I am extremely grateful that I am a better traveler than I used to be, or the last five days would have caused me to melt down.

1. A Series of Unfortunate Flights

All was well on my flight from San Diego to New York. But there, we sat on the tarmac for 4 hours due to weather issues. Sigh. That made me late for my flight from London to Pisa, so I got rerouted through Munich. Had to speed through London to catch my flight. A representative assured me that I didn’t need to worry about my baggage, that it would reach me in Pisa (cue ominous foreshadowing).

Once in Munich, I was again rushed. I entered a tiny security area (silly, since I was just off of a flight) where two employees were lazing around with nothing to do. Oh no. You have a full water bottle. You’ll have to take care of that. I looked around for somewhere to dump the water. We don’t have anything. You’ll have to drink it.

The Germans watched me smugly as I downed a huge amount of (very cold) water. I already had to pee, but knew there wouldn’t be time. Eff the Germans.

I rushed down to where they’d directed me to wait for the bus to take me to the appropriate terminal. The door was locked. No sign. No person. I rushed back to security and explained. He looked at me like I was an American idiot. You must wait. Someone will come.

How was I supposed to know that??

I make it to the gate. The flight is delayed. Naturlich.

I catch a man across the row from me staring. Hard. By this point I felt pretty disgusting, after something like 24 hours of travel. I was annoyed.

Turned out that man was the silver lining to the journey. We talked throughout the flight (once I warmed up and dismissed my nasty mood). We actually went on a date in Pisa the next day!

2. Dude, Where’s My Bag?

We arrive in Pisa. I had a sinking feeling when I watched the luggage carousel go ’round and ’round…my bag wasn’t there. Ahhhh! My new Italian friend accompanied me to the Lost Luggage office, but they spoke English. They assured me that they would forward the bag to me in Sardinia.

Okay…not much I could do about it.

The next morning I went out and bought clothes and a jacket (I was freezing in my San Diego apparel, and was cursing the fact that I didn’t pack my jacket in my carryon). Must look and smell fresh for my Italian date!

Once I arrived in Sardinia, I waited…and waited…and waited 5 days for my #%$! bag. As I write this, it is due to arrive within the hour. You can’t imagine how excited I am to have fresh clothes after wearing the same ones for 5 days!

3. Driving Me Crazy

Once I arrived in Cagliari, Sardinia, I proceeded to the car rental agency. Naturally, the company I rented from had the longest line. After 40 minutes (entertained, meanwhile, by texting the Italian), I find out that they can’t rent to me because the issue date on my driver’s license is four months old. I need one that is one year ago or more.

“But,” I sputter, “I’ve been driving for 25 years!”

“I believe you,” the pert young employee said, in that way that meant she didn’t really care, “but it’s company policy.”

#%%$#@$!#%*%

Now what?

I cross over to another rental company. The original rate would have been $55 for 4 days. Now I have to pay $200. Whatever. I’m tired and cranky. And it’s night and raining. Just give me the car.

I’d asked for the smallest car possible (I knew from past experience driving in Europe that a large car is a major headache), but the only one available that was automatic was a ginormous Ford SUV. I’m sure the woman thought she was doing this American a favor, giving her a typical large car. But no.

The distance to the agriturismo where I would be staying for 4 days wasn’t that long, but the winding roads and speed limits meant it took over an hour, especially with low visibility and rain.

Finally, I arrived. The owner waved me through a brick archway to park.

AGGGGGGG!

I hit the brick wall with my frickin’ huge SUV. Faaaaaack.

I apologized profusely. He told me not to worry. The important thing was that the car was okay (miraculously).

I shook off the stress of the day with a lovely meal with the owners of the agriturismo, complete with wine and conversation in Italian.

The rest of the trip (so far; I leave Sardinia tomorrow and head home in 3 days) was fairly uneventful, at least in comparison. I patiently washed my two sets of clothing and dried them, though the smell of travel and sweat hasn’t completely left them. I drove and drove all over southwestern Sardinia in rain, up muddy roads, and around twisting mountains.  Oh, which reminds me of another story:

4. Between a Rock and a Hard Place

I’d been relying on the stupid car’s navigation system, and it had done me well, for the most part. But then I found myself turning down a narrow street and stopping between two houses because the vehicle wouldn’t fit. This was at an apex of three streets. I started to slowly back up to turn around. A man was arriving home from work and came over to talk to me.

He said something rapidly. I asked if he spoke English. No. Okay, well, speak slowly. He explained that the street I was trying to turn into got narrow, so that wouldn’t work. He told me to turn around. Then left. Great.

After five minutes, his wife came out and had pity on me. She directed me for 10 minutes, calling out to “gira” (turn) the wheel one way or another until finally I was set free. I laughed all the way down the hill. It was stressful, sure, but I loved the fact that this woman — I can’t imagine what she must have thought of this stupid American — bothered to help me. She probably laughed longer.

It’s ridiculous how many situations I’ve found myself in on this trip. But you know what? They only make it more memorable.