So high…so low.

Sometimes when travelling, like in life, you will have low points. Sometimes they will be really low that you want to pack up and go home and sometimes it’s just a bad moment and it’s over. On the weekend I had one of those bad moments, a brief glimpse of misery and then it’s gone


The weather is finally turning in Torino. The cold fingers of winter are slowly releasing their grasp on the mountains and the warmth is returning to the world, my lovely flower children. So what do people do when it gets sunny…they go to the park. After a seemingly unneccessary early Saturday morning staff meeting and completely wrong Italian Chinese food, my friend, Emer and I decided that we couldn’t squander this perfect day indoors and went to Parco del Valentino.   Basking in the sun with the golden rays reflecting off our ridiculously pasty white legs, we looked jealously at the tanned Italian bodies of the couple sitting in front of us. I am pretty sure that they actually changed colour while sitting in the park. I’m going to go right out and say it, ‘Damn my Northern European blood’. Sure, I get the big boobs and child bearing Viking hips but what good are those is they can’t attract their Viking mate because he’s being blinded by your super pale skin in the mid spring sun?

As we were sitting in the sun, we realised what was missing. Beer. Ice cold beer. We were in the middle of the park where were we going to get beer from without having a mission somewhere. Thankfully, this is Italy and they are so on that shit to the point of irritation. People have taken it upon themeselves to earn money by buying beer and selling it for inflated prices to lazy people in the park. It’s the perfect system, in theory, but in practice as anyone who has ever been to the beach in Asia knows that once you say yes to one of the sellers, you are seen as an easy mark for the rest. We picked ‘our’ guy for the day, mostly because he ran with a backpack full of beer across the park to his buddy to get the one bottle opener that all these guys share. Icy beers opened we were ready for some people watching. If you have ever been to Italy you know it’s prime for people watching most days, it’s even better in the park on a Saturday afternoon. From the group of goth kids scowling under a tree to the super stoned (possibly) gay couple who insisted on trying on every pair of sunglasses a vendor had, only to settle on the round John Lennon style that looked horrible on them both. As the afternoon wore on, the sun started to fade not because it was getting late but because of the GIGANTIC GREY CLOUD heading straight towards the park. People started packing up and leaving once the sun disappeared but me and E stuck to our guns and hung around….well we mostly hung around because we were meeting another friend and we had already told him our location. He arrived just as the heavens opened and started crying because they felt so bad about ruining our sunny park day. Jerks.

This is where it starts to get good. E and I were about 3 big beers deep by the time that S came to meet us and whisked us off in his car to run an errand. He had saved us from the rain so we were obliged to go with him. What was this errand that was of the utmost importance on a rainy Saturday afternoon…costume shopping. While in the car my phone buzzed and it was the guy from the Tinder Test. I’d been back in contact with him off and on but long story short he was being a dick and this message was no different from the others.  By the time that we reached the costume shop I was in a pretty good funk. S jumped right into looking at the costume books as me and E wandered and commented on the fact that in Ireland and Canada no one would be caught dead buying a package costume when there are so many imaginative options that you can make with stuff at home but each to their own I guess.

E went off to help S decide on an animal costume and by this time, in addition to my funk I had also started to sober up. E came over to see if I was okay and the hug set me off. I began crying in the costume shop. Not big boo-hoo tears but a little weepy. Until I looked up and saw a velociraptor mask snarling down at me from the wall. Now, if you are one of my friends reading this you will understand why this is funny. If you aren’t, let me explain, one of my crazy irrational fears are velociraptors. I know they are extinct. I know they didn’t actually look how they did in Jurassic Park. And I know that they didn’t actually figure out how to open doors while smiling menacingly at the people trapped on the other side of the door. Nonetheless, I have had recurring nightmares about velociraptors since 1993. Thanks a lot, Steven!!

The velociraptor mask shocked me out of my funk and then in that moment of clarity the ridiculousness of the situation sunk in. Not only was I crying over an idiot but I was crying in an Italian costume store surrounded by velociraptors, Scream masks, devil horns and an inflatable penis costume as my friend (who is NOT a small guy) tried on cat masks and a tail.

Two store bought costumes later, E and S decided that they would try and keep my spirits in their now elevated state with some mild alcohol abuse. We ventured first to the charmingly named, ‘Dirty Dick’s’ but sadly Dick didn’t open for business for another hour or two so we went to a pub, Jumping Jesters, which had been recommended to us by some Americans we had met at a previous event because of it’s cheap drinks. They were pretty cheap and that was really the only good thing about this place. That and the squat toilets! I’ve been out of Asia for a year now and I can say that I haven’t lost my squatting form to assure no or little splashback but I have definitely lost the leg strength I gained.

After we unplugged ourselves from the free wifi which was keeping us there, S had a the brilliant idea to find our friend, M, who is an English teacher/bartender. Let me clear something up….WE DID NOT NEED ANYMORE DRINKS but off we ventured to Piazza Vittorio, which is the largest square in Europe without a statue, and to Zero Bar where M was working that evening. Drinks bought, we settled in to sing every word of ‘The Sign’ by Ace of Base and mutter about the youth of today not knowing this classic song. ** I now have and I bet y’all have Ace of Base in your heads, don’t you?? You’re welcome! **

To be honest I don’t really know what the point of this post is; maybe it’s to recount a ridiculous moment in my day. maybe it’s to let you guys know that travelling is tough. You will have bad days while you are away but it’s how you choose to deal with the bad days that make or break you. You just have to find the velociraptor mask in every situation.

Peace K xxx

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