It’s the final week of this experiment, but I’m starting to realise it no longer feels like an experiment, one with a hard end date. Technically, next Sunday (or, if we’re counting all of January, next Wednesday) I can have a drink. Technically, I can go on all the dates my heart desires… though truth be told, it’s not like I’m getting offers for dates left and right. Dating, for me, has always felt like a “when it rains it pours” scenario, because I either go through long spells of no romantic encounters or periods of time when multiple people seem to be interested.
Tongue in Cheek
I drank again last night. A lot.
After exploring Camogli yesterday, I took the train a few stops to Nervi, which is just as devastatingly beautiful as you’d expect from a small fishing village on the Italian Riviera. It was very quiet, but I walked along the promenade, took lots of photos, and then tried to find a restaurant that was willing to serve me pizza at 4pm, an unusual time to eat in Italy. I found one that overlooked the sea, and I spent the rest of the afternoon eating four cheese pizza, drinking a lightly sparkling white wine that’s famous in Liguria, and feeling on top of the world. Honestly, I didn’t expect to fall in love with Italy as much as I have in the past three years – it’s an unusual feeling, to want to keep returning to one country instead of exploring somewhere new. I love Italy for its culture, for its food, for its brightly coloured villages that jut up from the water, for its whitewashed stone buildings that appear on mountaintops. I love that, whenever I go into a restaurant, it is filled with people laughing and greeting each other, a beautiful cacophony. I love how much the small things in life seem to be appreciated in Italy – the perfect espresso, the smell of a lemon, the double kiss on the cheek, the way the wine sounds as it pours out of the bottle.
Oh yeah, and did I ever tell you about the Italian guy?
I wake up with one of the worst hangovers I can remember having. No, wait a second, I had an equally bad hangover in the Netherlands in November, when I spent an entire evening drinking sugary cocktails and shots of bourbon. And… yeah, scratch that, because I woke up the day after Boxing Day with a splitting headache, too, a result of a night of beer pong and margaritas that were purely tequila and a few squeezes of lime. Shit.
I’m pretty sure the first step of realising you’re addicted to something is denying that you have a problem, but, despite the three stories I just told you, I am not addicted to alcohol. I don’t drink every day. I (again, despite those three stories) rarely drink to excess or to “get drunk”. There is no alcoholism in my family. I’ve never “blacked out” or not been able to remember what I’ve done while drinking. Other than my birthday last year, when I drank sparkling wine with breakfast, the thought of drinking in the morning or on an empty stomach makes me want to hurl. I’d say I drink the average amount for a 30-something in London: a couple of glasses of wine with dinner a few times a week, and maybe a night or two in the pub where I have a few beers or spirits.
But oh, how I love alcohol. I really do. So why am I giving it up for January?
A few months ago, when I was in Mallorca, I wrote a post called “Nine Mistakes to Make as a Traveller”. In that post, I wrote about things like trusting strangers and getting lost and how those “mistakes” could actually be really good, valuable, fun things to do.
But the travel mistake I keep making wasn’t on that list. And I made the mistake – again, and for the hundredth time – just this last weekend in Paris.
“Whatever could it be?!” I’m sure you’re all quivering with anticipation. Well, I hate to break it to you, but the travel mistake I keep making is actually one that I’m sure many people don’t make at all, if they are smart, resourceful, responsible travellers.
A couple of months ago, I re-watched the classic comedy Airplane!. I hadn’t seen it in years, but found myself laughing out loud at all of the silly jokes, the ridiculous puns, the over-the-top acting. For those who haven’t seen it (if not, I suggest you do), it depicts the plane ride from hell, one on which nearly everyone, including the pilots, becomes horribly ill. Comedy, and near disaster, ensues.
It got me thinking of all the times I’ve experienced something awful on an airplane. Put people in a confined space for hours on end and something weird is bound to happen. Add to that travel stress, uncomfortable seats, terrible food*, and, for some, a fear of flying, and you have a recipe for trouble.
There’s an incredible mix of emotions we get right before we set forth on a new adventure: excitement, anxiety, anticipation. The beauty in travel is that we never really know what’s going to happen once we arrive in an unfamiliar place.
Except for these things. These ten things will definitely happen.