At the end of my last post, I was in a spa enjoying the bliss in Milan yet feeling the tug of home. I guess my life will always be like this. I feel a bit at home everywhere and not completely at home anywhere. Perhaps all true travelers feel like this? And now I have to realize that I’m not just a traveler; I’m an expat. I have planted roots, however shallow, in this new culture. I am living a dream I have had for at least 11 years. Now, I am at home waiting for my goods to arrive from NYC, further proof that I’m here to stay a while. So I will continue with my Milan story.
In the middle of my spa experience, I went to the locker to check my iPhone for train schedules. (I can’t even begin to say how much this internet access has lightened my load, saved me money on guidebooks, and simplified my travel experience — just like it made my last few months in NY extra special. I can’t go back to life pre-smart phone . . .) I saw I had two options. One option would mean I’d have to leave the spa now, rushing to the station with wet hair, and ride home for two hours. The last option, a 10:25 train, would take 3 hours instead of 1.5, dropping me off in central Genoa around 1:30 am, after all the busses stopped and I’d have a difficult time getting home. Slightly dismayed, I thought “Hey, a hostel! I can look one up right now.” I didn’t have to run around looking for an internet cafe, or consult a guidebook I didn’t get. I could book now, load the directions and head on over. There were several options in a shared dorm for around 16 euros. Perfect. Yay me!
I decided to sort out all the details later, and headed back to the spa waters where I melted into water myself. Cozy and red cheeked, I went for one more round of food, sipping mint tea, and took a brief nap in the “Earth” relaxation room, where I literally sunk into a mattress squishier and cozier than any I had ever tried. After this brief nap, I was ready to sleep. I rinsed off in the shower, enjoying the thermal spring infused spa products, then unlocked my locker by tapping a special bracelet on the number, and reached for my iPhone. I’d better book now. I found a bed in a mixed dorm at a hostel near Buenos Aires, apparently a famous shopping street. When I went to book, the phone died. What? No!!!
I fell asleep last night without charging my phone, so it only got some juice just before I left. Also, the locker was draining the signal, I’m sure. Why was I not smart enough to turn it off? Because I was trying to have a “no worries” day. “Ok, it will all work out, I thought.” I might be able to make the 10:25. I dashed onto the Metro, but got on in the WRONG direction. I flipped around, and it was clear that I would be a few minutes too late. No! Also, I had left my ATM card at home by accident, had no cash, and the ticket machines didn’t take my credit card. I wouldn’t have had time for the long lines in the train station anyway . . . and while it IS an option to book online . . . my phone wasn’t working.
Ok, ok . . . Big city, plenty of options. I got out at the station to search for an Internet point or posters or brochures for hostels. It used to be that you could roll into town without booking ahead, and 24 hour hostel options would be everywhere, no matter what city. Not here. There were no info booths open, no Internet around. The modern world assumes that travelers have their guidebooks and smart phones, that we pre-plan and are connected. I walked around the hood, trying to suss out a cheap yet not skeevy hotel or a hostel. Nothing seemed affordable. I jumped back in the Metro and found my way to Buenos Aires, remembering that was near the hostel. Why didn’t I at least write down the address? All I needed was the address. Even if they filled their beds, they’d still be able direct me to another hostel.
12am, wandering on Buenos Aires, I was glad to be there. It was a wide shopping boulevard filled with tourists and locals, strolling on a Saturday evening, bright lights illuminating familiar international and European brands. But no hostel in sight. at 12:30, the subway line was closed, so I kept wandering around, trying to blindly choose which hotel I’d plop into, sacrificing money I didn’t plan to spend. I wasn’t upset or panicked, because the spa made me so relaxed and elated. I felt like I was floating around the city, curiously searching. Maybe I could stay up until the next train at 5am? I’d just have to keep killing time. But then I was incredibly exhausted, dragging my feet.
And there it was, I had made my way back to Central Station. I saw “Mini Hotel Aosta” and thought, I’m either sleeping here or on the floor of the train station. Even though they did clean it up, that wasn’t how I planned to spend my night. I walked in, weary and exhausted and said “Buona Sera” to the man who greeted me. “Do you have any rooms?” He nodded. “How much?”
Some hotels could be up to 200 bucks, especially by the train station. Fine, good enough. Sleep! “Ok” I nodded. As he checked me in, he said, “If you have time in the morning, there is breakfast on the 8th floor until 10am.”
“Oh, definitely!” I said. Hey, that knocks 10 euros or so off the price. Now, sleep.
I went to the room and noticed light was streaming in from the bottom of the shutters, so I pressed the button that drew the metal closed tightly. I didn’t see an alarm anywhere, couldn’t get the tv to work, and was so exhausted, I stripped and went to bed. I grabbed a book that only made it into the bed with me. Never opened. Then it fell to the floor with a loud THUD sometime in the middle of the night.
I woke up to a loud KNOCK. It was pitch black, and I figured it was a hotel guest knocking on the wrong door. I said, “Yes?” and they walked away.
I stayed in my slumber a bit longer, then had a suspicious feeling. Eventually, I turned the lights on and glanced at my watch. 10:15. No!
I opened the blinds, and realized there was a bright, sunshine-filled day outside. My room faced the train station. But I was too late for breakfast. I threw clothes on, splashed my face, and dashed into the elevator, pressing 8. But it would not illuminate. Apparently, they don’t let you up if it’s not breakfast time. So I missed out on all the food, the view of the train station from the 8th floor, and a relaxing treat before my departure.
Oh well. I checked out in a hurry, and dashed to the ticket line where I grabbed a seat to Genova. Why is it not departing until 12:45? Oh well, I’ll kill time. I wandered around the area, searching for an open restaurant. On a sleepy Sunday, even Milan was not awake yet at 11am. Hungry, I grabbed McDonald’s– I know, I know!
Then I sauntered back to the station and saw my train wasn’t on the schedule. Wait, what? Oh crap, in my groggy haze, I had misread my ticket. My train ARRIVED in Genoa at 12:45. It departed at 11:10 . . . oh so long ago. Back to the ticket line, where I explained my sitatuation. They said it was too late for a refund, but because they felt bad, they gave me the money back and booked me on the next train, which ended up being 8 euros cheaper.
Finally, onto the train. And as it pulled out of the station, I realized I left my book on the floor in the hotel! As we picked up speed, I figured I’d return the next week with a nice excuse for another spa weekend.
I did return. I made sure my phone was fully charged, and I got to the city early enough that I was ready to take the train home at 8:10pm. At the spa, I explored new areas, including a tram car outside that had been turned into a sauna! The food was just as delicious as before, yet more crowded as I was there when they started happy hour. I also tried out the “Fire” relaxation room, where I napped on a giant squishy beanbag before a nice fire. After, I tried the “Water” relaxation room, where I floated on a water bed. After another blissful experience, I didn’t want to ruin it. I made it to my train on time and had the cabin all to myself, reading a book for school as the train glided me home. Home to Genoa. I live here.