I was in fourth year of high school and I don’t remember exactly how I decided to embark on that trip, nor how I did find out about that cheap train ticket for under 26 only, that will allow you to catch any train in Europe for a month.
Anyway, with my only experiences outside my country being the easy escapes to neighboring italian Switzerland (30′ by train from Central Station in Milan, which was 5′ walk from my place, that mean it was easier and quicker that cross the city by bus) and the unforgivable school trip to Amsterdam, Europe was calling me.
I worked hard the months of June and July to collect a little more than one million and five hundred thousand Liras, that was the price, all-inclusive, of my month wondering between European cities.
After my first stop in Geneva, my first memorable moment came in Munich, where my Grandfather moved before I was born or I was able to remember him, so I basically met him for the first time.
Paris was the place I loved the most. After the cultural shock of step out the stairs of metro station in Repubblique and be surrounded by black people (back in 1988 the only immigrants you could find in Italy were people from the South of the country looking for a better life in the rampant North) (and by the way nothing racist, i travel because i love different people and cultures), I spent four fantastic days strolling with funny people from the cemetery of Perè Lachaise to the Champs Elysees.
After Paris I went to Bordeaux, where I met a psychology student from Padova, that changed my life. At the time I was leaning toward studying psychology at University, but after chatting with that guy, who painted it to me as a technic and boring career, I changed my mind.
In Barcelona my trip reached his peak: as soon as I step my foot on the ramblas, I was picked up by a Dutch girl with whom I exchanged my first exotic kiss. After a beautiful day together, I walked her to the train station, she was leaving to Alicante, where in a few days she had to start to work as a nanny. I promised I would have reached her in 3-4 days, after visiting Madrid.
But Madrid on Sunday 12th of August, it was like Milano: a ghost sticky hot town. With everything closed I headed to Parque del Retiro laying down at the sun, and while I took a nap I was robbed of my money belt with some cash, my passport and the contact of the dutch girl.
I got a temporary passport at the Embassy and I went to Alicante on another holiday: August 15th.
I was so naive, I was hoping the girl eventually came looking for my at the hostel. If only the hostel was open! It was closed all summer and what’s worst, as soon as I get off the train I was robbed again! This time it was my bag with all the presents I bought during the travel for relatives and friends. More than two hundred thousand liras in presents gone for a second of distraction!
In three days I went from Paradise to Hell. I spent the holiday sun burning at the beach, regretting and beating myself for my ingenuity and how much I was hating Spain. The day after I was again on the train for a twenty hour journey to Nice, my last stop before sadly going back to Milan.
Despite the unhappy ending, once back home, within few days I began realizing how much I have learned in that trip.