The Congers New Groove
What if instead of talking about everything that keeps breaking, we spend some time with what is going well on this journey? You know what's going really super well? DrC and I.
This wasn't true in Australia. In Australia, nothing broke. Nothing tried to kill us (which... you know... Australia...) was a bit of a surprise. We went where we wanted to go on the timeline we set for ourselves. We were able to find fuel when we needed it, stay at campgrounds with showers for $5/night, easily get DrC tests and meds, buy food we recognised and that didn't give us a hard out case of the shits. However, we fought. A lot.
Why? There are a lot of reasons why we might have been struggling with each other at the time. I think the primary source of our friction was a really simple problem of 'the elephant in the room.' Up to that point, DrC hadn't been responding well to any treatments and secretly we both believed it was the last trip we would ever take. For his part, he wanted to do everything, see everything, keep busy every single damn moment. On my side, I wanted to accommodate his wishes but it was flipping exhausting. It was like a marathon. Every town, every museum, every park, every hike, every overlook. And if we didn't keep every minute full of something, he got cranky and I got cranky and it sucked. Then Aeron arrived, made us stop sniping at each other, and after that it was all good.
Europe is totally different. This time it sometimes feels like nothing is going right except DrC and I. The van breaks. Repeatedly and dramatically. We can't find cooking fuel. The carrots are strangely intestine-challenging. There are no campgrounds we can afford and it is astonishingly difficult to do simple things like dump the poop cartridge or fill up on water. Getting DrC his tests isn't too bad but getting him his meds appears well nigh impossible short of literally flying one of our daughters from New Zealand once a month. And it is clear that at least the Italian drivers are trying to kill us. Yet, DrC and I are getting along like gangbusters.
Why? There are a lot of reasons why we might be enjoying a second honeymoon this time. I think the primary source of our spectacularly good mood is that DrC isn't trying to do everything anymore. I don't know how or why that changed between AU and EU, but it did. He is more resilient than I by far when things go pear shaped. He's relaxed. He's added 'just sit and do nothing' time into the schedule. He is doing virtually all of the planning on how to spend our time, and he routinely bakes into our days evening hours where we can read, watch videos, or read the news. If we don't manage to see everything, there is a que sera sera attitude that is ... relaxing. Refreshing. Sometimes annoying when I want to rant about missing Southern France.
DrC's case is that with a lot more to see here than Australia, you can see a lot of stuff in a half day and feel like you've accomplished a great deal. I'm sorry Australia... but fundamentally it's a bit repetitive and boring. This is similar to the mid-west, btw. Just a whole lot of nothing punctuated with towns all built in the past 100 years. Contrast that with Italy where every 50 km is a different medieval town on a hill. Now even those get repetitive after awhile but you can spend one day and change countries -- language, food, culture, style, drivers. Everything new. DrC's second theory is that we are just plan working out more. We walk and walk and walk. When we aren't walking we are riding our bikes. We each lost about 5 kg during the first 6 weeks. We are exercising so hard that just plain sitting and doing nothing in the late afternoon is enjoyable.
I like this new, post-kids, travelling Toast and Dean. We talk a lot (and to those who know DrC and are like... huh? What? You lie...I just say, he's talking). We spend time apart in museums, we spend time side by side not talking. We do what honeymooners do and we also simultaneously shop, do chores, cook, divide household labour, the way long time old couples do without argument or discussion. He calls me skinny and sexy. I smooch him in public. It's all very silly, very romantic in a 'traveling through Europe and taking selfies in the most romantic places possible' way.
Aeron, when you arrive, don't mess with our groove.
CURRENT: About 100k south of Florence, Italy
PLAN: Naples and Pompeii for a few days, then over to Brindisi to catch a ferry to Greece. Have to be at the Athens International Airport by 3 May to catch our flight to Cairo.
TIP OF THE WEEK
I don't know why it took us so long, but we stumbled on the Rick Steve's Audio Tours. These are free podcasts of several key locations in Europe that give you a quick primer. We have done several in Rome and two in Florence now and our only regret is we didn't start using these earlier. We're going to make a point now of finding such walking, audio tours for all the cities we plan to visit. They really enhance your experience and (DrC's words) make it more efficient to get to all the key highlights of a city, museum, or other site.