TThey say a life without risk, is hardly life at all. And isn’t this true – from smaller adventures to full scale escapades, our life’s most exciting times are hardly ones where we follow rules closely. You see it in history – what would have happened if Columbus had been too scared of the vastness of the sea, too afraid to sail to far away lands and therefore never washing up on the piece of land we now call America? Good things, you might argue, considering the US’ current political state. But would our lives be the same?

You see it again in that student who went to North Korea and managed to steal a North Korean propaganda banner, winning himself a piece of current political history from one of the most terrifying countries of the world at this moment. “But he got sentenced to 15 years of hard labour in a North Korean camp”, you might argue. But would his life be the same? Because of the latest events, this example sadly no longer stands – visit http://www.libertyinnorthkorea.org/ for more information on the state of the DPRK and ways you can help.

Napoleon, leading figure in European history, was an excellent example as well. He took a risk and invaded Russia, fighting for his dream and the honour of France, his motherland. Looking for glory and a good deal with Alexander I. The whole army died off starvation and lack of proper clothing for the frigid Russian temperatures, you might argue. But would Europe be the same without it?

This is all to say, sometimes risks are just not worth taking. Especially when they involve something so trivial and meaningless as a €2.50 bus ticket from La Spezia to Portovenere.

My friend and I decided to go on this short day-trip during our stay in La Spezia, as Portovenere is one of the most celebrated spots in Liguria because of its colourful buildings and quiet bay, enveloping tourists every day. As we got on the bus, being the Italian that I am, I quickly realised the vehicle was just to full too be checked by ticket officers (as they do in Italy). In Genova, hardly anyone ever checks them and, especially on busy buses, you can usually rest assured you will be able to complete your trip without any legal hassle. I have – not proudly – been following these rules for years and only got busted a couple times, which I personally think is impressive. Therefore, I was confident that history would repeat itself and, despite actually having tickets at hand, I advised my friend not to stamp it as we could easily use it again on our way back.

Big mistake.

READ CAREFULLY AS THIS WILL BE YOUR HEADS-UP IF YOU EVER CONSIDER VISITING PORTOVENERE: THEY DO CHECK THE BUS TICKETS. As we approached the small town, two ticket officers appeared on the street and quickly got on the bus, shouting (quite rudely, I might add) for everyone to show their tickets straight away. Here comes rule number 2 when using Italian public transport without a ticket: ALWAYS GET A SPOT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BUS. As entrance doors are usually located at the front and the back, being in the middle usually gives you more time to think of a back up plan and possibly stamp your ticket before they get to you. As I was having fun being a tourist that day, I stupidly decided to ignore this very important rule and sat at the front, to ask the bus driver which stop we should get off at. Needless to say, this meant we were the first people to get busted by the ticket officers, with un-stamped tickets and guilty looks on our faces.

It didn’t help that I tried the foreign card at first, speaking to them in English as if to not understand what was wrong with our un-stamped tickets. Bit stupid of me but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, amirite. This got worse as they asked for our ID’s and I had to humbly admit I was actually Italian, making up the excuse I was speaking in English because my friend was foreign (which is technically true). End of story, each of us got fined and we learned our lesson. Always stand in the middle of the bus AND carry your foreign student card rather than an Italian ID. No, but seriously: we made a mistake and you should definitely stamp your tickets when you board a bus! Especially when travelling, because it helps the economy and, I mean, it’s only fair.

The unhappy event sadly spoiled the rest of the day as I was absolutely raging, despite being in the wrong, at the unhelpful and impolite way we were treated, considering I had explained to the officer that we had simply forgotten to stamp the tickets and we had actually purchased them, instead of simply boarding the bus with no ticket at all. Seriously, that guy was an absolute dick.

To conclude this unlucky and long rant, I would like to tell you all that Portovenere is actually a beautiful place, so much so that I almost (almost) forgot I got fined on my way there. But almost. I guess I will not forget this trip for quite some time.

Have you ever experienced something similar or got in trouble while travelling? If so, what happened? Would love to know if I am the only one who manages to get into these situations.

Either way, hope you’re all having an amazing week and I will see you at the next post!

Elena

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