Once more, I am bitten by the self-created demon by the name of “treating myself;” I am once more being bitten by mosquitoes, too, for that matter. In Milan, I decide to stay a night, eat an all-you-can-eat sushi dinner, and get up early to go to Switzerland and Liechtenstein hoping that I can then catch a late-night bus to Munich, then a bus to Prague, and be out only one night’s sleep with the benefit of not having to reserve a hostel bed in the confines of infamously expensive Switzerland.
Late at night, I lie awake in a Milanese hostel without air conditioning; my sleeping pill decides not to work tonight, and I have just recently slept in a bed, quite soundly, the night before in Rimini. It seems my body has developed a new circadian rhythm, and while it’s a groovy one it means I cannot sleep two nights in a row. I am now on a ten-hours every forty-eight hours kind of beat, and beat doesn’t begin to describe how I feel. In the sleepless nights I write, or think of what to write, or start thinking in tongues until I can’t remember what language I speak fluently. What is my name? Where am I from, where am I going, when is the next bus to…? and so on. When I do catch a few precious minutes' sleep, upright on a Flixbus from somewhere to somewhere further east, I wake up not knowing where I am at all and taking up to five minutes remembering where I got on, what the road signs say, and how I got to sit here in this exact seat. I have transcended highway hypnosis to discover the next level of psychosomatic somnambulance where you are traveling so fast and to so many different countries that you no longer know where you are, where you are going, or what language to speak. I call it autobahn amnesia.
Back to my money woes. I blew a bunch of cash in Milan—even though I told myself I’d be good because I’m already spending so much money just trying to get through these lovely but expensive Italian countries—and here I am being waited on by three different Chinese people at an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant, eating countless spicy tuna rolls made with Tabasco. I figure I’m already in this thing, and I have to get my money’s worth. I spend 25 bucks but eat 75 USD worth of sushi. In Switzerland, I will have my one real Swiss meal and go to Aldi or Lidl or whatever their cheap grocery store is for the rest of the trip. No more wasting cash in Europe. I have too many countries to go, and too little money to spend everything on food I could eat (or make) at home. This all swirls around my head as my bunk-mates snore peacefully and I and stew and sweat profusely. There was some Baldwin quote about Harlem in the summer. What was it?
There is a twenty-four hour grocery store in the neighborhood where I am staying near the Milan bus station (though the hostel is still an hour’s walk away even from that). I skip the sights to spend an hour perusing the freezer section of the grocery store around 1 a.m., only to pass the cashiers and buy a cold half-gallon of iced tea at the bodega next store. I drink almost all of it on the stroll back to the hostel and in my bed. I had enough time awake to see something of value to a tourist in Milan; I should have gone on a midnight promenade. I am told there is an opera house in Milan where Madama Butterfly first premiered, and where the audience laughed audibly because it was so bad. This caused Puccini to rewrite the opera which has now been hailed as brilliant. I’m not a big opera guy, but I would like to see that just as a monument to human perseverance. ‘Maybe next time,’ I think. ‘If I’m ever in Milan at a cooler time of year.’
Just as I am about to fall asleep, I get a message that my late-night bus out of Chur (pronounced koor), Switzerland is canceled, and that I will have to leave the city at noon the day after I planned to. My plans of saving money on lodging in Central Europe are destroyed, as I will now have to book a hostel in Chur. The cheapest option for accommodation is 40 bucks, and to make matters worse I will now have to book a new bus from Munich to Prague, resulting in a hefty cancellation fee. I am able to change my itinerary in bed, on my phone, and exhaustion puts me to sleep at 3 a.m.
Victor Bernabei is just another millenial travel blogger. But here's the twist: He isn't a millenial! His goal is to see as many countries as he can, and spread the message that the world is not as scary as the news wants you to believe, and that there is beauty in all people, places and things.