Editor’s note: This story comes from SN, a SOFREP reader, fellow intel guy, and good friend of mine. He had shared a mini AAR on his travels to Europe with me and I realized it was too good to pass up. Take what lessons and notes you can from his experience, and enjoy the story that goes along with it. This is part one, with part two available here.—14C

I was alone, on leave, and traveling through Europe not too long ago. Looking back, I really should not have been traveling alone—but plans I’d had to link up with a buddy of mine had fallen through.

After spending time in France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, I decided that my next stop was to be Italy. I had been to Rome before, but in an entirely different context. This time would be different; I wanted to see the city and experience Italy “down and dirty.” I got more than I bargained for.

As I arrived on a train from Switzerland, I realized how much time had gone by and how late it was. I glanced at my watch—it was 2350. “That’s no problem, this is a major city! There must be places open and people to ask for directions to the nearest hostel,” I thought to myself.  I was wrong. The main station was dark and practically empty.