Tales from the train: Feeling lost in Europe and finding my way to my destination.

I look at this photo and remember the smile behind this face. That was me at age 22 after practically getting lost in Europe and using my INNER compass to find my way to my destination. It still amazes me that I was only late by 1 hour. I made it from Italy to Amsterdam after getting lost and routed on the wrong trains. I had just completed a month long Art Excursion based in Florence, Italy. I was traveling alone during that part of the trip until meeting up with my boarding school friend/roomie. I look at this photo and remind myself that I can survive so much more than the world has taught me to BElieve. I look at this photo and remember to have FAITH in everything. I’m thankful for my inner compass that kept me awake & aware through those 24 hours of anxiety. This was all without cellphones. Just a journal in tow and lots of stream of consciousness writing. I look at my face here and sometimes don’t recognize her because that was the day I learned to truly set her FREE. I wrote a private blog about it years ago and for some reason I haven’t shared it publicly. I knew something wasn’t working in my life back then. I knew i needed to make a change. Reading it reminds me that this experience woke me up at a young age to have faith, make changes and live better. Reading my thoughts now, I know I would’ve thought and written differently now than I did then. It’s amazing how experiences shape us. Read it below if you’d like.

I’m going to share something vulnerable with you today. A piece of me that I recently reconnected with. In the summer of 1998, when I was 22 yrs young I studied abroad in Italy studying art and art history. I kept a journal the whole time I was there. After the program ended I went on to travel with one of my boarding school roommates. At that time in my life I was extremely vulnerable while at the same time grieving the loss of my dad. I had just started practicing yoga in the winter semester. Something happened to me while on my way to meet Florie. I remember the experience so well. I remember sitting on the train and in the stations writing my fingers off about what I was dealing with. Reading my thoughts now, I can see where I was guided by both human angels & my own inner faith. As I look back now, I see that this was an awakening for me and I recall in my heart remembering that this yoga stuff was working for me. This was my shift and awakening to knowing that yoga was needed in my life. So thankful that I recorded this and didn’t burn it in a campfire like I have other stories.

6/26/1998

It’s been over 10 days since I have written. We went to Venezia and the experience was magical. The boat rides, the food, the art, the glass gallery and the time spent with new friends. Venezia is old and kinda dirty (I thought) but it’s truly an Italian fairy tale not only painted in pictures, but in real life too.

Today is the first day that I start my travels around Europe! Time flies! It feels like yesterday I was sitting in the JFK airport starting my journal to Firenze! I can’t believe its all over. It felt pretty weird saying goodbye to everyone today and watching them leave on the bus to the airport. I feel sad. I enjoyed the time we spent together and all that we learned. It feels like all the summers that I would say goodbye to my summer camp friends. It also feels similar to when the school year would end at boarding school. Everyone packs up, gets on the airport or train bus and heads back to their lives at home. I love meeting new people and making new friends. I really hope that I see them again.

Sue and Claire helped me with my luggage and they also helped me get a taxi to the train station. I am currently sitting on the train in Rome and heading back to Firenze for a couple of hours. I wish that I could stay one more day there, but I am now heading to Amsterdam to meet up with my boarding school roommate, Florie. We haven’t seen each other in 3 years and I am looking forward to seeing her again!

Speaking of boarding school. When I was in Rome I ran into one of my old buddies from boarding school. It was so cool! And of course everyone in my Art group laughed because I keep running into people who I know from the states.

We were standing in the middle of the Vatican where everyone is asked to be silent. You can’t talk in there. Oh but, I blurted out ‘Jessica!’ Jessica and I had been eyeing each other with that look like ‘I know I know you.’ It was a moment of awkwardness because we were staring at each other and then being busted for talking (quite loudly) in one of the Worlds most sacred places.

We ended up seeing each other again that night at the Trevi Fountain and took a bunch of pictures to capture us seeing each other in Rome.

I personally like Firenze better than Rome. It’s smaller and not so crazy. Rome is great though. It’s old and there is a lot of history. Between the Coliseum, the museums and the Vatican there’s a lot to take in. I also almost got hit by a moped (for real) when crossing the street. Motor bikes and cars navigate through this old ancient city while tourists try to cross over to the other side of the street. The incident reminded me of when I was in high school and visiting my older sister in Boston. I was irresponsibly crossing the street when a car came speeding down a major road. My older sister reached out and grabbed me tight as she breathed hard from the anxiety of watching me almost get hit. This time I was in one of the oldest cities in the world that has been taken over by modern living and although I was crossing a cross walk, a moped came quickly past me and swooped nearby. Sue grabbed my arm tight and pulled me to her direction. My heart beat and I felt fear making its way into my body. I thought to myself ‘Did I almost die?’

****a few hours later****

I am really freaked out and pissed off right now at Eurorail. They totally screwed me over with my reservation. When I made my reservation, I specifically called them for a reservation for a first class seat going to Amsterdam. They gave me the unimportant one train rides and left out the most important one. They didn’t give me my train reservation going from Zürich to Amsterdam.

This experience that I am having is totally insane and is making me a bit of a mental mess.

I had a breakdown on the train from Firenze to Milan because I reserved a couchette for the long train rides and they gave me one for the short rides. I ended up meeting a nice German lady who spoke english. She spoke to me and gave me the advice I needed to hear. My main concern is whether or not I am going to make it to Amsterdam on time. If I don’t, I am going to complain so bad that they’ll be forced to go out of business.

And so the moments have passed and this Eurorail experience is becoming a total train wreck!!!!!!!!! I am loosing my mind and feel totally disconnected from everyone because I pretty much only speak english and know a little bit of spanish. I am a foreigner who is starting to literally feel like I am getting lost in Europe. I have no way of calling anyone and I am afraid that I might get hurt or taken advantage of. I am literally on the brink of a total mental breakdown!!!!!

It’s 11 o’clock and I still haven’t left Italy. I have 13 hours and 45 minutes until I am supposed to meet up with Florie. I need to get to Switzerland so that I can get the train to Amsterdam.

I hope that someday I can look back at this experience and laugh, but right now all I can do is cry. I am tired, I am worn out and I am PISSED OFF at the service I received from Eurorail. I hope that nothing worse will happen. I feel pretty hopeless and really hope that I can get on a train to Switzerland.

I feel so hopeless that I want to die. I feel like I have no direction in my life and I am so sick of how I live my life. If I lived a different way then this wouldn’t have happened.

I feel stuck.

***later on****

I am now writing from somewhere else. I met a couple of people at one of the train stations that I stopped at and they offered me their help. I am having trust issues right now so I don’t even know if I should listen to their advice. I could write a book about what I have been dealing with here.

6/27/98

And Now I am writing from another place I think that everything is FINALLY working out. I am on the train to Brussels and it will hopefully lead me to Amsterdam. I have been on this train since Chiasso, which it then stopped in Basel and now it’s going to Brussels. It must have been midnight when I finally got on the train and it is now 8:30 am. So that’s 8 hours. I am grateful that I am finally getting somewhere and that I am safe.

I think I definitely need to write a book about this experience. Luckily, I spoke up in Chiasso and asked a girl and her boyfriend for advice. It turns out they were on their way to Basel and the train that we were getting on is the right one for me too.

I really need a shower……..

I am in Amsterdam! I made it! I never thought that I would. I just persevered through one of the toughest moments of my traveling life (and life in general).

I ended up taking the train from Brussels to Amsterdam, which only put me in an hour late. At first, I couldn’t find Flo and I got really scared. I went back to feeling hopeless, afraid and unsafe. It turned out ok though. After wandering around aimlessly and totally freaked out, I ended up having her paged over the speaker at the train station. Once she was paged, she showed up near me. It turns out that when she originally came to meet me and she noticed I hadn’t arrived, she went back to the hostel to shower. She intuitively knew to come back and it turns out her timing was pretty much on point.

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