Monday August 29, 2016Day 100
Roma, Italia to Napoli, Italia
The sun set just as the ferry boat pulled away from Cagliari dock. It was quite pretty, the city lights glowing, basking in the colors from the lowering sun. Everyone and their grandma was up on the top deck, giddy with excitement. Some looked quite sad to leave the island. A couple were crying. I bought a tiny bottle of wine for 4 euros and sat down to watch the people… And the sunset.
After the sun had gone down I wandered the decks below. I found a shower, which was much needed since I’d only had my dips in the sea to cleanse my body the past week. I had no towel, but I’ve subbed my sweatshirt in more than a few times. It still does the trick.
There were people sleeping everywhere. It was bizarre. All the hallways. The balconies by the stairs. Every level. Even in the bar room and snack room. Blankets were laid out. Towels. Some were even more prepared and had blow up mattresses. This wasn’t their first rodeo. Even in the hallways to the doors where the first class people had rooms, there were people stretched out. A huge crowd of men were gathered around a small tv, their eyes glued in anticipation at the football game on the screen. Little kids were twirling around. Couples were laying together on the floor, their arms around each other. Friends were playing cards, sharing a big bottle of champagne on their air mattress.
Even outside on the outer decks people had claimed sleeping places. Behind the barrier where the life rafts were. On the seats by the pool that was roped off with no water. Tucked in the dark corners where unused doors never opened. There was no crazy loud music like there was when I slept on the beaches, just chattering of people and children giggling and dogs barking. Even before the sunset people were laying down, nestled in their makeshift beds ready for sleep to come.
I paid 50 euros to get to Rome on this overnight boat. It was quite a bizarre experience. I was kinda glad I didn’t pay 20 extra euros for a room. I scoured the boat for a place to sleep. There was light everywhere. There were people everywhere. I knew I didn’t want to sleep inside I wanted fresh air. I found a little corner vacant by the pool deck and set down my big blue bag, wrapped my arms around it and put on some music. Stereophonics “Getaway” , my current go to dreamy song, and fell asleep. Only waking a few times when the dogs started barking or random plastic cups were blown my way. At my face.
It’s funny. Traveling solo especially. I tend to notice other solo travelers. Other people eating alone. Snapping pictures alone. I notice those with large backpack like me. I give them a knowing smile and a nod, acknowledging them. And they do the same back. I fill with warmth for them. Sometimes I hope they speak English and in my mind I have this whole movie of us becoming best friends and traveling together. I have yet to learn to talk to any of them. But I lack the courage. CouchsurfErs, sure I can talk to them no problem. Adventure with them. Sleep in their homes. Sometimes at a hostel I can as well, given the right environment and my mindset.
But I’m not one to just strike up conversations with strangers on a beach or on the street. I’m getting better. Start off with commenting on the view or the undeniable heat or a cool car that’s going by or whatnot. It’s gotten me in some memorable situations.
I woke to the sunrise again. Very few people were up on the top deck to see it. It was beautiful.
Life was beautiful.
I got to drink vodka and sleep on a sailboat in Gizycko, Poland for days.
I got to drink some German beer and see Mick Jagger’s house and play Beatles and oasis on guitar in Richmond, London with a good friend from my hostel days.
I stayed up all night with a guy I met on tinder at 4:30am and shared a magical sunrise with 2 beautiful strangers who saved me from the loneliness of the beach in Cagliari, Italy and no pressure for the things regularly done through tinder.
I fell in love for two weekends with a beautiful soul. A kindred spirit. Or was it pure infatuation? Who knows but certainly a friend for life.A fellow traveler. Because he gave me two of the coolest weekends in his wow area of Luzern, Switzerland but I knew I had to move on.
I got to watch all 6 seasons of game of thrones and eat baguettes and cheese and see a castle and my best friend from my hostel in Concarneau, France.
I got to see a beautiful gypsy camp in the middle of Shoreditch, London with raised sustainable gardens and watch people making incredible street art.
I cried in the middle of a busy restaurant in Warsaw, Poland due to loneliness and deep sadness.
I got to watch shooting stars with a new friend on top of a castle after spending the night at a street music festival and the most delicious Egyptian food in Nuechatel, Switzerland.
I got to hike up and up to a little hut on a cliff with a front row view of Lake Brienz and the north face of Eiger and Jungfrou in Interlaken, Switzerland.
I got to hike up and up to a shack up on a mountain and drink wine and have fondue for two with a view in Luzern.
I’ve had scary experiences walking the streets at night. I’ve left a couple CouchsurfErs because I felt uncomfortable or unsafe in their presence. I’ve been almost robbed in the streets of London. I have gotten hopelessly lost in small towns where I didn’t know the language. In Barcelona on the beach I had a guy try to touch me where no man should ever touch a woman. I have felt more alone than I’ve ever felt in my life on this trip, but have also felt more alive than ever.
I got to paint everyday and get hugs from little kids for 6 weeks in Coppet, Switzerland.
I got to party til 6 am, heading to the beach right outside the club in the sunrise to play in the ocean before we headed back to sleep in Barcelona, Spain.
I tripped at a music festival where I didn’t know anybody, nor did I know the language and it ended up being one of the most beautiful, pure experiences of my life… Eating cotton candy for dinner, dancing to French music, having sweet nothings whispered in French in my ear by a French man bun in Nyon, Switzerland.
I was picked up off the road in a thunderstorm by a 70+ year old Italian man and tried to shut my eyes from the sight of him doing naked squats in Lugano, Switzerland.
I have heard of heartbreaking things going on back “home” with various friends that made me cry and wish to be home with them or their loved ones, but I decided to stay.
I made countless friends in my BlaBla car rides.
I played with turntables in the basement of a CouchsurfErs house in Bristol, England.
I saw the changing of the guards ceremony in London, England.
I Hitchhiked around a paradise island, finding beaches with the clearest waters, smoothest pebbles, whitest sands in Sardegna, Italy
I slept on beaches. I slept on rocks. I slept on couches. I slept on boats. I slept on fancy beds. Crappy beds. Floors. The mountainous earth.
I saw sooo many sunrises and even more sunsets.
I found a moon temple hidden in the woods behind a graveyard in Bristol, England.
I sampled a variety of vodkas on the sandy beach of a river in Warsaw, Poland and saw polish people party as their team tied a match in the EuroCup.
I drank bottles of wine with a favorite new friend on the steps of a church in Napoli, Italy and danced in the streets.
I got to see where gladiators fought to the death and sent my mind on fire with dreams of how things used to be in Roma, Italy.
I fell in love with the magical Florence and it’s medieval like streets.
I floated down a river and ate paninis in Basel with old friends.
And that’s only part of the highlights.
And I have a playlist going, “Best Summer Ever”. It is filled with songs I heard while Couchsurfing or riding in cars. I can listen to any of those songs and tell you where I was, who I was with, what we were doing, how I was feeling.
I don’t collect souvineers. I collect music. Moments. Magic. Memories. Little tokens from my adventures. The glow pen a CouchsurfEr gave me. A little kids toy I picked up in London when I was walking on a perfect day with a friend.
Life is about the little moments.
I am a traveler, not a tourist.
This is my trip. My journey. Sure, I didn’t do the stuff other people said I should do or see the things people said I needed to see. But I did what I wanted. Went where my heart wanted. Fell in love with people and places my soul connected with. I threw caution to the wind. I made no plans. And was reassured the fact that people are good. People want you to succeed. Even if there is a language barrier. As tinker bell said, “All you need is faith, trust and skittle pixie dust.” Even in the worst of situations, something happened where the universe aligned just right and showed me I was where I was meant to be. Whether it was a stranger saying hello. A free meal. A glorious subset. Or my favorite song playing in the distance.
And I am yearning for more.