I must be overdue for some bad karma. Like, really, badly overdue.
We arrived here to Ibiza at 1:00 a.m., and don’t depart until 1:00 p.m. tomorrow, an agenda perfectly crafted for enjoying the city’s nightlife well into the early morning hours, and come daytime, sunbathing upon its sandy beaches as the most ideal hangover cure. It’s currently 2 a.m., but instead of taking the party island by storm according to schedule, here I sit in the cabin, in bed, my foot swollen, elevated and sitting under a bag of ice.
Ron and I were excited to leave for our nine-day Mediterranean cruise. Rome, Nice, Valencia, Ibiza, Tunis, Catania, Naples… The cruise itself was to leave out of the port in Livorno, Italy, so Ron and I would fly out of Malta to Pisa a day before our cruise was to leave and spend the day.
It all began before we even left Malta.
If you were laying out, enjoying the Malta weather, it was gorgeous—The sun’s rays glistening on the bay waters at the strand, its heat warm on your skin. But if you were scrambling to run last minute errands before rushing to catch a bus to the airport, it was just too hot—The sun’s rays beating down annoyingly, its glare deepening the furrow of your brows, its heat producing the pungent smells and unwanted moisture of your neighbors armpit resting on your forearm for the duration of the overly packed bus ride.
All the times I’ve traveled since I’d been at Malta, I always just packed bare necessities into one carry-on backpack – I never checked any bags in order to save money and avoid RyanAir’s manipulative charging schemes. But for this trip, Ron and I paid the extra 20-something Euro each to check an extra bag. I got a little too excited with this newfound packing freedom I’d never before been allowed, and packed a little too much.
“You’re over the weight limit.” Words you never want to hear after you place your bag on the scale at the check-in desk. So I pulled my bag down to the floor to re-pack and re-strategize, and started moving random socks and shirts from my suitcase to my carry-on purse to adjust for the 2 kilos that I was over.
“You should hurry, your gate is about to close,” said the lady at the check-in desk, peering over her computer at the hot mess that was me and that I’d made of my suitcase.
Whatever, fine, you win RyanAir. “How much will the excess weight cost me?”
“20 Euro per kilo.”
Have I ever mentioned the fact that I hate RyanAir?
50 bucks poorer, I sprinted with Ron to our gate. I was supposed to get more cash out at the ATM beforehand, but I told myself I’d have to do it later, there was no time.
We finally made it on the flight. After a stressful day of traveling for roughly 12 hours after flights + layovers, we arrived to our hostel room in Pisa at about midnight.
Fast forward to the next day.
We were at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, excited to take our cheesy tourist pictures, the first ones of our trip. Ron snapped a few of me, and when I went to go view the picture to see how it turned out, “This card cannot be used,” was displayed across the screen.
Rewind to a week before.
Our first stop of the cruise is ROME! I decide to sit down to plan out our entire itinerary for that day (instead of researching for my class assignment). I usually don’t like to plan everything down to the last detail like this – it’s not really my style. But with only five hours to spend in the world-renowned ancient city, there was just too much to see to not be strategic about it. After further research, I came across good news and bad news. Bad news – we’d be there on a Sunday, meaning all the city’s museums (Vatican museum, Sistine Chapel, etc.) would be closed. Good news – we’d be there on Easter. Easter Sunday service at St. Peter’s Basilica? How once-in-lifetime is that?? I could see it now – sun shining, blue skies, a packed St. Peter’s Square adorned and guarded by ancient statues of saints blessed by the Pope himself, and me in the midst of it all. My mother would love a picture of that, her daughter in the Vatican City during one of the most celebrated Catholic holidays of the year.
Fast forward to the day of.
A shuttle bus took us from where our cruise ship was docked to the entrance of the port. Exiting the bus, everyone was scurrying off to meet their tour guides for pre-planned (way overpriced) Rome excursions offered by our cruise line. Diverging from the crowd, clutching my little beat up notebook whose pages held our detailed schedule I’d formulated a week prior, I was feeling proud of my proactivity that would lend to our money-saving option. Plus, the independence that went along with roaming the streets alone with my boyfriend seemed much more appealing than doing so in the company of a group of screaming children and Hawaiian shirt-clad old couples, being herded like sheep by a loud little lady waving an umbrella in the air. And those, “Hello my name is…” stickers? Might as well put a target on our backs for pick-pocketers. No thanks.
But when we failed to find the bus stop where our journey was to begin and I asked a local for help, he informed me that buses weren’t running due to the holiday. Crap.
We were forced to divert from the original plan of taking the buses + metro for one 4 Euro ticket that would allow us all day access to either, and instead take the 4.50 one-way train ride to the city. When I went to my purse to get cash to pay, and realized I only had 10 Euro left. Then I remembered that I wasn’t able to get cash out when I’d meant to due to our rushed Malta airport experience. So after buying a one-way train ticket for Ron and I to get to the city, I had 1 Euro to spare for the entire trip unless we saw an ATM before then.
Fast forward two hours.
The schedule I’d planned for us, after changing transportation modes from bus + metro to train +walking, was rendered completely irrelevant. We now had just under three hours to to do the entire city, cut down from a little over five. And the walking was going to slow us down even more so unless we seriously booked it.
My injured left foot was feeling a lot better thanks to lots of icing and elevating. But I was being extra careful with it – we had too much way too much to see, way too much walking to do for me to jeopardize it all with a bum foot. Re-hurting it would probably be the worse thing that could happen to us at that point.
So I thought.
We had just seen the colosseum, and were headed in the direction of the Roman Forum. We were flying, weaving in and out of the crowds. We were going at a good, steady fast-paced walking speed. I hopped from cobble stone to cobble stone, all the while being extra careful to place my left foot to the center, most sturdy area of each stone.
We were making amazing time! I remember thinking, hey maybe we’ll be able to do more than I thought we would…maybe go up to the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona…maybe even make a wish at the Trevi Fountain! I’ve always wanted to do that! I think I saw it in a movie, I think it might have been the Lizzie McGuire movie. Haha, how embarrassing, but I’m pretty sure I loved that movie…And knew every song…where the hell has Hilary Duff gone? God she sucks at singing…and acting…I wonder why she’s even famous…What about Gordo! GORDO! Forgot all about him! I think I low-key had a crush on him, and his nerd appeal, and curly brown hair…
Somewhere around there, it happened. I don’t remember how exactly, I thought I was being so careful. But either my left foot found a slippery stone, or my right foot lagged due to my lack of regard for it, because seconds later, I found myself on the ground, in the dirt, wailing and crying there in the middle of the famous Via Sacra, clutching my twisted right ankle that rapidly began to swell to the size of a baseball.
And then sh*t just got real stressful.
I was pissed, I was frustrated. Now I was left with two bum feet. How am I supposed to keep up now? Or walk at all? And my entire ass and left leg was covered in dirt.
I was in a terrible mood, and Ron was too. It’s not that we were mad at each other, we were both just frustrated at this downright awful situation that was nobody’s fault.
With time seeming to fly by way too quickly at that point, I tried to suck it up and walked as fast as I could to the remaining sites we had left to see, hobbling on two bad feet. But every five minutes I found myself having to pause for a break. My right foot was throbbing. And my left foot was beginning to hurt from being forced to work harder, supporting the disproportionate weight I subjected it to with the limp of my stride.
So long story short, after making our way around as much of the city as possible, missing our train, and nearly missing our cruise ship embarkation time (now that would have made things interesting), we made it back to the ship in one piece.
We actually got to see a lot in Rome, though we never made it to St. Peter’s Basilica. Oh well. The next day we stopped in Nice, France, but both of my feet were so swollen and hurting that there was no way I was going to get off. I could barely walk at all. But Ron did manage to take some gorgeous pictures of the coast. Our next stop was Valencia, and I refused to miss out on another one of our destinations. But our speed was a snail’s pace, as I continued to have to stop every couple of minutes as a result of the pain in my feet. We didn’t make it to everything we’d planned to see, but we go to see some of the city.
Next stop, Ibiza. Where we are now. Now it’s 3 a.m., and Ron is out exploring the city. I told him to take lots of pictures for me (as many as the camera would allow before crapping out like it does so often). Due to my stubbornness and unwillingness to miss Valencia, the day of walking put me back and I can barely walk again, so that’s the only way I’ll get a glimpse of Ibiza for myself.
I like how when I try to make things easier on myself, things tend to back fire. I don’t think I’ve had this many issues or run into as many problems during my city hopping travels, flying from place to place on RyanAir or via train, and relying on often extremely unreliable public transportation. I booked this cruise thinking it would take much of the planning efforts (thus, stress) out of the equation for us. I just wanted Ron to have a good experience traveling to Europe for his first time ever, I wanted him to see as much as possible. I wanted him to have that feeling of speechlessness, seeing pieces of the world that he’s never seen before. I wanted him to experience that feeling of absolute awe, that “Is this real life???”-feeling. I wanted everything to turn out perfectly.
But all these things are happening, and I’m setting us back, and we’re missing out. I’m trying not to blame myself, but seriously, who the hell hurts both their feet the first day of a 8-day vacation FULL OF WALKING?!
Wahhh wah wah, boo hoo for me, right? So this trip didn’t really kick off as I’d envisioned it to, but when does life ever work out perfectly like that. Trying to stay positive and just chill out. Ha, get it? Icing my ankle?…chill…out?…yeah.