When I was in high school I wanted to be a professional photographer. I could literally spend hours on end taking, then editing photos of just about anything. It comes as no surprise that when we were required to complete a week of work experience; each and every photography studio within a 30km radius of my home received an email from me.
The amazing Blue Murder Studios ended up being kind enough to take me onboard and it was over these 5 days with them that I slowly began to realise something for myself: you can take thousands of photos and still not get the right shot. Good shots are good shots because they have stories behind them. They provoke.
Over the past few years I’ve slowly transitioned from my DSLR to Disposable Film Cameras. I now have a tradition whereby I use one disposable film camera for every trip that I take. Whether I’m gone for a month or half a year, 27 exposures is what I dedicate to that trip. Last year I was overseas for 7 months straight, and 27 exposures is what I gave myself to work with. There were times when it was hard to refrain from snapping away and the third week of July 2015 was one of them..
A friend and I happened to be in Milan at the same time. A few Facebook messages were exchanged and we suddenly found ourselves with tickets to Cinque Terre.
We had arranged to meet at the Main Station, but you know how it is. Without working phones, wifi or basic knowledge of the Italian language, we struggled to find each other. When we did eventually meet up, we skipped the hellos and ran straight for the train. We made it, put our bags down and started to catch up. How have your travels been? Did you meet anyone? Ahh, tell me abou-
Unfortunately for us, we were interrupted as the train terminated in Turin. For those that are not familiar with Italian geography, the train from Milan to Cinque Terre does not terminate at Turin. We had gotten on the wrong train. Too short on cash to get on the next train heading towards Cinque Terre, too short on time to go back to Milan and start over, and too sweaty from the Summer heat to stay calm, we were the definition of backpackers. Not only did we look and smell like we had just been held captive in a sauna cross op shop, we were carrying our lives on our backs. Desperate for options and even more desperate for wifi, we ventured across the road and made ourselves at home in the lobby of a 4-star hotel. Banter was had and wifi passwords were given out.
Following some half-hearted google searches, we decided our best bet was to cut our losses, explore Turin and get the 9.30PM bus to La Spezia. From there we’d be able to catch the train to our hostel and everything would be sweet. Or so we thought.
The bus pulled into La Spezia at 2.30 in the morning. Unlucky for us, it wasn’t until 2.30 in the morning that we realised La Spezia (Viale Italia) and La Spezia (Centrale) were two very different stops. With our lives on our backs once again, we walked with stomachs full of doubt, in the dark, for 20 minutes along the highway.
Eventually we arrived at the (correct) train station. It was not only dark and cold, it was also empty. But hey, what could we do. We rummaged through our bags, got our sleeping bags out and made ourselves at home whilst we waited for the first train to arrive.
Fast forward a few hours and we are being awoken by the sound of the first train. The first train leaving that is. We had slept through it. The next train wasn’t for a while and we were close to starvation so we decided to swap our stomachs full of doubt for stomachs full of fruits, cheese and bread from the market down the road.
Thankfully, the next train ever so gracefully took us to Manarola. We walked up what at the time seemed like a cruel never ending mountain of an incline and eventually wound up in paradise. We even met a girl who somehow convinced me to stay in Cinque Terre for longer than I had intended.
Copious amounts of pizza and wine were consumed and the rest is history.. And it’s on that note that I’d like to conclude my somewhat longwinded recount of that time I slept at a train station and took 3 photos on my disposable camera.