Backpacking (Western) Europe

Travel time: April 2004  |  by Christina E.


Day 1: April 7, 2004

I arrived to Rome at exactly 8:20am. Since I knew I'd be back here several days later to pick Jene up, I hopped onto the next train down south to Florence.

The little Italian I had picked up while living here in 2001 allowed me to get where I needed to go. I could already envision the Archi Rossi hostel that I would soon arrive to, allowing me a much needed warm shower and a good night's rest.

The train pulled into Florence at 4:20pm, and since it was Pasqua (Easter), EVERYTHING (and I mean everything cheap!) was already all booked up. To make things worse, I had no alternate place in mind plus I was carrying my huge 20 lb backpack. Oh yes, did I neglect to mention that it was raining?

Well, no worries since I already packed an umbrella just for these types of unexpected weather changes. I stopped by this small travel agency that gave me a map to some woman that was renting her bedroom for the night. To add to my good fortune, it was also situated on the other side of town. Nevertheless, the price was within my budget and I was determined to find this tiny hovel amidst the zigzagged vias and discontinued streets. As I walked along, pausing occasionally to squint down at the tiny print on the even tinier map, a gust of wind sends my umbrella upwards. It failed to bend back to its original shape, and I had no choice but to toss it aside. Now, I was even more determined to find this damn place. After parting with 5 euro for another umbrella (and left feeling bitter for being ripped off) I miraculously found the place. Well, not only did it turn out to be as craptastic as I expected, but on top of that, there were already 2 very old women staying in the very same room.

As the Italians like to say, 'no grazie'.

So, map in hand, I walked back down the main street stopping by every 2 and 3 star pensions I could find. Bear in mind that this is affluent Florence, and that it was Easter weekend, but somehow I found a place that was charging 45 euro for a private bedroom/bath. I knew the price was steep considering I'd be in Europe for a month, but that was the best I could find. The manager, Guido, even offered to help me book at Archi Rossi, or a similarly priced hostel the following morning.

I relented.

My room with cable featuring Italian women skinning it, sunbathing, showering and lounging around with their other bare-breasted friends.

My room with cable featuring Italian women skinning it, sunbathing, showering and lounging around with their other bare-breasted friends.

That night, Guido took me out to this fabulous restaurant, Osteria Pepo (which had the best pasta I've ever eaten), let me use his Internet to communicate w/ H on AIM and took me to an Irish pub for some lagers. My first night in Italy turned out to be pretty okay afterall.

© Christina E., 2007
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The trip
A quick summary of our adventures abroad in 2004...
Start of journey: Apr 05, 2004
Duration: 4 weeks
End of journey: Apr 30, 2004
Travelled countries: Italy
The Author
Christina E. is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 17 years.
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