FIRST TIME ARRIVING IN ITALY
For me, not knowing the language in a specific location has to be one of the more frustrating things. Arriving to a place where you don't speak a common language is very emotionally exhausting. To me, languages are a very special thing and I really enjoy learning them. Since being here in Italy, I have realized I took for granted being able to convey my feelings, express my emotions, or simply ask for directions. This feeling was not something I was unfamiliar with, but had already experienced. However, it was a feeling I definitely misplaced. My fault, but I arrived to Italy with no knowledge of Italian, other than the important phrases of "Do you speak English?" ... "I don't speak Italian" and the ever so famous Ciao. This more or less got me through most encounters. Either they knew English or we got by with hand gestures.
Side note: Yes, it is true Italians are very expressive and can have a conversation with the many hand gestures.
So, my journey to the hostel. Touched down in Milan, more than 15+ hours of traveling later with little to no sleep, I was thrown right in to the swing of things, as if I was a local. The directions sent to me by my boss were, lets say, not the most understandable. I was told to take 2 different trains, and a bus in order to arrive in Menaggio. First train station, I had to transfer. I got off the train searching for the next train labelled "Como Lago". Spotted, a few tracks down, I began to walk over. The train left as I was just getting to the platform. Now what... out of the 7 or 8 tracks in the station, none were labelled "Como Lago". Only thing I could do now was wait on the exact platform of the last train I just missed. 30 minutes and 3 trains had passed, still no sign of Como Lago. Finally, the screen showed Como Lago and I was relieved. I hopped on and proceeded with the directions to Como.
Next direction, find the bus station and take the C10 bus to Menaggio. Two heavy bags, 90 Degree weather, blazing sun, in a foreign country trying to find my way around not knowing the language was definitely not ideal. After trying to get on a bus labeled C10 that was already in route, I found the small bus station. Bought my ticket and waited for the next bus to arrive. Another 30ish minutes waiting and it pulled up. The most stunning ride just to arrive in a little town even more breathtaking than I could imagine. The foothills of the alps running down straight into the lake. The terra-cotta colored roofs of the houses contrasting with the greenery around them, scattered one on top of the other build right into the landscape all the way up the hill. The sun beaming down and the sky such a perfect blue.
So, I asked the bus driver where I was going and he said he would tell me when I was supposed to stop in order to get to the hostel. But, It is the only hostel in Menaggio, so everyone knew it, which was very helpful. However, the bus driver forgot and I ended up at the station at the end of the route.
Now, I had to use my "Italian" to try and find the hostel. After asking people on the street and getting many strange looks, I stumbled into a little market and thankfully they spoke English. Vague, but enough so I could understand where to go (along with the hand gestures). I arrived 5 hours later than expected, but I was just happy to finally put my bags down and breathe.