Being in Europe calls for a Big Spring Break. I decided to spend mine in Italy (I mean, where else?) I figured that I wouldn’t have enough time to fully experience Rome, and still go other places as well, so my trip instead consisted of Verona, Cinque Terre, and Florence. Though Verona and Florence were both gorgeous, my favorite part of the trip had to be Cinque Terre, a national park that surrounds these five fishing towns built into the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean. Each town has its own personality, and there are both hiking trails and trains connecting all of the cities.
My original plan was to hike from Town One to Town Three on the first day I was there, and tackle town three to town five on the second day. But the funny thing about plans is that they never seem to work the way you plan them.
Somewhere between Towns 2 and 3, I ran into the same girl multiple times. We eventually ended up walking the same pace, and struck up a conversation. Her opening line? “are you walking all five too?” My response? “We’ll see how it goes…” (very noncommittal, amiright?) Turns out she too is studying abroad from America, but she is spending her semester in Spain. We reached a point where she just looked me in the eye and asked “So, I guess we’re doing this together now?” And I figured, why not?
Pauline and I ended up spending the next five or so hours together, and our conversation reached a wide range of topics, from dreaming of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail to the Viennese Ball Season.
When you travel (especially when you travel alone), it is so easy to form these deep, intense, short lived relationships that you couldn’t create in any other environment. Both people come in with the knowledge that this is the only point where your lives will ever intersect, and that gives a sort of anonymity to the whole thing. You can tell the other things you wouldn’t tell people you have to face again, and at the same time you are faced with the knowledge that you are talking with a complete stranger. It makes for a very strange, almost beautiful interaction.
Pauline and I hiked all five towns together (about 15 miles), which comes with its own sense of pride, but she left me with much more. I learned a lot during that conversation, both about myself and about life in general, and I think I will always fondly think back on that one interaction.
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<p>Fionna studies Anthropology and Molecular Biology at the University of Pittsburgh. Though she is originally from the Netherlands, she has spent the last ten or so years in California. Her free time is spent reading, horseback riding, nerding out about television shows, hiking, and dreaming of future travels and adventures. She is looking forward to spending her spring semester enjoying the life and culture in Vienna, Austria and the surrounding countries. </p>