Now that you’ve seen all of the beautifully lit, perfectly cropped, and undeniably gorgeous photos sharing the most sublime moments of our incredible trip, let’s talk about the things that we don’t normally think to capture on film: those moments of screaming and sobbing, of hair-pulling and head-butting; knee-to-the-groin incidents that will always hold a special place in my heart.
No, I’m not talking about in the bedroom. I’m talking about mishaps that, no matter what, are most certainly going to happen when you go on a trip.
If you have any experience with traveling whatsoever, there are certain situations for which you can prepare, at least mentally. Lost luggage, missed flights, sickness, bad weather, been there, done that, know what to expect. Big time suck-fest. Luckily, we managed to (mostly) (narrowly) escape the typical vacation-ruining nightmares, but that doesn’t mean we weren’t without our own special brand of “WTF?!?!?!?”
When an American thinks of cars in Europe, one of the first adjectives that will typically run through our minds is “tiny”. With this in mind, we packed accordingly.
Again, luckily, our rental car turned out to be big enough for our American suitcases. Unluckily, it turned out to be too big for European roads. On our first day of driving, we went from outside of Madrid all the way to Lisbon. The highways are in fantastic condition, the speed limits are very high, and we were making excellent time. We got to Lisbon much earlier than anticipated and were excited to have the extra time.
But then we actually got into the city.
Portuguese and Spanish cities are beautiful and charming partly because they’re, well, old and have lots of narrow, winding alleyways mixed with broad thoroughfares dotted with enormous circles showcasing elaborate fountains and sculptures. And in an effort perhaps to keep things beautiful and cohesive and with a sense of timelessness, they like to hide their street signs.
In Lisbon, it literally took two hours (if not more) to find our adorable little hidden, unmarked hotel that was located on a technically nameless something that wasn’t really a street. To say that this was a frustrating endeavor would be um, well . . . an understatement.
When I get frustrated, I have a tendency to get extremely snippy. When asked a question, I give my snotty little answers rapidly, only after exasperatingly expelling deep and bitter huffs of hateful breath. I purse my lips after I bite them. I roll my eyes. I jolt my head around like a pigeon in a strobe light. I shout “I’M NOT MAD!!!!” You know, typical girl stuff. John expresses his frustration in the typical German way, meaning scary silent until something happens that forces him to break things which have, thankfully, thus far only been inanimate objects. It’s not good idea to have Miss Snippy-Pants and Herr Angst-Hosen in a small, enclosed space for very long.
When we finally, FINALLY located our hotel, I did what any sane person who has the luxury of not being behind the wheel of said enclosed space would do: I JUMPED THE FECK OUT OF THERE.
John sort of looked at me in confused disbelief as I quickly, liltingly yelled “ok well I’m just going to check in, see ya, bye!!!!!!!”, slammed the door, and ran into the hotel.
It’s not like the place had a parking lot, so where he went after that, I have no idea. To make up for my snippiness and abandonment, I decided that I’d lug both of our suitcases up the five (5) flights of stairs, you know, as a symbol of apology and peacemaking. An olive branch, if you will. “Wow, I am, like, so nice for doing this”, I thought as I climbed the narrow stairs. Once I got to our room, had a sit on the bed, looked around, and starred out the window for some time, I went back to the front desk with all the urgency of Prissy from Gone with the Wind.
I told our super cool, friendly, and helpful innkeepers about the situation, how I had abandoned my boyfriend and he was now lost, roaming the streets of Lisbon, probably running over old men and small children and generally going postal. They thought it was totally hilarious, and were laughing in the background as I made a call to John. He was not so amused. Word to the wise: do not laugh when John is angry. It’s best to excuse yourself, walk into the next room, and laugh into a pillow.
I am the devil.
But all’s well that ends well, right? The guy from the hotel actually got into the car and showed us to a parking garage. We found wine. Everything was beautiful. Good times.
A few days later, we drove to Sevilla.
The same. Exact. Thing. Happened.
Except in Sevilla, the roads are windier, narrower, and even more unmarkedier. Our car mirror hit a building. Seriously. That small.
And this time, we couldn’t find our hotel at all, so there was no escape. I cried. When we finally did find our hotel, they had given away our reservation and we had to go to somewhere else. I had to excuse myself.
Even with a GPS, maps, and extremely thorough directions, it’s virtually impossible to traverse this part of the world by car without getting hopelessly lost. We wasted a lot of time and a lot of money, which we weren’t prepared for at all, and as you can imagine, it’s hard to have fun and relax after such frustration, especially when you’re pressed for time. The challenge is being able to put that aside, take a breath, and get over it. Wine helps, but it’s good to have someone with you who can snap you out of it and make you look at the big picture. In Lisbon, I did that for John as I pretended that the whole car thing never even happened once we both made it to our hotel room. I said, with a smile, “ok! Let’s go look at Lisbon!” And just by simply giving the impression that all was fine, we were able to move on. In Sevilla, John did the same for me by holding me back by the elbows as I attempted to swing a few punches at the hotel employee who told us we had no room. Give and take.
Problems, cliché and unforeseen, will always happen despite superb planning. We all lose it. Just try to be with someone who will not completely lose it at the same time that you do.
Beep beep, beep beep, yeah.