Italy: 72 hours between Bari & Rome

Most travel blogs focus their energy on glamorizing every aspect of their adventures. They focus on the grand moments where we feel larger than life and of course, those moments should be celebrated. After a trip to Angkor Wat, does anyone NOT pretend to be Indiana Jones for a few days? We have to stop and pinch ourselves every once in a while because we HAVE to be dreaming.  I can recall hundreds, if not thousands of these moments but what about the situations where luck just isn’t on your side? What about the times you have to stop and refocus because there is NO WAY this can actually be happening?

Traveling is not always an action packed adventure. Backpackers are not always sipping fresh coconuts on tropical islands, waltzing around art museums or enjoying croissants in the Champ de Mars. You’ll also find us staring blankly at a food menu trying to choose between the “ส้มตำ” or the “ผัดกะเพราไก่ ไข่ดาว.” You’ll find us being ushered into a bus that’s hopefully heading in the right direction. You won’t beat us in a game of charades and you can definitely ask us how to use the squatty potty. All of these experiences make the entire trip genuinely worth it. After streak of bad luck, sometimes you have to pinch yourself over finding a hostel with free toast, a window seat on your 10-hour bus ride or actually ordering the “ต้มข่าไก่” on the first try.


I spent two months riding a motorcycle through Vietnam and I posted a lot of photos of my bike overlooking mountain passes dripping with green or stopping for coffee near a variety of riverbanks. When I finally sold the bike I posted a photo of the tattoo. Amelia Crocker, in all her bungee corded glory is on my side forever. You want to know what I did not post about? I did not post about the pile of rain soaked cow manure we spent an hour next to while waiting out a monsoon. I did not post about the 3 weeks I spent battling Dengue Fever. I did not post about the time my brakes went out while climbing up to Sapa. I did not post about white knuckling the handlebars, or the amount of curse words I screamed while passing through every intersection. Sometimes you have luck, and sometimes you get Dengue Fever and a blistering muffler to the leg. I can’t promise uninterrupted bliss but I can definitely guarantee that every day I thought “I have to be dreaming.”

Flashback to a smiling Vietnam Selfie

Not pictured: My first motorcycle breakdown. The transmission died, and my front tire needed to be replaced. My bike and I were hauled into a cargo van, the locals wrapped a bungee cord around the bike, through the windows and the driver advised me to wrap my arm around it, just to ensure maximum safety. To make everything better, my gas tank was leaking and the driver was smoking cigarettes the ENTIRE way to Dalat.

Anyway, Italy! What a (quick) trip. First I’m going to explain how I ended up in there Back in August, I booked my ticket to Copenhagen without any plan for the upcoming months. I got my TEFL certificate over the summer and I was tossing around the idea of finding a job in Asia or staying in Portugal for as long as possible. After a few weeks in Portugal, I realized I absolutely love Asia and that’s where I want to be. I started looking up jobs and various volunteer opportunities.


I’ll save you the details, but all you need to know is that I accepted a teaching job in Asia for the next few months. My spontaneous galavanting around Europe was coming to an end because I had 4 weeks until I had to be at the school. I decided that I wanted to spend that month traveling through the Balkans, so I went on Skyscanner and found a $16 flight leaving the following week from Sevilla, Spain to Bari, Italy. Even if Italy was not supposed to be in the itinerary, that flight would cover a lot of distance for a price I couldn’t pass up. That is how my 72 hour Italy trip started.

For the next week my imagination got the best of me. I dreamt about wandering around Rome with bowl of carbonara in hand. I pictured myself zipping around Roman architecture while munching down on a pie of pizza. I imagined floating through canals on boats made of garlic bread. Yes, I dreamt about boats made of garlic bread. I was excited to dive into the culinary delights that I’ve heard SO much about. I had 72 hours in Italy and I was more than ready.


It all began at the airport. Immediately after stepping off the plane I learned that my couch surfing host fell through, and I had no place to stay. I sent out a few last minute requests and thankfully one person responded. I hopped onto the metro to meet my host in his hometown on the outskirts of Bari. I didn’t know that the train was under construction, and I definitely didn’t know we were supposed to get off at a different stop and catch a shuttle. I sat on the train for about 10 minutes until a maintenance person entered the car and informed me that I needed to get off the train. Once again, I found myself in a foreign city at night without a map or mobile data.

I am known to turn into the antichrist when I am hungry so a lot of my frustrations can definitely be pinned to the feeling of hanger. Luckily for Southern Europe, I found a pizzeria with Wi-Fi right outside of the station so I was able to contact my host and grab a quick snack. This was my first taste of Italy. My little New York heart felt like it was going to burst. I was only stranded for a few minutes and I had a calzone to keep me company. My host picked me up and after enthusiastically describing the train station calzone I just ate, he knew a proper Italian meal was necessary.


Now I love food- I love talking about food, cooking food, and just about any activity that involves food but I’m not a food blogger. Although I cannot accurately write about my culinary experience, I can definitely understand why Italians are known to be so passionate about food. There absolutely nothing that they don’t put their hearts into, everything including the crackers they left with the bill made me rethink every morsel of food I’ve ever enjoyed. Somewhere in-between the wine and carbs, my frustrations from earlier would simply just disappear.

That is why local dishes always have a substantial impact on how we perceive these new, foreign worlds around us. I spent 72 hours in disbelief about how bad my luck seemed to be, while simultaneously questioning how I ever lived before trying Italian gelato. On my first night in Rome, I got dropped off in the middle of the city- without a map or a clue.. again. My first wander through Rome meant looking for a hostel that didn’t exist with a 1€ slice of pizza in hand. The next day I found myself cozying up to a bowl of pesto pasta while taking cover from one of the most intense rainstorms I’ve ever encountered. The walk back to the hostel meant becoming an umbrella for my backpack holding my laptop, and trekking through the rivers that flooded the streets of Rome.


On my final night in Rome, I was waiting at the metro station for my bus to Slovenia. I started jotting down my thoughts on Italy into my journal. My scribbles started out mostly negative, but then something unexpected happened. A random person asked me a simple question about the bus schedules, and that led to usual small talk between strangers. I closed my journal because I have all the time in the world to write and humans are much more inspiring than my negative complaints about weather and nonexistent hostels. After sharing a conversation over a cigarette, the guy reaches into his backpack and pulls out a bag of sun-dried tomato chips.

“You want some chips?”

For those of you that know me, I’m sorry for the things I say when I’m hungry.

For those of you that do not, I’m a salt and vinegar kind of woman.


Up next: Slovenia and Croatia



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