We’re sitting on a train. Is it taking us to Pisa? Bologna? Naples? We’re not really sure.
Because when you purchase a ticket for a train to the coast of Italy, you jump on whatever one looks like it’s headed in the right direction and board it. We have no hope of a prayer except for seeing the crystal water beat against the shore.
None of us speak Italian, just to make that clear. We intended to wake up at 6 am to catch the train, but now it’s 1 pm and we all just woke up. My roommate announces, ” We’re going. Pack your bags now.” We have about an hour until the next train leaves so we hurry up and throw our clothes in our purses, wrinkled or dirty it doesn’t matter, and march on to the train station.
“You want to go to Monterosso?” the man behind the ticket counter questions. “We are on a train strike tomorrow until 9pm, so you won’t be able to come back to Florence until then.”
“That’s fine,” we coo. We’re just thrilled to be on a last minute adventure, not thinking about what’s happening next. We have no place to stay, no agenda, and no wifi.
“We will just sleep on the beach or on a bench,” my roommates think aloud, coming up with our plan.
All I can think of is how my father was right. Last summer, I studied abroad in Germany for three weeks. On my final weekend, I decided to travel to Paris the night before having to actually leave for Paris.
I’m not a very reasonable planner, you see.
There were no hotels available. I blame it on the fact that Kim and Kanye practically shut down Paris the weekend I was trying to go, having been there for their pre-wedding festivities.
“This time when you go to Europe Lauren, no calling me the night before telling me you are going to Paris with no place to stay,” my father said. I promised. I assured him that the Paris phone call would never happen again.
We arrive in Monterosso, one of the five cities in the Cinque Terre, with our “ooh’s” and “ahh’s” annoying regular train riders who have seen the same view tirelessly. But to us, it’s the start. It’s the start of 14 more weeks of adventures like this. We run on our own time. We just don’t know how to catch a train.
After searching for two hours and getting played by hotel concierges who know we are Americans, we claim our territory at a hotel on top of a hill and finally get to put our bags down. (We were all cranky at this point).
We eat seafood pasta in a crowded room among locals. “Dogs are allowed in restaurants?” we ask ourselves wondering who let the little mutt crash in here.
We sleep, long and hard, drained from the days events but starved for more.
We wake up for a day at the beach. It rains.
IT RAINS A LOT.
It clears out.
IT RAINS SOME MORE.
We are on a train strike so we can’t go back. We carry our bags around aimlessly, having already seen everything there is to see on this tiny little city by the shore.
The town is beautiful, even when it rains. But no photography seems to do it justice. You have to see it yourself. No one will believe you until they themselves dip their toes into the sea with you.
Everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. But it was the adventure that kept us blazing through our misfortunes, craving more. Our eyes were never tired- we wanted it all.
To live life without a care, not knowing where you are going but following your path, that’s living.
To live by taking these moments for yourself and holding onto them, that’s living.
To live by savoring a sunrise and to live being content at the beach even when it rains. To me, that’s living.
It’s not about that we were poor planners, and clearly we were. But it’s the fact that at 20, I’m standing capturing the coast of Italy with my Sony camera and I’m happy. There are no worries. I’m right where I need to be. And to me, that’s already an adventure.