Yes, it really looks like that! Yesterday I went on a 7 hour hike of Cinque Terre, Italy. Not a regular hiker, I had never been on a hike this long. Not being in my fitness peak because of the constant traveling, I am really not sure how I managed to accomplish that. Right now I am exhausted. I’m sitting in my hostel all day and I am perfectly content with this.
Today, I have been gone exactly five months from Seattle. I am worn out. I have had so many things go wrong on this trip, yet I have yet to quit. I have debated going back to Seattle early or even going back to London for a month. I am craving familiarity. I want my friends. I am also dying to feel healthy again.
Familiarity – Each time I have arrived in a new place I have to reorient myself. Not only is this stressful, but it can be costly because of transportation. Traveling by myself has felt empowering in the sense that I feel after this I could do anything. Even though empowering, it has been far from easy. I have been forced to socialize even after a long and tiring day of traveling. Being a girl, alone in Europe, I do admit it has it’s downsides – mostly the creepy men coming up to me constantly. I’ll be wearing no makeup, haven’t showered in a few days, and be downright disgusting yet I’ll still be approached. This is not flattering to me – and it saddens me that so many women refrain from traveling for this reason.
Friends – Each place I go, I have to make new friends. 3 days later I leave them. Repeat. Though I will keep in touch with many, it has been tough to constantly be bouncing around. I have about 45 days until I am back in Seattle. I am missing my friends, I’m missing my Mom, and I’m missing people to talk entrepreneurship and tech with, as I have not encountered many people with my interests while in hostels.
Health - I have gained a bit of weight on this trip. I have lost some confidence in myself because of this and I feel terrible about my body. People say they don’t notice in pictures, but that doesn’t matter to me – I notice. In Seattle, I work out everyday. Here, once or twice a week. I feel crappy. I have been eating unhealthy and I’m dying for a normal schedule and available showers after sweating. The past week I have really made an attempt to eat healthy, but it has been hard as my travel budget is slowly running out.
This trip has definitely been a test of what I can handle:
Here it goes :
Arrived in London :
-Stayed for 4 months - The first day there, my laptop broke and my credit and debit cards refused to work. Even though checking into the banking before I left numerous times – Bank of America still didn’t update my information correctly.
- Switched living accommodations four times. The moment I felt comfortable – I would be ripped away to go somewhere else.
- Spent way more than planned. Cider really adds up. Somehow I managed to spent a six month budget in four months. Somehow I am still functioning, but the moment I go back to Seattle I need a job again.
Even with all of these mishaps. I LOVED London. The people there were fabulous and I had a great time.
While in London, I traveled parts of England, Ireland, and even made it to Barcelona, Spain.
Barcelona was a story of it’s own. While in Barcelona, I tried to Couchsurf while there. The guy I was staying ended up trying to make moves on me which basically put a damper on my trip. Barcelona is beautiful, but because of my experiences there, I can’t say I ever want to return. My original plan was to move to Spain for the summer to improve my Spanish, but after a bad experience, I decided to do some traveling instead.
Here is where it went from London.
Hellish bus ride from London to Paris. 12 hours no sleep. Ended up sleeping in a McDonald’s for 3 hours when I got off the bus.
Arrived in Paris :
- Got stuck for 5 additional nights.
- Lost my friend and found out we were incompatible travel partners.
- Fighting, stress, having to pay for a hotel because hostels were all booked.
-Creepy men that wouldn’t leave me alone.
-I had a mini break down as it seemed everything was falling apart.
The trip then got better as I met up some relatives of one of my Seattle friends, saw some of my friends who lived in Paris, and stayed in a less sketchy area.
After spending three hours in the flooded Paris train station and paying 30 dollars for Internet to check my accommodations, I boarded a train to Milan. The ride was nice, but still long.
Arriving in Milan:
Getting off the train the first thing I noticed was the increase in attractive men roaming about. This made me feel a bit better until I was unable to find my hostel. Sweating, tired from a day of travel, and lost, I had to shell out for a taxi after being unable to navigate the Italian buses.
The hostel I stayed at in Milan was clean – thank God! Even though the hostel was clean, the lady who ran the place was crazy. I wish I would have had my video camera to document it. Even after getting very lost the first day, the trip got better with gelato and pizza. It got even better when I repeated my bad eating habits about five more times.
In Milan, I was covered with mosquito bites, which continue to appear day after day. The bug spray doesn’t even work! I’m not even making this up, but I’m in the process of being bitten as we speak as I see a few mosquitoes flying around. I had a nice time in Milan, but then it was off to Venice.
Arriving in Venice:
Arriving in Venice, I was happy to find that the hostel was so close to the train station. It was too good to be true – until I got inside. Not only did the hostel have lots of hidden fees that were not apparent on the website, The man inside was very rude and then moved me to another hostel about 5 minutes away. “Okay, fine, who cares?” I thought, until I got to the next place. The beds were disgusting and I got bit even more by bugs. I wouldn’t doubt I picked up some sort of disease from there – but so far I have been okay.
Next was a nice first two days exploring Venice, until the trip turned sour once again with the travel partner I was with. Her, being drunk off of one beer, deserted me at 2am to run off with some random Italian man that clearly wanted more than to just watch the fireworks. Even though she is an “adult” (19) I felt responsible for her (as she has never traveled before, was drunk, and very naive) and tried to convince her to come back with me for an entire hour. After my failed attempts and being threatened by the guy she was about to leave with – I decided to make my way back to the hostel.
As soon as I left her, I realized I had no map and had no idea where I was. It was late, I was tired, I was angry and I tried to ask about twenty people how to get to the train station – as I knew my way back from there. After about an hour of failed attempts, I was again in tears. I then met a group of lovely people who worked in Venice and refused to leave me until they saw I had gotten back to my hostel. I still don’t know how I would have gotten back without them, as there are no taxi’s in Venice. After a nice chat, and an hour walk back to where I was staying, I crashed the moment I got into bed.
Waking up the next day, my travel partner had the nerve to ask why I was mad. I told her I couldn’t travel with her anymore as this was far from the first problem we had. She then refused to give me the locker key, where my passport and train pass were being held, not allowing me to book my train out for the entire day (the people at the hostel were stupid and told me because I didn’t have the number to the key they couldn’t open it for me either!)
Shortly after this “adventure”, two girls from Australia came into the room and we bonded over chatting about the disgusting bathroom and dirty bedsheets. After hanging out with them, we decided to ride a gondola which definitely made everything better.
The next morning, leaving my new friends, I set out on my own to go to take a train to Florence.
Arriving in Florence:
Guess who got off at the wrong train station? Oh that’s right…me! After 20 minutes of unclear directions from locals, I ran into two other American girls who had done the same thing – as the tickets were extremely unclear. After arriving in the hostel, I was relieved as I was to stay in the same place for 5 nights. Unfortunately, I had to keep booking rooms day by day and was forced to wake up early, check my belongings, and come back to the hostel at 2:30 to stay another night (as I’m doing right now – killing time until I can re-check in.)
Even with the hostel hassle, I have had a much better time traveling by myself. I met many other lone travelers in the hostel and have had a great time since I have been here – other than some events that happened yesterday and a case of food poisoning.
Yesterday, I went to Cinque Terra, which was in the picture above. Beautiful. So worth it, except for a few of the events that happened over the course of the day :
Waking up at 6am, my new hostel friends and I got to the train station to board the next train to Cinque Terra. With our luck, the next train didn’t come until 10, forcing us to wait an additional 3 hours.
Sitting on the train – dozing off, and with a small hole in my bag, I was probably a prime target for pickpockets. Never having any trouble in the past, I probably should have been a little more cautious. Twenty minutes after boarding the train, a beggar lady with two others came around to ask for money. She apparently was not just asking for money, but scoping out the train for victims. Ten minutes later, she returned again. She then again returned to ask us for money but as she did, she sneakily placed her scarf over my bag and began to put her hand into my bag. As I saw her do this, I quickly pulled her hand away from a wallet with my first reaction to yell “WHAT THE FUCK?! Are you serious?! Get your hand out of my bag!!”. She obviously didn’t like this, and then slapped me a few times, waved her hands and muttered something that sounded like a curse, and then proceeded to spit on me. I have never been more insulted. MY BAG! I got spit on because I wouldn’t let her take MY BAG.
Finally, after much more confusion with the Italian trains, we finally made it and began our hike. 7 hours and 10 bottles of water later, we had hiked all of Cinque Terra – defiantly something I am proud to have accomplished. A few times I had wanted to quit, but somehow blocked out the pain and kept going.
After an overpriced and not quality dinner, we made our way back to the train station. After running from platform to platform, not understanding the signage, we finally boarded our first train to Pisa where we would have a connecting train to Florence.
Unfortunately, when we got to Pisa, all of the trains had been delayed. We later realized it was because someone had passed away on the train as paramedics pushed a dead body on a stretcher out of the station. The body and sobbing women walking along the stretcher almost brought me to tears and is an image I don’t think I will ever forget. Shaken up, we then found out our train would not be coming and there were no more trains for the remainder of the night. I think my only defense mechanism from snapping was laughter, as I then began to laugh at everything anyone said even though it was obviously not funny.
Feeling zombie like, we found a two hour bus back to Florence. After waiting an hour and a half outside a creepy train station we finally got on the bus. Unable to sleep, I waited patiently until we arrived. Walking back from the station, I was very glad I was in a group as there were prostitutes and strange people roaming Florence at 3am. The moment I got into bed, I crashed, only to have to wake up a few hours later to check out of my hostel,which I have to recheck into at 2:30! After all that, I am left sitting in the cafeteria for a few hours until I can check into my room. 2 more hours to go…..
Tomorrow I will go to Nice, France by train for two nights. After that I am still unsure. I think I may to the Netherlands and Belgium. I have about 2 weeks left to travel until I will will meet up with a friend in Paris and stay there until September.
Deep breath. I have made it this far, I refuse to go back early (even when I would like to) I feel that my limits have already been pushed. It can’t get much harder? Right?