With our final exams finally behind us it was time to say goodbye to Milano. I think Danielle and I both felt slightly nostalgic as we ventured to California Bakery one last time, and down Via Turino for one last glimpse at a few of the many fashionable shops Milano has to offer. We climbed aboard our train to Rimini which had been chosen as our ‘post-exam celebration destination’ for its epic nightlife and glorious beaches. We had a room to ourselves at the Sunflower City Backpackers Hostel, which was fortunate as it allowed us to rearrange the room so our heads were positioned by the windows, allowing us a breath of fresh air amongst the stifling humidity.
The weather was due to close in about lunch time, so us keen beachgoers were up and at it by 8am, after chowing down some revolting coffee and storing away some self-made Dunkaroos for later on. Needless to say, we were the only ones on the entire beach, and both got slightly more burnt than planned. We ventured out late afternoon to explore the shops, grab a fancy dinner and indulge elegantly in some cocktails, however these plans were soon put on hold as the rain turned torrential – and did not stop. The streets were knee-deep with water, shops were flooding and road works were floating away. This horrendous weather put a wee dampener on the mood, so we opted for a night in with our classic pesto and pasta, and some cocktails while we watched the football. The only problem was the hostel wasn’t showing any of the football, despite the well-advertised Happy Hours that were supposed to occur during the games! A cloudy sky the next morning failed to stop us beach deprived Kiwis from hitting the beach, which we became thankful for as it turned into a beautiful day. A new sight for us both was the topless sunbathing (something we would both become very accustomed to over the following months) and the concept of standing sunbathing, rotating occasionally, presumably to get better sun coverage!
A 50 minute train ride to Ancona saw us check in for our overnight Croatia-bound ferry, and wait about half an hour for a bus to take us to the ferry itself. After meeting two fellow New Zealanders in the customs queue, I received my first stamp in my new passport, and we made our way to our allocated accommodation: “deck-space”. It was a glorious night; we watched the sun go down over Italy before heading below deck to grab ourselves some sleeping space (a row of chairs with the arm rests folded up) before waking up at 4.30am the next morning to watch the sun rise as we arrived in Split, Croatia.