Everyone always talks about traveling via trains in Europe. They (whoever they truly are..I have no idea) say that you need to watch out on night trains. Night trains. Night trains. LIGHT BULB! We (my 2 roommates and myself) can take a night train from Venice to Vernazza! (Note: Vernazza is one of the most picturesque towns in the whole world, it’s part of Cinque Terre, Italy.)
Imagine three very alabastered skinned American girls going to an Italian translation in Venice asking for night train tickets to Vernazza. Now imagine Italian train clerk staring very unamusidly at three very alabastered skinned American girls. Night trains….do not exist, at least not in Italy. You can in fact take a train at night just like you would in most places. They are quite sketchy (I believe the train clerk said something to effect that it would not be wise if three girls were to ride alone on the trains at night…), can be filled with mischievous people, and run at weird times. Well, we couldn’t go back to our hostel because it was booked for the night so really the only thing we could do was move onward. I guess we could have tried to find another accusation for the night but none of us had working phones, maps, or spoke Italian.
Onward we went. Now to get to Vernazza from Venice we would need to get 4 trains tickets. 4. Four. Or as the Italians say quattro. Venice to Florence. Florence to Pisa. Pisa to La Spezia. La Spezia to Vernazza. Might I add that we had a 3ish hour period in Pisa from midnight to 3..on daylight savings.
So we get to Pisa. It’s the middle of the night. What do we do? Explore, duh! It’s Italy, no one goes to bed early in Italy on a Friday night. The only real drawback to this exploration is that we have our bags with us. One of my roommates had a wheely bag, one had a ginormous backpack, and I had a normal size backpack. None of these things are really conducive for wandering around the vibrant streets of Italy.
The most notable thing in Pisa, is the leaning tower so obviously our goal was to find it. I was able to pull up a map of Pisa on my essentially useless phone and we started walking in the direction that I thought the tower was in. I think we made it just about halfway when we were tired on getting stared at by Italians. We also were super exhausted from walking around Venice all day, trying to figure railway systems, lack of sleep, and now from walking with all of our stuff in Pisa. Eventually, we found a coffee shop with spotty wifi where we could sit for a while before heading to La Spzzia. Nothing is more infuriating then spotty wifi when you only have 2 grumpy people to communicate with.
I look at the time and freak out. “Guys, we are going to miss our train!” We frantically pay our bill and run with all of our crept the train station…no train. Where the f$@% is our train??? Oh wait, day light savings. Set clock an hour ahead. We still had ANOTHER hour! Well…we are already in the station, might as well stay here.
At 3-4 AM in Pisa, Italy the train station is booming….with homeless people. The next hour would be filled with trying to find a bathroom (more or less a car or bush to pee behind) and a lovely homeless man that begged for cigarettes and money with a pee stain on his pants. Him and I had a lovely conversation about his daughter…or niece…in Italian at the Pisa train station at 3 or 4 AM. Though he was homeless, he did have a flip phone filled with pictures and videos of his daughter..or niece. The night ended in Pisa with a kiss from pee stained homeless Pisa man and me hand-sanitizing my face. Onward to La Spezia!
From La Spezia it is a quick train ride to Vernazza. By the time we arrive in the gorgeous Vernazza it is like 4:30 AM. What is there to do or go in Vernazza at 4:30 in the morning? The answer is nothing and no where. We walk around in the dark Vernazza to try and find our accommodation. We couldn’t get in our accommodation. What to do?
My roommates and I head back to the train station. I liked to add that Italy in the AM is freezing. We found a nice bench to set up camp. Eventually, I had to pee. One of my roommates and I went in search for a bathroom. What we found would shock most Americans. We found a bathroom…with a turkish toilet. A turkish toilet is a hole in the ground. Oh, hell no. I am not squatting over a hole in a disgusting bathroom. I just can’t. But I COULD use the hand warmer as a heater. I COULD make this filthy bathroom my home for the next couple of hours. We did just that. I was homeless, sleep deprived, cold…and I made my home a dirty bathroom. A bathroom was my home. And a home it was.
So moral of this story is that I was homeless for a day. I don’t want to say that it was amazing…because it sucked at the time. I was able to laugh about it..the sleepy ha-ha’s will do that to you. Regardless, it was such a learning experience. Definitely a humbling experience and one hell of an experience. Was it worth it.....abso-freakin'-lutely.
Go. Travel. Be homeless.