Wednesday June 3 – Here I go
I can’t put into words the number of emotions I was feeling as I finished packing and then took this picture. The main one wasn’t so much an emotion but a reaction. Anxiety and with that anxiety, wanting to puke. Holy shit this is actually happening. I am going to Italy ALONE. The next 10 days would prove to test my ability to deal with the unknown, to go way out of my comfort zone and to be in an area of Italy where not many people spoke English which brought crazy amounts of anxiety especially when I was asking for directions.
I figured I start the trip off right by having some Italian wine at the wine bar in the airport and a nice, healthy dinner. This was the first of many times I would be dining alone over the next 1o days. It’s amazing how awkward it felt then compared to at the end of the trip when it felt completely normal to be alone at dinner because it gave me the chance to either talk to others that were traveling or to write about my experiences.
They say what doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change you. Well this trip challenged me in ways I never even expected. Tears were almost shed but I made it out alive, in fact, better than alive. I am rejuvenated with a whole new prospective on life that I will be blogging about for the next couple days, or weeks depending on how much I choose to divulge about this journey. But I will give you a day by day because I have so many pictures I want to share!
I got SUPER lucky when I got on the plane, getting 3 seats to myself! By the way, if you choose to fly overseas, please please please choose Virgin Atlantic. The attendants are SO nice, they feed you food that is quite delicious by airplane standards, the planes seemed to both be brand new AND the movies are FREE!!! And there are actually legit awesome selections. I didn’t sleep a wink because I was up watching Gone Girl and American Sniper. HIGHLY RECOMMEND! AND they give you a travel bag with socks, a pen, an eye mask, a blanket, a tooth brush and tooth paste.
Thursday June 4 – I have arrived
I arrived in the Rome airport and did exactly what I thought I would do. Freak out. What the hell did I get myself into? Where do I go? Who do I trust? Am I going to get kidnapped?? I knew I had to take two trains to get to Orvieto so I head to the train station and of course the woman hardly spoke english and was talking so fast that my head was spinning in circles. All I knew was that I had a 15 minute connection at Roma Termini. Now I am not sure what the hell I was thinking Roma Termini would look like or how I expected to find my next train but for some reason I wasn’t nervous. But then the train I was on was 7 minutes late, which left me about 5 minutes to find my next train after we had finally exited the train once it got to the station. I started to freak out again. I got off the train and it was just a mad house. Termini is the BIGGEST train station I have ever seen in my life.
Holy shit where do I go? I almost started crying until a young man asked me where I was going. Orvieto!!!! I have 5 minutes! As he brought me to my train, practically running, I couldn’t help but think of the movie Taken. If you haven’t seen it, don’t. If you have, you can understand my hesitation and anxiety. He gets me to my train, I check to make sure nothing was stolen, yell “Grazie!” and hop on my train. (I think he wanted money but there was NO way I was missing that train.) I asked the man I sat next to if he spoke english. Of course not. Orvieto? Si. THANK GOD. I plop down in my seat with a tremendous amount of relief.
At this point I had been up for 33 hours. I was hot, hungry, thirsty and tired. There was no AC on the train and with the windows being open, every time another train passed by within inches of us, there was a BOOM that would blow your ear drums beyond belief. I looked at my watch. 5:30. This train was an hour and a half. Shit. Good thing I didn’t have to pee or I would have been screwed.
We arrived at Orvieto station, I walked outside and looked for the bus to take me to the town. Of course the bus driver doesn’t speak English and wasn’t the right driver for where I was going. We talk at each other in our respective languages and I was picking up words here and there but it was useless. He eventually points me to the Funicular. I pay the 1.30 euro toll and head up to the main town. What now? Where the hell am I? DOES ANYONE SPEAK ENGLISH?!?!?!?! Some nice men at the produce stand told me, in Italian, to walk 1 km up the road and I will find my hotel. Ok. How far is that in miles? Well I know it’s less than a mile and I walk 1 mile to work in the morning so this should be no problem. Wrong. Sweating, making noise, getting stared at, feeling uncomfortable, hearing english. ENGLISH?! AMERICANS?!?!?! THANK GOD.
One of the girls ended up walking me to my hotel. That 1 km walk felt like 5 miles at that point. I dropped off my stuff and headed out onto the town for dinner. At that point I had been up for 35 hours. All I wanted was a shower, food and bed. Food was first. I went to a restaurant called Montanuccis, sat in the garden in the back, ordered a glass of wine, a salad and strawberry ice cream, which by the way actually tasted like real strawberries. I sat back and just took it all in. I was in Italy. Finally. It was finally happening. I had 9 months of attempting to learn Italian, 9 months of anticipation, and 9 months to plan what I was going to do. I didn’t learn Italian and I didn’t really plan what I was going to do. I was going blind into a country I didn’t speak the language and really didn’t know where the hell I was going.
But I did know that it was going to be the best vacation of my life and it started with soaking up this view. Heaven.
(By the way, none of my photos have filters or have been touched up. This is real life.)
I slept for 10 peaceful hours that night and woke up ready to take on Italy!
Until next post…