Travel Despite the Struggle

Italy

It’s 2:45 AM, Italian chatter fills in blank spaces between the hip hop instrumentals playing in my headphones as I reflect on some travel struggle. I’m still on LA time, the nine-hour time difference has me jet-lagged like a mofrigger, and my monstrous nap from 7 PM to midnight could not have helped my case. I’m the only sober person sitting in the lobby of a hostel where Peroni bottles now serve as decoration left by travelers passing through Venice.
Like them, I’m here in transit, taking a moment to reflect on the reasons we travel, despite the struggle.
It’s important to understand that while I’m in a city where most people only dream of coming, the past 48 hours were very far from #TravelGoals.
While you think “Damon and Jo, they’re living the dream,” I can assure you that I was sprinting, bra-less, through the airport in Rome trying to make my connecting flight to Venice that departed in about 15 minutes.
Let’s take a step back, and rewind 18 hours before the bra-less-running-through-the-airport fiasco. Damon and I had a spur of the moment opportunity to ride The Orient Express from Venice to London. We’d never pass up a trip to Europe, even though staying for less than a week is a bit painful. To maximize our time, we planned on arriving a day earlier to do what one should do while in Italy: sip tiny coffees in local cafés while chatting up wise Italians who’d lived in Venice their whole lives.
Next scene is us arriving at LAX at 9 AM, only to find out we’d been automatically rebooked for a flight directly to Rome at 4 PM that day, and after 12 hours of a direct flight, we’d have an hour to connect to our flight to Venice. This not only added six hours onto our travel time in the form of an unnecessary delay, but As frequent flyers, we try to avoid these hour-long layovers at all costs to prevent the exact situation that happened later.
Somehow, I managed to make it through the 12 hours of flying with a broken TV monitor, and neighbors who had to pee about seven times in-flight. Shout out to being an aisle seat person. Our ride was going smoothly, a little too smooth as we barely moved. We were delayed 30 minutes in the air due to wind conditions, and arrived at Rome’s airport with 15 minutes to sprint to the next gate to make our flight to Venice. “It’s ok, if we miss this flight, I’m sure there are others leaving today to get us to Venice,” Damon mentions. I look at him with such confidence, “no boo boo, this is Italy, things don’t work like that.”
struggle
The gates couldn’t be further away from one another, and of course, there was a pit stop through passport control where the officer took her sweet, dandy old time. Sweat beads fall from underneath my shirt, at least I’m burning calories from all the carbs consumed on the first plane ride.
We laughed as our own carry on bags hit us while jogging through not one, but two perfume clouds of duty-free zones, Damon fumbled a water bottle that rolled on the floor almost taking out a toddler, and eventually we had to take a moment to shout out how out of breath we were.
With five minutes to spare, we make it to the gate, arriving in Venice about 45 minutes later. Finally, something went right.

WRONG.

15 minutes of waiting at baggage claim for both of our bags, and nulla – nothing.
At around 5PM, after about 20 hours of travel, we made it to Venice, but our bags never did. There we were, filling out a complaint form to get our bags sent to our accommodation, guess when? The next day. Why? Because it’s a national holiday, as almost everyday is in Europe, and because the only other flight leaving to go to Venice from Rome left at 9PM. They just know how to live hard here, which means not a lot of work sometimes.
After finishing the complaint form, and confirming our bags would be sent to us tomorrow morning, we realize that our accommodation had been switched last minute, and we gave the airport the wrong information – cue not knowing if I’ll ever get out of this smelly “Make Love, Not War” T-Shirt and musty workout pants. I made the mistake of not taking my own travel tip and packing at least one change of clothes in my carry on, so I guess I deserve to stink.
There you have it: a perfect example of how things look a little different depending which angle you’re seeing them from. And I have to say, even though I had to hand wash my undies, and feel slightly crusty even post-shower, I wouldn’t trade the feeling of this spontaneity for the world.
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