The first international trip that Ben and I took, outside of our all-inclusive honeymoon to Mexico, was to Italy in 2011. But if you would’ve asked us 48 hours into that vacation if we would ever travel again, it would have been an emphatic no.
**Disclaimer: While most of these “problems” were our own fault, we wanted to share this story to demonstrate how important research can be, and how overwhelming travel can be sometimes – especially on a lack of sleep.
It all started when we boarded our Alitalia flight at O’Hare. We hadn’t realized that we’d accidentally booked “the dinosaur.” Not only was our airplane was so old that it still had ashtrays in the armrests, but Ben and I brought down the average age of the passengers by double-digits. During the nine-hour flight we were woken frequently by passengers in our area, turning on the lights, using our seats as leverage to stand up, and praying the rosary in not-so hushed tones. While we felt incredibly fortunate to be taking the trip to Italy, I think we felt even more fortunate that the plane made it across the Atlantic.
Upon our arrival to Rome, we immediately took the Leonardo Express train to Roma Termini so we could catch our train to Naples, the start of our vacation. We successfully made it into Napoli Centrale although we were a bit bleary eyed after being awake for so long. In an effort to stay awake and to transition to the new timezone we showered at our B&B and headed out. Needless to say, we weren’t prepared for what Naples had to offer. The sidewalks were literally heaped with waist-high piles of garbage that was rotting and melting in the 90+ degree heat. It didn’t matter where we walked, the garbage was simply everywhere. Unfortunately, Naples has had problems with garbage for decades.
In addition to the garbage, the simple task of crossing the street was made challenging by the fact that traffic signs seem to be more suggestion than rule in Naples. We learned a few days later that the reason so many people have bars on their windows is not to protect them from thieves but instead to protect their windows from the side mirrors on the cars that drive by.
We set off to find the Museum of Archeology in Naples, but after wandering for an hour with no luck, we decided to head for pizza instead. We ate at Di Matteo where we had the best pizza we have ever tasted. The experience was soured just slightly by a miscommunication due to our not knowing Italian. Our waiter kept on asking for “arrows,” which we later realized were euros, which resulted in us being yelled at and gypped out of 9 euros.
At this point, we decided it was time to wave the white flag of surrender on our day and go back to the B&B. We had an exciting day-trip planned for the next day and we knew things would rebound. There was only a slight hiccup – our hotel didn’t have a clock or alarm in our room and we stupidly hadn’t brought anything that would work as a clock or an alarm. So what do you do when you don’t have an alarm, are jet-lagged, and have been up for 30+ hours, but have a driver coming at 8am sharp? Well, if you are Ben, you immediately lay down and sleep soundly. However, I wasn’t that fortunate. I was so nervous that we were going to sleep through our tour that I barely slept and got out of bed a dozen times to look out the window to make sure that the sun hadn’t risen without us knowing.
Ultimately we had nothing to worry about and our day-trip to the Amalfi Coast couldn’t have gone better. Now, 5 years later, we are planning a trip around the world. Travel has this amazing way of stretching you and making you grow. I can’t wait to do that full-time.