Grazie Dio per Luba di Milano!
(Thank God for Luba from Milan!) The story of how a Milanese woman named Luba helped us find our way home
Have you ever seen a movie where you watch a scene and think "yeah, as if that would ever happen in real life"? Well let me tell you, I truly thought there was a camera rolling on me during my first day in Milan. The craziest thing happened to my friend Jenn and I, and it's one of those travel stories that I'll remember forever. Here's what happened:
We arrive at Milano Centrale excited to explore, and begin our first week of our Italian language course. Prior to our arrival in Italy, we are given our accommodation arrangements, and the address to our apartment. Our first step is to find the apartment, drop off our bags, and get acquainted with our surroundings. Once we've done that, we can find a Wind or Vodafone to get an Italian SIM card, and phone plan. We figured we would find Wi-Fi at the train station, and get directions through Google. Little did we know, there's tons of internet access at train stations in Italy.. only if you have a cell phone to get a verification code. So CLEARLY, we were screwed. Of course we could have taken a taxi to our destination, but for all we knew, we could've been headed right around the corner and spent a fortune when we didn't need to. At this point, we had just gotten off of a train from Verona and we were exhausted. Any ideas we could contribute didn't seem to make sense to the other, and we were stressed. After going back and forth about taking a risk, we decided we would ask someone for directions, or to let us use their phone. Now, Jenn and I both speak little Italian, and the only form of "directions" we learnt from our Italian grandparents came from searching for items upstairs and downstairs around the house. Thankfully, we had a pocket translator to fill in the gaps, and we approached two girls who were our age for directions. Our apartment must have been located in what seemed to be foreign land to these girls, and they asked another woman nearby for help. This is the moment we met our saviour, Luba.
Luba was this fashionable Ukrainian-Milanese woman, who spoke absolutely no English. She looked at our address, and started searching on her phone. From what we could understand, it seemed to be on the way to her place, and she gestured for us to follow her. Along the way, we tried to get to know her a little bit, and we told her we were Canadian, and visiting Milan to study Italian. We quickly bonded over the places in Italy that our families were from, and she seemed to be very sweet. Luba took us downstairs to the subway, where she asked an operator for directions, and showed us how to use the ticket machine. We quickly felt like we her nieces that she was showing around the city. She helped us carry our bags, pointed out the Duomo, and even bought us a map. We were absolutely floored that an absolute stranger would spend their afternoon help two girls from Canada find their way around Milan. We couldn't think of something like that happening in Toronto. But, Luba was determined to help us, and she continued to ask for more guidance along the way. After one trip on the subway, and sprinting to the tram (streetcar), Luba realized this would have been difficult for us to navigate on our own. She felt bad that we could've done this on our own had she been working, and she would burst out saying "La fortuna!" (the luck). Let me tell you.. it was more like "La miracolo" (miracle). It was a miracle that we happened to arrive in Milan on this woman's day off, and that she was willing to help us.
After an eventful commute, we finally arrived at our front door, and we were so relieved. Luba added us on Instagram so that we could stay in touch, took a photo with us (which was probably the most unflattering photo of all time), and wished us the best. She knew we were safe, and headed home without expecting anything from us in return. Jenn and I were so overwhelmed when we got to our room that we both sat down, and started BALLING. We were so stressed, and touched by what Luba had done for us. It was one of those rare cases that you can't ever imagine actually happening to you, and we were so grateful. Luba didn't hesitate to take us under her wing, and she went absolutely above and beyond. I will never forget what Luba did for us that day, and it's a story that always blows my mind to think about every time.
I hope that you enjoyed this story, and if you ever meet Luba from Milan, please thank her for me. Stay tuned for more travel stories!
Fa la brava,