This Should Not be Happening in Italy…

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When you plan a week-long trip to Italy, you definitely do not expect most of the things that happened to me.

Two of my friends and I decided to take a well-deserved vacation to Italy. After planning this trip out three weeks in advance, the day finally came for me to start packing. After much unnecessary procrastination, I finished packing around midnight. Keep in mind that the first bus we had to catch was at 7 am the next morning. As I am finishing to pack, I get a text from one of my friends saying that she wasn’t feeling well and would therefore be missing out on the trip. Of course, this was very worrying for me, as we were supposed to leave our building in about 6 hours’ time, so I began to panic. I called the other friend who was coming along and told her what was happening. However, she reassured me that she already knew and that we would still be going the following day. After this reassurance, I decided to fall asleep and think about this minor issue later.

The following morning comes, and my friend and I manage to bike to the metro stop with all our bags, take the metro to the right station, and find the right bus. Although this trip was to Italy, we realized that we really needed to start traveling on a budget, so we found the cheapest way to get to our destination. The first part of the trip involved taking a bus from Amsterdam to Brussels, Belgium. After about four hours, we finally arrive at the train station in Brussels, and we decide to stop for some authentic Belgian waffles. However, we realized that the line for the waffles was too long, so instead we walked back to the train station and decided to find a way to get to the airport. This was the second part of the trip. The airport we were going to was not even in Brussels, it was in Charleroi. Therefore, I called an Uber and had him drive us from the station in Brussels to the Charleroi airport, which was about a one hour drive.

The third part of the journey was fairly simple – the flight from Charleroi to our first layover in Denmark. The plane took off and landed right on time. We had a couple hours to spare, so using my friend’s dad’s card, we were able to get into the business lounge at the airport. I must say I did enjoy this lounge very much because of the unlimited food. After a couple hours, we headed over to the gate and took the flight from Denmark to Bologna, Italy. Now, ladies and gentlemen, this is where the problems started…

Once we landed in Bologna, we decided to head over to the Airbnb we had gotten a couple weeks prior. However, a quick chat with the owner and we realized that we had landed too late and would therefore not be able to check in that night. Obviously, we needed a place to stay, so the cheapest option was a hotel that was a couple miles away. We decided to take a room and order an Uber to take us to the hotel. As the drive continued, we slowly realized that we were getting further and further from the city. In fact, the hotel was situated at the top of a mountain next to Bologna. It was dark and there were not that many people there, but at least we were able to check into the hotel and get a room. Through sheer luck, the manager of the hotel told us that the room was actually not supposed to be available, so as compensation, she gave us a smaller room, but she gave it to us for free. However, the room only had a very small bed, so that night I slept on the ground.

The following morning, we needed to get to the train station because we would be going to Florence (Bologna was just a pit stop for that one night). After eating some breakfast, we start ordering Ubers, but realize that nobody was picking them up. Eventually, we decided to stop trying because we concluded that nobody was going to come all the way to the top of a mountain just to go back down. I had anticipated running into this kind of problem, which is why I insisted that we leave a couple hours earlier than we originally wanted. Because we could not find a ride down to the train station, we did the last thing we wanted to do, and that was to walk all the way down the mountain. The walk down took around 30 minutes if not a bit more, and we were both in a lot of pain because neither of us had brought good walking shoes with us. We had not anticipated needing to walk down a mountain. After carrying our backpacks down the mountain, we finally arrived at a bus stop that would take us directly to the station. We waited for about 10 minutes and when the bus finally came, I let out a sigh of relief.

After arriving to the station, we bought our tickets and boarded the train. It was about a one-hour ride to Florence. When we got there, we tried going to the Airbnb we had gotten, and once again realized that it too was up an even larger mountain. The Airbnb was very nice and very traditional. We had an entire half of the house to ourselves. We really wanted to head down into the city that day, so we went to the bus stop after having showered. We had the timetable online, so we knew which times the bus was supposed to get there. However, the time came and went, and the bus was nowhere to be found. We waited for about ten minutes and finally decided that the bus was not going to show up. However, there was a tiny village down the road, so we decided to walk to it. It was about a 15-minute walk, and when we got there, the worst thing happened – we saw the bus going in the direction we had just came from. We knew that even if we ran, we would not be making it to the bus stop in time. Therefore, we stayed up the mountain that entire day.

The following day, the Airbnb hostess was the one who offered to drive us down to Florence, being that she was going to go to work that day. We gladly accepted and in no time at all, we made it to the city. We walked around and explored the city. Florence was very beautiful, but the prices there were insane. We stopped by a restaurant, and wow wow wow, that was the best pasta I had ever had in my entire life. I am not usually a big fan of pasta, but this was like taking a bite out of heaven. We saw some gardens and went shopping and took many pictures. At around 2 pm, we met up with our hostess again and she graciously took us back up to the house. That afternoon, we went to a nearby villa and did a wine tasting. We were taken around the property and shown how the wine is made. Then they took us to a gorgeous room filled with tables and this is where the tasting took place.

The next morning, we waited for the bus again and took it down to the city center. We were finally on our way to Rome which I knew would be the highlight of this entire trip. However, before heading to Rome, we decided to take a pit stop in Pisa to go see the leaning tower. After doing this, we realized that we still had a couple hours to spare so we decided to go horseback riding. We took a taxi to the ranch with the horses and realized that it too was on top of a mountain. The experience was amazing. This had been my first time ever on a horse. Once we were done, we needed to find a way to get back down to Pisa so that we could take a train to Rome. However, no Ubers were picking up our request. I assumed it was for the same reason as last time – they simply did not want to come all the way to the top of a mountain. Therefore, we once again found ourselves walking down an entire mountain. By the time we got to the bus stop we were extremely exhausted. Thankfully, the bus did not take too long, and we were on our way to the city.

Once we had made it to the train station, we took a one-hour train to Florence, and from there took a three-hour train to Rome. By the time we got to Rome we were so tired, but we knew this time that our Airbnb was in the city center. In fact, it was down the road from the Colosseum. We quickly found an Uber to take us and in no time we were there. We checked into the apartment and decided to rest for a bit. After gaining some energy we decided to go out and find food. We found a restaurant right next to the Colosseum, so we had dinner. We finished around 1:30 am, and we realized that there was nobody at the Colosseum. Therefore, we decided that this would be the perfect time to take pictures. We needed something good for Instagram, so this photoshoot went on for about 20 minutes.

The following day, we went out early for breakfast and started exploring the city. We saw some ruins, saw many famous monuments, visited the Vatican City, and had some authentic gelato. This was when I fell in love with Rome. I had visited many cities in Europe up to that point, but this was definitely the best city yet. We felt like we had wasted so much time in other cities when we could have spent the entire week in Rome. However, had we done that we probably would not have gone wine tasting, we would not have gone to Pisa, and we would not have done horseback riding. Therefore, as hard as this trip was, it was all happening for a reason. As much of a high note as this might sound, the problems did not end there.

The day finally came to head back to Amsterdam. Therefore, we found a four-hour train to take us back to Bologna. Once we made it there and made it to the airport, we were doing well. This flight would be taking us back to Charleroi, Belgium, and the flight was as smooth as butter. Once we got there, we knew we needed to find a way back to Brussels, so I bought tickets for a bus that would do just that. Once we got to Brussels (at around 11pm) we realized that we had missed the last train to Amsterdam. At this point we were speechless – so many things had already gone wrong, this was the last thing we wanted. Thankfully, I found tickets for a bus that could take us back, but this bus wasn’t scheduled until 1:55 am. Therefore, we walked to the city center and ate some dinner and spent the next two hours at the train station. In fact, we were there so late that the station literally closed for the night and the security guard asked us to leave. Thankfully, by the time we left, the bus back to Amsterdam had just arrived. Once we got on, it was a smooth ride back to Amsterdam. I woke up around 5am and stayed awake for the remainder of the ride. At around 6am, we finally made it to Amsterdam. I got back home and fell asleep instantly, not wanting to think about the crazy adventure I just had.