Joy, excitement, some fear, a sense of freedom. At the Bologna train station a guy gives me a pat on my backpack and screams: Go to Padua! Padua!!. Surely, he had mistaken me for a foreigner traveling in Italy and he’s encouraging me to visit his hometown, of which he is proud. I have to spend an hour at the station, in this first step that will launch me from my Florence to Europe for a month. I sit down on the lawn, next to a girl who’s writing in a diary. Next to her, on her backpack, hangs a heart that reads an address ending with Sweden.
Among the South Tyrolean Alps the train runs between valleys and long tunnels, then brakes at a small station lost in the mountains: through the glass door of the compartment I see a trolley passing at full speed in the corridor. A few seconds after whizzes staggered a lady who chases him. I open my map of InterRail, I trace with my finger the journey that, still in my mind, furrows through Europe on a train.
When, after a day of travelling, I get off at the train station of Munich of Bavaria, the emotion hits me. The first, short stage, has been reached. I will spend only a night here, but I have a lot to discover. For the first time I will experiment Couchsurfing. I’ll be hosted by some unknown who decided to share their house with who, as me, travels searching people, histories to learn and to recount.
“Island” it isn’t only the nordic vulcanic Island, it is also the name of a Chinese boy who I meet in the station of Munich. Also he is travelling around Europe, but his way to see this continent is completely different from mine. I arrived yesterday – he says to me – but tomorrow I will go somewhere else. The European cities are so small, in half an hour you can turn the whole city… Then say to me how is it possible that in all this Street we are the only two! Where I live, in Canton, we are 20 millions: the streets are Always full of people… and there aren’t so much gardens as here.
After an impromptu dinner at the nearest supermarket, I greet Island and I start to search for the house of Sabrina, my host for tonight. The avenue that brings me to her neighborhood, in the darkness of 9.30pm, is cordoned on the side streets and strangely deserted. From afar I see it filling of little lights coming to me. Tens, hundreds, thousands of skaters of all ages, with flashlights and reflectors ties, fill the boulevard accompanied by a music that, I understand, is coming from a stereo that a guy on in-line skates is pushing on a baby stroller.
I arrive at Sabrina’s home still astonished for this evening’s appearance and the astonishment doesn’t finish: Sabrina is a girl in hand and funny, but after showing me her room – a 4×3 in the student’s home – she fills the less empty space between her bed and the wardrobe with a camping mattress and she leaves me with a smile and a : This is your bed, I have a commitment and I’ll return late, the communal bathrooms are here in front and if you want you can use my laptop. See you tomorrow morning!
Waking up I hear some footsteps, I leave the room and, in the communal kitchen of the big building, Sabrina is having breakfast eating from a pot something unknown, I cannot say if it’s meat or fish. My first night as a couchsurfer has been strange, but I don’t lose heart! I still have 29 days in front of me and to catch the train for Nuremberg in less than 30 minutes!