Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My Adventures in Europe

I had the awesome opportunity to travel to Cosmoprof Bologna in Italy this year, and there is something I should tell you.  I am the worst navigator in Europe!!  Seriously.  Just because this was my 5th trip there, don't ever think that I know what I am doing:).  For example...

I flew into the Milan airport and was given one task.  Meet Stephanie in Florence.  How difficult could that be, right?  Wrong.  I purchased my ticket (with help from an English speaker I might add) from a kiosk at the airport.  Somehow I ended up on the wrong train (even though I asked a rail representative if it was the right train) six stops away from Milano Centrale where I was to connect to my train to Florence.  In super broken English, I learn that I need to take the Metro six stops to Milano Centrale which will cost 1.50 Euro.  Of course, I didn't have any Euro yet.  My plan was to withdraw some at the airport or the train station, but since I was at a smaller local station, the ATMs only accepted credit cards issued by the European bank called Bankomat.  It took me 20 mins just to figure this out with me stressing that I was going to miss my connecting train the entire time.

Let me pause here and tell you something that I learned very quickly from these first 4 hours of my journey.  NEVER, EVER take a lot of luggage to Europe.   Even if you have business and vacation on the same trip.  Even if it is winter there with rain and snow.  Even then!!!  I knew that.  I did.  I spent a week agonizing over what I needed to take.  I tried to be smart about shoes, coats, jeans and the like.  I thought I was smart until I ended up in Europe with a large 30 lb backpack and a 40 lb suitcase.  It took 5 minutes after picking up my luggage to know I had made a mistake.  Duh!  This is a terrible picture (out of focus) but it will give you an idea of what I was dealing with...and you can all whisper about how stupid I was behind by back:).

So a guy finally tells me that I can go to the bank across the street from the train station to get money.  1.50 Euro!!!  I felt like begging for money as my backpack became heavier and heavier by the minute.  So I head to the stairs...yes, I said stairs...don't ever think that it will be easy in Europe.  There are no ramps and very few elevators.  And when I say stairs, I mean 30 steep stairs!!!!  So I heave my enormous suitcase and move as fast as I can up those stairs.  To all my family who think that I walk slow...I truly moved very quickly:).   It took another precious 40 mins to drag that luggage over cobblestones across the street to the bank, withdraw some Euro, and then head back again, to go down the 30 stairs to the signs pointing to the Metro.  By this time, my connection is long gone...so I am in a  bit of hurry.  I practically run down the hallway just to encounter 40 more steep stairs heading down to the Metro.  By this time I am sweating in all of my layers of clothing (that I can't really take off without adjusting that awful backpack) and panting...and for those of you that know me well...I HATE IT WHEN I SWEAT!  I just kept thinking...I'm almost there.

I hear the train coming.  At this point, I am getting close to missing the next train to Florence.  So, once again I heave that damn suitcase up and starting rushing down those stairs.  And then my foot slips down the stairs while the other stays behind!  OMG>>just remembering gives me stress.  I catch the rail to keep me from falling head first down the stairs and that stupid backpack goes flying over my head pinning me down in the splits on the stairs while my suitcase makes a big racket as it tumbles down grabbing the attention of the entire waiting crowd.  You know when you are skiing and crash (this happens a lot for me) and your ski is still on but at a weird angle...you have a difficult time getting it back in place to stand up without breaking your knee.  Well this was exactly the same.  I really could NOT get that backpack back over my head onto my back!  Seriously.  Totally PINNED on the stairs.  I think it was through sheer embarrassment and mortification that I used all my might to hulk that backpack back over my head and finish heading down the stairs just as the last call for the train comes over the speakers.  I shove my way onto the packed train trying not to cry.

In the end, the next hour seemed just as horrific, but that is just part of a day in the beauty life.  I finally found Stephanie (who speaks Italian) and she got us to Florence.

The moral of this story...

NEVER, EVER take a lot of luggage to Europe! Even if you have business and vacation on the same trip.  Even if it is winter there with rain and snow.  Even then!!!

Stay tuned for my other adventures...