I have returned from the Italian Riviera, in a trip that involved all four of the above-mentioned forms of transportation. That officially marks the end of three weeks on the road, three different continents visited, many new stamps in my passport (Italy and Singapore plus thrice on re-entry into the UK) and three time zones that were not my own. I am so happy to be back “home” in the UK and grateful to have made it through the trips without falling desperately ill.
Any American who has never had the — ahem — pleasure of experiencing budget airline travel in Europe should come on over and try it some time. I had a particularly strange experience with my boarding pass this morning. The thing is hand-written includng the flight numbers. No computers in sight. The ticket agent writes your name on the boarding pass and that’s what gets you through security. (Can you even imagine anything like this happening in the US???) Anyways, the cute Italian ticket agent must have been distracted by the sight of us because on my boarding pass he neglected to write anything, and on another female’s he mis-spelled her name. Needless to say there were some amazingly difficult exchanges between the Italian airport security and passport control officers and us before we made it onto the plane. I am still not accustomed to how the budget airlines feel like riding on buses, since you just get on the plane and pick a seat.
This was not a pleasure vacation, although it did involve less work and more fun than the trips to Colorado and Singapore the previous weeks. Maybe it was the Italian spirit, maybe the wine, but even my English colleagues were relaxed, fun and friendly 🙂 Traveling without a computer was strange but somehow liberating. I took 330 photographs (!) and will definitely go back to the Cinque Terre on some future hiking vacation. For now, I have laundry to do, sleep to catch up on, literally hundreds of emails to respond to. Most importantly, I have the normal rhythym of life to rediscover. After three weeks on the road, normal life is looking pretty good.