While the goal of this blog is to encourage all of you out there who may have doubts about travel – to go ahead and face your fears… I also don’t want to paint myself as a fearless hero. I have my bad days, too. I wanted to relate my bad day from one of my recent trips across the globe in Italy. Simply so, if you have a bad day out there while traveling, you don’t beat yourself up too much. Even Clark W. Griswold loses control at some point during his Vacations.
So, I was over halfway through a month long vacation – that included an 11 day Globus tour and then the remainder of the trip on our own. Obviously, while with an organized tour company, your luggage is transported for you from city to city. Hell, it’s even delivered directly to your rooms by porters. It’s truly the life… So when you’re all of the sudden on your own again, your luggage now feels like a million pound burden. Italy was our first destination on our own and I’d been traveling with my Mother, who while a great travel companion, is less able to move heavy luggage than myself.. if you catch my drift.
We were leaving Sorrento after a few marvelous days in Southern Italy – and catching a ferry over to the island of Capri for a couple of nights. We’d rented an airbnb in the center of town so we’d have a place to do laundry mid trip. While it was awesome having a washing machine while on vacation, one must always think about the differences in cultures when traveling. I’d not realized most Europeans have washers, but not dryers. So it was mildly awkward hanging my PSG underoos and clothes out a window. But I did it. Anything beats running out of clean underoos. Anyway, I digress. So my travel companion may have miscalculated or been misinformed about how far away the ferry terminal was from our apartment – because we ended up having to drag our 50 pound bags along with our 20+ pound carry on bags, well over a mile over crazy uneven cobblestone and rough roads.
Once at the ferry terminal, we’d gotten our tickets and waited in the Italian sun to board the ferry. I was already pretty exhausted in general, but that mile over crazy terrain had broken my resolve a bit. It wasn’t until they started loading the ferry that the worst part would occur. Neither of us had realized that the ferry would require payment for our luggage and therefore hadn’t prepaid for the two large pieces. This required a cash payment and my Mother was quite anxious to get a good seat on the ferry for us, so we both agreed she should go ahead and get us seats for the crossing and that I’d deal with the luggage.
Off she went, neither of us giving logical thought to what that meant for me. Once I was able to pay for the luggage, I took a look at the ferry for the first time and realized I had to go up a very steep and extremely narrow ramp to board. Holy mother of pearl… not only would I wince a bit if it was just me alone, but now I had roughly 150 pounds of luggage to get up that ramp, too. All by my self and all at once.
One of my favorite quotes in the world is from Newt Scamander in the film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, “My philosophy is if you worry, you suffer twice”. So, instead of worrying about who, what and how – I just did it. I put one of the bags with the carry on attached in front of me and pushed, while I pulled the second bag with it’s carry on attached behind me and headed up the incredibly steep and narrow ramp. When I got to the top I saw an area where people were just leaving their luggage, like a wall of strollers at Disneyland. I added all of our bags to that wall and collapsed in the closest chair.
And I started to cry.
Not ugly sobs or even audible boo-hoos. Just uncontrollable tears of pure exhaustion and physical woe. I had hit my limit and crossed it, and was quite done. Eventually, my Mother had given up our second floor stellar seats with amazing sweeping views of the Italian coast line to come and find me. Sadly she found me broken, about 10 minutes later barely holding it together. I wasn’t mad and I didn’t blame her, because we had made the decision together to get her on the boat for good seats together. But whoa, she felt bad after the reality of what I had to do hit her.
We sat together the whole ride over to Capri as I cried and tried to cool and calm myself down. I had no care whether people were watching or if anyone knew I was crying… I just wept. With a hand fan and cold water I eventually came out of my exhausted funk as we pulled into the port in Capri. Thankfully, there were taxi cabs nearby more than willing to take us where we needed to go and schlep our luggage.
Suffice it to say, however, I didn’t make my way over every inch of Capri as I had anticipated to do. After my little breakdown, I treated Capri as a beautiful break in the middle of our trip and did a lot of relaxing. I’d never had such a breakdown on a vacation before and it was a bit of a shock to feel where my physical limit was. But now I know where my line is drawn and will work hard to plan better in the future.
None of us fluffy folks are going to win an ultimate warrior challenge tomorrow, but we can still achieve our dreams. As long as we’re realistic about our limitations and instead of plowing through them, we push them around a bit to get it all done, we can do anything. You should expect days like I had here – and not let them stop you or prevent you from trying again in the future. I hope by sharing this less-than-wonderwoman moment, you can relate to me a bit more and feel a bit more understood.