Spring break abroad means it’s time to pack your bags and head to another country. I decided to head to the home of pizza and pasta, Italy. I actually have a friend who is studying in Urbino, she has been there for almost a year so our ventures in Europe were quite interesting.
We were meant to spend a week in Cinque Terre, but like expecting Italians to be on time, it didn’t happen. Our initial plans were to visit Cinque Terre and relax by the water all while staying at someone’s home that we found on a new, but popular site that’s like free version of Airbnb: Couchsurfing.
After six hours of train and bus rides, we arrived in Cinque Terre from Urbino. Simply. Amazing. We were exhausted from traveling but we did not let it get the best of us. We explored Cinque Terre and after a couple of hours we decided to head to our home for the rest of the week, thank you Couchsurfing.
We had to take a bus to get to the village where we would be staying. We thought we missed the bus but it was just really late – about an hour. The driver was very kind and gave us directions and explained that the bus would stop quite far from where we needed to go, but he made an exception and went a bit further just for us. We got off of the bus and it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. We were literally in a forest.
We decided to call our host and he told us that we were in the right area, we just had to keep walking until we saw a bridge. He would be waiting for us there. I am very paranoid and began second-guessing this plan. We finally reached the bridge and met with our host who was very kind. I still did not feel comfortable because I had never done anything like this before. When we reached his home we felt a bit better because it was a normal area. It was quite late so he gave us a tour of the home and led us to our room. It was freezing.
As soon as he went to his room, which was on the third floor, we looked at each other and began laughing hysterically. It was a nervous laugh. We both felt super uncomfortable and, as a result, we did not sleep. We decided to change our plans and stay in hostels for the rest of the week. After this, the rest of our plans changed as well. We lived day by day, basically.
We left our host’s home feeling sad that we did not feel comfortable, but we both grew up in families that taught us that trusting people is almost impossible. We finally arrived at the bus stop and we were waiting for an hour until we realized that it was Easter Sunday and the buses only ran every two hours. We waited a bit longer and a man who walked by told us that if it was coming, it would have already been there. If we waited any longer we would just be wasting time, so we decided to hit the highway.
We began walking and 10 minutes into the walk I jokingly put my thumb up as if I wanted to hitchhike. To my surprise, it actually worked. We were hesitant once again, but realized that we had to have faith that there were still good people in this world. We only expected a ride to the train station, but they actually took us all the way to where we needed to be, Cinque Terre. They reminded us to be careful and told us that they had daughters and would not want them to be doing what we were doing.
After this we played out our weekday by day staying in hostels and we ended up visiting not only Cinque Terre, but Pesaro, Urbino, Pisa, Bologna and Viareggio. I really enjoyed my spring break and throughout the week I learned that sometimes trust is something that people fail to consider prior to going abroad. One must always be alert, but there are good people out there who truly want to help others. Italy has done an amazing job of teaching me this.
Restaurants trust you enough to keep feeding you even if you don’t have cash and there’s an ATM around the corner. People trust to let you in their home, vehicle and make your stay in Italy as comfortable as possible. Most importantly, they don’t do it because they have to, but because they are truly considerate and also believe that good still exists in this world.
I love Italy and cannot wait to be back. Ciao!
Thalia Bernal is earning a bachelor’s degree in Economics at San Diego State University. She is blogging from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, during spring semester 2016.