Wildest Moments

My last evening in France was as intended. I wanted things to be wild and hectic. I wanted to be brazen and rushed. Now timing was everything and my destiny was unknown. I just had a bunch of digital boarding passes to different places in the world. I didn't know where I would sleep. I thought by some good graces I would have a phone. So I was straddling my suitcases and trying to change out the SIM at the back of the car. I was up and at it way before the train approached the station. It didn't occur to me I was now wild. I was the one who disobeyed the warnings. I was teetering on a moving train with several bags and a phone. I was getting the annoying yet familiar messages in French about not having enough credit. I was off the train before everyone else. I was using ticketing kiosks. I was going down escalators. I was conversing with people on the platform. 


Last Train To Paris … Literally

When I finally got on that TGV train I was happy. I wasn't happy about returning home. I was happier about returning to France. Those who grow up north in the city learn the sounds and smells of the trains and there is a familiarity that stays with you. Every homecoming you can recite the stops and announcements and know where you are just by the tiles out the windows. Well, after a while the trains in France were embedded in my memory just as the commuter trains from Penn Station to Brick Church in New Jersey. There is a distinct sound that plays on a TGV train letting you know where you are headed. That chime was like a bell ringing in my mind. I was not prepared to be going anywhere. I'd somehow packed my good glasses in my suitcase which was behind me in the car. I only had an apple, a flat soda and a pack of crackers left. I would not eat again until my second flight out. I had about 13 Euros. I had no magazines and I was tired of my books. I had no way to keep my devices charged after leaving Iceland. So I couldn't watch a movie or play games. Besides there was absolutely no wi-fi. The only reliable source of entertainment I had was an ancient iPod. When we rose through the Alps the elevation nearly killed it. Most electronic devices are anti-elevation. There was an excruciating sound that went through my headphones and a flash on the screen. I snatched them out of my ears and looked up - we were trailing up the freaking Alps! I was looking into mountain towns and cold water streams and that outer world you never think you'll be able to see. My iPod was permanently damaged, it works now but the remainder of the evening it wouldn't take a charge and it now has lines in the LCD. It didn't matter then. I suddenly realized I had transitioned into a bonfide traveler. I was no longer impressed by all the things. I was more enthused with my reactions to my surroundings. I was staring out and I didn't need to take a picture. That five, six hour ride was reflective so much so I didn't even sleep. I was happy with my choice to stay on as long as I did. To return home wasn't about comfort or pleasure. It was about doing the right thing for that moment. It was the right thing money wise. It was the right thing friendship wise. I had no money. I had no friendship. No matter how tied I was to that space in time - I had to return home. My timing for everything was spot on. I wasn't driven to the decision. I was mysteriously guided. It seemed no matter the circumstance or obstacle, I overcame it. I felt blessed. I felt lucky. I was literally on the last train to Paris! Just my ability to get a ticket was miraculous. Now I was in my own front facing seat looking down the car. I was listening to that chime and the French announcement was more prevalent than the one in broken English or garbled Italian. As others took their seats and looked at me, we shared the same expression. We were going home. 


What I Learned Cont'd - The Things… Italy and All Its Parts

Italy was the one flawless destination in our trip. It seemed free of problems and hiccups. Everything just fell into place. We'd wake up each morning with a plan (even when going separate ways). If anything began to unravel there was always a dreamlike free fall but I would be caught. There was always someone or something to catch me. I was never startled. I was never stirred. I would just stumble into things - many times alone, unprepared and angry. Then wherever I was or whoever was there settled me. What baffles me is there was so much more we both intended to see. We had hoped to visit four or five cities. We had hoped to see the water. Instead we chose the landlocked cities of Rome and Florence. Rome being a popular tourist destination. Florence being ideal for leaving. Most of the time we were seeing and doing our own thing. We also didn't seem to share our experiences anymore. In the company of each other we were silent. Apart I'll assume we both had our own internal thoughts. I always wondered did solitude make Italy more rewarding? Or did going most of it alone make it less of a dream? Either way this was my lost stop - happy ending or not.


Time Traveling/Petty Party

I've only shared this blog with a few close friends and people I've met since the trip. For those reading through the wonders of the Blogger community and Google - thanks for your views. By now I see a trend in anxiety versus a need to know about what happens next. I see this in the analytics of my blog entries and hear it in the voices of those I talk to about my blog. When discussing the goings on of my European trip I am informative to a point and then emotionally vague. Trust that I am reliving all the moments of last year in the now. I am reading daily Timehop's which speak to that time. I am reviewing notes in my phone written when I was there. I am packing things here and coming across ticket stubs and exhibit maps from back then. So for me this blog is frighteningly relevant.

Hotel Review Part II : Write About It Later AND Far, Far Away

So I started this series with a post about principle of hotel reviewing here. Now its all about the when and where of the actual posting of a hotel review. Let it be noted I am still reviewing my stays from last year and this should be the norm. You do not want to be one day into your stay casting a review online. Why? Well anything can happen during your stay. Your initial impression of the room may change. A poor introduction can be turned into a better experience. You could have a snafu while checking out. You also don't have anything to compare it to. Yes - you can't say that momentary stay is the best or worst because you need to have a variety of stays under your belt. Besides, no one trusts that sole reviewer that stayed last week and has something to say. People are looking to read reviews from well-traveled individuals who have many online postings and a ton of experience to back them up. Did I start out the traveling guru? Nope. However, after a few experiences good and bad I'm well prepared.


Travelin' Hygiene - The Cycle of The Cycles (Revised in 2021)

Disclamer & UPDATE - So much has changed since this post was originally written in July of 2014. First off, allow me to tell you a new fun fact. People have periods. I wish I knew to factor this in when writing about having a shared cycle on a EuroTrip. Please consider anyone traveling can and will experience a period. And with inclusivity comes sensitivity. Consider this your trigger warning as this post includes frank yet discreet terms around dum die dum ... menstruation! Having moved permanently to Europe and living in a city were we just lobbied (and won) to have free period products in public restrooms ... I have embraced the concept of a "period product". A not pink, not plastic filled, practical product to keep you clean and dry during your 5 to 7 (or 12 or 18 day cycle). I now use whatever including OB applicator free tampons and free bleeding. I have literally gave up on the reliable or convenient way to manage ones period. Most of the world is beginning to see how important human dignity is over societal vanity. If the only choice is a pad that will double as a twin sized mattress, we will take what we can get. As of today there are options - infused pads, more ecologically sourced cotton hygiene companies, a variety of reusable cups as well as absorbent panties, Pinky disposable kits etc. which make it far easier to travel when having ones period. In regards to what happened to me while in France I'll never quite know. But the body does change with changes and later on I found out my birth control was causing a slew of trouble down there. Pretty much everything I experienced was due to my being on the pill. Consider this post entertainment and me making light of a horrible situation. Hopefully, a situation no one else will have to endure in present future! 

I'd almost gotten through this story of two of girls traveling Europe and spared you the intimate details of the dreaded shared menstrual cycle. Run-on sentence indeed but it says a lot. It's not a mystery that when women are housed together their cycles tend to align. Really it can be quite cosmic like traveling pants. I've shared mine with co-workers, camp counselors, best friends, dorm mates etc. At first, it can be profoundly annoying especially when you are used to your start day and full week of misery. Then you become blood sisters about it relying on their timing. If they don't get their period, they question you and then you can embrace having yours on schedule and vice versa. You can see it all as healthy competition or a physical reminder.