No, this is not the opening line to a joke. This is how I got to Venice.
I was very surprised and fortunate to find a ride on Bla Bla Car to go such a long distance, from Berlin to Trento, Italy (a small town about a 2 hour train ride from Venice) which is about 11 hours by car. Conrad, the German, and his girlfriend Suma, the Hungarian were driving to Trento, Italy for a week long climbing trip. They took along with them myself and a guy from Pakistan (I can’t remember his name and he hardly spoke English). Once Conrad got off work we all piled into his van and headed down the Autobahn towards Italy. We started our drive fairly late in the day so we would be driving through the night.
Around midnight or 1 a.m. we crossed the Italian border and we’re stopped by border control. Oh great, now we are gonna have to waste time as this guy searches our car. I thought to myself.
Conrad and the guy exchanged a few words and then he waved him on down the road.
“What did he say?” I asked.
“He asked if we were all from Germany, and I said yes.” Conrad replied casually.
I laughed, “Wait, what?”
“Yeah, it’s just easier that way,” he explained, “I told him that we were all headed out there for a camping trip for a week.” Conrad went on further to explain that the main reason they do border control is because a lot of people from other countries, mainly those that are poor, try to go to countries in Europe to live and work illegally. But, since Germany is such a wealthy country nobody ever gives them any trouble.
I could have only imagined the look on the bored controllers face if we handed him our passports and saw that we were from four different countries.
A few miles later Conrad made an accidental turn and we found ourselves off the highway. Suddenly we were taking windy backroads through the Alps and through small Italian towns. This extended our trip by at least an hour; but, to me, that didn’t really matter. It was about 2:30 a.m. and my train didn’t leave til 10 a.m. so I had nothing but time to kill.
We made it to the train station at about 4:30 and said our final goodbyes. It doesn’t matter how little you know somebody, spend 11 hours in a car with them and you become family.
I took a seat on a bench in the deserted station and just stared at nothing. I stared at an empty station for about three hours completely sleep deprived as I waited for the sun to come up and the city to awaken then I went for a walk. This was probably the best sensation I felt during my entire trip.
My grandparents on my dad’s side of the family are from Italy so growing up I’ve heard countless stories about the country and their conversations rapidly switch between Italian and English. So, since as far back as I can remember it had been my dream to go to Italy. It’s hard to even describe the feeling of achieving such a distant dream. It almost feels like achieving some type of fantasy, like I was going down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. I had to take constant reality checks, partially due to the lack of sleep, but mainly because I had finally made it to such an amazing place!