Last weekend Sian, Jamie and I took part in Jailbreak as Team Sabbulous. The aim was to far away from Frenchay Campus as we could in 36 hours with no money, we had to report to HQ every two hours - here is how we got on.
Saturday 4 March
We left Frenchay Campus, ready for the next 36 hours and completely unaware of what journey lay ahead of us. We had been donated three one way flights to Milan, so we knew that we would make it as far as Italy, but the rest was down to us.
Before leaving, we were given a pre-departure briefing where each team was given a letter of authenticity, a high-vis vest, fundraising buckets and contact cards. We were ready to go. Dressed in our orange Jailbreak t-shirts, the clock hit 10am and the weekend began.
Team Sabbulous thought the best plan of action would be would be to walk to ASDA in Filton Abbey Wood and fundraise outside to collect money for our chosen charity, Childreach International.
We were turned away from ASDA as the manager responsible for approving charity work was not available for us to talk to.
At 14:00, we secured a lift from a friend to Bristol airport. The team went to the airport with the aim to fundraise there and receiving leftover currency donations from returning travellers.
We spent a while wandering from each check-in desk, asking if there were three available seats left on any flights that may have got us further than Milan. We were turned away from every desk, with some staff unaware of the concept of Jailbreak and some completely against it. We decided to go airside to try and raise money there.
We met Team G&T there, who had also managed to secure seats on the same 18:00 flight to Milan. They had tried to fundraise in the airport, only for staff to tell them that if they continued to do this, they would be kicked out of the airport and unable to board their flight. We decided that instead of risking our flight to Milan, we would get a nap in before the flight so we would feel (relatively) refreshed when we got to Italy.
Our flight to Milan left at 18:00 GMT. The flight lasted for two hours, allowing us enough time to sleep and prepare our hitch-board for the other side. We planned to hitch to the next biggest town on the map, Verona.
As we landed in Milan, we were energised and ready to hitch-hike until we could manage to get to Verona. As we came through arrivals, an Italian man asked us if we were heading to Verona. After explaining that we had no money to give him, he explained that he was at the airport to pick up his daughters who were returning to Italy from visiting family in Dublin. He elaborated that he would be driving through Verona City Centre and had three spare seats in his car.
Unable to believe our luck, the team climbed into the car and enjoyed an easy hitch-hike to Verona.
By 22:00, Team Sabbulous were wandering around Verona without a map and no specific plan of where to go. We decided to stick to the main streets and enjoy what we could see of Verona whilst we negotiated what our next steps would be.
Sunday 5 March
As it got later, Team Sabbulous were determined to try and find a way to hitch east to the next big city, Trieste. We planned to travel across the north of Italy and make our way over the border into Slovenia. We were standing by one of the main roads out of the city, receiving a few funny looks from drivers, until we realised that we were standing by the western route out of Verona. Unmotivated and exhausted, we decided to leave our mission for the night and search for accommodation instead.
We aimlessly wandered the streets of Verona, desperate to find a hotel or B&B for the night. We were turned away from a couple of hotels, as the lobby was no longer open or there were no rooms left. The hunt for a room became bleak as we sat in a 24/7 McDonalds, trying to strategize what to do if no one would be able to take us.
The Italian family that we had hitched with to Verona warned us to stay away from the train station as a lot of crime happens there and they were concerned that something may happen to us. As we walked down the main road out of the city, we stumbled across a small hotel with the maître d'hôtel smoking outside. We approached him and asked if he had any rooms left for the night, we were happy to take anything that was available. Conveniently, the hotel only had one room left for the night with three beds.
04:00 - Slept
06:00 - Slept
By 08:00, we were up and ready to start the journey to Trieste. We had figured out that we could make a quick stop in Venice to do some sight-seeing before moving on to Trieste. We fundraised on the way to the station, collecting euros to get us to the central station on the island, Venezia San Lucia.
We fundraised at Verona train station for a while, and we managed to raise enough for two tickets to Venice. As we started to grow weary of approaching people and the language barrier, an Italian lady offered to buy us our third and final ticket to get us to the infamous City of Masks.
Team Sabbulous boarded a train at 11:15 – we were ready for a massive Italian lunch after the intense morning we had. We walked through the streets of Venice, enjoying the beautiful architecture and winding roads until we found a pizza place where we could sit and watch tourists walk by.
We utilised the free wifi to find out how much we would have to fundraise to get train tickets to Trieste and how long the journey would take us. The cost of three tickets to Trieste would be 40 euros, we’d got this far, it was achievable.
We walked back to the train station, collecting spare change from tourists on the way back.
The team arrived at the train station a little later than anticipated after getting lost in several times. We had fundraised a third of the money we required for Trieste tickets on the way back to Venezia San Lucia. It did not take the team long to explain our journey to tourists arriving in the city and locals that were passing through in order to raise the rest of the money.
Fortunately, we secured enough funds to buy these tickets and make it on a train to Trieste by 16:23.
The train to Trieste took just over two hours, through the scenic Italian countryside. We took this opportunity to take a nap to let ourselves rest from the overwhelming nature of the weekend and how we’d managed to get so far from Frenchay Campus.
When arriving in Trieste, the team went exploring around the city. Although small, Trieste has a lot to offer and is truly mesmerising when lit up at night.
As the 22:00 deadline loomed, we began our celebrations that we’d made it thus far. RAG HQ was encouraging us to push for the border of Slovenia, but the concept of hitching there, being potentially stranded was over our capacity, and we settled in accommodation in Trieste, preparing for our journey back on Monday.
22:00 - Slept