Life is about How You Handle Plan B

Coming from a family that does little to no planning for just about everything, this saying is something I am very familiar with. But last weekend, it really came into play. My roommates and I decided we were going to take a trip to Milan to see one of our favorite dj’s, Galantis. We sat down last Sunday and planned out the entire trip. From the hostels to the transportation, it was all booked. We were all so giddy and excited about our first trip out of Rome. We were set to head to Milan Thursday night after class.

This was our first trip and we all were new to planning weekend trips. We had to become our own trip advisors and figure out all the logistics. After a few hours of comparing prices of hostels to bed and breakfasts and busses to trains, we finally figured it out. We knew there would be a few bumps along the way, but hey that’s life and this is how we’ll learn.

We spent our week preparing for our trip walking around Rome trying to find the perfect outfits for the concert. It was going to be crazy fun and we wanted to dress the part. We searched the streets for leather skirts, fish net stockings, and sparkly eye liner. But as Murphy’s Law states, if something bad can happen it will. With our bags packed, and glitter eyeliner in hand, we get an email saying the concert was canceled. Well, now what? We weren’t really sure what to do. We had our weekend planned around this concert and now it’s cancelled.

Our bus ride to Milan was only hours away at this point and we had to make a new plan for the weekend. We were a little bummed, but still excited to explore a new city. We were going to make the best of our plan B.

Tori at the top of Duomo in Milano

Our eight-hour overnight bus ride was nothing more than average. We slept the entire way so there wasn’t much to complain about besides a stiff neck. We arrived in Milan around 6 in the morning. Rubbing our eyes and adjusting to the early morning, we had to navigate our way through the metro to get to our hostel. I said a quick thank you to the DC metro for prepping me for this early morning navigation. And when we got to the hostel we dropped our bags and set out for our first day in Milan.

Still groggy from the ride in, we made our way to the city center to see the breath taking Duomo di Milano. It was probably 8 o’clock by this point.  This cathedral took my breath away the second I stepped out from the metro. Its ornate design and massive size was overwhelmingly beautiful. The sight of the Duomo perked us all right up. We were wide awake now, and in an instant we decided we had to tour the cathedral. We bought tickets to go to the top of it and see the beautiful rooftop view. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I had a feeling it would be worth the 200 step spiral staircase climb. When we reached the top, whatever breath was left in our lungs was stolen from us again. The ornate spindles and pillars of marble were detailed with saints and animals. We could see every detail so clearly now. We spent about an hour taking it all in while wondering around the rooftop. The view from the top of the cathedral was just as exquisite as the cathedral itself.

A quick sketch of a statue on the roof of El Duomo

Keana photographing the view from the top of the Duomo

We spent the rest of the day exploring various parts of Milan, and after 7 miles of walking we decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner. Since we all got refunded for the concert tickets we thought it would be fun to celebrate our time in Milan with beautiful pasta, champagne, and dessert. After our classy dinner we walked around a little more and then headed home. Since we wouldn’t be seeing the concert the next day we decided to make plans to visit Lake Como.

Dinner in Milan

Lake Como is a beautiful lake where very famous and rich people come to vacation. George Clooney even has a summer home on the lake. We were all so excited t visit, we could go hiking and swimming, it would totally make up for not being able to go to the concert. From Milan, Como was only an hour’s train ride away. So we woke up around 8, threw on some hiking clothes, grabbed our bathing suits, and made our way to the train station. All 5 of us giddy again for our exciting plans, we buy our 5 euro train tickets to Lake Como and grab a bite to eat while we wait.

We may can navigate the metro easily, but the train was a different story. 10 minutes till the trains departure and all 5 of us are frantically trying to figure out what platform we had to be at. We were all trying to read the departure boards and before you know it the group is split in half. Not good. 5 minutes till departure and were trying to figure out where to go. The plan was that we would meet back on the train, but the problem was we were headed to different platforms. Sandy, Tori, and I ended up at platform 16, which was not right at all. And Audrey and Keana were on the train headed to Lake Como.

Tori and I at the top of Lake Como

Luckily the train we were getting on runs every 15 minutes and we were able to meet up with the girls at the next train station. But man, talk about how to handle plan B, how about plan Z. We get to the lake in one piece, thankfully, and wake our way towards the water. The tall mountains and fresh air surrounded us in a welcoming embrace. No one said anything, but we were all thinking it. It was freezing and wet and obviously we were going to have to rethink our plans of swimming and hiking. What letter are we on now? What plan is this?

Even through the rain, we enjoyed the breathtaking lake. The storm clouds rolled over the huge mountains and created a really beautiful view. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before and I truly enjoyed it.  We sat for lunch and tried to plan out the rest of our day. We walked through the quaint streets, and walked in and out of the beautiful shops while trying to hide from the rain. I exchanged my flip-flops for a new pair of Adidas to keep my toes a little bit warmer, and picked up a new rain jacket.

Lake Como

After exploring the touristy part of the lake we decided to take the tram car to the top of the mountain. The tram pulled us all the way to the top of the mountain on a track on about a 45-degree angle. The ride up was beautiful, and we were able to see most of the lake and town once we made it to the top. It was so quiet and peaceful up there.

After our long day we headed back to Milan, and prepared for our long journey home. We had to be at the bus station to head back home by 10. The ride to Milan was tolerable because we basically slept the entire time, but this time around it was terribly painful. Spending eight hours on a bus in the middle of the day is not something I will ever willingly do ever again. There is only so much you can do to keep yourself occupied for 8 hours while crammed in between strangers. But you live and you learn, and next time we go to Milan we will make sure to take a train, know what platform it is at, and definitely check the weather ahead of time.

So the moral of the story in this ridiculously long post is that there never really is a plan A or B, it’s just life. It’s always changing and keeping you on your toes. It’s a beautiful thing. And if you just stay positive and keep a smile on your face you’ll experience some really great things.

Julianna Carfaro


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