Before departing for Europe, I spent weeks bracing myself for traveling with my parents.
After an 8-hour flight, a 1-hour layover in Frankfurt, and another 3-hour flight, we arrived in Venice. My elation at finally being able to get the hell away from the 500 crying babies were quickly abolished by my parents’ faces. They were gearing up for crazy.
Upon stepping into the airport, they were on a mission and they were determined to take the most stressful, and longest route in order to accomplish it.
We had four goals before we could start our vacation, in no particular order:
- find an ATM
- call the guy for keys to the apartment
- buy a bus/boat pass
- get bathroom tokens
The bus/boat pass was obtained easily enough—and when I mean easily, I’m saying an hour’s worth of wandering in the airport, asking the information desk, going outside to try out an automatic machine (why this would work when we don’t speak Italian is lost to me), and then going back to purchase the tickets at the information desk.
Only then were we able to start heading towards Venice via a 30-minute bus ride.
buy a bus/boat pass: accomplished. Time taken: .5 hours.
While they were buying the bus/boat pass, they were also trying to figure out how we were going to call the guy. But, mistakenly (?), they decided to think about that after getting the passes and arriving at the city.
So, 30 minutes later, tired, hungry, and cranky, we arrived at what seemed like a giant ticket booth entrance to the city.
“Ok. Here, we’re going to get bathroom tokens,” my mom stated, like an army general. “After that, we need to figure out how to call the guy.”
They took care of the bathroom tokens while my brother and I sat there, sweaty, and dehydrated. This was a mistake.
bathroom tokens: accomplished. Time taken: .5 hours
My parents are the type of people who get visibly and verbally upset when they feel frantic and others don’t. They are under the impression that four frantic people are better than two frantic and two calm people, whereas I believe at least one person should stay sane. So when it came time to find any phone we could use to call the guy and they saw us walking around calmly, even the fact that we were all in Venice couldn’t pacify them.
“Kids! We are a team here! Why can’t you help us right now?” my mom asked, shrilly. I swear, we were walking out of an information office as she said that.
We found a pay phone and learned that US credit cards don’t work the pay phone, so we traipsed over to the other side of the street to try and use a bar phone, which couldn’t be done either.
By this time, we had walked about 5 miles in the 1-mile-radius area, the only thing accomplished was getting even hungrier—damn cheap airlines—hotter, and more upset. We couldn’t even purchase food because we didn’t have money yet.
So, finding the ATM was promoted to first priority.
That’s easy enough, I thought. ATMs must be all over the place!
We needed a specific ATM. One deep within the streets of Venice.
It was like a pilgrimage through streets paved with sins—food, drinks, dinky souvenirs. Having never been to Europe, their city layout was completely foreign to us. We didn’t even know where the street signs were.
“We’re all tired, ok? Stop complaining and help us find it!”
As my brother and I were about to expire, we happened upon THE ATM.
“Oh, thank god. Get me a drink,” I said, as we ran to the nearest take-away restaurant.
obnoxiously-specific ATM: accomplished. Time taken: 3 hours.
As we sat and ate like Aladdin and Abu on the street corner, we dreaded each bite that would lead us back into my parents’ frantic world.
My dad struggled with the phone, and when he figured it out, he struggled even more.
As he hung up, he looks up to ask us, “So, did everyone hear that?”
We stared blankly back at him.
“You guys were supposed to be helping me listen!” he explained, clearly getting frustrated.
“How would we know that…” my mom asked, speaking slowly.
“Did you think I’d be able to remember it myself?!”
“I think that’s not too much to ask from a grown man,” I muttered.
Angry, that no one was able to read his mind, he punched the phone numbers in and dialed again.
An hour later, we let ourselves into our apartment.
key to apartment: accomplished. Time taken: 2 hours.
“Why are you drinking again??”