NO ONE KNEW THAT.
So we get on the train and sit in the first car we get in. When the ticket guy came around, we handed him our tickets. We were shook when he told us there were two problems: we hadn’t verified our train tickets and that we were sitting in first class…..and we owed him 168 euro (which is like 200 U.S. dollars). LOL
The plan was to ride the train all the way into Switzerland…on an Italy ticket. But after we got fined $200 we were too scared and got off at Lake Como, Italy. But I’m not even mad because Lake Como was so BEAUTIFUL. Well, I was a little mad then…about the fine. Once we got over it, we had funning exploring the adorable town.
You’d think that was a bad enough thing to happen to us and we’d catch a break. But no. The way back home was worse. We were taking a bus to the airport, when we realized there are actually two airports in Milan and we were going to the wrong one. We hadn’t quite mastered public transportation yet, but mastered it just enough to get us to the other airport just in time. We sprinted through the airport mall with all our bags to reach the gate also just in time….to hear our flight being delayed an hour. Normally, this wouldn’t be so bad of news, but this meant we would miss the train that we had already bought tickets for (and even then we were barely going to make that).
Pro tip: living on the edge is more fun and thrilling.
Don’t be boring and plan in advance.
So now we literally had no way of getting back. Why not just wing it and see what trains were there when we got there. So after our flight to Barcelona, we had to run to take the shuttle to the train station and we got separated running through the airport and I was left alone in the Milan without my friends and without phone service.
We eventually find each other and make the last shuttle to the train station where we missed all the trains we needed. The bad luck streak continues. So we give up on trains and opt for a bus. We walk to the bus station at night in the rain in Barcelona, with all of our luggage. After struggling to figure out the bus system in Spanish and we find the right bus, but it goes past Sagunto, where we need to go, and to Valencia. We try to ask the bus driver before to stop and let us off in Sagunto, but he wouldn’t even give us the time of day.
So we get on the bus and plan to sleep for the 4 hour ride. And of course, the guys in front of us had the worst B.O. that I’ve ever smelled. The only good luck we had on our entire trip: there was one taxi in Valencia at 2:45 a.m. that was willing to take us 45 minutes back to Sagunto and only charged us 40 euro. We made it back (barely) at 3:30 a.m., exhausted but alive.