To start, I’d like to say that a part of me wishes I didn’t have so many stories of travel mishaps, but to err is human, so my life story is full of them. Perhaps the most frustrating “travail” moment happened when I was traveling back to Florence from London. In fact, this is probably one of the worst travel experiences of my life and, cherry on top of the sundae: I was alone. Yay!
My plane was scheduled to leave at 5:10pm from Gatwick airport right outside of London. That morning I had brunch with the friend I stayed with, got coffee with an old friend, and she walked me to the train station where I took two trains to get to the airport with plenty of time to spare. It was Sunday, which meant I had class in the morning; I was already planning to see my best friend in Florence that night for pizza and a recap of my trip. As I did some Italian homework, I decided to check my phone and saw that I had gotten a text message from my airline telling me that my flight was delayed four hours. FOUR. HOURS. And not just that; it wouldn’t take me to Florence, but to Pisa, an hour away from Florence. And based on the flight time, it would take us there at one in the morning, when taxis are a penny a dollar (I think I just made up a metaphor but it fits). I was NOT pleased.
I went to the customer service desk where other travellers were, well, not pleased as well. I saw a mother of three break down into tears, asking to be treated like a human and to “think of the children” and saw a man demand more information out of the poor customer service worker who simply didn’t have any. The fact was, the weather in Florence was not safe for landing, but no one wanted to let that be a factor; everyone was just looking for someone to blame. On top of the hysteria, my free wifi was gone, leaving me trapped in an airport for an unforeseeable amount of time with no one but me and my fellow frustrated flight peers. In the end, the flight was cancelled altogether and they put us up in a Hilton hotel (thank the gods!) but my next flight was scheduled for Monday at 9pm to Barcelona, with a six hour layover there, then a flight to Florence set to arrive on Tuesday at 8 in the morning. I had midterms this week. I was not pleased.
Sunday night and Monday morning were probably the most stressed I’ve been since during my time abroad. I was worried about what my teachers would say, I was worried about actually getting home, and I was just plain upset. But I learned a lot from the situation. I learned that I’m a lucky person; what a great problem to have! Being in this situation meant that I had been lucky enough to go to London, have a home base in Florence, and I got to stay in a beautiful hotel with a king sized bed and free breakfast and dinner. Sometimes when things go wrong, it’s easy to assume that everything is just plain bad. I am certainly guilty of throwing my hands up and saying it’s too difficult, but I’m glad that I was able to hold onto my sanity enough to make the best out of the situation. I watched Netflix, I studied for my tests, I did yoga in my room.
When we had to check out of our rooms, a very kind girl that I had met the night before and I camped out outside of a coffee shop where we still had the hotel wifi and spent the day sitting on our laptops, doing work and trying to destress. She even bought me my hot chocolate because in her opinion, I deserved to have free hot chocolate. It warmed my heart to meet someone so kind and cool because of this unfortunate experience. There’s always a silver lining! And now, to be honest, most other “travails” that I experience are pretty much nothing to me. So thanks terrible weather for teaching me a valuable life lesson!