When Alexandra and I got to the train station the ticket to Bologna I had intended to purchase was sold out. This should have been my first clue to how the roller coaster of a day would go. My friend, had already purchased the ticket, so she boarded her train and I waited at a café across the street for the next one. It was only a half hour difference so we agreed to meet at the Frida Kahlo exhibit in Bologna. Of course the next train was late by 20 minutes, then 30 minutes and so once I finally arrived at the museum Alexandra had seen almost all of it. Luckily it was Frida, so she wasn’t opposed to going back through. The museum was open to the cold humid air, but the fiery spirit of the art we saw kept our mood up. Setting off again in search of the contemporary art museum, we were unsure of what waited for us there. Looking back on it now the art we saw that day was reflective of our dynamic journey; beautiful, hopeful, calamitous, and devastating.
What we found at the contemporary museum was free admissions to students and intriguing works. My favorites were by a berlin artist. His paintings were a whirlwind of acidic bright colors contrasting grungy apocalyptic scenes. Sometimes hopeful and wondrous, others would take up entire walls blinding you from reality and overwhelming you with a million horrors. The further we got from the museum our bright hopeful portraits turned to that of the overwhelming walls of horror. The bulletin said our train home was late and I needed to pee. We were gone for less than 5 minutes, but as we came down the stairs to the platform we saw our train, which wasn’t late, pulling from the station.
We ran to the ticket machine and saw that the next train leaving from our old platform had the same end destination of Rome and left 15 minutes later. We decided to board the train and say that we thought it was our train coming in late. Not wanting to deal with this unless it was completely necessary we snuck into the bathroom together and locked the door. We felt the train pull from the station and hunkered down. 20 minutes later there was a slight knock on the door. Alexandra’s eye brows almost shot off her forehead as I am sure mine did as well.
“Crouch down over the toilet and pretend to be sick!”
She bent down and I placed my ear against the door. Hearing the other bathroom door open and close I told Alexandra we were all good. My heart beat started to settle and my muscles relaxed despite the adrenaline coursing through my veins. We didn’t speak for another 20 minutes till we realized the train had yet to make a stop. Florence and Bologna are around 45 minutes apart with at least 2 main stations in-between. With our hope fading as quickly as the non-stop train, in hushed voices we tried to make a game plan for what to do if we ended up in Rome.
The train began to slow and I held my breath as we opened the door to join a crowd quickly flooding into the train station in Rome. We all but ran to the ticket machine to see the only train going to Florence would get in at 2am. As Alexandra and I have the same Roman Art class we were due to be at the Florence train station by 6 to go on a class trip to Rome. We decided to try and spend the night instead. We went to the customer service desk who was kind enough to look up the address and number of the closest hostel. When we made it to the address we sat in front trying to decide which of the 7 buzzers to ring for the hostel. A man opened the door ready to leave the building. We stopped him and asked if he knew which floor was the hostel.
“Oh, I own the hostel! I just leaving for the night but can set you up with a room if you need?”
Monty was our guardian angle. He gave us a cheap place to rest our heads and sent us in the direction of a good restaurant. Upon stumbling to the Trevi Fountain just past midnight something felt like the gods of travel had thrown us the best of curve balls. Still, and I can only tell you now that its come to pass, I threw a coin in the fountain and wished the rest of our time in Rome would go just as planned!