Whether you are headed that direction or not
27.07.2011 - 04.08.2011
I don't know why I was so nervous about traveling to Europe alone, but I was. Many years ago I worked for a mortgage company in Houston and one of my responsibilities was to organize and book travel for the company. I booked travel for my family of four for years, and we traveled a lot. I even took each one of my children to Europe, just the two of us. Ashley in 2008 and Clay in 2010. But this trip, alone, made me nervous. I think it was because it happened quickly. Usually my German-ness keeps me organized and operating with few missteps. But I only had a few days to organize it all, and I wasn't feeling prepared.
Even so, everything was going smoothly. I had found my son and his girlfriend in Rome and we spent two wonderful days together. The morning I was leaving Rome I was a little concerned about the trains. I'd been on trains in Europe many times, but always with someone else telling me where to go and when to be there. Never alone. I checked out of my hotel in Rome. It was the Hotel Forum. Quaint, really nice and some rooms have a gorgeous view of....The Forum. I made arrangements to meet Clay and Alesia outside the Rome train station, which is huge. Unfortunately they thought I was meeting them outside their hotel. And their phones were off to save money. So I waited for 30 minutes and then, sniffling a bit, walked into the train station to figure it out myself. Happily they showed up at the last minute, showed me what to do, lead me to my seat and with many hugs, said goodbye. They were headed to Paris the next day.
I was so happy. I knew I didn't get off the train until Venice, so what could go wrong? I've learned NEVER To ask that. The train left the station and then a moment of mini-panic hit me. Here I was headed into the Italian countryside, on a train full of people speaking nothing but Italian (I do not). I mustered up my courage and was fine momentarily. Then it hit me. Five minutes into the trip it hit me like a ton of bricks. MY PASSPORT! The woman who checked me out of the Forum Hotel didn't give me back my passport.
So now I was on a train headed into the Italian countryside, on a train full of people speaking nothing but Italian, with no passport and no phone service for four hours.