My travel companion had disembarked in Budapest and decided to let me sleep, therefor leaving the door unlocked. The conductor asked me to secure the latch, which I complied with drowsily. And in hindsight, I am grateful that he did ensure that I did.
A Catholic priest, a Vatican assistant and a German backpacker are sitting on a train... Sounds like the beginning of a (potentially inappropriate) joke. But it actually happened.
People like to think in stereotypes. And the only way to confirm or dismiss them is for you to meet people. One of my most striking impressions of Italians (especially in Venice and in Rome) during my visits was... how friendly and helpful people turned out to be.
Due to the early starts of fall, my first day of exploration in Rome was mostly grey and drizzly, but I was still fascinated. Rome feels like an open-air museum and has so many different styles of architecture to offer. You can just walk down a street and suddenly be faced with ancient Roman ruins or an old renaissance building.
After Venice, I headed south to the eternal city of Rome. What stuck with me most during this visit were the interactions I had with other travelers.
Heading into Venice with a train is kind of fascinating in itself. There is nothing but water around you for miles, but you can see the lagoon city growing in the distance. And once you actually step out of the train station, it is like your stepped back in time and into a different world.
My train route to Venice involved a train change in Milan and in theory, there would have been enough time to get to the connecting train. But, as you know, life (and travel) does not always go as planned.
I started the first leg of that journey on September 9th, 2008. I had prepared to spend the 11h30 hours of the train ride reading and doodling. But somehow things came differently.
Barcelona is truly a city I fell in love with. I can't pinpoint it to one thing. Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's the vibe. Maybe it's the architecture. Maybe it is the international scene. Maybe it's being so close to the seas and the beach. Maybe it is the laidback attitude of it's inhabitant.
After my breakdown the night before, I felt peaceful for the first time in months. This gave me the opportunity to wander around Granada while waiting for my actual day to visit the Alhambra. It was lovely exploring the streets, but it was especially memorable to climb up the hills and get an amazing view of the city.
When I arrived at the train station, I was surprised that I could not find any free city maps, something I was pretty much relying on to find my way around in that pre-digital age. I had the address of the youth hostel I wanted to stay at, but I did not know how to find it.