Its no secret that students looking for a little adventure are often not experiencing a lavish, luxurious and relaxing vacation. Travelling on a budget means cutting down on the bare necessities like a decent bed, in order to afford those extra drinks and potentially a plane ride back to home soil.
What I considered an inconvenience, became an exciting part of any voyage. There is something intoxicating about not knowing where you are going to get your evening shut eye. If you’ve been following my recent stories, you will notice a theme developing in my travels. This is the story of my horrible experience riding the overnight bus from Vienna, Austria to Florence in Italy.
A common practice used by budget travelers is the overnight bus or train ride. It is the art of combining hotel services and travel into one spine wrenching jumble. I did not hesitate to try out this new initiative. On paper, this seems like the most logical of options. But what I did not count for, was the other passengers and their antics.
As I take my seat on the bus, a strong smell of urine overcomes my nostrils. I knew this 8 euro, 12 hour ride was not going to be all silk sheets and essential oils, but we were not off to a great start. Instant regret takes over, and alters my eager mood. As I get set for a night of upright slumber, a man sets up camp in the walking aisle of the bus.
Let me paint you the picture. A man, in his thirties or forties, gently places a pillow, his blanket and a small teddy bear in the middle aisle. Leaving no room for anyone to walk in the bus. He lays down gently onto his makeshift bed, placing his head inches from my feet. Clutching his teddy bear and a bottle of whiskey, he closes his eyes.
As he sleeps, he lets off strange gnarls, moans and whining sounds. It took me a bit of time to get used to the idea of leaving my feet exposed to a potential attack, but I eventually let my drowsiness take the reigns. I was woken up abruptly by the a hand clenching my ankle. The man sleeping in the aisle had held on to my ankle for dear life, clenching it with all his might. We did not speak the same language, but he quickly figured out my anger.
As this is happening, the bus came to a sudden halt. The bus driver had noticed the man sleeping in the aisle. This image will always be chiseled into my mind. Now I could not understand Italian, but anyone could of read between those lines. Even with the screaming of the bus driver and other passengers, there was no motivation for getting up from this man.
In what felt like a split second, the bus driver started hammer spanking the man’s rear end. This was shocking for people from small town Northern Ontario. After he had enough, the man let out a lazy whine and gently got up and sat down in his seat.
This happened 3 more times. And then the sun was up.