The Hard Part of Traveling

I promised misadventures so here it goes....

My mom always says that the hardest part of traveling is the actual traveling part. I've never quite believed her, as I love airplane and train rides. There's something so comforting about being stuck in a little moving box for six hours with nothing better to do but watch movies or read a book. I seriously mean that, it's like forced relaxation.

After my last bout of travels though, I may have to rethink my feelings on getting places.

I was walking to the train station in Providence, excited for a nice and relaxed 40 minute walk across town, when I looked down at my phone and realized my train left in only 25 minutes. I started to run, and continued running for about 20 minutes. Now this was by far the most exercising I'd done in about 3 months and I quickly got worn out, but I kept going anyways partly because I was determined to be a successful young adult traveler, partly because I really didn't want to pay other $15 for a ticket and partly (mostly) because missing my train would have been super embarrassing. 

I was getting super tired and the train left in 8 minutes and it still looked really far away. The whole run/walk I'd been looking for a bus or taxi to get my there faster and just as I turned a corner up a big hill I spotted one! I jumped in and asked him to take me to the train station. 

He laughed but said okay. Then he called out to his friend in another cab something in Spanish along the lines of "this idiot wants a ride to the train station!" It turned out that the train station was about 50 ft away. I was so tired though that I didn't care that it cost me $4 to not walk up that hill. 

I made it on my train with no trouble after that, and made it through security fine (although about 5 hours earlier than I needed to.) Fortunately the Boston airport has wifi so I found a couch and chain watched Psych for a while. 

I was supposed to fly from Boston to New York then from New York to Madrid after a one hour layover. A little before my flight was supposed to leave they announced that the flight was delayed by an hour and a half. Since I wouldn't make my connection, they changed my boarding passes so that I would take a plane to London then to Madrid. Which meant another two hours of waiting. 

I finally got to London, only to find out that the plane I was supposed to take had already left! They put me on the next flight and I had to run through the airport to catch it. It was a lot more exercise than I was counting on. 

My exchange student Val was supposed to meet me in Madrid. One thing we didn't count on was that I wouldn't have much time in London to tell her when my flight would land. I could only get 15 minutes of wifi at the Madrid airport so we ended up texting through my mom in order to find each other. Eventually we met up and then it was only a few bus rides and a 10 minute walk before I could finally be done with the hardest part of traveling! 

Travel Itinerary

Spain

Madrid (~4 days) 

My exchange student Val is meeting me at the airport and we will spend a few days exploring Madrid. I want to try the famous jamón and see some of the churches! 

Galatia Region (~9 days)

Val's family is going to drive up to get us in Madrid and take us back to their home in Galatia. There are some old ruins I am hoping to see and they have a sail boat so, if the weather is nice, we might get out on the water! 

Barcelona (1 day) 

I'm flying on the 10th from Santiago to Barcelona. My mom is meeting me in Barcelona and we are going to see some famous churches before taking a ferry over to Italy. 

Italy

Livorno (1 day)

We are taking a 19 hour ferry from Barcelona to Livorno, then spending another night in Livorno before heading off into Italy! 

Bonassola (3 days)

Bonasslola is a small village just north of the Cinque Terre. We will be staying there at a farm that rents out rooms to travelers. I want to see all the amazing little villages and go swimming at the tiny beaches! 

Florence (3 days)

We are staying in a renovated palace in the heart of Florence and have tours reserved to see David and some of the other art masterpieces in this magical city. 

Aosta (2 days)

 Commonly known as the "Rome of the Alps," Aosta is known for its Roman ruins and gorgeous mountain views. We are staying at a local vineyard with a solar powered pool that is a short walk from the train station. 

Commonly known as the "Rome of the Alps," Aosta is known for its Roman ruins and gorgeous mountain views. We are staying at a local vineyard with a solar powered pool that is a short walk from the train station. 

Switzerland 

Montreux (1 day)

 We're taking a local bus over the alps and spending one night in a hostel to see this gorgeous castle. 

We're taking a local bus over the alps and spending one night in a hostel to see this gorgeous castle. 

Gimmelwald (3 days)

 We're staying in a tiny little hotel run by a 90 year old local in the tiny town of Gimmelwald. The town resisted development by getting the land declared an avalanche zone and remains a picturesque mountain village. 

We're staying in a tiny little hotel run by a 90 year old local in the tiny town of Gimmelwald. The town resisted development by getting the land declared an avalanche zone and remains a picturesque mountain village. 

France

Paris (7 days) 

 Our last destination is the city of lights, Paris. We are staying in an Air b and b right in the heart of the city owned by a young local couple. I hope to see the Louve, catacombs and spend a lazy morning people watching at a Parisian cafe. 

Our last destination is the city of lights, Paris. We are staying in an Air b and b right in the heart of the city owned by a young local couple. I hope to see the Louve, catacombs and spend a lazy morning people watching at a Parisian cafe. 

It's So Hard to Say Goodbye

This summer I conducted an in-depth study into the effects of constant visual and audio stimulation on the teenage brain.

In other words, I chain watched a lot of TV shows on Netflix.

During a TV binge spanning two seasons and three late nights, I watched a Psych episode about a talented data encryptor who uncovers a plot to sell off the locations of police confiscated drugs to major drug lords. He is murdered, but not before he heroically manages to send an encrypted email to his old a cappella friends containing a video revealing the true culprits, using the harmonies of the song "It's so Hard to Say Goodbye" as a key to the encryption. 

My goodbyes were hard but, fortunately, not nearly that tragic or dangerous. 

Our good-bye dinner was absolutely delicious. He's a better cook than me, that's for sure! 

My wonderful boyfriend Wallace O'Donnell made me a romantic dinner complete with fake candles, cloth napkins and tissues for the final course. I alternated giggling and crying. It was perfect.

Despite my numerous attempts to convince him to drop out of high school and travel the world with me, he has opted to continue his education.

That will undoubtably turn out better in the long run but it's still a bummer.

Why does my boyfriend have to be so smart and grounded? It's seriously unfair! 

After meeting friends for goodbye coffees, goodbye sleepovers, goodbye berry picking and goodbye paint pick ups I was finally ready to say bye to my dad and brother and be on my way!  

That bag is my new life. Let's hope I manage to keep track of it for the whole trip! 

My entire life for the next six weeks is contained in that tiny backpack. It's roughly the same size as my school bag junior year (the most textbook-intensive year of high school), and probably about as heavy. 

At some point I will post a picture detailing everything in my bag, mostly because I'm so proud of how much I managed to fit in there. I used the "Clown Car Method" of packing, where you fold everything on top of each other. 

Unfortunately, no matter what special method of packing you use, things have a certain amount of matter that can't really be folded out of existence. 

My mom and I drove to Seattle for a Middlebury party and for my extended family send off. 

The party was absolutely beautiful. It was at a current student's house, and her parents threw a wonderful party for us even though she is in NYC doing an internship this summer and didn't fly back to Seattle for a two hour party (fairly reasonable.) 

Their house had a view of Lake Washington, a tree house turned into a chicken coup and a giant apple statue in their front courtyard that could fill up my whole house. They also had a cheese platter with little radishes cut to look like mice.

I wanted to take pictures of everything but decided to pretend like I saw giant statues and gated mansions every day instead. Also I left my phone in the car and I was too lazy to go get it. 

Maps, toilet paper and ear plugs- Europe, here I come! 

After that party, my mom and I drove to my aunt's house for our next party. I felt very cool party hopping like that. It is definitely not an everyday occurrence. 

My wonderful family gave me a send off with great advice, Thai food and extremely practical gifts of toilet paper, earplug and enough Euros to (optimistically) last me a week.

My great grandmother who I called Gaga used to re-gift presents wrapped up in tin foil, and it has become a bit of a tradition. I'm really hoping the toilet paper and ear plugs aren't too used though! 

I'm so lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life that make saying goodbye so hard. I'm thrilled for my trip but also excited to come home to the people who make my time worthwhile.