Friday, July 16, 2010

A Panicky Interlude

When we were in Barcelona I felt like I could travel forever.  I was invigorated by travel.  I wanted to see more places.  Higher!  Faster!  Better!  So I rearranged our schedule to include Lyon and Bologna.  Our itinerary had us visiting eight cities in three weeks.

A week and a half later, in Florence, I felt the opposite.  “Too much travel!” I screamed.  “I want to go to someplace rural and cheap and stay there.”  Tired of the heat and the Mediterranean, and desiring a change, I decided to cancel our plans to train-and-ferry it to Dubrovnik.  “By the time we’re leaving Rome,” I said, “I’m going to want to run for the mountains.”  Getting to Dubrovnik was going to prove to be a huge hassle, as well: we were set to leave Rome at 7:00 AM, arrive in the port town of Bari at 11:30 AM, sit around for eight hours until we could board our ferry, and sneak a poor night’s sleep in our toilet-free cabin before we arrived in Dubrovnik at 7:00 AM, eight hours before check-in.

Maybe I would have been willing to do that at the beginning of the trip, but not anymore.  Part of the fun of traveling in Europe is that it’s so small and (relatively) well-connected, which means that it’s easy to change plans as needed.  I made sure to purchase cancellation protection for all of our reservations with HostelWorld.  All I had to do to get my money back was click the little red cancel button on the their website.  Afterward, I felt much better.  “I told myself that we could change our plans if we wanted,” I said to myself, “and this is proof that we can.”

The next morning I received this email from the owner of Villa Ivan, where we had been scheduled to stay for six nights starting July 20.

Hi Joseph,

You could at least send a mail so apologize.You Americans are totally unreliable guests. This is the not first time since your guest and America to do so but God will not forget.

Thank you,

Needless to say, I am glad at the very least that we are not staying at Villa Ivan.

Later, in Venice, I completed the reworking of our schedule.  Rather than ferrying it to Dubrovnik and taking buses around Croatia, we are going to spend four nights in Milan, where I am going to see an opera at La Scala, and we are going to spend six nights in Lauterbrunnen, which is a village about twenty-five minutes from Interlaken by train in Switzerland.  I do regret that we will not be able to see Plitvice Lakes National Park, but Croatia is surprisingly hard to get to from Italy.  Zagreb is about twenty-four hours from Rome by train.  Split is about thirty.  The main point of rescheduling was to avoid staying in places for only one or two nights, and it just wasn’t going to be possible to get to Croatia without doing that.

I think that I have discovered the limit of my ability to do high-intensity travel.  After about a month, I just don’t want to hop from place to place anymore.  I want to settle down and catch up on the blog.  We have now been traveling for thirty-three days, and we have visited thirteen cities.  The next few weeks will be a lot slower--six cities in twenty-three days--and I am really looking forward to it.  As I write this now, I am in Bologna, the culinary capital of Italy.  And I am hungry.  And I am absolutely going to remember to take pictures.


  1. Dear Joseph,
    God will also not forget that you did not go to the national park full of waterfalls and photography it for your almost mother-in-law...she waits in pain at your American unreliableness.
    Villa I-ever-go-to-Croatia?
    Probably not.

  2. !!

    I can understand the business owner being upset at the cancellation, but what a rude thing to send along! How does he know what the circumstances were? You could have had a death in the family preventing your travel for all he knows. This is why whenever I want to get snippy with people, I try to take a deep breath and avoid the unnecessary bitchiness.

    I'm glad you're going to savor the rest of the trip. The whirlwind tour of Europe must get exhausting (says the girl who has never gone anywhere remotely interesting in her entire life).