The obvious part of this story is the one that I won’t write about. And yes, it was fantastic, like Rome 2. You can read my blog post to learn about that experience.

Jessica has a charm that is difficult to describe. She has black eyes that shine with her smile and enlighten everything around her and nicely styled curly hair where you can be lost trying to delight it.

We had an incredible weekend that I almost forgot what happened in Italy and Iceland. However, the most bizarre occurred the day before Jessica’s flight to Morocco. While having lunch in a restaurant near the Jet d’Eau, Pietro appeared.

“Get the f*(K up the table, Jessica!” He said.

I was shocked and, furthermore, petrified. I wasn’t expecting any of this.

“I won’t do what you say anymore, Pietro; leave me alone,” Jessica contested.

I decided to intervene to protect Jessica, but Pietro took Jessica’s plate and smashed it on the floor. So I was back on my seat, scared like a child watching a horror movie.

“I found them,” Pietro said, and Jessica changed her mood immediately.

“I am sorry, Benjamin, I have to go.”

“No worries, Gunst, you won’t see her again.”

Five minutes later, I was still there sipping my red wine and trying to understand what had happened. The waiter came and cleaned Pietro’s mess and asked me if I wanted more wine. I asked for the whole bottle.

Later I regret this decision as alcohol is costly in Switzerland, and it is twice the price in front of the Jet d’Eau.

So I still don’t understand the matter with Pietro and Jessica. What’s the meaning of “I found them.” Why Jessica said Pietro was in Italy while he was here? Should I give Jessica the benefit of the doubt?

At this point, I don’t think polyamory is something between them, but Pietro seems to have some control over her. I believe they still have some physical connection involved.

Italy was no different than this time, except for the violent part. I had the feeling that they were in a relationship. However, with the “I found them,” I got confused. While in Rome, I felt sorry for myself being involved with a lady who didn’t communicate with me properly. Now I feel sorry for her because she is definitely into something shady with this guy.

While paying the astronomical check in the restaurant, I found out that Jessica had left a business card on his chair. The card said:

James Punjabi

Flugvallarvegur 15, Reykjanesbær, Iceland

I put the address on Google Maps and couldn’t find the location. I couldn’t find anything about James Punjabi as well. What was that business card? Did Jessica leave it by mistake or on purpose? There wasn’t a phone number or an email address.

I don’t think I have more time for this madness. Now I have to focus on my last week in the Schengen area before Russia continue advancing.

It took me a few phone calls to make the decision. The hardest part was lifting my mood. What made me decide on going to Switzerland was: 1. I cannot stay longer in the Schengen Area, so I had to choose wisely what could be my last region for the next 3 months, and 2. Jessica was there, and God knows when I will see her again since she has to depart from the Schengen area.

I think I am crazy for this Bahamian girl. Am I following in my uncle’s footsteps?

My grandma would be amazed knowing that their grandchild and possible great-grandchild had Bahamian blood.

I didn’t want to ask Jessica about Pietro, just for me to feel valuable, expecting that Jessica would read my mind. I was genuinely jealous and overthought a lot if he would be around. But in the end, I managed to ask her about him.

“I don’t know why you care, but he is in Italy,” she texted back. That message left me with more questions than answers. Are they polyamorists or something? However, it felt good not to deal with my insecurities during my stance in Switzerland. I’ll try to understand this better when I see her.

So, I took a bus and a train to reach Bologna and then another 9-hour bus until Geneva.

I stayed 24 hours in Bologna. I didn’t do much there. A guy who met me in San Marino mentioned that Bologna was the city full of the three “T”: Towers, Tortellini and Tits. The first one wasn’t difficult to notice; the town holds many medieval towers. My hostel was a few blocks away from Le Due Torri, the city’s main tourist attraction.

Next, I went to a trattoria to have good tortellini. But, I couldn’t find any particular taste in the dish I got at the place where I went. Nothing different from Montreal’s trattorias. Next time I am in Bologna, I will try to go with an Italian friend to guide me better. It was interesting to learn that there is an ongoing political and religious fight in Italy about the filling of tortellini: pork vs chicken. Some claim chicken tortellini are not traditional and they are just to please Muslims. From a Canadian prospective sounded quite silly.

The third T was difficult to notice on girls, and I wasn’t focusing but thinking in Jessica. Later on, I learned from a guy that shared a vino della casa with me at the trattoria that the third “T” might have come after the Nereids of the Neptune’s Fountain. So I went there and didn’t find it attractive at all. It reminded me of Katy Perry at the end of the California Gurls’ video.

It was precious to come by Flixbus to Geneva as I could see the beauty of the Italian and Swiss highways and appreciate the landscape surrounding them. I arrived at the Geneva Central Bus Station and hoped that Jessica was waiting for me, but no. She didn’t even ask how I was supposed to come. This Bahamian girl really makes me feel insecure.

So I walked around the station and started listening to French again. Since I was in Québec a few months ago, I haven’t listened to French on the streets. It was nice to hear the Swiss accent.

I stopped in a Starbucks and ordered a classic macchiato. The guys behind the desk asked me where I had learned French “nice accent, bro.” I didn’t have an answer. I wanted to say “at home,” but I assume people are not used to Quebecoise here. I swear I tried to fake the Metropolitan accent the best I could.

A few minutes after my first sip of the macchiato, Jessica arrived.

“Let’s unpack your stuff at the hotel and have a nice conversation, Benjamin Gunst,” she said.

This weekend is going to be exciting.

I have an important update on my relationship with Jessica: she is leaving (me) again.

I definitely don’t want to talk about the details. But Pietro, from Rome, is still alive. She invited me to bike to Switzerland, and I rejected the idea of being close to him. So full stop, no more love, no more beautiful chaos and no more Rome.

So I am back to basics again; I am Benjamin Gunst, a Canadian freelance Graphic Designer and Digital Nomad. I love meeting new places and dream of visiting as many countries as my life permits.

Next stop: The Vatican City.

After the infamous event with Jessica occurred, I decided to go to Bukowski’s Bar to forget everything with the help of alcohol. I chose the place because of the name and nothing else. The place decoration and music selection marvelled me so much that I decided to drink a few more beers there; therefore, I met Giovanni.

Giovanni is from Bellinzona, Italian-speaking Switzerland and is in Rome working as a Pontifical Swiss Guard of the Holy See. The next day was off for him, and he also had some things to forget with alcohol.

Giovanni’s wife and daughter had returned to Ticino. He didn’t want to mention why or if they lived in The Vatican with him, but he was profoundly sad. “I just hope I see my little Aurora again”.

“What’s your plan for tomorrow?” he asked.

“So far, having a reason to wake up”.

“I’d give you one. You are one of those crazy travellers, right? Do you want to do a Vatican Tour guided by a Swiss Guard?”

The next day I was in The Vatican with a resident, an actual, local resident of the smallest country in the world.

I will honour Giovanni’s request not to disclose what happened there. But I just want to say that I was fortunate to meet him and see all of The Vatican’s wonders with an actual resident.

Next week, I went to Roma Termini to repeat goodbye to the beautiful and chaotic city. Giovanni also came to say bye. This time was no rain, no protests, and Roma Termini was clean and bright. I am just grateful that I had one of the most significant experiences in my life, thanks to Jessica. I wanted to tell her but was still not ready to do so. She might be reaching Switzerland now with Pietro.

Next stop? San Marino.

Bar hopping is one of my favourite activities when I travel. But as I am getting older, I cannot do it every time. In my first years travelling, I was able to drink three or four days a week, but now I am drinking almost once a month, so I have to choose wisely the special occasion.

Read about the bars’ culture before joining in an adventure

For example, I did bar hopping on a Wednesday night and was ok. Just a few people trying to get drunk. But if I had to do this on the weekend, the result would have been different. I probably had to call to book a table or space in the bar in advance (probably not in Rome, because everyone fits in small spaces even with the pandemic).

Make sure no one is driving

It sounds ridiculous, but my friend Jessica wanted to do bar-hopping with a bike. Another friend tried to take us to a different neighbourhood in his car. When people are drinking, they tend to lose common sense.

Drink water

Every time you jump to a new place, ask for a cup of water (and drink it!). Tap water is complimentary in Rome and in most places. Doing this won’t get you tipsy, but you will take care of your neurons and liver.

Stay in a place if you like it

Sometimes bar-hopping is done in such a rush that we don’t remember to enjoy being present. If there is something that you fancy, ask your friends to stay for another round. This could be a song, a live performance, a person you met, or a drink you want to try. There is no fun being in a hurry.

Keep your important documents at home

Most bars accept driver licenses or local IDs to check your legal drinking age (though they seldom check), which is 18. Don’t take your passport to a bar-hopping, NEVER! If you lose it, it would be challenging to find it back, just keep with you a photocopy or a high quality photo on your mobile.

Be mindful about the money

My problem is that when I drink, I lose all inhibitions, including how to use my savings or credit card. I discovered that paying with cash is not that bad. This allows you to extract your budget in advance and restrain yourself when the money has come to a limit. If you don’t like this strategy, you can transfer some money to a current account you don’t use frequently and bring its debit card to the party. Avoid carrying your credit card to bar-hopping with friends. It will save you from paying interest for a long time.

Coming from Scandinavia, landing in Rome could be a bit shocking. The colours, the weather, the loudness, the flavours, the art, the history, the origin of the western civilization, the Romans always protesting, the straight southern Italian communication forms, the yelling, the wars, the passion, the garbage, the expression, the freedom, the people, the wild boars, the Romans, the most prominent ancient capital, the city, the chaos… the beautiful chaos.

Rome’s beautiful chaos is like a relationship with a person that your conscious self knows won’t go any further. But still, your soul and body want to be involved (or revolved) because, irrationally, it enjoys the beauty created in the clashes.

Adding taste to the notes of my arrival, it was raining. I believe Rome has to be the only city in Europe where the touch between a raindrop and the asphalt determines the neurotic state of its residents.

So, talking about making irrational decisions, there was Jessica, a Bahamian, worthy daughter of Neptune that just came out from the underworld to the land of Bacchus.

After five hours, which included heavy traffic, waiting for the luggage and learning the poor life decision that encouraged my Argentinian taxi driver to relocate to Italy, we met at her hotel. We didn’t talk. As Roma’s ancient traditions demands, we came to the city to be gladiators. We didn’t come to engage peacefully but to clash our bodies and souls with the adversary expecting to win or die pleasingly in battle. 

It feels great to be in Rome.