After travelling Europe for two months with my school friend, it was time for her to return to uni, and for me to begin my solo travels. Next stop, Italia! The country of my dreams. Where food, history, music, art and most importantly– romance – is said to be overflowing. I had spent my entire school life taking Italian as a subject in preparation for this trip. The plan was set… this was where I was going to have my big, life changing, coming-of-age, movie-worthy, heartbreaking holiday romance. “Ti amo!” I would say to my tan, browned eyed, thick haired Italian lover as he poured me another aperitivo and plopped a stuffed olive in my mouth. “Amore mio!” he would say.

When I arrived at the hotel in Milan to begin my Contiki tour, I quickly dropped off my things in my room, made sure I look good (but not like I tried), and headed into the lobby to meet my future.

As I rode the lift downstairs, I took the opportunity to daydream about the adventures ahead. This was rudely interrupted when the lift stopped to let another guest in.

“Hi”, he said, “I’m *Tom, you on Conitiki too?”

“Yeh I am! Nice to meet you, I’m Bella.”

It was a good guess but I suppose we both looked like young solo travellers and were heading in the same direction. Tom tells me in the elevator that he’s Australian, Sydney born. I tell him I’m from Melbourne and we bond and banter over this. He’s very handsome and has wonderful dress sense and the thought did cross my mind for a moment that maybe he could be my big Italian love affair. Wrong nationality of course, but definitely still the right setting.

Tom didn’t become my Italian lover. We ended up becoming good friends, often sitting together on long bus trips and talking about life.

In fact, I didn’t have a big fat Italian love affair at all. Instead have better memories of exploring Italy with a group of amazing girls from all over the world. From giggling on a gondola, drinking too much wine and dancing terribly at karaoke bars. I made friends for life during that Contiki tour of Italy, who I have since reunited with all over the world, form New York, to Berlin, to London. You could say I have one at every port!

I guess you never know what’s in store on this life adventure. Sometimes life’s plans are even better than yours, if you keep and open mind and heart.

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