Travel challenges can be daunting, especially when flying overseas. If you have been keeping up with my Crazy Aunt Tracy Facebook page, you are no doubt aware that this post originates from my Corkscrew Adventure of the Italian kind. It has been five years since I visited Europe. I enjoy a good challenge, but I forgot a few things.
Thee single most important rule of travelling: wear comfortable shoes! Come on! I know those brown Clark’s are the ugliest thing since original sin, but they can be worn for days without ill effect. I thought about wearing them, but vanity got the better of me. However, I did wear what I thought were perfectly comfortable shoes, low heel, slip on, shiny red! They are my ruby slippers but this ain’t THE WIZARD OF OZ, baby. They look good with trousers or jeans and I have been successful wearing them travelling in the past. Of course, I only flew across the country for about six hours, so …. I did great until the Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris. I should have gone to the first toilet — or changed on the plane — and put on a pair of pants that would look good with the perfectly comfortable and stylish flats I had in my carry-on! I marched my way along what seemed like two miles of airport concourse until I arrived at the gate for my final leg to Firenze (Florence), Italy. I looked good, but my toe hurt. I arrived on a Sunday afternoon. I put on my Italian made boots purchased five years ago in Napels and went looking for a place to eat. I had not worn those boots for months, but I had them in my suitcase. I admit I also had included a pair of heels I had been breaking in for weeks by wearing them vacuuming and another soft pair of flats. So, if you’re keeping track, the shoe count is as follows: the ones I had on, two pair of flats, the boots, and the heels.
There were two places open in which I could find sustenance: a small grocery store where I bought a bottle of wine for 8 euros, and an amazing restaurant, pizzeria actually, wherein I ate too much, and drank more wine. The next day, having discovered that Hotel La Fortezza was not centrally located I ventured forth a foot, nevertheless. Florence is not huge, by city standards, but it is confusing especially if as a country girl like me you pay more attention to directions like east and west. The map of Florence in my opinion is upside down. Even though I had on comfortable shoes, I was completely turned around in the narrow streets overshadowed with tall buildings. I finally found the river and realized which direction was my hotel but by the time I made it there, my little toe on my left foot was a bloody pulp. Knowing I could not walk a step further in any of MY shoes, I hobbled to the nearest shoe store and bought some roomy and sparkly loafers. Add that to the shoe tally.
Sadly, this was not my first shoe caper. Once in New York City I hobbled myself with new sandals and had to buy ugly shower shoes in a local pharmacy. I loved them. This time, it wasn’t until I got to Siena where I found my new favorite pair: Birkenstock water sandals! And, I admit, I found two pair of lovely Italian-made shoes on sale. The shoe tally was up to nine pair. I was not about to haul around all those shoes though. I mailed myself several pair before embarking further. So perhaps a good rule of travel is to remember that pride will cost you, and give you blisters.