Tattoos in Hostels

This post goes back to 2013.

I was backpacking through Europe and my travels had taken to Rome for a second time within 1 month. I was excited to be back and felt very comfortable in the ancient city. I was staying at a hostel just south of the main train station and by going back to Rome I felt as if I had returned to my home away from home.

Once in my hostel, I linked up with a few other backpackers and we all quickly became friends.

How I got My Traveler's Tattoo

Tattoo of the world map on back
Monks at the Capuchin Crypt Museum in Rome, Italy

Capuchin Crypt

Over the next few days we lazily discovered the culture, food, and history of Rome through the restaurants, museums and sights. During my last night in the hostel, a handful of us were just hanging out. I was taking it easy because I had a train at 7am the next morning. We had eaten a traditional Italian meal, a healthy amount of wine, and grappa of course! …. so everyone was fairly laid back and close to falling asleep … but then the conversation took an unexpected turn and drifted towards tattoos.

A girl named Gabriella was hanging out with us and she just happened to be a tattoo artist from Quebec. So when we started talking about who had what tattoos and what we all wanted to get, we found out that Gabriella had actually brought her tattoo equipment to Rome! And so … one thing led to another and before long there were 3 of us in line to get new tattoos. There were 2 girls getting their first tattoos and they decided on small tattoos that didn’t take very long.

Before that night I already had one tattoo on my spine that I had designed, and a map of the world that worked around it. The map of the world went from shoulder to shoulder and I had always wanted to get it shaded so that the continents “popped” off my back a bit more. Gabriella was more than willing to do the shading and so we set up after she tattooed the other 2 girls.

The pain starts to take its toll

Getting a tattoo

And so we began! We were in the hostel lobby started the shading at 4am. I remember the next couple hours as being long. I was pretty tired already and after the initial pain wore off I settled into the mentality of tedious acceptance of the pain. I was surprised at how much some areas hurt because the shading went closer to my armpits and ribs than I had experienced before :) Agh…

IMG_0696After 2 hours and by 6am the crowd that had formed originally had dissipated, and my map of the world was shaded! Gabrielle did an awesome job and if I’m ever in Quebec I will swing by and get another tattoo from her. She is a great artist and loves tattooing so much that she spent the entire night giving us tattoos for practically free.

The next morning I had to catch a train to Florence at 7am. After the tattoo I went to my room, took a quick and painful shower, then packed. After half an hour I was ready to leave; when I looked down at my backpack though, I had a stunning realization … “How am I suppose to wear that thing?” I thought. “I guess it was kind of stupid to get a tattoo on my back when I carry my entire life on my pack.”

Ah well … It was a great experience and I still like the tattoo a lot. My back was sore for a week or two but it healed well, regardless of carrying the backpack on it. Now, all I have left to do is get all the countries colored in that I’ve been to … maybe I’ll start with Italy.

* If you’re ever in Quebec and looking for a tattoo, Look up Gabriella!