Friday, April 25, 2008

My Worst Trip: Part Three

This is Part Three of a three-part story. 
Part one is here.  And Part Two is here.  
In the last post:  I'd gotten the flu but decided to make the trip from Rome to Florence anyway. On the train, I got sicker and sicker...

I was ill the entire trip and spent much of it in the bathroom. Lovely.

It only took us 1.5 hours to get to Florence. As we approached the station, I headed back to the luggage racks for my bag. My huge black suitcase was gone – along with all of my clothes, my shoes, my makeup, my books, my computer cables, my converter… everything. It was all gone.

I searched the entire train. It was not there.

There are two possibilities: someone followed me on the train and took it off just as the train was leaving in Rome or someone moved it to another car and then disembarked in Florence with it.

Either way, I had nothing. Just my passport, my wallet, my computer, and a book. My 5 year journal was gone. My contact lenses were gone. My work. Books about Austria and Rome and Florence. All kinds of stuff that would be of NO USE to anyone else. I hope whoever took it likes to travel. Bastard.

I talked with the police and filed a report with the train company. But they all seemed unsurprised; they all just shook their heads and complained about the “immigrants.”

I wish I had a lovely, tidy conclusion to this story, but I don’t. I never saw any of my stuff again. I didn’t get any of the work done that I needed to do on that trip. But I will say this: I came home a smarter traveler.

Tips from My Worst Trip:

1. Avoid traveling when you are sick. Mrs. Overbearing was clearly sick. She never should have been on that plane. I was really sick – and not at my best. I should not have gotten on that train. Not only did I risk infecting all of those other people, but I also was not able to look out for my own personal safety.  Thankfully I was only robbed.  

2. Eurostar tickets -- and other travel plans -- can be changed. I was too sick to think to make the inquiries, but I could have changed those tickets and stayed in Rome another day or two.

3. Watch your baggage. This is true everywhere. This could have happened to me anywhere. But someone else is wearing all of my cute clothes because I didn’t watch my bag carefully.

4. Get travel insurance. Lost luggage. Stolen property. It is a lot cheaper than replacing your stuff if it goes missing.  

Sometimes in a foreign country we forget our common sense.  I would never have left home if I'd been that sick here.  And I certainly would not have gotten on a train to travel across the country.  But feeling the pressure of time and itinerary and feeling so out of sorts, I did not change my plans.  And I think that's the greatest lesson learned.  I could have found another pensione -- and changing hotel rooms would have served me well.  

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