A Photo Essay: Sometimes you have a Bad Day and End up in Rome

In travel you can always make plans.  However, no matter how much we plan, it seems the world will always decide what we see and what we don’t.  If I’ve learned one thing in my travels it is that if the world pushes you away from something, and towards another, there is a reason.  This is the story about how I ended up in Rome.  I have also included a series of my favourite photos of Rome, enjoy.


The train meanders like a river across the Swiss countryside as a blanket of fresh snow seems to be tossed over the green pastures. Suddenly, the train dives through a series of tunnels and has seemingly taken us to another world all together. We arrive at a beautiful lake scene coated by blue skies as we shake our heads in disbelief at both the beauty and the stark contrast. Like crossing through the gates of Narnia, the rapid changes in European geography continue to surprise me. And, although I don’t know it yet, for the first time since arriving in Europe, my plans are about to change as well.

The Sunset glowing of the Colosseum

Dusk at the Colosseum

As I leave the train station in Milan I can’t help but notice that the city is dead. Apparently, people celebrate Easter Sunday with some vigour in Italy. I hike a couple blocks to the hotel I have written in my notes, the one that I’m meant to be reviewing. However, as I walk to the chubby receptionist he sifts through the papers before telling me that he has nothing in my name.

“Can I use my computer and your wifi?” I ask him. “I can show me my confirmation email”.

Coldly, he agrees.

However, when I open my emails I realize that something is wrong. The email warning of my arrival I sent out earlier in the morning has received no reply.

Saint Peter's Basilica at sunset

Guards in Pijamas at the Vatican City

Inside Saint Peter's

Friar Tuck in the square outside the Vatican

The road to the Vatican

“Mara,” I tell him. “The email was to Mara.”

Grumpily he bellows at me that there is no one by that name at his hotel and that he will not be taken advantage of by some scammer. Confused, I ask him if I can keep using the internet to try and sort things out, to which he yells at me that the internet is only for guests. I ask him if I can leave my bag there while I try to sort things out; he hesitantly agrees as I leave him no real choice as I dump it in a corner and race off.

The canals in Rome

I begin to wander Milan aimlessly hoping to find a place with wifi and a plug-in, however everywhere is either shut or without wifi, as Easter Sunday has turned Milan to a Ghost Town. Even the wifi at MacDonald’s is down for the day. Finally, I find an internet café where I fire off a bunch of desperation calls and emails hoping to sort things out; nothing is sticking as everyone has the day off because of Easter.

A man on a scooter cruising through Rome

I come to the realization that I am going to need to find a place to sleep, and begin going door to door. Each hotel I visit is either full or 200 Euros above my meagre budget. I circle back to the hotel to ask how much it is for a night but as I enter the doors the stocky receptionist is waiting with my bag which he throws at me and tells me to leave his property.

“Screw it,” I say on the verge of throwing a really awkward hissy fit. “I’m going to Rome.”

The Castillo

Rome wasn’t in my plans, but the beauty of travel is that sometimes the world decides for you what’s on your “plans”. At the end of the day I turned up in the suburbs of Rome around midnight at a campsite. At the end of the week I realized why I went through such a struggle of a day. Rome, is exactly where I was meant to be.

Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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    • haha, thanks Annette I’m glad you like the photos of Rome, it’s time like this that I realize how awesome my life is haha.

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  1. Amazing photos. Sounds like a stressful situation, but it looks like you ended up somewhere amazing.

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    • Stressful is fun Alouise, this was frustrating haha. I’m glad you like the photos though 😀

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  2. Travel certainly has it’s way doesn’t it? I’d say you were definitely lucky, Rome is a much more interesting city than Milan. Great photos as always!

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    • Dean – I definitely count my blessings I ended up in Rome instead. I much preferred it!

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  3. Gorgeous pix. Rome fascinates me. I first went in 1967, and it was so quiet compared to now, but in some ways it simply can’t change because so much of it is protected. Sadly, what has changed (it seems to me) is the attitude – everyone seemed full of smiles back then…..and wouldn’t you think they’d make a bit of extra effort in view of the recession?? Still, although I’ve never been to Milan (and Milanese friends tend to look down on folk from the south) Rome is definitely somewhere everyone should see at least once.

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    • Linda – Thanks! Rome was a great place to photograph and I thought the people were amazing too!

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  4. Wow, that receptionist guys sounded so incredibly rude. Unfortunate. But Rome is amazing, I particularly love your photo of the Colosseum at sunset.

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    • Sam – The dude was a grade A jerk. I was actually going to write an article calling him and the hotel out, but then I decided to look on the bright side. If it wasn’t for his rudeness, I’d have never gotten to see Rome.

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  5. Life is what happens while you make other plans….so true in your path to Rome.

    Really enjoyed your photos….Thanks!

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    • Jesse – Glad you like the images!

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  6. Guess Milan wasn’t meant to be…looks like it worked out for the best though, beautiful photos!

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  7. Amazing Photos! Rome is a great Place.

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    • Thanks! Yes, Rome is incredible!

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