WE HAVE HAD AN ADVENTURE! And bless life, we sure needed it.
As to whether that adventure needed to include a younger-than-average traveler and an older-than-average traveler, we should discuss the pros and cons.
Firstly, let’s do a quick recap on the Baker-Giovanniello European Holiday for those that didn’t know we were going to traipse around the world for a 2 week vacation across three countries. It all started when I had a baby – a tiny little dictator named Eku. And because I am SO loved by all overseas, as well as in America, people wanted to see the little mini-me, as much as I wanted to show her off. But that required planning, planning, and some more planning.
Luckily, I was met in this challenge by a fellow traveler, one far superior to me in most things, and she designed a vacation that included a stay deep in the Pyrenees mountains.
And planned she did.
Suddenly, Evelyn and I were en route from Oakland to London to Spain and to France. But with one horrible call from Expedia to discuss my cancelled flight, and now travel plans including a 9 hour layover before a 10 hour flight, I made an executive decision to bring my Mom along for the voyage as I’m a sissy…and I was smart enough to know that I needed help.
And suddenly, the trip was upon us, and my Mother, daughter, and I took to the skies to travel as a first-time, three-some, and we were all excited and me, totally apprehensive. Who takes a toddler on a 10 hour flight and is SANE!?!
I actually can’t say who was the better traveler, Mom and E. Evelyn was a cool and cute as any 20 month can be, and my mom took all-the-shit (mostly from me),all-the-time and never batted an eyelash. She had been around the block once…or twice…and knew what she should take in stride. I could not have been more impressed with either.
And travel we did. Granted, not much once we hit my beloved England. I came down with a “summer cold” which left me leaking from eyes and nose to such a degree that I couldn’t go out much and made those that I love so dearly, and had come to see me, stay for a limited time so to not get them ill or take away from precious nap-time. (Jet lag for a kiddo is NO JOKE!)
But then it was time to really hit the discount airline travel situation and get fucked in as many places as possible. During a hideous check in, admittance through the security lines, the pat downs OF BABIES, the SMALL ASS SEATS and BAG LIMITS allowable on Ryan(fucking)Air, until we finally landed in Girona, Spain.
From there, my life took a turn.
Already I had felt a change in my sour and depressive behavior as of late. The second I landed in London, there was a lifting of my spirits, which only increased when I landed in Europe proper. I then got the chance to drive from Spain to London in a manual car, I suddenly felt as free as an actual bird. Like I could do anything. And I literally wasn’t doing more than driving.
Once arriving at our mansion (what else can I call it? Chateau is too grand. Castle has too much space. Maybe we call it an estate…); once arriving at the estate, I was spell bound by the simple beauty that a stone house set in the mountains of the Pyrenees could emit. It felt like we had emerged to any era or time. Sure the house had TV in the play room, a gorgeous pool, and stove top that would make an top Chef jealous. But it also had ancient, massive fireplaces in each room and huge wooden beams that looked like they were carved from trees older than the earth. Modern, sleek furniture and a vibe that this was modern house trapped in an historical novella.
We spent a glorious week by a pool in hotter than hell temperatures, when we weren’t making like tourists in tiny Parisian towns, filled with museums (nudes galore!), cafes, and flea markets to our heart’s content. I ate hard salami, cheese and drank rose until I was actually I’ll. And then got up the next day and did it again. Ohhhhhh, the salami.
It was heaven. Cara Lyn’s version of heaven. (minus being sans Roy).
But the really victory was getting back to America. And what a success story it was.
You see: when trying to leave 3 countries in same day becomes the “plan”, RETHINK IT IMMEDIATELY.
I had the bright idea to wake up at 4am, drive 2 hours from France to Spain, go directly to the airport to fly from Barcelona to London, and then London to California 2 hours later.
NO NO NO!!!
Thank god no one listened to me. Our host convinced us the REALLY smart thing to do was leave the morning before our flights, drive to Barcelona, sleep in a hotel by the airport and do the horrendous travel day as fresh and calm as possible. Bless Baby Jesus we followed her instructions as just the drive from the Pyrenees to Barcelona was one of the more stressful things I’ve ever taken on.
My question is: WHY DO THEY HAVE SO MANY TOLL BOOTHS ON THE FREEWAY!?!?!
If you can imagine me literally driving up to the machine, throwing any and all currency at the coin slot, and jamming through the gate regardless of needing to take a follow up ticket or slow down to the hollers of the attendant, that’s what happened.
When we arrived in Barcelona, we allowed ourselves one glorious afternoon and evening wandering the streets, eating gorgeous tapas, and finally shopping, before going back to our hotel where we spent a HORRENDOUS night trapped in deadly air-conditioning, forced to cover Eku in towels as we had NO blankets and no means to turn the air down.
My mom woke to me sobbing in the middle of the night after holding E for hours while she bawled from exhaustion. And my mom is NOT to be trifled with. She marched down to the reception the next morning, refused to pay for the room, and hauled E and I out to the airport without one more word (#bosslife).
It didn’t get too much better after that.
The last image I want to paint is being told that we couldn’t connect to our California flight once landed in London, without having to go through immigration, checking-in, and going back through through security to our flight in 1 hour and 30 minutes.
TEARS, SWEARING, and my mom going HEAD-To-HEAD with a security beast who eventually beat us and took our mini-tequila bottles for being over 4 ozs.(NOT TRUE- We needed that tequila to live!)Then, RUNNING AT FULL SPEED across Gatwick to make our flight, my mom squat low to get more leverage, and me tossing E around in the damned Ergo like a potato prepped to be mashed – No one was happy.
But when we finally got to the gate, I immediately started my insane laugh-cry, overwhelmed with relief that WE MADE IT. WE COULD GO HOME! Still, I couldn’t stop hysterically laughing, with tears streaming down my face, from the sheer madness of it all. I forgot that traveling is a bitch.
Then, we only had to wait 11 of the longest hours of our lives on that hideous flight, with a passed out baby on my chest, and no earphones to watch decade-old films (remember discount airlines) while we counted down the seconds. 11 hours = 39,600 seconds.
I will say that if I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t waste even one second to think about it. I know Eku won’t remember this trip, but my mom and I will never forget it. The memories we made together as 3 generations of Stuart-Baker-Giovanniello’s was the absolute best gift I’ve been given in a long time. It reminded me of how lucky I am and to SHUT THE FUCK UP with all the complaining and moaning.
God, even I get tired of hearing it.
So, here’s to new beginnings, no matter when you get them. Xxxx