“It’s my birthday today, want to get dinner?”
Looking at each other we stared and started nodding. An Italian dinner and wine? Who would say no?
We were in Milan. The hostel was the remnants of an old commune and the walls were so thin we could hear the breathing of the girls next door. Our bunkbeds were rusty and creaking as everyone sat up groaning about the inescapable humid heat. A pool would be perfect right now, but we were backpacking, wine and dinner was a perfect alternative.
I had met these girls about three hours ago, but that is the way when backpacking. You meet, you chat, you do something memorable. This night would be a perfect description of my backpacking experience.
We walked along the street, pointing out the squatters in a building across the road. Large signs in Italian were hung between buildings and off the roof. One of the girls pointed out the different signs and what they meant; these people were protesting against the city government.
Dinner would be pasta, of course. The memory of what exactly I ate has escaped me, but the exasperated annoyance when we realised we had to pay for the bread they put on the table will stay with me.
“But they put it there! Not one word at all about money…”
A quick trip down to the grocery would supply us with wine. 2 Euros for a bottle that would cost 20 at home. We each grabbed one. We had no clue if alcohol was allowed in the hostel but from what we had seen so far, we doubted they would care.
The rest of the night was spent curled up on surfaces in the common room. Talking to Germans, Italians, Americans, Canadians and of course the ever plentiful Australians.