It’s everybody’s favourite time of the week, that’s right! Time for another instalment of our European Adventures! (Check out the last chapter here if you missed it.. or just can’t remember what happened)
Last time we left off as Cole and me got onto a 13 hour bus to Milan. Aren’t you just buzzing to find out how that went?… well read on and find out!
We spent most of the coach trip watching The Defenders (great show, bit boring?) until about midnight when we thought we should probably get some sleep. We planned to travel straight from Milan to meet the guys hosting us so we had a none stop day ahead of us!
After changing positions and seats multiple times (as well as being thrown from our seats as the bus braked on more than one occasion) we finally got a rough few hours sleep. Traveling through Czech, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and finally pulling in to Milan at 6am.
The booming voice of the coach driver woke us up with a start and it seemed within a matter of seconds we had been shooed off the bus and handed our baggage as the bus sped off in a cloud of dust. Standing alone in the cold morning, half asleep and no idea where we were going, the temptation to say ‘fuck it‘ and get a hotel was pretty high.
Reaching for each other’s hands we exchanged a supportive hand squeeze to say, ‘I know you’re tired but we can do this!‘. Feeling less than confident we walked to the subway station and tried to figure out a plan.
After a lot of googling of how Milan metro worked and what station had the most things open around it, we made our way to the centre of the city. While under the ground the tiredness washes off us and although we only had a few hours of sleep between us, our motivation to get to the mountains was strong.
Striding out of central station into the rising light of Saturday morning we went to the only place we could think would be open so early (and we could afford)…
McDonalds! The promised land.
After the most expensive breakfast of the trip and a quick cry that we weren’t in Czech anymore we made our way down town to do our really exciting tasks for the day.. Landry!
Once at the Laundromat we handed our washing to the happy looking washer woman who uttered the words we did not care to hear.. ‘cash only!‘ Having only just arrived we had no Euros on us. Politely apologising as her smile turned to a frown we asked where the nearest cash machine was. She pointed down the road and said ‘five minutes‘ before shoving our washing back into our tired hands.
We set off determined to have cash within five minutes and make our washer woman smile once more but we did not get any cash within five minutes… we walked for HALF AN HOUR!
After almost an hour we found a cash machine and finally got our washing done (the woman was more friendly when we actually had Euros!). During our epic quest for money we stumbled on a stuff store where we bought more underwear (because we’re rubbish at packing essential items). Unfortunately the shop we purchased it from imported its undies from Asia so even the XL was too tight a fit on us.
Our positivity from the morning was slowly fading and being replaced by exhaustion and fustration for the polluted city of Milan. Happy to be heading to the countryside we gladly boarded the train to Morbegno where our mountain peeps awaited us.
While on the train a wave of exhaustion hit me and it became clear to us our bodies were struggling to keep up. Our original plan was to spend a night in the mountain then head back down, rough it on a bus to our next location and sleep properly once we got there. However we knew we would get a pretty rough nights sleep in the alps and we were expected to work once we got there and before we left. There seemed like only one logical thing to do; book a cheap hotel for Sunday night.
Once we had booked a cheap place to crash, I crashed out while Cole kept watch for our station. An hour later we arrived into the Italian countryside feeling just as rough as we had in the morning.
We stood at the entrance to the station feeling lost and unsure what we were doing some place other than a bed. Luckily our host found us in our forlorn state and welcomed us warmly while explaining to us we were hard to miss (which in this case was a good thing!). Once we helped him pack all his building equipment into his Land Rover, it was off up the mountains!
It was quite exciting speeding up the mountain admiring the view, until we hit… the half way point.
This was where the road became a treacherous stone path narrow enough for only one car at a time. This was not a one way road though, it was the busiest mountain road around! Numerous cars speeded down the path towards us, not seeming to care about the 1300 foot drop to the ground! It was while Jacamo joked about this being nothing, telling us he once squared off against a tractor on the road, that the unthinkable happened.
The ground shook around us and the grinding of an engine in front of us told us what was coming round the corner was not a car. A huge fuck off tractor loomed before us, making our 4by4 look like a toy car in comparison. Jacamo jumped into action pulling on the cliff edge. As we teetered on the unstable rocks beneath us the monster tractor passed us slowly, the driver giving us a look of content for being in his way. Cole glanced at me from the passenger seat with a look that could only mean one thing; ‘I think this is how we die..‘
Spoiler alert: we didn’t die.
We eventually made it to the top of the mountain, Jacamo’s experience of tackling the bumps and curves of the road had saved us although the break neck speed which he tackled the mountain had been terrifying as well as undeniably impressive.
On arrival we were introduced to the rest of the hosts and given a grand tour of the pee hole, poo hole and the beautiful mountain house. There was hardly enough time to admire the scenery before we were put to work, carrying boxes up the mountain and left to figure out how to put guttering up around the house.
While the other guys completed multiple hard labour tasks around us, Cole and I sat on the roof contemplating how we would screw bits of wood together to make the greatest gutter of all time!… God knows why we were trusted with that task!
After a few hours of hard contemplation we managed to put two sets of guttering up and swept the roof of the house free from dirt and leaves. Feeling like we had earned our dinner we climbed down off the roof and settled in for the night with the guys.
Grabbing a beer from their make shift fridge (a tank of water outside) we sat together by a crackling fire and waited for the bubbling pot of stew to be ready.
A few hours later we were chowing down on some home cooked food. Polishing off a second helping before the others had finished their first. There was something that felt almost homely about sitting together eating, tearing bread and passing it between us. Perhaps it was our primitive past lives rising to the surface of our subconscious, craving the communal aspects of simplistic living… man that was a bit deep!
We then played a crazy voodoo board game which our hosts tried to translate to us while we played, most of us were feeling the effects of the beer at this point so it was quite a struggle to understand! (On a side note: it’s an awesome game! You get to curse each other and make your friends look like complete dickheads!). Somehow through the alcohol and language barrier, Cole won the game! In celebration Jacamo grabbed a guitar and played Italian songs accompanied with this friends voices and the crackle of the fire.
Tipsy, full of food, emotional from the beautiful atmosphere of the cabin and the stars coocooning us we were more than ready to drift into sleep. The guys joked about us looking like cows waiting for the aliens to come so we bid them goodnight and made our way to the communal sleeping quarters above.
We woke around ten to the sound and smell of food behind made downstairs. Considering we had spent the night on the floor we had gotten a good nights sleep (other than someone snoring all night!). Hungry for another day of mountain work we joined the team for a breakfast of French toast!
Jacamo bid us farewell as he had other engagements and left us with the rest of the guys. After a morning pee in the forest it was straight to work collecting firewood.
Something about foraging in the forest really appealed to me, while breaking branches into a pile, I wondered if maybe I should become a lumberjack once this trip ends.
After collecting what we thought was a decent haul of wood (it was puny on second inspection) we joking the team for lunch. Lucas cooked us a feast and we met his aunties who had come to visit.
Once we had done the dishes and organised our bags Gabe gave us a lift back down the mountain, thankfully tractor free this time! Once back down in the village we drove straight into the biggest hold up of traffic due to some wine festival happening in the town. Lucas met us at the train station and jumped in the car offering to give us a lift straight to our hotel.
We set off at five and almost an hour later we still hadn’t left Morbegno! The traffic was next level and it stretched all the way to Milan. The next three hours were tedious and confusingly more uncomfortable than the 13 hour bus ride we had endured to get to Italy.
We finally arrived into a rough looking part of town which was where Lucas announced we were at our hotel. Almost falling out the car with our cramped legs we thanked the guys for hosting us and hastily made towards the neon signs of our hotel.
Despite being in a run down part of town this hotel was amazing! The guy at reception was so friendly, giving us advice on where to eat when we said we were starving! After dropping our bags in the room we rushed back out to the take away across the road and ordered two big pizzas. Although the guy spoke no English his customer service was on point! Feeling welcomed into the area we dashed back to the hotel to feast.
With pizzas in our bellies we decided it was probably a good time to shower… now remember we had last showered back in Prague and we had been wearing the same clothes since then, so we were horrendously horrid! As I washed off the sweat and mountain dirt from my body I watched as the water turned black around my feet. I’m not telling you this to gross you out, I’m telling you this because this is what traveling is; sometimes you can’t shower and sometimes you have to wear the same clothes to avoid paying for laundry more often. It’s dirty and horrid but man does it feel good to shower after that!
Once clean we headed down to the pool! The whole trip we’ve wanted to swim and at 10pm that night our wish finally came true! Splashing about in the pool felt so good after all the walking we’d been doing lately; and as Cole showed me his impression of a hammer head shark it felt like everything was on track to work out just fine!
After scaring all the other guests out the pool and yet another shower we snuggled up in a comfy bed, happy to be sleeping on something other than the floor or bus seats. Before hitting the hay we decided we would book a bus to Paris for the next day and figure out our next move in the morning.
We woke early and checked out, pissed we had to pay an extra €6 tourist tax on our way out.
We spent the rest of the day in a cafe trying to figure out what to do once we got to Paris. For us Paris is far to expensive to stay in so we needed a plan to get us out of there stat! Struggling to find anything affordable a black rain cloud hung above us the rest of the day. The cafe owner sensing our fustration offered a bowl of free crisps to lift our spirits.. like I said Milans custome service is next level!
Not finding anything we headed to the bus station feeling pretty crappy and apprehensive to begin a journey without knowing where we would end up.
As we climbed onto the bus, claiming the back seats as our territory, we gripped each other’s hands again to say only one thing, ‘ I know you’re tired, but we can do this!‘
The buses doors squeaked shut and we pulled out the station to start another 13 hour bus ride, with no plan, no accommodation, nothing but each other.
Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to leave a like if you enjoyed this post and subscribe so you don’t miss the next chapter!
Also on a little side note soz this took so long to post! Weekly blogs are back though!
April and Cole