What started as a carefully planned and amazing sounding trip became literally one of the WORST Christmas breaks ever. Here is the story of my passport stolen and how I managed to get out of the mess created.
That Christmas break me and my friends decided to travel together to Italy. That fall semester seemed exceptionally hard and probably the busiest for all of us, and we couldn’t wait to finally be able just to take a break and literally CHILL from all the endless assigned readings, projects, assignments, work and so much more behind the scenes. We have planned everything for months ahead, booked the hotel, bought the plane and train tickets, and etc. However, we didn’t even think of our action in emergency situations, like what would happen if our stuff and passports were stolen (lol).
I recall that the day of the flight even had a very pleasant surprise for me and my best friend – during the flight registration, there was some kind of system failure and both of us were moved to business class seats for free! Honestly, we couldn’t get more excited 9and yes, we thought that being upgraded for a business class was a good sign, HA). We spent the flight really enjoying all the privileges of being a business class passenger – super comfy large seats that can fully recline, amazing high-class food and large tablets for all kinds of entertainment a person would ask for. She and I went out the plane waiting for the rest of our friends in a very elevated mood. Little did we know, what a nightmare was waiting for us – we didn’t even expect such a thing like a passport stolen.
After a long flight and finally arriving in the Milano Malpensa Airport, we went through the passport control and took our baggage. The next destination was Milano Centrale – one of the largest railway stations in the whole of Europe. We took a train from Malpensa Airport to the railway station with no surprises and arrived at the station late in the evening when everything started to close for the night. Dimly lit Milano Centrale was beautiful in its own Art Deco Style.
Despite the late time, it was pretty crowded – there wasn’t any free seat to take in any part of the station (Christmas time, duh). One of us went to print out the tickets and came back with coffee and pastries for all of us. It was about 10 minutes left until our train would start departing to Bologna. We ran into the railway carriage and were chaotically trying to find some free seats, and finally were able to put large backpacks onto the top shelf. I still remember, who happy we were feeling when we finally found some seats close to each other and got comfortable, while the train was still waiting with open doors and tons of people coming in and out. The train started departing – I plugged my headphones, turned on some music and started snapping while also trying to get connected to the Wi-Fi. It was that moment when one of my friends asked with fear:
“Hey guys, where are our backpacks?”
You can probably guess the rest. Our terror, when we found out all our backpacks went missing from the top shelf, except my best friend’s who was smart enough to put it under her seat. Our hysteria, when we realized that now we have our passports were stolen, including most of the money, personal belongings phones, and tablets. Our cries, when we realized there is no way we will find any of that again. Our despair, when we realized our own negligence – knowing that Europe is a sweet spot for thieves, especially in crowded places.
We left the train after a couple of stations passed and found ourselves on some small station literally in the middle of nowhere. The police officers barely spoke English, and it took whopping 2 hours waiting outside on the cold station until they finally made a police report on our stuff and passports stolen. We sat on the train again, devastated, and made it to Bologna, where at first we couldn’t even move into our hotel because of no legal identification – like passports stolen (a huge LOL). Thanks for the kind understanding of hotel staff, they later let us in, and my friend said she will pay for the visit.
We spent a lot of that Christmas break crying, left with little money and no identification in a foreign country. Eventually, we got help from our country’s ambassador and managed to get back home safely while going through tons of explaining the events over again and additional paperwork. Of course, our stolen passports never appeared in the system of lost and found like we hoped – they were probably thrown in the trash near Milano Centrale. It was a trip we will definitely remember, with a huge lesson learned to ALWAYS watch your freakin’ stuff, so that you wouldn’t get a large pain the ass like a stolen passport (ugh).