It was over 4 years ago I first (and last) visited Europe. Even planning that first trip, I knew I’d return for my dream vacation when the timing and circumstances were right. Ladies and gents, that time is now.
Italy has long been on my travel bucket list. In fact, it’s safe to say I’ve wanted to go since I understood the concept of travel as a hobby. After two previous unsuccessful attempts, I am finally getting the opportunity to cross it off the list!
This vacation starts about 7 weeks following my second bikini fitness show. After months of chicken and veggies every day, I am abandoning that discipline and setting my sights on pasta, wine, pizza and gelato – not necessarily in that order. I will start on the Amalfi Coast and make my way north. I am blessed to be able to share several beautiful days in Tuscany with two of my very best friends who are meeting me mid-trip! I will jaunt into Switzerland – because I can – before flying to London to visit my lovely cousin, whom you met in Chapter 1! This time she has a precious baby for me to cuddle!
As with my last European vacation, I am inviting you all to come along and live vicariously through me… because it’s going to be epic.
When I first started planning my trip, I was overwhelmed with excitement. So many amazing things to see. I envisioned myself galavanting through Italy, all my cares thrown to the wind, soaking up the history, culture and calories! However, the more I planned, the more I realized all the decisions I had to make.
Where will I go? How much should I try to do? Am I doing too much? Should I cut something out? What should I cut out? How am I going to get from Point A to Point B to Point C, etc? Should I take a train? Is this an e-ticket or do I have to get a printed ticket at the station? Do I have to validate my ticket? What bag will I take? Should I backpack it? How do I fit all I need for 3 weeks in a backpack? What if someone tries to pick-pocket me? How do I ensure my safety?
I have printed off every reservation: trains, planes, no automobiles, but all my hotels. I have printed off emails, tour vouchers…. the list goes on. I caught Mina lying in the midst of all my printed copies. I don’t know if she was just checking to make sure everything was ok, or if she was trying to sabotage me.
Oh, and in case I should lose all of those (or in the event a dog was to eat them), I have it all written down in my little notebook, too.
Type A, much?
The closer I got to my adventure, the more nervous and apprehensive I became. It reminded me of having a baby – not that I’ve ever had one, but I can imagine the similarities. You’re overwhelmed with joy, then just overwhelmed with everything that has to be done, then you’re close to the due date and there is no turning back – you’ve just got to do it.
So here I am… doing it…
As I write this, I’m sitting at Newark International Airport in the Scandinavian Airlines terminal eagerly (yet still nervously) waiting to board.
When I got here, the terminal was a ghost town. It was just me and a few other people who likely woke up entirely too early as well. Now, three hours later, it’s bustling with busy travelers, eager to get to their destination.
I am here with my North Face backpack, complete with an infinite number of convenient zippered pockets and compartments so I could neatly stash as much as possible and make the most of the available space. I have managed to get everything I expect to need for 3 weeks in one bag, somehow managing to keep from surpassing the weight limit of 8kg… Yeah, my scale doesn’t give me kilograms either, and while I am no math whiz, I can convert lbs to kg like a boss.
So what did I bring, you ask? I have managed to stuff in my bag a few tanks, a few black leggings, a few unmentionables, a pair of skinny jeans, 2 skirts, 2 long-sleeved shirts, a sweater, a pair of booty shorts, a pair of athletic pants, 2 athletic tanks, my Nikes and 3 pairs of socks. I also have pocket laundry detergent and a clothesline so I can do laundry when I’m bored… riiiiight…. maybe I’ll just keep it dirty. I’ve got minimal makeup, minimal hygeine items and even resorted to 2-in-1 Pantene to save space. My hair is cussing me already.
The weather is going to be in the mid-80s, without a raindrop in sight! (Sorry midwestern friends and family. I hope you can read this from your floatation devices). While I’m looking forward to the beautiful weather, I’m worried about this fair Italian complexion. My dad has a tan 365 days a year, but he neglected to pass that genetic information down to me, so I’m pale like my grandmother and aunt… ahem, I mean fair. Having had a precancerous skin biopsy scare a year ago, (which by the way, turned out to be nothing), I have made wearing sunblock an essential part of my daily routine and you should, too. Ok, off my soap box. By the way, I also brought a box of soap.
Planning this trip has consumed me in so many ways, but I wouldn’t trade it! This experience has already been so amazing and I’m excited to have you all join me for the rest of it!
I’ve received some really great advice and well wishes from friends, acquaintances and strangers. Just last night I was sitting at dinner with my sister. We were discussing naughty Italian boys, and in an effort to practice my Italian, I exclaimed “molto cattivo” (very naughty)! The man sitting next to my sister said, “Ahhhh, Italian!” This was the beginning of an unexpected and lengthy conversation with this man, a math teacher from Philadelphia, who just happened to be from Italy – very near to where my grandmother lived. He gave me some great advice and wished me a wonderful trip. What are the odds?
After that conversation and before my alarm this morning, I ran into a little setback but had a great gal come through for me. You know who you are and you saved the day – rather the next 3 weeks and potentially a lot of money! Tu é molto simpatica! Grazie!
Without question, the highlight of my day was having my dad see me off at the airport. I don’t get the opportunity to see him often, but recent circumstances have allowed me to spend valuable time with him. This morning was one of those incidences. I may be a 34 year old independent woman who has somehow mustered enough courage to embark on a solo trip to Europe, BUT I still love my daddy and appreciated every bit of advice he had to give me on the short drive to KCI – even if he did insinuate my susceptibility to drinking too much wine. I reassured him I only intended to drink too much wine when in the company of my friends who will accompany me in a week. See what you girls have to look forward to? Who wants to step in for Lindsey in the event a cappucino is needed? 🙂
So here we go! Chapter 2 has begun and I hope to bring you (safe) thrills, comedy, and lots of selfies. 🙂