When Things Go Wrong, and when they don’t

I’ve begun to lose track of how long I’ve been away. It’s sad, I wanted to document this trip so much and it just hasn’t happened. On the other hand, I am spending my time enjoying my traves rather than constantly coming up with blog posts in my head- I will get better with this in time, and writing this blog is a learning experience, after all.

A brightly lit mask shop in Venice

As the name of my blog would suggest, I’m a worrier. So far on this trip I have worried myself to the point of distraction more times than I could count. Luckily, very little has gone properly wrong. By “properly” wrong, I mean so-wrong-there’s-no-way-out-we’re-stuck-with-no-money-and-no-food-and-nowhere-to-sleep kind of wrong. When you’re booking trains and accommodation on the fly with very little concrete planning, this is a risk, however with the help of HostelBookers.com (seriously. I love this website. This tripe wouldn’t have gone nearly so smooth without them) we have managed to avoid sleeping in parks or anything like that.

The first thing that went wrong I wrote about in my last post. The second occurred when we arrived in Venice. I had been looking forward to Venice more than perhaps anything else we had planned. With good reason. The first thing we did when we got to Venice was go line up for tickets for the waterbus. A long line that was virtually un-moving, you wait to pay a whopping €7 for one hour on the waterbusses. We got lucky. An incredibly kind and generous couple spotted us in line with our massive packs, and came up to us. In a move shocking enough to render both myself and my boyfriend speechless beyond a stunned “Thank you. Thank you so, so much,” they handed over their two-person ticket, which still had a half-hour left on it. We made our way to the hostel, the first time we’d booked a private room since we planned to get up for sunrise in St Mark’s Square.

View out the back of the waterbus

Except we’d booked the hostel for the wrong date. The day after we got there. We were lucky again, our room was free! It cost us an extra €44 each, but in the end it was completely worth it. Venice is certainly a highlight of the trip, one of my favourite experiences and one I will definitely live again over the years. We got an extra day in a city that may in the coming years end up completely underwater. I’m so glad we didn’t miss it. I will post again about Venice with more detail. I’d like now to get back on topic: things that went wrong.

We discovered the first night in Venice that we had booked Milan for the same night. The hostel we had booked was full for the next night, so we lost our deposit and had to look for somewhere else. This in itself was more of an irritation than a real problem, but worth mentioning, I feel, because on a budget as tight as mine this is the sort of thing I shouldn’t really be able to afford to do.

Venetian Gondolas, all lined up in a row.

Our stay in Milan was… disappointing. There wasn’t anything special about the city, really. We had only a Sunday there, so nothing was open. We could barely get close to the  cathedral and didn’t even think about going inside. My Dad had requested Cinelli merchandise, but all the shops were shut (and most Cinelli dealers in Milan only sell bicycles, not caps or T-shirts like he wanted…). We found a market to wander around and ended up having to buy an umbrella when the heavens opened and we narrowly avoided being soaked to the bones.

We made our way to the train station to try and get to Zurich only to discover that every train that day was full, unless we wanted to purchase full-price First-Class tickets. No, thank you. Half an hour of drama later, we had booked ourselves on a train the next morning, and with the help of HostelBookers, managed to find a room about 600m from the station. Not too bad, in the end, but hellishly stressful at the time. We considered going to San Siro to have a look, but in the end it was rainy, miserable, we were both exhausted and given the time of day we decided it mightn’t be the best idea anyway, given how dodgy the area is reported to be.

This is what you get when you book a “double room with private bathroom” in Milan. That’s three singles pushed together with a shower in the corner.

We got to Zurich well enough, where we stayed with my boyfriend’s aunt and her family. They have two incredibly sweet girls and the stay was an incredible break from taking care of ourselves so completely for the first time (keep in mind we are both teenagers living with our parents… my major homesick moment happened in Greece when I realised how long it had been since I’d seen my Mum—four weeks—and how long it would be until I’d see her again—five weeks—and broke down completely). We are now staying outside of Lausanne with one of my Dad’s cousins (more Greek rellies!) and his wife. We are going to Geneva with him tomorrow morning, and on Monday we will get a train to Paris. Six nights there before we head to London, which I am really looking forward to.

Some Swiss Alps from the family’s holiday home up in Lenzerheide

I’m a bit apprehensive about going to Paris. The last time I was there I was five, my mum was still pregnant with my little brother and we were camping with another family. I learned to swim on that trip. This time I am staying in a shared room and it will matter a little more that neither my boyfriend nor myself speak any French beyond bonjour, sil’vous plait and merci. Could be interesting. Switzerland so far has been easy since we both speak German (and most people speak English anyway) but I get the impression it will not be so easy with the French to simply look a bit lost and act as polite as possible while pointing at what we want and saying “une -blank-, sil’vous plait?” I doubt that will go down so well, especially since we likely won’t have any idea what we’re asking for… luckily the hostel we’re staying at includes breakfast.

Here’s hoping the last bit of this leg goes well, you should hear from me again soon with details from Venice and other tidbits I’ve learned while travelling.

Until next time,

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