Work in Progress

“In the best travel, disconnection is a necessity. Concentrate on where you are; do no back-home business; take no assignments; remain incommunicado; be scarce. It is a good thing that people don’t know where you are or how to find you. Keep in mind the country you are in. That’s the theory.”
–Paul Theroux

A human who loves the world, finds beauty in the unknown, and can't keep her feet on the ground. I like finding unique (and cheap) ways of making my way around the globe. Interacting with people while living, learning, and loving the culture I'm surrounded by.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A night in Bologna

Literally the only photo I took in Bologna, Italy

It's funny how things work out. The year leading up to my trip, I planned on spending the vast majority of my time in Italy. Out of my three months traveling around Europe I was there about 3 weeks and only saw Cinque Terre, Florence, Bagni di Lucca, and one night in Bologna (only because I decided to fly out early and go to Portugal).

I didn't see anywhere near as much of Italy as I would of liked, but that's the way it worked out. My wallet got pick pocketed in Florence, so I had no money to get to Rome, and no time to get to Naples or Venice. I guess I'll just have to go back, which I think I can deal with :) I'm happy with the experience I had nonetheless.

I made a last minute decision to spend the 4th of July in Lisbon, Portugal with my friend Mike. My flight departed from Bologna at 6am so it was necessary for me to get there the night before. This is where Couchsurfing saved my life.

Okay, I would have managed without it but it really made my life so much easier. Instead of checking into a hostel just to check out a few hours later felt pointless. I started sending out requests on Facebook and found an angel by the name of Alex to let me crash at his place.

He picked me up from the train station and took me to a cheap bar to eat and then walked me around Bologna. He pointed out everything and told little stories and quick histories. I also took one photo the entire time. I was apparently too busy looking and listening to worry about photos. 

We went to a small outside party, next to a pool with a DJ and loads of people just hanging out in the grass. A group of his friends met up with us, all of them incredibly nice and happy to speak in their best broken English to make me feel included. We bar hopped around for a little while, made jokes about southern American accents and talked about stereotypes of each of our cultures.


Make it a point to meet locals, it's easy. Just chat with the people that are servicing you while you are eating or buying souvenirs or asking for directions. Or if you have a question about something - NEVER BE AFRAID TO ASK IT. Questions are usually the quickest way to get you to an answer, you just gotta know what you're looking for :)

Sharing organic interactions like this with people while traveling is one of my absolute FAVORITE experiences. It teaches you so much about perspective, yours as well as other's from around the world. 
I have a new understanding of America, and being American. I especially have a new desire to explore my own country more, one day. It's interesting, the things you learn unexpectedly. You gotta love life's little lessons. 

Anyways. Angel Alex gave me a lift to the airport that morning, taking loads of public transport stress off my shoulders. We still keep in touch and I hope one day we will be able to connect again!

So, a little bit of risk is all it cost me for new friends, a good story, and memories that I'll never forget. Couchsurfing isn't something that should be taken lightly, but at the same time you really just need to go for it. I'll be posting a blog eventually about being smart on Couchsurfing and how not to get hacked up :) stay posted!

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