• Mario Alberto Gonzalez Robert

Interrail with my brother - Part 5

From Munich we took a train to Italy making our first stop in Venice where the weather was not great and one of the first things we did was to tread carefully through the glass bridge of Calatrava which is not very practical when the rain makes it extra slippery.

We thought the best thing would be to take the free walking tour there so we googled the time and place it started and headed that way. The tour was given by a big man in his fifties who the first thing he told us was that he didn’t have anything to do that day so if we wanted he would give us an extra long tour of about three or four hours, to which we all agreed.

Among the group was a tall blonde twenty-something Australian girl which the tour guide seem to quite fancy thus he would try to start conversations with her all the time and throw flirtatious looks and words at her every now and then. At one point, we stopped in one of the many squares in Venice and the guide said that the Aussie girl would be the one explaining us that part of the tour but it would be a surprise so he had to take her to an alley where he would give her all the details. He started taking her to the alley and she wasn't very comfortable with it so she turned to us and quietly said “don't leave me alone”. We all thought it was a bit weird so we walked slowly behind them, not losing sight of them until the last moment when they made a small turn. Several of the other girls in the group got a bit worried and we all agreed that we would give them a couple of minutes and if they didn't come to sight, we would just go there and check what was going on. However, just after a few minutes, they came out, the Aussie girl gave us a short explanation of the history of that place and then we continued the tour.

A short time later, the guide said he had to go to the toilet and asked us to wait for him there. Once he was gone, the Aussie girl told us she didn't feel comfortable in the group anymore and decided to just head off. When the tour guide came back, the first thing he asked was where the Aussie girl was and we just told her that she had to go. Disappointment was very obvious in his face by then and the tour ended a very short time afterwards. Our next stop on the trip was Rome, where the main highlight was not the city itself, but the people we met at the hostel.

First of all, we got a bit lost when we were trying to find the address of our hostel and after walking for a while, we decided to ask the first people we found, which were two Italian guys. Not expecting them to speak English, I just asked for the name of the street with a puzzled face and one of the guys started giving me directions at normal conversation speed in Italian of which I understood most of it, thanks to Spanish being so similar, and we found the place quite fast.

As usual, we left our stuff and went sightseeing around the city. It was pretty disappointing to find several of the monuments covered and under renovation, including a large part of the Colosseum, the Arch of Constantine and the Sistine Chapel, but still the city is full of other beautiful sites and just like a museum, no matter where you go, you find something interesting to see.

At our hostel, everybody seemed to be very friendly and the people working in it would all the time engage in conversations with the travelers and sometimes hang out with them. In our room, two girls caught our attention at first but we didn't talk with them until the second day and then after a while we became friends and decided to go out for the night with them and other people from the hostel and then sightseeing the rest of the trip.

There were people from several nationalities in our party group that night, most of them Latin American, some very funny Chilean guys who got really drunk and we lost them at some point during the night. After a while we ended up going with just the two Polish girls to a small club which was not very crowded and where some pretty surreal and funny events happened. There was one stereotypical nerdy fat guy dancing frantically to the music with his eyes closed, swinging his arms in all directions who suddenly hit an older Asian woman in the face with his elbow. The woman covered her face and went to the other side of the room, the guy followed her and tried to comfort her but she appeared to be crying. In the meantime, there was another weird guy, with his drink in hand, staring at all the girls in the club, standing very close to them for moderately long periods of time, not talking to them or anything, just staring and moving from one to the next one. Then all of a sudden, hip hop music began playing and out of nowhere, several black guys appeared, the rest of the people cleared the floor and these guys started dancing, with another black guy on a wheel-chair dancing next to them, moving his chair front and back and swinging his arms wildly. The whole night was pretty funny and unforgettable.

During the day when we went sightseeing with the Polish sisters, we had a lot of fun, talking, walking eating and more talking, walking, eating. When we entered the Saint Peter's Basilica, one of the sisters feet were aching because her shoes were not very comfortable so we stopped, she sat down, removed them and began rubbing her feet a bit. One of the security guys saw this and came very upset towards us saying that this was a church, not a beach and if she didn't put her shoes back on immediately we were going to be kicked out, but fortunately we weren't.

On the last day, we had planned to go to Florence and they were considering changing the last part of their trip and catch up with us there by hitchhiking, but in the end it was a bit too risky so we decided to part ways, which was pretty sad, although we are still in touch to date, so not all was lost.

While my brother and I waited for our train, we went to one of the many McDonalds scattered in every street of Rome, choosing the one with the sign that said “Mc Donalds 50m -->” over the one saying “McDonalds 100m <--”. Inside, there was a big commotion between apparently an African family and a family of gypsies, with a black woman holding a gypsy woman by the skirt near the cashier and a lot of people yelling at each other. The staff were quite stressed out, waiting for the carabinieri police who apparently weren't planning to show up, when an imprudent woman approached and started arguing that she had been waiting to have her order taken for a long time, to which the staff girl, grabbed a random burger, slammed it against a tray, gave it to her and said something like “don't you see there is a problem here!? Take this burger and fuck off!” which the woman did.

A few minutes later, an older man approached the same staff girl and started telling her that it was very racist that the African woman was holding the gypsy there. The face of annoyance of the staff girl was undescribable. After a short while, everyone just decided to leave the restaurant and silence came back, no idea if they managed to solve anything or what had actually happened.

We took our train to Florence where we explored and saw plenty of beautiful and stunning sculptures by famous artists of the Renaissance as well as some architectural wonders like the cathedral of Sta Maria del Fiore, made in different colours of marble and one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen.

At one point we were completely exhausted from all the walking so we decided to sit down and have a small break no one bench in a park. Minutes later we both dozed off and woke up about an hour later, feeling pain all over our legs and so cold we thought we were freezing. Interrail travel can be exhausting.

Also I remember a funny silly event when we wanted to have some healthy and cheap salad to eat for lunch so we went to a supermarket and bought one of those pre-made salads and a lime. We sat down on a bench in another one of those parks with beautiful statues in the middle and as I was trying to peel the lemon, I sunk my thumb nail in it, it split from my finger a bit and started bleeding. Then I told my brother I just injured myself with a lemon and we couldn't stop laughing.

That was the last city we visited in Italy and from there we took our next train to Vienna, Austria.

Cold Venice


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