lessons learned

Travel lessons I should have learned the first time we schlepped around Italy:

1. Train rides suck.  They make me feel like I drank all the vodka in Russia the night before, whether or not I consumed a drop of alcohol.  They are crowded, generally stinky (although after 6 months here, my tolerance for BO is now as high as a Russian's tolerance for vodka), and just altogether unpleasant.  Whose brilliant idea was it to plan a 9-hour train ride from Provence to Santa Margherita? 

2. Europe is not handicap-friendly.  And big, heavy suitcases are big-ass handicaps.  The same brilliant person who planned the 9-hour train ride thought it would be much easier to just lug one bigger suitcase (each) instead of having to juggle two smaller suitcases (each).  Maybe, until the 9-hour train ride included 4 stops, which meant five separate times Joey had to heave my 60-lb suitcase and his 60-lb suitcase down the staircase to the train platform, up into the train, down out of the train and back down one staircase and up another staircase to the next platform.  In 90-degree heat.  Oops.

Yeah, just because Aix-en-Provence is close to the French Riviera, and Santa Margherita is on the Italian Riviera does not mean you should take a train between them.  Maybe if you take a day in Nice.  Or maybe if a direct train overnight existed (it doesn't), it might be a tolerable trip.  But definitely don't do it the way we did.  By the time we left Aix-en-Provence and stopped in Nice, Ventimiglia and Genoa before arriving in Santa Margherita, we were completely and utterly exhausted.  And I didn't even carry the suitcases.  Which brings me to #3:

Pick one destination and stay there.  Going from A to B to C to D to E is expensive, it's exhausting, and by the end of the trip, it's just plain annoying.  Packing and unpacking and repacking your suitcase gets progressively harder, especially if you buy any sort of souvenir.  Particularly if you've been in Nigeria for six months and are struck, first numbly, and then overwhelmingly, by your innate, American consumerism that sat dormant during the last several months.  Trust me.  Go somewhere you can explore for a few days and from where you can easily explore a few other destinations for a few days.   A to B to A to C is infinitely easier.

Oh, and wearing high heels because your travel shoes are broken and you'll have slightly more room in your suitcase is beyond inane.  Who would be dumb enough to do that?