So, my Saturday morning started with an emotional goodbye and a mix of excitement and nerves.
Carlo took me to the train station and Lucy and Taylor came along to say goodbye! We printed my ticket and made our way to the platform. I said my goodbyes to Carlo but when the train pulled up we had to run to the front. It all happened so fast, and I was happy that I had already said the things I wanted to say. He put my bags on the train and tried to give me instruction, except it was in Italian. I looked around like a lost puppy for a second, and then walked in the direction he was pointing. I started to put my bags up but turned around to wave. As the train started to move, I waved my hand and blew kisses and all I could think was, “what on earth am I thinking?”
This is only my second time on a train (and the first time did not go so well). Now, I am alone in another country and I can’t understand anyone. My suitcase is so heavy and I lifted it to put it on the rack but I could not push it in all the way. So, when a police officer walked by, I simply pointed to it and said “per favore.” He knew what I meant, and I’m sure that is not his job, but he did it and smiled and I said “Grazie” and he said “Prego!” Now… I can handle that… Maybe this will be easy.
The view from the train was absolutely gorgeous. Most of the ride from Vasto to Bologna Centrale was along the coast with views of the incredible blue sea.
I had several hours so I wrote my blog, stared out the window, pulled out my sketch pad and pencils, stared out the window, sketched for a bit, stared out the window, took pictures, thought about a nap, looked out the window, decided against a nap and just watched the world go by for the rest of the ride. I told myself, “see now, this is easy!” At this point, I have no idea what I was so afraid of, I’m just scared of my own shadow sometimes. So, we stop at Bologna and I panic. I can’t get my bag down, I break my nail so bad it hurts, I almost hit someone with my luggage and I’m frantic thinking the train is going to pull away with me still in it. We’re not moving but the feeling that the earth is spinning faster around me is starting. Anyone who has anxiety can relate to this. I finally get my bags and jump off the train.
I did not even get in the train station before there was a guy trying to take my luggage. I didn’t want anyone to carry my bags, I can do myself. They are so aggressive, he literally just took the bags and started down the stairs. So I’m trying to grab the bags, he won’t let me. I’m saying, “I’m fine,” in Italian (or I think I am). He just keeps going… Is he running from me now? He’s going so fast. I’m following and saying “Grazie but give me bags.” Why am I combining Italian and English? Then, I have an idea!!!! “BAGNO,” I say, thinking he will not come to the bathroom with me… I was wrong. I finally grabbed the bags forcefully and put my hand up and said, “NO!” He tried for the bags so I did it again. So, he puts his hand out and says “Cinque euros.” A few things came to mind here, some I can’t type, but they were irrelevant anyway because I don’t know how to say them in Italian, but mostly that I hardly have any cash and I am surely NOT paying for that chaotic experience. You can imagine the argument that ensues after I say no. When I finally got away from him, I took a deep breath but realized I have no idea where I am going and I am completely turned around from following him. I started to walk in the direction I thought I came from but I wasn’t sure. I thought about my conversation with Lucy at the train station where she told me to pay attention so I can retrace my steps. I jokingly told her then that those words were a waste of her breath that she could never get back, but I meant it.
For about two minutes, I just stood there and then another guy came up. I was looking at the screen of trains but not seeing Verona at all. He asked where I am going, I say Verona, he points to the screen to a train three hours away and says 11, grabs my bags and is off!!!! It all happened so fast… And I’m running after him yelling “no euros, NO EUROS!” I am amazed at how they just keep going but I warned him… He keeps walking and defeated, I am just following repeating myself. He stops at the steps to platform 11 and starts to pick up the suitcase. I grab it from him and again say, “No! No euros!” He says, “Si, euros.” We literally stood there for about three minutes with me saying no and him saying yes back and forth. He then tells me to show him my purse, then repeats himself, tries to grab it and I push him, grab my bags and walk away saying, “I SAID NO EUROS DARNIT, it’s not my fault you didn’t listen.”
So, I finally figure out what train I’m on, it is leaving in 50 minutes and it is going somewhere else but Verona is a stop. That is why I could never find the train to Verona. I carried my own bags up the steps and walked to the platform and found a bench. People kept talking to me but I just said, “Non capisco italiano” (I do not understand Italian).
My brain was going crazy as I looked around:
There are a lot of people asking for money. That man across the tracks is handsome. There are so many people. What if this isn’t the right track? Why is everyone looking at me? That guy looks like a Russian Hitman. The hippies next to me are eating weird food. There is a pregnant woman standing. Offer her a seat. Okay, she’s sitting. Is that a Russian Hitman? Oh no, the pregnant woman is talking to me. How do you say I don’t understand again? This is not going well. Oh, the hippies speak English. YES! This is perfect! They say I’m in the right place. I really think that is a Russian Hitman. There are so many people. A woman is asking me for money. No euros, tell her no euros. The Hitman is looking at me. Is Hitman a word? Maybe it is two words, hit and man. Haha. STOP! TAKE A DEEP BREATH.
The train pulls up, I get on, I set my alarm, pull my purse close and go to sleep. Whew!
I get off at Verona, get a taxi and get dropped off down the street from the hotel because it is pedestrian only. When I get to the hotel, there are hundreds of people packed in front of it. I see a police officer, and I ask, “is this the hotel?” he says, “yes,” and points through the gates. There so many people in here, what are they all doing? I quickly realize that I am at Juliet’s house. The entranceway is full of scribble and notes and hearts. This is the place that people write of love on the walls, there is the balcony and the statue and the gate with the locks on it. I am staying right here in Juliet’s house. I had no idea. I have to go through a roped off area and check in. I go to the room and it is gorgeous. The woman opens a door showing me a spiral staircase. I ask, “what is up there?” She tells me my bathroom an private terrace. She can obviously see my surprise and tells me this is one of the nicest rooms they have. The amazing Rachel booked this for me, I hardly paid attention. All I knew was that it was expensive but Rachel said I would love it (she always knows). The top floor is incredible with a huge Jacuzzi tub, an incredible shower, beautiful tile floors and a door to the private terrace. I decided I would spend hours in this room.
I walked to the square, wandered around, took pictures, bought sunglasses (I lost mine already) and found a place to sit and eat outside. I sat under an umbrella overlooking the square and watched all the people walk by. The weather is perfect. I ordered a vegetarian pizza and a glass of Moscato. I sat for a long time enjoying the moment and then headed back to the hotel for my night of relaxing.
I spent about two hours on the top floor. I put Andrea Boccelli on, opened the windows and doors and took a long bath. Then, I got the robe and sat out on the terrace as the sun went down around me. The views were amazing and still, the weather is perfect.
Since I’m staying in Juliet’s house, I had private access to the garden after it closed. I went down for a few minutes and took some pictures of the statue in the balcony, wondered why people put gum on the walls and sat and looked it up on the internet. As I read all about Verona and Juliet, I thought, “I am in a fairy tale.”
Verona is magical!