Every time I travel, I see amazing places. But, more importantly I’ve learned, I meet amazing people.

Spontaneously, the day before classes ended for the week, I decided it was the right time to take a trip to the Dolomites for the weekend. Originally, I wanted to just hang out and relax in Venice for the weekend, but then I got the unshakable need to finally see the place I had been dreaming about for the last month (not even realizing the autumn colors would be ideal this time of year!).

Turns out when I checked out the Trenitalia website for train tickets to Pieve di Cadore, a pretty centrally located town in the Dolomite region and easy to get to by train from Venice (the main factor in choosing my Dolomite destination), tickets were only 9 euros. Knew this was a deal because two weeks ago I had checked and they were 40 euros! Quickly, I bought the ticket to Pieve di Cadore, and then found hosts to stay with Thursday and Friday night on AirBnB. Such a great site! And in less than an hour, I was all set!

Onward to the mountains!

Onward to the mountains.. bye Venice.

Somewhere along the ride to Pieve di Cadore!

Enroute to Pieve di Cadore!

The train northward to Pieve di Cadore got behind schedule, which apparently happens a lot and is probably why my host messaged me saying to just take the bus the whole way (after I already bought train tickets), so I had to catch a bus from my first stop at Ponte Nelle Alpi. What a mesmerizing train ride it was though! You pass nothing but beauty – lakes, mountains, bridges, forests, small towns, meadows…. everything! I probably would just pay for the ticket to enjoy the views even if I wasn’t going to be staying in the Dolomites. Seriously don’t think I’ll forget the feeling of this train ride anytime soon.

Waiting for bus in Ponte Nelle Alpi.. not a bad view.

Waiting for bus in Ponte Nelle Alpi.. not a bad view.

I met a couple from Atlanta who was on their honeymoon while trying to figure out how to get to Calalzo which was the bus station closest to Pieve di Cadore. They were in the same situation as myself so together and with the help of a local we figured out where to get the tickets and when the next bus would be. Their honeymoon started in Venice, then led to the Dolomites, and after they were heading to Cinque Terre. Pretty perfect honeymoon destinations I must say…! I’m sure they appreciated the approval from a 19 year old, myself, who affirmed that would be a honeymoon I would like to share with someone one day.

Nevertheless, we made it to Calalzo and went separate ways after enjoying an hour conversation on the bus which consisted of conversations about exercise, yoga, hiking, Atlanta, Cinque Terre, jobs, and college. The ususal. The whole ride I had been communicating with my hosts via the AirBnB app since I don’t have an Italian phone to text or call and they were fantastic! My hosts, Sara and Emilio, communicated with me while I kept them up to date on my whereabouts and changes.. and when I arrived to Calalzo, Emilio was there in his car to pick me up and take me back to their house which is nestled into the side of the mountains. Immediately, I knew it was going to be a great stay as we conversed about travels, the mountains, life, and the Italian train system – speaking in Italian and English on our way back to the house.

Nestled in the mountains

The house was beautiful and tranquil, located up in the mountains of the small town of Pieve di Cadore, with amazing views everywhere you turned. When I got to the door with my backpack and water bottle in hand (clothes, a journal, and water – all I need), I was greeted by an energetic, long haired, tan chihuahua and a wild, 6 month year old Australian Cattle dog. After about 5 minutes, they got comfortable with my presence and relaxed for a a moment. Then, I went on to talk with Sarah who was so helpful! She got out maps and showed me everywhere to hike, get food, and explore. Sarah and Emilio were in the process of moving to a different house up the street, but they still found the time to be awesome hosts and even brought me with them at night to walk their dogs and get some local gelato!

The hospitality and thoughtfulness of strangers keeps me hopeful and alive.

As we walked through the town at night, we discussed the differences between America and Italy.. mostly the differences between culture, life, and expenses. Italians and just Europeans in general are always so shocked to hear how expensive college is! I used to think everyone knows that.. but I’ve learned to expect the opposite now. Always a nice reminder that a $50,000 price tag for education is not normal. We also talked about travels and how Emilio’s favorite place in the world so far has been Tibet and Asia… which I definitely was envious of and hope to replicate someday!

In conversing it was clear they too had been on the receiving end of kindness from strangers.

Eventually, we went back to the house and winded down for the night. We even watched some Big Bang Theory in Italian which is my favorite TV show so I loved it…! Sheldon, Penny, and co. talking in Italian… fantastic. It really was great talking in Italian a good amount and learning more about the area and culture.. nothing better than meeting new people, sharing stories, learning from them, and becoming friends over gelato.

Finally I got tired, and was already physically exhausted from the day of traveling so I said goodnight to Sara and Emilio and then slept the night away – not knowing what the next day would bring. Sort of like today.

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