The days passed quickly, so did the kilometres, the cities. Thessalonika, Skopje, Belgrade, Ljubljana, Trieste. We arrived in Venice ten days after leaving Athens, almost a month since Michael had decided not to leave, since he moved out of his hotel room and into the luxury of my tent. We were in desperate need of a shower, of a good meal, of some privacy.
We’d taken whatever lifts we could get to make it this far. People were generous – we’d slept in a bus with some Swiss travellers, shared meals with kindly Romanian truckers and slept in the back garden of a lovely couple from Ljubljana – and we never waited too long for someone to pick us up and drive off with us.
The hotel was the cheapest we could find for a room with its own bathroom. I'd be overselling it if I said it was a dive, but as bad as it was, it was as much pure heaven.
We sat in the bath for hours on end, topping it up and up, keeping the water as hot as we could take it. We lay in bed, ignoring the noise from the street below, enjoying the comfort of fairly clean sheets and a soft mattress. We enjoyed being alone and in private together.
We only had enough money to stay for two nights, so we made the most of it. We saw little of Venice, but I can still see that hotel room when I close my eyes.
Again, the cities and kilometres started to fly by. Bologna, Rome, Florence, Pisa, Milan.
In Rome, we were kicked awake at Termini station by police at 5am. We had been sleeping rough for days and were quite used to sharing our part of the station with the Africans who, by day, sold rip-off sunglasses and handbags spread out on sheets.
In Milan I got my smaller bag stolen and lost my camera, my photo’s and my address book. In a matter of minutes my memories of the whole trip had been taken. I no longer had pictures of my new friends, and no way to reach them again. I was heartbroken.
So much had happened to me, so many changes, so many good things, so many things to remember - and everything, all physical evidence of my recent life, was gone in the blink of an eye.
Everything was gone, but Michael remained.
But something wasn't right. As the UK got closer, as I got nearer to my family, I knew this wasn't for ever. I knew Michael couldn't see me with my family and not feel desperate for his own.
I knew this would end. It was just a question of when.