Off Again

One foot out the door. One foot at the train station. On foot on the train. One foot in Vienna.

Okay, so I got restless. I got restless and I grabbed my Nikon and threw a few dresses in a backpack, since that’s really all I wear, and I bought a one way ticket to Vienna. 

I took a night train, an old stuffy Polish sleeper train, which reminded me of communism. Even I don’t know what that means, but it just had this old fashioned communistic vibe. 

My sleeping bunk neighbor was Bernadetta, a lovely polish violinist, who lived in Salzburg, the city of Mozart. She was the most animated woman I’ve ever met, and literally seemed as though she might explode from joy at ever word I said. She made a wonderful start to my stay in Austria, that’s for sure. 

On a friend’s recommendation I tried checking out Couchsurfing.com, a super cool travel portal where you can find locals in other cities that you can crash with for free. 

Unfortunately, all of the cool people I wanted to stay with were either out of town, or already had guests. Which is fair, considering my request was ridiculously last minute, I was literally asking people if I could stay over tomorrow. However, upon making my trip public, meaning other hosts on the site saw that I was visiting Vienna, my inbox was flooded with invitations from many kind men, of all ages, very willing to offer me a bed. Things got really weird, really fast. 

Needless to say, I declined and decided against couch surfing Vienna.

Does that mean I’ll never use couchsurfing? Absolutely not. My experience was a last minute thrown together effort and in no way exemplifies the website. I would love to give it another try and find some cool locals to hang out with! In fact, I got a reply from a really cool lady today to crash with her, but I had already arranged accommodations by the time I saw her response. Maybe next time I ought to send requests at least a week in advance, yeah? 

Anyways. That’s that and here I am. In Vienna. I’ve already been to Vienna, once, when I was a child. But I thought it would be lovely to go back. And it is. This is lovely. 

Home sweet home for the night?

When It’s Not All Fine and Dandy

I thought it would be dishonest to pretend like everything is sunshine and butterflies when you’re a woman traveling alone, so I decided that I had to share a moment that was unpleasant and in all honestly, a little scary.

I believe that people are good, I genuinely do. But, I’m also not naive and I know that there are people out there with bad intentions.

After my evening trip to Portofino, mentioned in my previous post, I had to take the train back to the town where I was staying. That’s how I found myself in a rather unsafe situation. I was a young female at an empty train station, traveling alone at night.

I pulled out my wallet to buy my train ticket at a vending machine, and a Moroccan man suddenly appeared and stood next to me, against the machine. In a mix of Italian and broken English he started asking if I was an American and tried to convince me that the machine didn’t take cash and I needed to use my card.

I looked him dead in the eye and told him to leave me alone. For the first time on my trip, I felt uncomfortable. I wasn’t afraid that he would physically hurt me in any way; he was scrawny and slightly inebriated. I was, however, very aware that he was going to try and rob me.

I proceeded to buy my ticket with cash, which of course worked just fine, and the man would not let up. He kept coming closer and closer to me.

Little did I know that there was another man at the station, a large older Italian man, who I believe was homeless. Upon witnessing my altercation with the Moroccan, he got up from a bench on the far end of the station and came over. At this moment I wasn’t quite sure what was going to happen, but I presumed it wasn’t going to be good.

To my surprise, the man started telling the Moroccan off in Italian. He blocked him from me and proceeded to walk me to a bench to sit with him. He had a kind face, and for some reason I knew I was safe with him.

His name was Antonio and through a mix of basic English and made up Italian, we started getting to know each other. He asked where I was from, asked about my travels and told me that I really ought to be more careful. He noticed that I was still distressed by the situation, so he tried to lighten the mood by telling me he use to be a boxer and that he was going to protect me.

When my train finally arrived, he walked me to my platform. Upon seeing that the Moroccan, now joined by two shady teenage boys, had followed me onto the train, Antonio got on the train too and sat in front of me. For the next hour, we chatted some more and he made sure I got off safely at my stop. He gifted me a handful of mint bonbons for the road, and I thanked him dearly for coming to my rescue that night.

You see, most of the time people are good and they are kind, and they will help you.

The town of Portofino by night

Portofino at dusk