This is day 1 of my recent two week adventure with Aubree on her trip to Europe. I told each of my kids I’d take them on a trip (Curtis was last year to South Africa) and Aubs picked Europe, primarily Italy and Spain.
A full album of pictures from our trip is available here.
Things started out a bit rough. Our flight to Philly was delayed and it was only a sprint from one end of the airport to the other that kept us on schedule. My pounding chest reminded me that I’m a 40 year old man, something that I am in constant denial about. It doesn’t even look right on paper. But at least Aubree is young and full of energy. She ran on ahead and managed to convince them to keep the door open a few more minutes. Everyone was already seated and they sealed the door behind us. We were on our way! But…unknown to us…our luggage wasn’t.
Aubree loved the LCD screens and large movie selection and watched movies while I slept. We stepped off the plane into the morning humidified heat of Rome. I would never again plan a trip in August. My face and back (because of my backpack) were constantly drenched from this point forward. I’d wipe my forehead with my hand and then flip my drenched fingers and send sweat flying.
We waited, and waited at the baggage terminal. Everyone else left, the belt was empty, and we were without our stuff. After another hour of waiting in more lines, we found out officially that our bags had been lost. Great.
I don’t handle setbacks well but I didn’t want our vacation ruined. I told myself I wouldn’t let this get me down…but it was stressful nonetheless. I survived a week in Ireland without my luggage, it sucked, but I still had a good time. If I had to (and, apparently, I did), I’d do it again one way or another.
We found the train terminal easy enough and I tried to buy tickets on the automated machines…but I gave up. I wanted to make sure I had the right train, the right ticket, and got off at the right place so we waited in line and I got the personalized help of an expert. He didn’t seem to think it was such a big deal. Take the ticket, get on the train, get off when you get there. Sure, it sounds easy enough now but in a strange place and foreign languages simple things become a bit more complex.
The station in Rome was packed and massive. We wandered around until we found a street and stepped into the city. I had my map printed out directing us to our first Hotel but we couldn’t find the street names anywhere. We wandered around looking for street names and trying to match them on the map. The printed Google maps just didn’t cut it because there weren’t enough details. We stopped to buy a soda…$4.50 for each small can of coke. Are you serious? My brother had warned me about that but it’s hard to really comprehend until you have to cough up your own Euros for it. But I was too hot and thirsty to resist.
Finally an older man stopped and managed to help us. He didn’t speak English, we didn’t speak Italian, but he pulled out a map from his bag and looked at my hotel information, and pointed us in the right direction. We were on the wrong side of the Train station. Using his map, we walked around the train and to our hotel, about 1 1/2 miles but with heat, humidity, and foreign factor, it actually translates to 50 miles. 50 long hot miles under the burning sun. It sucked.
We walked into our hotel looking like we’d just stepped out of a swimming pool full of sweat. I walked straight to the water jugs on the counter and had a nice glass of warm water. Why don’t they like cold water in Europe? Seriously? But at least it was liquid and I chugged several glassfuls before we checked in. Aubree was thrilled to see they had computers/internet available for free in the lobby. We went up to our room and crashed. I wanted to stay awake and try and beat the jet lag, but Aubs was out instantly. I didn’t have enough energy to fight her and myself…so I zonked out too.
Several hours later, at 6pm, I woke up and shook Aubs. She was so tired and wanted to sleep, I told her we had to try and stay awake so we could sleep at night and try and get on the right schedule. She was so tired but dragged herself out of bed and we took a walk through the city. Almost everything was closed and it was quiet. We went back to the Hotel and got online to send some emails, say hi…and then feasted on our jerky and trail mix from Costco before hitting the sack.