Alps to Avignon – 2017

My journey from Susa to Avignon was the most eventful trip of the entire trip, and resulted in the very first BAD mood (not just cranky, but BAD). I was *very* excited about passing through the mountains and finally getting myself to the South of France. Turin, while I had enjoyed it, had been stressful (surprising lack of internet) and just stress of my own creating (I imagined my hotel had bedbugs. It did not.) I was ready to get to France, but also sad to be leaving Italy. I felt 100% more comfortable in the northern half of Italy than I had in Rome and Naples.

Leaving Turin that morning was a hassle. It was not a long walk to the train station, but it was pouring rain. I super dislike getting wet in clothing, plus the added difficulty of having glasses. Google also decided to be difficult, and told me to take turns down road that had tall fences that stopped pedestrians from crossing them. Finally arriving at the Porta Susa train station, I hurried in search of the standard train station bar to grab my last delightful Italian macchiato and cornetto con crema. The bar was completely overwhelmed by people, and the line went on and on and on and on. I hate lines, and I hate waiting and I wanted to find my platform instead of wait. So I had my very first vending machine coffee, but you’ll be pleased to note that Italian coffee vending machines are far superior to their counterparts in the US.

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I was training from Torino to Lyon, then Lyon to Avignon. I was scheduled about a 40 minute wait at the station in Lyon, which was a healthy wait for a train, plenty of time to find your platform (unless you’re at the Bologna train station, sheesh). From the get go though, the train was late, projected to arrive five minutes after my train to Avignon left. Enter super stressed out Charlotte for like the entire ride. I did enjoy the scenery, but nowhere near as much as I should have.

When I arrived in Lyon, I was the first person off the train, and like jumped off the train before it stopped moving. Amazingly, there was a train-man (what’s the technical name…brain fart) and he yelled at me “AVIGNON?!” and I screamed back, “OUI!” He hollered at me that the train was on Platform 8 and that I should go! So I went, and thankfully it was not far. Upon reaching Platform 8 there was another trainman who asked if I was the passenger from Turin to Avignon and I said yes, and the second my feet were on the train it began moving. I collapsed in my seat so happy to have made it with all of my stuff in tow.

It was raining in Avignon as well. I was staying in an hotel for one night before my airbnb was available (and I wish I had stayed there the entire time. It was affordable and the breakfast was delicious, and there were people that I could have said hi to every day instead of dwelling in my solitude. And the internet worked! But I didn’t know yet that this would be an issue, haha). A very sodden and travel-weary Charlotte made her way to the hotel.

Regardless of the bad weather and the rain, I was immediately charmed by Avignon, I adored it. After getting some dinner in my belly (because remember, I didn’t get lunch b/c of the train mishap, nor did I have breakfast b/c of the bar wait) the crankiness wore away. I was in Avignon, in the south of France, where I had always wanted to go. The internet worked at the hotel, and I was again reconnected with the the world. I called my dad and sister and enjoyed my kebab (probably my favorite travel food) and watched some crappy tv.

The next morning I awoke hoping to find sun, but was displeased. It was again pouring wet, but I wanted to explore. So I did after a charming house-made breakfast with homemade jam. I had fun eavesdropping on the other guests’ conversation and practicing my French. The innkeeper man said my comprehension was superb. I, since the weather was so gross, essentially had Avignon to myself. There’s something beautiful about a rainy city, so I tried to appreciate it for what it was, which was shockingly beautiful and perfect.

 

I met up with my AirBnB which was charming. It was a cute little apartment on the top floor of a 17th-century building. At first I was quite pleased, but by the end of the day, I was kind of frustrated, as the internet had completely stopped working. Curse of the internet. It started in Torino and followed me for the rest of the trip.

But! The sun returned by the end of the day, and, in retrospect, beautiful, beautiful Provence, with all of its blooms and bites, made up for the lack of interwebs.

From the Archive: It’s Time to Go

My suitcase has been packed – I’m still not sure how one carry-on for six weeks is going to work, but here it goes.

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This is it. All I’m taking to Europe for Eurotrip2016 – Traveling REAL light. I managed to fit 5 pairs of pants, 10 tops, pajamas, underwear, socks, a pair of shoes, a jacket, a sweater, a scarf, and toiletries into the suitcase! Color me impressed. 

My kindle is fully loaded with trash historical novels, cheesy romances, and the trio of Harry Potter short stories released recently.

My ipad is full of articles and music.

My house is cleanish and ready for Livia (and her babysitters) to enjoy while I am away.

I feel ready to, but also very reluctant to leave.

Leaving home has not always been hard for me. Growing up, I think I was just always so excited for the next adventure and I COULDN’T WAIT for the next best thing. My mother was forever telling me I was going to wish my life away in counting down to the adventure. I’m not sure when it happened, but that’s not a thing I do anymore…far from it. I think as I have gotten older, my anxiety has managed to remove the OMG I CAN HARDLY WAIT approach of my youth…there are too many things I worry about instead. Often, before getting ready to leave on a trip of any duration, I think to myself, “I’ve created a comfortable space that I enjoy, with my wonderful bed, and my sweet, snuggly, sometimes-persnickety feline. WHY would I want to leave?”

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Yes she looks more evil here than snuggly, but she’s my 9lb ball of evil. 

But then I remember an undeniable truth: that I do like traveling. I love experiencing new places, new smells, new sights and a little time away from home is a small price to pay for some great life experiences. Even more remarkable, I’ve managed to turn this love of art and culture into a burgeoning career ( and here’s to hoping that I actually get a job out of this down the road :-P)!

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A feline who cares nothing for your trivial complaints about not having enough personal space.

So the past week or so has been a strange combination of emotions. One second I glimpse that younger version of myself, brimming with excitement and ready to go. Two minutes later, Livia does something cute and I’m cursing myself for planning a trip that lasts so long. Back and forth, back and forth. It’s exhausting.

I AM excited. FRANCE. ENGLAND. ITALY. and CROATIA. It will be a trip of a lifetime.

Tuesday, I fly to my parents’ house (where my mom is making my FAVORITE dinner). Wednesday I fly to France where I will arrive in PARIS early Thursday morning.