Today I pulled a classic Words of Hope move. And it turned out to be one of my all-time favorite parts of my Fall Break.
For our week break, we started in Zermatt, Switzerland. We hiked to see views of arguably the most famous mountain in the world: the Matterhorn (aka Toblerone Chocolate mountain). We then hopped on the Glacier Express, a 100-year old train that climbs through picturesque parts of Switzerland. Eight hours and a 3-course meal later, we arrived in St. Moritz. St. Moritz, home to the Winter Olympics multiple times, was as glitzy and charming as ever. We ate a delicious meal, took a funicular to the top of the most famous mountain in that region, and then hopped on our 3-hour train to Milan. In Milan, we visited the duomo and…… That’s about it. [I must admit that Milan is quite dirty, and a little unsafe. We were also exhausted, so the combination made for an early night.] The next morning, we took a 3-hour train to Cinque Terre and hiked through the national park. We ate a delicious Italian dinner and I had a bit too much of the best red wine I’ve ever had, which led to some funny moments. When I’m tipsy, I just laugh a lot, so the other four girls on the trip thought I was hilarious. [A nice feeling for someone who’s not very funny ;)]. We stayed in an adorable Airbnb, hosted by a kind woman who manages two apartments in the area. We woke up the next morning and bought our tickets to Florence. When the extremely slow ticket machine finally printed our tickets (this sounds high maintenance but I kid you not that there was a ten-person line behind us and the machine took about 5 minutes per person…. Absolutely insane for people trying to just hop on a train), we realized we had an hour layover in Pisa.
An hour layover in Pisa? I started thinking…
Turns out the Leaning Tower is about a 25 minute walk from the train station. I proposed we spend our hour layover at the Tower, and my incredible friends somehow agreed.
We hurried off the train in Pisa, sprinted to a cab station, and took a cab to the tower. We took the classic, touristy pics, and then started looking for a cab back to the station. We looked for fifteen minutes and couldn’t find one, so I proposed we sprint back to the station–with our bags in tow–and see some of the city and make sure we could actually make our train. My crazy friends once again agreed.
So there we were traipsing through Pisa with our heavy bags, doing stupid, spontaneous things with only 30 minutes before our train. When we were eight minutes from the station, everyone started to get pretty tired. So I started yelling out encouragement:
“Eight minutes is like the time it takes to run a slightly less enjoyable mile!”
“Eight minutes is like the time it takes to listen to a stupid 4-minute song twice!”
“Eight minutes is like the time it takes me to eat breakfast in the morning since I always wake up late!”
“Eight minutes is like the time it takes to listen to a TED-talk.”
…I kept going until we reached the station, throwing in some military chants, “left, left, left right left,” etc.
We made it onto our train from Pisa to Florence with three minutes to spare.
It was beautiful. And so spontaneous. And I got to see the Leaning Tower!!! And walk through the entire city center of Pisa. In a one-hour connection that would have consisted of sitting in the Pisa train station just killing time.
Last night, after visiting Florence and spending some relaxing time in Sorrento, we were all reflecting on our favorite moments from the trip. Almost everyone agreed on the Pisa detour. It was only an hour, not at all part of the extensive plans we had made or amazing food we had tried or breathtaking views we had seen, but it was great bonding. And it was insane!!!! We sprinted through Pisa like idiotic tourists and took the most basic pictures ever. But it was SO FUN! And I think in that moment we really became a family because we realized we needed each other: we needed Dibet for the walking directions to the train station, we needed Maria for her level-headedness and ability to think on the spot (which counters my spontaneous and sometimes irrational thinking), we needed Kyra’s and Alana’s wonderful senses of humor so that they would laugh at all my stupid “8-minute” analogies to keep us all going. We even got some selfies along the way, attached at the bottom of this post.
I like to think that experience is a great representation of what this blog stands for: authenticity, vulnerability, spontaneity, finding the joy, loving the people.
If you’re ever taking a train, or a plane, or just traveling and have a few hours to kill, check your surroundings. It could add a lot of fun to your trip. And don’t be afraid to just go for it. It’ll work out. And if you miss the train? Well then you get more time in a spontaneously awesome place. With spontaneously awesome people.
Special thanks to my friends who appreciate me for me, the girl who wants to visit the leaning tower in the middle of a hectic and fast-paced week. And special thanks to all of you for continuing to read more and more posts about my crazy life. I hope they inspire you to live, or continue living, a crazy life, too.