“There are friendships imprinted in our hearts
that will never be diminished by
time and distance.”
Six years ago, I started a job that I didn’t think much of- it was just another stop a long the way. Little did I know, this job would bring me my best friend- someone I consider my sister, at this point. We definitely didn’t start at friends, it wasn’t some instant friendship. Hell, we worked next to each other every Friday for months without even really talking. But one fateful night, I got hit in the stomach with a package (a daily thing with our job), and I had just gotten my belly button pierced. This was the beginning of our friendship. Strange, right? But apparently she thought my belly button ring was cute, and now I can’t get rid of her. Even then, we didn’t start hanging out outside of work or talking everyday, we’d just hang out on Fridays at work and get on with life. Then I came back from my first international trip, and suddenly we were planning a trip to Iceland together for the following year. Of course, we didn’t do our original plan, but we did end up traveling together for a month in 2017. This was just the beginning of the Misadventures of Alessandra and Blackman.
First came London
Let’s get one this straight before we start off the misadventures: we spent the first half of our trip fighting. We got on each other’s nerves, and, if we’re being honest, we didn’t even really know each other at this point. We hung out and planned this trip, sure, but we didn’t know each other’s quirks and every thought. So London was kind of a disaster. Not completely, though. This trip happened shortly after the 2017 Westminster Bridge terrorist attack, and the city still seemed a bit on edge. At this point, I honestly forget where we were headed, but we were in the Victoria Tube station, and it got evacuated. We were scared shitless; everyone was running for the exits, it was a blur of people shouting and alarms blaring. All I knew was that we had to get the hell out. The second we were out, we hopped on the first bus we saw and road it around until we felt we were at a safe enough distance away… and were sure we hadn’t pissed ourselves.
It was raining, and we didn’t have a damn clue where we were when we got off that bus. We ended up walking to what we thought was a Tube station… it was completely shut down and had been for a while. Neither of us had service on our phones, and there wasn’t anyone particularly friendly around to ask directions from. Then I busted my ass in the road (who knew crosswalk lines were slippery when wet?) and nearly got hit by a car. I’m not really sure how we ended up getting back to our hostel, but I do remember the tension settling for that night. This, if I remember correctly, also started our London tradition of going to Bayswater Arms each evening (a resurrected tradition for me, since I spent every evening there on my first trip to London) and drinking Rekorderlig.
Then came Paris
From London, we made our way to Paris… hungover. We spent the early afternoon in London drinking too much wine at a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (another tradition for us, apparently… more on that later), before hoping on a train to Paris. It may have been the wine, or the misadventures we had, but in that moment, I knew everything would be okay. I’m sure everyone remembers the movie Taken. If not, let’s do a quick recap: two friends go to Paris and share a taxi with a random dude to their apartment, random dude orchestrates an abduction of the two girls. As soon as we got off the train in Gare du Nord station, a strange man approaches us in the station and offers to give us a “cheap taxi ride” to our hostel. Then the police proceed to run the man off and escort us to the line for taxis. And this begins Paris.
I’d be lying if I said we didn’t over do it with the French wine. By over do it, I mean that we barely remember anything after our first official morning and afternoon in the city. We scaled the Eiffel Tower, we had escargot, we saw Notre Dame… then we drank wine. The misadventures in Paris, however, deserves its own telling- a whole blog post, in fact. So, we’ll fast forward to Italy. First up is Milan. We were only in Milan for a day and a half, but a lot happened in that day. We arrived to our hostel in the late evening and decided to stay in for the night to recover from the Parisian escapades. Our hostel was an upgrade from the last two, and we spent the evening watching the Taken movies, in honor of our events in Paris.
Naked and Afraid – Milan style
On the Discovery Channel, there’s this fantastic tv show called Naked and Afraid. They send out two total strangers into dangerous lands to survive… completely naked. It’s probably one of my favorite shows to binge watch and became an iconic reference for us in Milan. If you’ve never been in a hostel shower, be grateful. One could call it a dangerous land: you’re naked, afraid of the potential foot disease you may get, and always unsure of what the water will be like. In the hostel we stayed in, there were motion activated lights, and, while we were showering, these motion detecting lights decided to just shut off. The first thing out of my mouth? “I’m naked and afraid!” It probably wasn’t as funny as we found it, but we were still losing our minds when fellow hostel members came in and reactivated the lights. When I left the shower? Face to face with a very beautiful, very naked man that didn’t say a word. Milan was an interesting time, to say the least.
The time Blackman lost the key to her suitcase & Alessandra broke down a door
I’ve talked about how Verona is my favorite city in Italy, but I didn’t go into the behind the scenes of what happened in Verona. Our bnb host upgraded us to this stunning apartment and was incredibly kind when we arrived. Everything seemed to be going swell: we were getting along, we had a break from hostel life, then… Blackman couldn’t find the key to her suitcase. It caused a bit of tension that just grew to full blown irritation with each other. We only had the afternoon and morning to explore Verona, and I was itching to go out. Blackman was insisting she find her key. We tore through every bag we brought with us, even tried the spare key to my suitcase lock, and no luck. We were both getting increasingly frustrated. Finally, it was time to scour the apartment for any sort of tool to cut the lock… and I literally broke down the door into a closet in frustration.
She finally realized that she left the key in Milan, and we set out to find a hardware shop that wasn’t closed. This led to us having a conversation with a man who spoke only Italian through Google translate and pictures of what we needed. Then separating from each other and getting lost because we didn’t want to be around each other. Eventually, we were laughing about the whole situation while Blackman was yelling at the weird European washer in the apartment trying to get it working and I was sitting out on the balcony with my tea. We had both finally calmed down and just sat out on the balcony together in silence, watching the stars. Another moment where I felt everything would eventually be okay. Stay tuned for more of the misadventures in Verona!
The Birth of Alessandra and Blackman
Okay, so the photo above was taken in Naples, but this part of the misadventures begins in our arrival to Rome. We got in late, but the man checking us into the hostel was an absolute king. He dubbed us Alessandra and Blackman (variations of our name) and immediately got on the phone with a pizza delivery company that was still open at that hour. While the pizza tasted like cardboard- I know, horrible pizza in Rome?- we spent the evening laughing about our new names and writing down all of the crazy things that had happened to us on this trip. This is where the Misadventures of Alessandra and Blackman was born. Over shitty pizza and in the tiniest, hottest hostel I’ve ever been inside.
Thank you for reading the first installment of the Misadventures of Alessandra and Blackman! I had so much fun writing this and reminiscing with Blackman along the way that I have decided to make this into a series! What are some of your stories from traveling with friends? I’d love to hear them, so pop a comment below!