Getting There is Rarely Fun

Somewhere along the way I must have pissed off the gods of travel because it has been quite a while since I’ve had a smooth travel day. Even my last short trip, a visit to see my family in Florida resulted in a misplaced piece of luggage.

This time, however, might take the cake. My flight was suppose to go from Cville to Philly to Frankfurt to Florence with just enough time between each stop (just over 2 hours) to allow me to stroll through each airport without missing my connections. I’d even have time to grab dinner at Chickie & Pete’s in the Philly airport. Right from the start my travel day went right down the toilet.

The bad weather in Charlotte meant that the crew for my Cville flight wouldn’t be arriving until well after I missed my connection in Philly. So I had two options: wait for a much later flight in Cville and hop a connection in Philly to London to Milan and then a train from Milan to Florence which would put me in Florence at 11pm on Sunday night or take a cab to DC and hop a flight to Paris in hopes of reaching Florence by 9pm on Sunday. Neither option was that great, so I went with the DC one so I’d avoid having to take a train on a Sunday (I wasn’t sure what time the trains stopped running on a Sunday).

So I made my way via cab (at U.S. Airway’s expense, thanks guys) to DC and that was thankfully uneventful, as was boarding the plane (now an Air France flight which means no miles for me, thanks guys) even though it was done in the most chaotic fashion I’ve ever seen. What didn’t go smoothly was the three hour delay on the tarmac because of an electrical failure. Oh, who doesn’t love to hear the phrase “electrical failure” on a trans-Atlantic flight? Especially when they tell you “We’re having an electrical problem with piloting system.” There’s such thing as too much honesty sometimes.

Thankfully our plane remained electrically intact for the remainder of the flight. I arrived in Paris with enough time to jump on an earlier flight to Florence, but sadly my luggage did not. It apparently enjoyed the CDG airport so much it decided to extend its stay by a day which has been a pain for me. After some freaking out (and a long discussion with myself about what really should go in a carry-on. Clothes & toiletries, less books), I realized my luggage would eventually get here, and going to school in a Mickey Mouse shirt was not the end of the world. My landlord was even nice enough to pick up some toiletries for me so that I could feel human again.

After my minor freak out, I went for a walk around my neighborhood and discovered it is absolutely lovely. Close enough to the center of the city to walk everywhere, but far enough away to avoid the crowds of tourists. I found a small bar, had a big glass of wine & enjoyed the free buffet that comes with happy hour here.

On the walk home I treated myself to a big cone of gelato. The journey here may have sucked, but just being here for an hour made the trip worth it already.

Here I Go Again

It’s been a long time since I’ve written here, but it’s been a busy year. A lot has happened in the last 10 months that have kept me busy and away from the blogging world.

First off, I’m officially Wandering Bean, ABD (All But Dissertation). The big event in the Fall of 2012 was studying for my PhD comprehensive exams, and subsequently passing them! It was exhausting, tear inducing and an experience I never have to go through every again.

This also means that I’ve started the dissertation writing phase of my career, and ohgoodness, is it way harder than I ever anticipated. It’s just so much bigger than I could have ever pictured. It’s also oddly enjoyable since I get to do two of my favorite things-reading and writing. And it’s a very good thing that I like reading and writing because dissertating means you do both of those things. A lot. All the time.

I also got to teach my own course for my university for the first time. It was a course on travel literature, and it was a really fantastic experience. I am anxiety disorder ridden and when I first started teaching, couldn’t even think of entering a classroom without medication. It is now second nature to me, and that never fails to surprise me.

I did a bunch of traveling as well with several trips to Florida to visit family, and a trip to Napa Valley to celebrate my birthday in March. I could happily live in either state.

Finally, I received two grants from my university for study and research so I’m going to be spending the next few months living in Florence, Italy and Moscow, Russia for my dissertation research. In fact, I leave in 12 days, which is shocking, overwhelming and scary. I have a ton to do before I leave. I’m really excited that I get to spend extended time in each place.