I have to say that my decision to take spring break on my own was probably for the best. I mean, I like hearing about my friends’ trips and I think it would have been fun to have gone along for the ride, but at the same time the time alone was such a respite. I didn’t have any homework to worry about, no cares as to how loud to play my music (the weird Japanese stuff, not the American pop that’s acceptable to most kids my age), and I got to laze about all day without anyone walking into the room. Not that I was terribly bothered here in Italy by roommates or otherwise, but sometimes it’s just nice to have a self-centered lazy week.
That being said, the trip started off as something of a nightmare. A fair warning to all you looking to take RyanAir flights in the future: weigh your bags before you leave your house. I had foolishly thought that I would manage a 15 kilo checked bag and be under or just above the limit. Incorrect. My bag ended up being 22 kilos, and RyanAir’s “friendly” policy requires each extra kilo above limit to be compensated by an additional 20€. Guess who ended up forking over 140€. *points at self* Yeah, great start, right? Getting onto the plane proved to be an ordeal as well. I was still upset over paying so much money that I kept forgetting to keep my boarding pass out of my backpack, and I’m sure that the check-in ladies were that close to just booting me into the runway so they wouldn’t have to deal with my fumbling. Once on the plane, I cleverly seated myself behind a woman having a panic attack from the heat in the very full plane. Needless to say the flight was delayed about twenty minutes.
I finally arrived in Alicante, Spain around the proper arrival time of 11PM and was picked up by family friend Mayeyes. I was worried about how my Spanish would be, since learning a new language sort of trounces any other language that you don’t have a full handle on, but I managed to understand well enough to formulate some sort of response, though Italian made more than its fair share of interruptions. Mayeyes left me at the family apartment to my devices, and I promptly crashed into bed, not even bothering to throw some sheets over the mattress and making do with a pile of blankets.
The following day was partially spent at the beach. I stopped by a local bar to pick up my favorite summer lunch, a Spanish tortilla sandwich with plenty of olive oil and a Fanta Orange. The weather was lovely for most of the morning until about 12:30-1:00 when the wind picked up. I made my way back to my apartment and wiled away the rest of the afternoon on my computer, shortly discovering a pathetic fascination with Judge Judy episodes, courtesy of YouTube and a lot of time on my hands. I spent the evening watching Jurassic Park on TV, which was cool since I haven’t really used a TV for a while.
Day Three found me handling an exchange of sorts. I didn’t get much out of the deal, but eh. Such is life. My friend Nick had left his debit card in Florence, and since he knew I’d be in Spain (where he and his friends had decided to travel for the week), he begged me to bring it with me and he’d pick it up. Due to close proximity, him being in Valencia, the hand-off was made, and we ended up having lunch at a family friend, Maribel’s, house downtown. It was nice having someone else cook for me for a change, and a home-cooked meal by someone who has been cooking for years definitely made a difference in my eating standards. Since I was trying to conserve my money after that debilitating RyanAir charge, I resolved to take advantage of hospitality and had lunch with Maribel again the next day.
Day Three’s evening had me in the city with Mayeyes hunting down a pay-as-you-go phone for my stay and for my return in May. It’s important to have some sort of contact device not relying on WiFi, so we got me an international SIM card and Mayayes offered me one of her old mobiles that she no longer used. I’d also picked up an old phone from Maribel’s daughter, Maria, which no doubt will be used by my brother whenever he gets to Spain. All in all, it was a productive day once I saw Nick back to the train station. I crashed around 2AM after long Skype chats back home and no dinner, since lunch pretty much added an extra ten pounds to digest for the remainder of the trip.
The rest of the week sort of languished in a haze of beachy contentment and (lots of) Judge Judy. I took advantage of the DVD player to watch more Jurassic Park and the concert DVDs of my favorite Japanese artist, Gackt, since his DVDs are Region 2 coded and therefore incompatible with USA devices, damn them. I checked through the apartment inventory for anything my mom might need to bring with her later in the summer, chucked the spoiling food, and settled the winter clothes I’d brought with me into their drawers to await my return.
Soon enough I was packing up my things to get ready to return to Florence. I wasn’t really raring to go back, since school can be monotonous and the relaxation was well appreciated. I also knew that I might have a bit of trouble with getting back to Florence from Bologna. The last train out of the station that night would be at 9:30PM, and my flight was due to arrive at 8:30. Hardly enough time to collect a checked bag, get to the station (that was a half-hour’s bus ride from the airport), and safely get onto my train. Nonetheless, I was willing to give it a go, since I really had no choice.
Of course, as fate wills it, my flight ends up being delayed about 45 minutes. So much for making my train. By the time I arrived in Bologna and collected my baggage, it was pushing 9PM, and there was no way I’d make it to the station on time. I went to the help services in the station and learned that the earliest train leaving for Florence Santa Maria Novella station would be at 2:17AM, and the waiting room was just around the corner, thank you for your patience. My mother and I both figured that this would be my best bet, even if I had to wait in a room filled with homeless people and creepy drunks. I went to purchase a ticket, but lo and behold, the train was booked up entirely. Unless I wanted to pay for a sleeper compartment, which was more than double the price of an ordinary ticket, I would have to wait until the 5:15AM train.
Suffice to say, I bought the 5:15AM ticket. In lieu of staying in a hotel for one night, I schlepped back to the airport and made a long night of reading Game of Thrones and drinking disgusting hot chocolate from a machine. At 4AM I investigated the shuttle bus station only to find that the earliest running time was at 6. More than a little irritated, I managed to secure myself a cab. I arrived at the station well ahead of schedule and found myself a spot in the creepy waiting room. Twenty minutes before boarding time, I made my way to platform and sat there. For nearly an hour. Yes, my train was also late. By the time the damn thing finally arrived, I’d almost resigned myself to being forever trapped in Bologna. I got on and had to stand for the entirety of the hour ride back to Florence, since the train had come from Vienna and everyone was sleeping. I arrived at around 7:15, booked it back to my apartment, and barely managed to kick off my shoes before falling into bed and crashing.
I did not make it to my 9AM class that morning.
I’m fairly certain that this was the worst travel experience I’d ever had, and I suppose I’ve been really lucky in the past to avoid these sorts of situations. And to think, I’m taking the same route again in May when term lets out, and I’ll have 2 bags this time! Ugh. There are maybe six weeks left to my Italian year abroad, and it hasn’t quite hit me yet that I’ll be leaving back for ASU soon. It’ll be interesting to see how everyone back home has changed. I’m sure I’ll blog about my musings sometime soon, though I haven’t been very good at consistency lately.
That being said, I’ll be going to Bosnia next weekend to visit a friend, and that trip promises to be something interesting. I’ll let you know how it goes. Ciao~~