Before I had even flown back to England, from Rome, at Christmas, I had put together a general itinerary for when I returned to Italy in the new year. I would fly to Pisa for the day, then onto Florence, for two weeks of WWOOFing on a horse farm, catch the train to Bologna, then Venice, Verona & Milan, all for a day each. Finally traveling across to Genoa, for a week of WWOOFing, before catching the train to Nice & seeing where the wind took me. On paper this all sounded great, very organised & within budget. Sadly, in reality, very little of this has gone to plan, but, as mère says, you can't plan life. Seemingly, never a truer word has been spoken.
So, as planned, at the beginning of February, I flew to Pisa & spent the day there alone, sightseeing. Then, the next day, I caught the train to Florence, only the farm I had intended to stay on, ended up turning me down & with it being too late to find a suitable replacement, I ended up just booking a hostel for the night instead. This then turned into two nights, after arranging to meet Kate & then obviously meeting Italian Beard & combining it all with one too many drinks & staying out all night.
Having one of my mini meltdowns about what to do next, I decided to scrap going to Bologna & headed straight to Venice, which once again, ended with me staying for far longer than anticipated after various events & meeting of people. After finally leaving Venice for Verona, I made the last minute decision, at the train station, not to stay for the night & instead head to Milan after a few hours.
Sometimes, you just have to go with the flow & things end up turning out better than your original plan. The only issue with all this free flow, is it can end up being a little financially challenging, which I discovered when I got to Milan, late Monday evening.
After checking into the New Generation Hostel, two metro stops from Milano Centrale, soggy from the rain & starting to feel rather under the weather, all I wanted was to sit in bed & watch TV. Setting up camp on my top bunk, surrounded by snacks & blankets, I allowed myself an hour of Homeland. Blubbering my way through that, I thought it was probably a wise decision to check my overseas account...Witnessing that my month's budget had been devoured by too many unplanned nights in hostels, dozens of museum entry fees & several train rides, all in a week, I felt a little sick.
Already feeling ill, the thought of my impending poverty pushed me rather over the edge. I'm afraid that, generally speaking, I am terribly disorganised in my own life. Put me in an office & I'm fine. Ask me to advise you on your life plan & I'll happily give you direction. Place me in front of a mirror & I'll fall apart & seek answers in all the wrong places. I think the issue is, faced with more than one option, I crumble. Self doubt washes over me & I find myself unable to trust my own decision making skills. Currently, I am standing in the middle of a roundabout, surrounded by sixty different exits, all perfectly acceptable options & I have no idea which route to choose. Grilling everybody for their opinions, only to never really find the answer I'm looking for.
After some frantic emails to mère, I decided to wipe Genoa from the itinerary & hop on the train to Nice the following afternoon. Maybe France would ease my soul. So, sleeping on it all, I arose the next day, packed up my things & headed for the station. Deciding not to shell out another €5 at the Left Luggage department, I kept my things with me & went & bought a ticket for Nice. Italian train stations, predominantly the larger ones, require you to take a number, quite like you're waiting in line at a deli for a few slices of prosciutto. Despite having eighteen desks, only eight were actually manned, which resulted in me waiting over twenty minutes for my number to be called.
I paid €38.50 for my train to Nice, which, although was very cheap, unfortunately was not direct. Due to a break in the line, I was informed I would have to catch the train to Albenga, then get a bus outside the station to Ventimiglia & catch another train from there to Nice Ville. Inwardly rolling my eyes, I took the ticket & headed out of the station, looking to spend a few hours sightseeing in Milan.
Milano Centrale to me is like a vortex. Every time I tried to leave, I seemed to end up back inside, clueless. I asked half a dozen people where the Tourist Office was, so that I could get my hands on a map & every one of them sent me off in different directions, which never ended at the elusive destination I was aiming for. I'd made a note in my notebook about the buses, but had failed to say where outside of the station I caught them, or even where I was supposed to get them to!
I figured I could just hop on the metro, but equally wasn't sure what stop to get off at. Losing my patience, I began to abuse the internet on my phone for answers, only for my phone to start threatening me with a dead battery. Feeling overwhelmed by my ridiculous situation, I sat on a bench, on platform twenty two & just began to weep with frustration. There I was, twenty six years of age & I couldn't work out how to get out of a bloody train station! I mean honestly, it's so ridiculous.
Sobbing away, I took out a bread roll & started nibbling away on it, feeding the falling crumbs to the pigeons, which had gathered around me. Finally getting a grip, I got up, brushed myself off, took a trip to the train information office, asked, once again, where the Tourist Office was & an hour after I had first arrived, I finally found the place, gleaming at me in front of platform fifteen!
Grabbing a map, I sped downstairs, spent €1.50 on a single ticket & jumped on the metro to the Duomo. Coming up for air, I felt so stupid at how long it had taken me to get there. I took in the cathedral, the whole of the square, the people & just felt relieved. Stupid, but relieved. With time running out before my three o'clock train, I took a stroll down the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, round the various side streets, had a quick look in the & Other Stories store & took a brief break outside the cathedral, before rushing back to the station & onto my train, which, thankfully, came with a power point for my phone.
There's going with the flow & there's just simple disorganisation. Seemingly I need to learn the difference.