A few years ago, John and I decided to make a top ten list of the trips we want to take. Naturally, being that this is me and John we’re talking about, the fashioning of this one singular sensational list required the making of four (4).
We each (secretly, of course) made a list of the places we’d want to go were we told we’d die by the end of the year, then made another list of trips we want to take in an order that makes the most sense (financially, timing-wise, etc.). We shared these lists with each other, which were similar, but not identical by any means (come on people, we’re not like soulmates or anything), and then made our collective top ten.
The only thing that did match exactly was our number one “if I were going to die next month, I’d want to go here now” trip: the Mediterranean.
I don’t really need to tell you why I wanted to go, as it’s one of the most explicit pieces of travel pornography on Earth:
These were all images that played a part in inspiring my idea of this trip. It’s one of the few areas of the world that oozes with glamour, beauty, and sultriness, but is also full of rich history and culture. In fact, maybe it’s the only place on Earth with this killer combination. Because of the images that one can conjure dreaming of southern Spain, France, and Monaco, and because I’m an American and I want my life to be impossibly cinematic, I pictured myself as nothing less than the Grace Kelly of my own life’s movie (I don’t have the boobs to be Brigitte Bardot). I would curve through sun-drenched cliff-sides in a sporty little convertible, my scarf blowing effortlessly in the wind, each strand of hair staying perfectly in place, my golden-self would lie on the beach surrounded by the cast of The Talented Mr. Ripley by day and eating countless rounds of tapas by night.
But then I remembered that I’m not blonde.
And I wear a lot of sunscreen.
And that renting a convertible in Europe is really, really expensive.
And crap, I forgot to pack my silk scarves.
So maybe we didn’t vacation exactly under the eye of Alfred Hitchcock or Anthony Minghella as I had originally intended, but it was still incredible, despite the lack of requisite accessories. It still counts. Hey, even Princess Grace in real life drove a not-so-sexy Rover P-6.
Road tripping in Europe was fun: the speed limits are seemingly non-existent, the roads are newly paved, our car was roomy, and the landscape is varied and gorgeous. The company/driver couldn’t have been better, the choice in music was flawless, and the directions were, too. Well, sort of.
Europeans don’t have the same road trip mentality that Americans do. By nature, we’re pioneers. We like to roam. We like to be on the go. We like to get to the next thing. In short, we have ADD, and road trips are perfect for this because you’ve always got something new to look at. The United States is totally pimped out for road-tripping. We have road signs for fast food! We have lids for our cups! We have TVs hanging from the roofs so that our annoying children will not bother us! I didn’t think I was the kind of person who is into that stuff, but oh my god, I so am.
I love the idea of not rushing in the morning, of sitting down to have a lovely cappuccino in peace the way it’s done in Europe. It’s the right way. Drinking coffee out of anything but a proper cup and anywhere but at a proper table is just wrong. I get it.You’re right. But HELLO! I HAVE PLACES TO GO! Put that shit in a paper cup, slap a lid on it, and let’s roll! There are scattered “rest stops” along the way, but they usually don’t have those magic 7-11 style coffee machines. I’m not even a big coffee drinker, but that was rough. How can you go on a road trip without a giant cup of delicious, life-giving coffee?
Much to my delight, one place in France actually did have a pretty fancy looking coffee machine. I was so excited that even though we were almost to our destination and it was 11 PM, I had to try it out.
Oh, France, you’re cute.
I stood there, inserting too many golden coins into the flashy machine, drumming my fingers together in greedy, jonesing excitement, awaiting my black gold.
You guys, the cup was one of these . . .
. . . which can only be described as a pathetic, flimsy, plastic, dentist office cup that is intended for rinsing and spitting only.
I cursed the machine, kicked it, and grabbed it on both sides, shaking it violently. “What am I supposed to do with this?! What is this, a shot?! How am I supposed to drink this in a moving vehicle?! I will spill this before I walk out the door! GAHHHHH!”
John, standing in the doorway, looked at me as if to say “you are embarrassing me on my own continent, get in the car now!” So I grabbed the stupid little cup, walked out the door, and spilled the entire thing all over myself. No, it wasn’t very glamorous of me, and Mr. Hitchcock would not have approved, but whatever.Coffee or not, the point was this scenery. And even though I totally failed at being Grace Kelly, it did not.