There were messages from a BlaBlaCar driver waiting for me when I awoke today. Looks like I’d have a ride after all. The pickup location was at a train station across town so I’d have a nice little walk ahead of me. I went downstairs and enjoyed another fine breakfast with the folks from San Francisco. After another long chat, this time about our experiences in Venice the day before, I packed up my things, showered, and hit the road.
At this point, the feeling of being disconnected came over me again the same way as before and at this point, I was really starting to enjoy it.
There wasn’t much to see on my walk through the city, but just before I arrived at the train station, I walked through a tunnel with some very cool street art.
I had three hours to kill and thought I should probably eat before a five hour drive to Rome. There was an Italian restaurant across the street with plenty of locals so I knew it couldn’t be too bad. No one there spoke any English so the waitress just brought me out something she thought I’d like. I paid and left but not before snapping a picture of a man who brought his parakeet to the bar.
After lunch, I sat in a nearby park reading the book my mother got for me entitled “How To Travel The World On $50 A Day.” What an absolutely essential book for someone new to backpacking. This book has it all! I’d strongly recommend anyone thinking of traveling abroad to read it.
I met my BlaBlaCar driver at the train station. She spoke very little English but her Italian passenger did and ended up doing some translating for us. She drove a Mercedes Coupe, which might sound nice unless you’re stuck in the back seat for five hours. The craziest part is that she drove right down the middle of the highway almost the entire drive. I later had to ask other Italians if this is typical of Italian drivers. It wasn’t. When we got to Rome, it came time to pay from my ride. “55 euros,” she said. 55 euros!?! BlaBlaCar told me it was only supposed to be 22! Luckily, I had taken a screenshot on my phone of the price earlier that day. I don’t think she was too happy about this but it immediately resolved the issue. I paid the woman and followed her other passenger into the Metro Station. We still weren’t in the heart of Rome; to get there would require a short metro ride. The BlaBlaCar passenger I was with was happy to help me out. He bought me a metro ticket and made sure I arrived at the right stop.
I hostel I booked was only a couple blocks from the metro station. The clerk at the front desk was a very friendly guy from the Philippines and had me checked into the place in a matter of minutes. I stopped by my room, locked my stuff into one of the lockers, and headed to the rooftop where I was told there’d be people hanging out. Several tables and chairs were arranged on fake grass and everyone immediately greeted me with a hello as soon as a walked out onto the roof. When I realized everyone had a drink in their hand, I decided to go back downstairs to the bar to grab one or two for myself.
Apparently, tonight’s lesson was going to be one about always carrying cash. The hostel bar only accepted cash but was kind enough to point me in the direction of the nearest ATM. Unfortunately, this would require hopping back onto the metro to the next station. No worries, I already had a metro ticket that was good for 100 minutes. Only it wasn’t. It was good for a single ride up to 100 minutes after it was purchased. Since my last metro ticket was bought for me, I hadn’t yet learned that the metro ticket machines and my credit cards didn’t like each other. Of course I didn’t have any cash for one either. Defeated, I walked back towards the hostel.
There was a restaurant across from the hostel so I decided having something to eat would lift my spirits. I made sure I could pay with a credit card and before I left, I asked if I could buy a beer to go. They were happy to oblige. It took me almost two hours but I was finally back on the hostel rooftop with drink in hand.
I met some great people that night. There were a few girls from Canada, a guy from Brazil, another girl from who knows where, and then there was Aussie Matt. Matt was a long time chef that had nothing good to say about anything, and we hit it off immediately; I just seem to get along well with Australians. Around 11PM they closed the rooftop and most of us moved to the bar downstairs. It was so satisfying hanging out with people who had the same goal in life: traveling the world.
Most of the bar’s playlist included old classic American rock songs that everyone seemed to know. At one point, “Time of My Life” came on. That’s when Matt decided to bust out his dances moves. Every time the chorus came on he would stand up on the bench, dancing and singing his heart out. Everyone loved it, and Matt was convinced that before the end of the song he was going to have to reenact the lift scene from Dirty Dancing. One of us ‘blokes‘ was going to going to have be lifted into the air by a drunk Australian. Of course no one else thought this was a good idea, but I’m sure you can guess who volunteered.
We cleared out a space at the front of the small bar. I walked down the hall, got ready, and waited for my queue. Just as the last chorus came on, I ran down into the bar where Matt waited.
I don’t think I was in the air longer than a second before Matt fell over backwards. I bounced off the table behind him and rolled on the ground. Matt hit the ground and rolled backwards. The bar went wild. I’m sure the videos they all recorded are floating around somewhere on YouTube by now.
We all stayed up a couple more hours before heading to bed. While reading other blogs and stories from fellow backpackers, these were the types of experiences that always stood out to me. Nights like these are the ones that will make this backpacking trip something I’ll remember forever.