You take these leaps of faith in life. Not completely blind leaps of faith, but leaps into the trusted arms of Universe. There’s always some challenges that come up. I am “the one who appreciates” and if anyone is grateful for those loving arms, it’s me. But, those damn challenges!
So here’s a recap of some turbulence in our first 3 days:
- Anna’s name on the booking not matching her passport
- Taking shuttle to the wrong hotel upon arrival in Rome
- About $600 for a day and a half car rental (rental fees, car seats, tolls, gas)
- Forgot the mini powerstrip
- Where’s the headlamp?
- Find out there’s no place to drop off the car in Trieste so had to drive 30min backwards to Airport and then take an hour long bus ride back
- Dhyan having a pretty bad cough
- Anna tried to cook with her face cream
- Brian drove off with the hatchback trunk open
I’m trying to think of all the stressful things that have happened and this is all I can come up with as we end our first 3 days in Italy. What I’m not saying is how each of these things also led to us meeting new and interesting people, how in each case it worked out okay, how we learned from our mistakes, how we created really funny stories, and how all of the amazing things we’ve experienced so far completely outweigh the challenges. There’s a lot of grace at play here. Somehow writing it down helps put it in perspective.
The Airport Express but was an extra expense, but we got down to SFO with time to spare, without putting anyone out or having to worry about driving. We read you shouldn’t buy your plane tickets late at night, so of course that’s what we did. Months, nay years, of planning and mental preparation and just as we’re checking in we get our first dose of travel medicine: Anna’s last name on the booking doesn’t match her passport. For those of you who don’t know, this is a big no no in international air travel. It was a good thing we booked directly with Swiss Air. In the end it really only cost us $50 to change Anna’s name on the booking. If we had booked with a 3rd party it could have been a nightmare. One thing you might not think to bring with you is your marriage certificate, but that would’ve been helpful and might have saved us that $50.
The flight went well. It was nice to take care of the longer leg first. Customs in Zurich, Switzerland was a breeze. We are so impressed with Dhyan and Arelia. At 6 and 4 they are super resilient. By the end of Day 1 all four of us were feeling fantastic. We were tired but we just didn’t know it yet.
So yea, we took the shuttle to the wrong hotel. Who knew there were two Best Westerns in Fiumicino?! Quick fix and the one we ended up at was way better. The taxi driver was a character! He showed us his house as we drove by touting, “seafront”, several times and gave us all a good taste of Italian charm. I actually totally recommend this Best Western. It was in a quiet, quaint, safe neighborhood, spacious, and clean. We woke up to unexpectedly gorgeous ocean views, sunrise over Rome, a huge majestic owl (biggest I’ve ever seen!) flying through the neighborhood, a scrumptious breakfast, cappuccino, friendly and helpful staff, and so on. After settling in, Arelia and I walked along the promenade and got a couple pizzas, some Birra Moretti…ahh. Really nice weather this time of year (end of March). Blossoms everywhere.
A €6 shuttle ride back to the airport the next morning got me to the car rental mall at Fiumicino airport while the rest of the family waited for me in comfort. The privacy and freedom of a car were nice and we had a lot of great experiences but it’s also been exhausting and way more expensive than anticipated. We didn’t plan ahead well for this piece. Rent a car online ahead of time and you’ll probably save. It was a gorgeous drive though. Hard to beat the scenery. The drivers on the other hand…it’s different. Stopping in Ferrara for a day was seriously special, but I’d strongly consider a train, or flying, in the future. And even though I had to go out of my way to take the car back, it was an adventure. I saw an amazing sunset walking back from the Bus station and met some cool cats out in front of our place where there’s a trendy microbrew shop. So I had a beer and experienced some of that traveler nostalgia. I took a video and will post it on the YouTube channel we’re creating.
As much as we’ve tried to pace ourselves it’s been a lot. We’re tired and Dhyan is coughing. Tomorrow we catch the bus early and should be to Rovinj before noon where we’ll have 11 nights to settle down. Even though the pesky hardships can stand out, it’s clear we’re on the right path. Learning to embrace the challenges is really tough but makes everything better.
At some point I’d like to get into the “why” and “how” of this trip. Part of it is to be discovered along the way. I barely touched on the multitude of truly great moments, which have gratefully been the larger piece by far. Turtles in the courtyard, gelato, castles, dungeons, pasta, Qi Gong, smiles, laughter, homemade cakes and jams, free scotch, hospitality.. Arelia, our piccola ragazza, really has a knack for picking up the language! You’ll hear her walking around saying “ciao ciao” in a very confident manner at any given time. Anna is our rock. Dhyan’s mind is turning over everything and he asks a ton of questions. The bambini are getting tons of attention and taking it all in. The smells, the views, the sounds, the tastes. Whenever I’m willing to stop what I’m doing and focus on the kids, they’re there, ready to WOW anyone who’s willing to listen.