So I know it’s been a while since my last post, but I was just now able to get over the traumatic ending of our trip (LOL that was dramatic but boy was it interesting.) I am currently sitting in my room in the United States (Athens, Alabama to be more exact and boring) reminiscing on my wonderful adventures abroad. So I figured it was about time to FINALLY write my last post on our European endeavors!
First things first, I need to describe the BEAUTY of the Italian Riviera! We ended up staying at the “Excelsior Palace Hotel” in Genoa, Italy. It was beyond amazing. It was spectacular. It was PERFECT. We even got matching robes and house shoes to wear down to the pool. After a stressful week of train strikes and last minute flights, (not that I didn’t enjoy every second of the experience) it felt wonderful to relax with the view of a lifetime. As far as meeting interesting people, as we always seemed to do, we met a group of couples who were racing through Italy in the nicest cars I have ever seen for a “car show” for fun. They even let us step outside and check out their Maseratis! So that was cool to say the least. I’m pretty sure we were the youngest and loudest (which wasn’t surprising at this point in our trip) people at the Excelsior Palace, LOL. Needless to say, it was a fabulous and beautiful time in Italy. As you can see from my pics above!
NOW ON TO THE EXCITEMENT
At this point in our trip, we knew from experience that we needed at least 48 hours of train travel to ensure that we WITHOUT A DOUBT would make it back in time for our international flight back to America. So that’s exactly what we did. Little did we know the travel struggles ahead as we sadly kissed the beautiful coast of Italy goodbye! We each downloaded several movies to watch on the journey, and we headed for the train station!
24 HOURS LATER
We had made it to Nice, France. We knew that France might be an issue with all the previous train strikes, but we figured a week after the Paris/Jerez debacle that we would be in the clear. WRONG! The people at the train station informed us that we must spend the night in Nice, and catch the first train to Barcelona, Spain next morning. We were excited to prolong our French Adventure for one more night, but at this point we were all a TINY bit nervous. Despite the worry, we had a nice dinner in Nice, France overlooking a lighthouse and the crystal blue water!
THE MORNING BEFORE THE FLIGHT
Here we are. 24 hours until our flight home after a month in Europe and the trip of a lifetime. Tensions were running high as we all dragged our luggage to the platform of our intended train. Everything ran smoothly throughout the day, and it seemed to be working to our advantage. We had connecting trains scheduled so that we would arrive in Barcelona the night before our flight, which we did. We were all super thrilled that we would make our flight, especially since Sarah and I (overpacking as we did) still had 2 huge luggage bags checked in the Madrid airport to retrieve before boarding our flight.
THE NIGHT BEFORE OUR FLGHT
We arrived in Barcelona in plenty of time, but we were still 5 hours away (by train) from our flight in Madrid (where it all started). We patiently waited in the ticket line, hoping to get the 8pm train and arrive in plenty of time for rest before our flight at 11AM the next day. BUT worse case scenario (so we thought) we would leave on the 10pm train and be a little exhausted, still making our flight. GUESS WHAT? because of strikes (stupid strikes always causing problems) ALL THE TRAINS WERE FULL. Or reserved. The only train we could MAYBE catch was at 5am the following morning. Putting us at the Madrid train station at 10AM, still needed a taxi to the airport, and a trip through security (not to mention retrieving my luggage that contained my MacBook) before boarding our international flight just ONE HOUR LATER. Needless to say, I was having a small, yet very panicky, PANIC ATTACK. (Okay that might be a little dramatic, but I was freaking out.)
One by one, we called our parents on WIFI and informed them of the current situation. We planned to sleep in the train station lobby since by this time it was almost 2am (we explored the airport and car rental places for other options before deciding the 5AM train was it for us). BUT they kicked us out bc “sleeping there was not allowed” so we checked into a hotel for 3 hours of laying wide awake waiting on our train!
THE MORNING OF THE FLIGHT
I am currently getting anxiety just reliving this morning in my head while typing this blog. We rode the train from Barcelona to Spain in silence, as we all strategized how we would make the flight. We arrived in Madrid at approximately 10:01, and I am not exaggerating when I say that I have never ran so fast in my entire life. We booked it to the taxi line, and screamed AIRPORT PLZ as loud and fast as we could! We arrived at the airport about 20 minutes later. At this point, I still had to stop by the luggage locker outside the airport and retrieve the bag before checking in for my flight. My friends just had to head to the check in, so we said our goodbyes in about .5 seconds as they assured me I would make the flight (I so knew I wouldnt.) At that moment, after another small panic attack, I became like super brain power woman and began to strategize the steps to make this flight. I only had about 26 minutes (precisely) to get my self AND my luggage on that plane. I began to run for the luggage locker. One problem. I ran the wrong way. I finally got there, retrieved my luggage after some small language barrier issues, and sprinted for the check in desk.
20 MINUTES BEFORE DEPARTURE
Breathlessly, I made it to the desk after an English speaking airport attendant saw some tears forming and took me straight to the front of the line. In the thickest spanish accent ever the man said “HELLO MISS!” And I screamed “AM I GONNA MAKE THIS FLIGHT?” That is when I heard the hallelujah chorus in my head as he said “oh yes just in time!” I checked ALL my bags, even my carry on (4 in total) and put my hands on my knees to catch my breath as I realized what this meant. I WAS GOING TO MAKE IT! The man then tapped me on my shoulder in the thick accent again and said “Don’t relax yet, mam. You still have about a 5 minute run to your platform I believe.”
“WHY DIDNT YOU MENTION THAT BEFORE?!?” I thought in my head as I was already sprinting on my way. But don’t worry. My friends all cheered as they saw me running up as the plane started it’s final boarding. That was it. I was going home.
AFTER THE FACT
SO overall, the endings to my trip was a little stressful, but I wouldn’t trade my experiences in Europe for anything in the world. When we are having a bad day, or just feeling a little down, my friends and I go back through our pictures from our trip. It never fails to make us laugh for hours and reminisce on all the wonderful memories of our adventurous summer. 6 months later, I would do anything to go back again. It was the experience of a lifetime. The people I met and the places I visited taught me more about life than I could ever imagine. I loved every second (even running like a crazy woman through the airport) of the experience, and the friends I traveled with will be my friends forever, no doubt about that. Needless to say, it was the perfect summer, and I am so thrilled to have my blog to go back and relive the experience.
Like I said in my previous posts, I hope each and every one of you at some point in life gets to experience a new place filled with fascinating new people and lessons to learn. You won’t regret it. I promise.
As a quote a once read states “travel-it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller” and hey, I guess you could say that’s exactly what it did.
THANKS for all your time and interest in my blog, it was such a fun experience. I’m glad I could finally finish, 6 months too late. But you never know where life will take you and I figured it’s not really a story if it’s unfinished, so I needed to add the last chapter of this one story of mine.
XOXO, until my next adventure,