I had a few goals this year, and since deciding giving birth wasn’t for me (I’d prefer to be split in half by other means thanks very much), it kicked started me into a sequence of impulsive events that have pushed me into a particular space I never really expected to be in.
One of the impulsive decisions I made was to ditch NZ and head over to London, like a good ol’ classic kiwi cliché. Truth is, I had been wanting to go for years and I thought by proving to myself that I could live life not giving two shits and fucking off I’d feel something, like maybe more accomplished or edgy.
I have been exhausted. Swinging from drama to drama, being swallowed by avalanches of stress, deep throated by feelings and the constant fear that my sense of identity is slowly being attacked by minuscule things that don’t really fucking matter in real life.
As the date to leave came closer, I started feeling that it wasn’t the right move. I had finally paved the way of my escape yet it just didn’t seem as appealing anymore. What I really felt like I wanted was feeling uncomfortable, not ‘that’s too many fingers’ uncomfortable but ‘oooh I didn’t know I liked that please continue’ type uncomfortable, ya feel me?
So, I booked a return flight home, extended a credit card (woo debt hooray!) and proceeded to find the cheapest way to see Europe on my own in effort to plonk myself right in the middle of that uncomfortable level I was looking for.
First stop? Milan.
Why? Because it was only $50 to fly there from London.
Most people know Milan as a fashion destination. For me, it was just a pit stop and a test drive of Italy to prep myself for the rest of my lone wolf trip, because I am not yet part of the elite society that shops at LV or Gucci on the regs. Tell you the truth, I had no fucking idea what to do when I got there.
And my first day? I kept asking myself “what the fuck have I done?!”. To kick things off, my accommodation was a little off what I was after. Located in an outer suburb called Bovisa, I got off the train (I am mighty good at navigating metro systems not gonna lie, so long as I’m not daydreaming) and felt that I stuck out like a sore thumb wearing blue jeans and a sweater in 35 degree heat.
I really showed that I wasn’t a local when I forgot to get cash out and tried to pay for a tram ticket with my credit card, making the cashier yell “THIS IS ITALIA!” at me. And I’m glad he did, learn’t my lesson and also had cash on me after that.
My accom was with an Indian student from Delhi who was sweet and made me food. Unfortunately, it was a room share and because I was so tired from travelling, a previous cocaine bender with an old school friend coupled with the heat, I slept talked. Or as he put it ‘you kept yelling in your sleep last night’.
It was awkward. So that day I left for long bike tour of the city to avoid any contact and booked into a new Airbnb in the ‘alternative’ area of Milan. Thought I might feel more at home.
If you ever go to Milan by yourself or just want to kill a day and get some history about the area from a local, do a bike tour. We had a small group of english speaking people from around the globe and I was lucky enough to drum up a relationship with two german ladies who had come to Milan for a Bruce Springsteen concert (rad right!?).
We saw castles, Duomo Catherdral, beautiful buildings, old Milan, new Milan all while riding through the little cobble stone streets on our sweet little bikes ringing our bells and melting with sweat.
Afterwards, I ran into my German friends at the metro and we decided to catch up for dinner in Navigli (google that shit, its gorgeous). So I got my ass home, made up a lame excuse to my current hosts so I could leave and then got lost on the way to my new home.
This was the first taster of my phone dying and me being lost in an area where not many people spoke english. One very sweet old Italian guy tried to help me, mainly because I was camping out in his driveway with a very confusing map, but we kept going around in circles, him speaking italian to me with big hand gestures and me saying ‘Scuse non parlo italiano, inglese?’ “Pestlozzi????”
By the grace of god, a cab rolled past and I managed to flag him down, convince him to let me charge my phone while he got me where I needed to be (turns out I took a tram 10mins in the complete wrong direction). He dropped me off in the sickest looking place, where it looked like old filming studios had been divided into houses, little shops and tattoo parlours.
I spotted my new digs and was blown away by the minimalistic glamour of it all, along with the equally gorgeous couple who lived there, a make up artist and a fashion photographer. Even hearing them speak Italian was effortless sophistication.
But I had some Germans to meet, so I quickly made myself not look like a peasant, chucked on some winged eyeliner, dragged some dark lippy on my superbly sun chapped lips and set off for some real Italian pizza with my new buddies.
At the recommendation of my host, we stopped at a little pizza place that was full the brim. Side note, my host also gave me a list of cool places where ‘these really cool Brazilian models hang out,’ and I should go there. I didn’t, but there is always next time.
x1 legit calzone and a few wines later, I was sitting back and enjoying my time with Carola and Martina, talking about politics, giving them a run down of New Zealand and them telling me where to visit in Germany. It was peaceful and relaxing, music filled the air along with the busy bustling sounds of people enjoying a night out with their friends and family – hardly a tourist in sight (aside from ourselves.)
Martina sat back and exclaimed, ‘How good is this life? Who knew that we’d be sitting here with you all the way from New Zealand. How special that is’.
It was special. I thought of all the trials and tribulations I had put myself through in life, sipped some more wine and was very genuinely happy with where I was in life. Happy I had made it to Italy, that I had met them and that I had the means to do all of this on my own.
To finish off the end of a pretty perfect day in Milano, we walked past a Shisha place where Martina and Carola wanted to stop off because they’d never tried Shisha and would I mind if we did? Of course not!
It was entertaining seeing these two go for it, but once it was my turn they couldn’t understand why I was so good at it. To which I had to explain (in nicer terms) that I’m a durrie fiend and also its like a bong. “Whats a bong?” was the reply I got back. I laughed and explained that it’s a way to smoke weed.
‘Oh we have never done anything like that before!’
Guess there is always a first time for everything. For me, that was happening the next day, catching a train from Milan to Venice to fulfill yet another small dream and goal.
Little did I know it was going to be far more amazing and adventurous than I could ever imagine.
Till next week