An Unforgettable Trip | For All the Wrong Reasons
Two years ago, we started planning “the 2020 trip”. It had a nice ring to it. 2020 was supposed to be our magical year. Stacy and I would both be 50 and celebrating 25 years of marriage. It would be a combination trip to celebrate both our birthdays and our milestone anniversary. We quickly narrowed our destination to Europe and started the planning process. In addition, we knew this trip was meant to be when our oldest, Hayley, applied to study abroad in Florence, Italy for her Spring 2020 semester.
Everything was set. We would meet Hayley in Paris during her spring break. Then we would go to Monte Carlo and she would go back to school in Florence. The following week, we would meet her in Florence and spend more time together. Lastly, we would move on to Venice and Rome before heading home. Every possible moment of our two-week trip had been planned and re-planned over 50 times. The one thing we had not planned for was our uninvited guest, COVID 19.
The angst and anxiety started the week before our trip as cases of COVID 19 started multiplying in Milan and the Lombardi region. We contemplated not going, but finally settled on going simply because Hayley was there and if anything went wrong, we would be there to help her pack up and come home. Besides, what could go wrong. We departed for Paris on the afternoon of 2/26.
Once there, our trip soured quickly. On our second day, Hayley’s study abroad program got cancelled and all the American students were told to pack-up and leave. Hayley was with us in Paris, but all of her belongings were back in Florence. Tours and sightseeing quickly turned into hours and hours spent on the phone rearranging and cancelling hotels, planes, tours, and reservations. Hayley went back to Florence to pack her apartment and would meet us in Monte Carlo where we would try and salvage a small bit of our trip (no longer the 2020 trip) and make plans to safely return home.
Once in Monte Carlo, we realized that no one in Europe seemed to be too concerned about the virus. Our travel agent was shocked that we were cancelling the Florence, Venice, and Rome leg of our trip and suggested Spain as a safe destination because it was “coronavirus free.” Again, I repeat, what could go wrong. Barcelona and Madrid were pleasant for a few days even though the chatter of the virus kept getting louder and louder.
It finally reached a tipping point on our last day when the President announced the travel ban. That meant more hours on the phone trying to confirm flights and reservations. To top it off, I was randomly selected for further screening, so we were not able to check in to our flight via the mobile app. That meant 4 extra hours at the Madrid airport. To make matters worse, our flight home was going through NY. We were hearing horror stories of the chaos at the airport and wondered if we’d ever get home or if we’d be quarantined in NY for 14 days. Much to our surprise, there was no chaos in NY. Just a few questions and quickly being ushered through security and customs.
All that said, we managed to get home the evening of 3/12 where we immediately started our own 14-day quarantine. The “2020 trip” had been a disaster. It was a huge helping of anxiety, fear, and frustration with a side order of some laughs and a few memorable moments. It was definitely a trip we will never forget; all be it for the wrong reasons. All that said, I’m certain we will see Florence, Venice, and Rome someday. Who knows, maybe “The 2025 Redo Trip”