Why This Trip Sucks

Ok–here is is. The no-holding-back, god’s-honest-truth about why this trip sucks. By me. Ahem…

This trip sucks because if I’m not doing something at all times, I feel badly. We came so far and spent so much money, I feel we should be squeezing every last second out of our experience. I realize you can’t do that and have fun, but it doesn’t help the feelings of guilt.

This trip sucks because I hate cities, and I planned a three (well, originallly four and a half) week trip to only cities. I feel most at home when I’m around trees and open sky, and there isn’t even any grass in this city. Well, there is, but you are not allowed to walk on it, and it is far away.

This trip sucks because there is nowhere to pee, yet everywhere smells like it. I’ve had a previous commenter on here tell me to ‘be fair’ to Paris–it doesn’t all smell like pee. And the reality is–it does. Walking in our neighborhood, in front of the Pompidou Center, it is so bad I literally gag. And that’s not the only place I’ve smelled it, but I won’t bore you with the lists of the many, MANY places that reek of human litter box. And this bothers me for more than one reason–that is, beyond the gag-factor. You see, I pee more than anyone in the free world. I pee at least fifteen times a day, way more if I’m drinking wine (which I’ve not been doing here). This does not work well in cities–not at all. Yet I always find somewhere to do it that is socially acceptable (NOT in the street, though that would be much easier). Dear reader, imagine a time when you were traveling when you had to use the facilities, and they were really hard to find. Maybe it took you a while. Sure, it was uncomfortable, but more than that, it was annoying. It took up precious time you could have been doing something else, something better than trying to find a restroom that may or may not be out of order or for customers only. Now imagine doing that FIFTEEN times a day. That’s my vacation. Now imagine taking all of that time, just to have to step over multiple puddles of other people’s urine. Wouldn’t that annoy you? I swear to god–and I’m sure you believe me by now–I contemplated just squatting on the Champs du Mars yesterday, rather than standing in a thirty minute line for the sanisette. After all, everyone else freaking does it. We chose, instead, to just come home–the twenty minute train ride was quicker than the line.

This trip sucks because I’m starving. I’m starving all of the time. I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t hungry. I refuse to eat when we are sightseeing (because then I’d drink water and then I’d have to pee more), so when we finally return to our neighborhood, I’m all about finding something to eat. Which takes more time. And then, like today, we sit down at a cafe and read the menu. I’m not a picky eater–not in the least–but again with the honesty, there’s very little I will eat here, and even less that I will pay insane amounts of money to eat. Today at lunch, my options were swordfish, duck confit, two kinds of raw red meat, or leg of lamb. So after having gone twenty hours without eating, and walking around for five of them, I had a cup of gazpacho. Were I Christian, I’d change the Lord’s Prayer to ‘give us this day our daily mush’.

This trip sucks because I’m trying so hard to share it with others, so that they my learn from it. And then I come ‘home’ to snarky, mean comments posted on here. I realize the theme of this blog is honesty, but it is honesty with a purpose. Honestly to help others. And telling me I’m an asshole (in not so many words, but that’s the main sentiment) is not constructive in any way. I’ve managed to be perfectly honest about my trip, myself and my faults–why spend your time being mean to me? What does that do for you? Really? Because it is further f-ing up my trip. So if that was your goal–you’ve achieved it. Though you really don’t have to put forth the effort. I’m doing a fine job ruining it for myself, thank you very much.

This trip sucks because I’m constantly fighting with my husband because I’m so miserable. This trip sucks because I can’t get away from said husband, even though we have an apartment and not a hotel room (thank the gods for that!) This trip sucks because we spent so much money on it–money we don’t even have–and it sucks. This trip sucks because people are going to ask me how it was when I return, and I don’t know what to say. I’ve contemplated it–I have ‘interesting’ and ‘sometimes beautiful’, but I also have ‘not fun or relaxing in any way’. This trip sucks because it is almost over, and I’m so very glad about that fact.

18 responses to “Why This Trip Sucks

  1. I’ve been reading your blog hoping you figure out a way to enjoy your trip, and am sorry you’re not having a good time. I’m not a fan of packing lots of “must-do” sightseeing into my trips, and have gotten over feeling guilty, thank god. And like you I don’t like big cities, so I plan accordingly now.

    I have a sincere question: what kind of trips have you taken – anywhere – that you’ve enjoyed? In retrospect how would you have planned this trip so it would have suited you better? Or is Europe just not your “thing” after all?

    • thank you very much for your well wishes. and yes, in the future, i will plan all trips accordingly. i think we’d prefer to stay in the countryside and visit cities as day trips–not the other way around. i’d love to hear how you plan–perhaps that may help me (as it seems we have similar tastes–not liking cities and all) in response to your sincere question, i honestly think you hit the nail on the head–europe is just not ‘my thing’. though i did love amsterdam…sort of. But not as much as i love the many other places i’ve been, all in the US and Canada. I guess it is good that it’s not for everyone–or else it would be even more crowded. (and yes, I realize I’m here at a very crappy time–I’m a teacher, I have no other option. Which also means trips to anywhere south of NYC are out as well, as it is stinking hot!)

    • hi…replying to your sincere question again. my husband and i discussed this question this morning over brunch. we both named our absolute favorite DAY on vacation ever, which is about to be a post. thanks for making me think (as i should have done before i planned this–planning i’m good at, the introspection not so much…oddly….)

  2. Tracy, I haven’t read your blog since your initial posting and I was really hoping that you were enjoying yourself. I’m so sorry to hear that you’re not. We’ve corresponded a bit on Rick Steves via private messages so you may remember me. I guess Europe just isn’t for you, or maybe the parts that you’ve seen. Sounds like you’re next vacay should be somewhere nice and relaxing, Hawaii maybe? I love going there, you’re in a tropical paradise but yet, you’re still home. Best wishes, Claudette

    • thanks for the comments, and i hope you enjoy your trip. i’m torn between thinking that europe really isn’t for me (that’s about 85% of my theory) and thinking that i planned this trip poorly (15%) i really liked amsterdam, and while it was a city, it wasn’t a huge city. perhaps london and paris were too big (and touristy) for me. i’m not ruling the entire continent out based on this one trip, but for the next few years we shall explore other areas. actually, i’ve spoken to my husband about it (at length) and we think hawaii might be next on our list. we loved alaska, so we figured we’d try another remote state. thanks for your reassuring comment(s)–and have a great trip!

  3. Oh, I wanted to add that my first and only trip there, I was there for a total of 10 days and I was surprised that I was actually homesick and was ready to go home. I had a wonderful time and great memories but was really shocked that I was ready to leave Europe. My next trip is Italy and London in October for 2 weeks and I’m very excited but I know at the end, I’ll be ready for my own bed, my own bathroom, my own food, etc. Have a safe trip home, Claudette

  4. I am so sorry that things have again turned unenjoyable for you. As you look back, I hope you will find some positive “lessons” for yourself. Please consider looking into the Scottish Highlands, parts of Ireland, Salzburg (but probably not Vienna), Norway, etc. I’d also suggest Tahoe Navada, the Appilachain area of NC and Ga, and parts of Canada for you. Or think about Austrailia (our summer is their winter!!!)and New Zeland. I too was a teacher and school adminstrator and understand the time limits (NO FUN). Feel free to contact me if I can bee a listening ear, a sholder to cry on, or a source for ideas for travel. I have really enjoyed your blog- it’s a first for me. I especially hate that some responders have been negative and added to yor bad felings. You are a bright, resiliant oug woman. I have faith that things will work out for you. Have a great school year!!! Toni

    • I absolutely learned MANY lessons. That’s the thing I’m taking away from this (thankfully). And thank you for the big list of places to consider–we were actually already discussing our next trip, and a few of our locations were on your list. Actually, Norway in general was at the top of our list (I’ve already looked into fjord cruises for next summer…wish I was kidding!) but so was Vienna (though I see your point about avoiding it…crowded, touristy, paris-esque etc.) Thanks again for your feedback–it is very appreciated!!!

  5. Hi Tracy, I’m so sorry that your trip sucked!! I’m not sure if I I would enjoy being in Paris for two weeks. If and when you are ready to try Europe again you should consider the UK…..rent a cottage for a couple of weeks in small village, that would be relaxing and away from tourist. And by going the to UK, you can read the menu’s and no problems with language like in Paris. I hope you can go home and relax before going back to school. Hope you have a good “last” day in Paris.

  6. I second Robin’s suggestion to consider the UK. I spent two fantastic weeks driving through the Cotswolds, Lake District and Yorkshire Dales this summer. (And it was easy to find bathrooms!) I was also in Paris for a few days and felt like I was at Disneyland on the busiest day of the summer. Not sure if I’ll ever go back…

    I realized after thinking about your post that two weeks staying in one spot would be too long for me and I’d get restless and feel like I was missing something, no matter where it was.

    I think you’ve had an unfortunate combination of bad timing (summer heat and crowds) and bad planning. (Too much time in one place, too many big cities, too much public transportation, and too many decisions to make every day.)

    Your idea to base yourself outside of the cities sounds more like your style, and maybe renting a car for a while next time would give you some time away from the crowds. Even taking an organized day trip with a tour company can actually be relaxing after days of making all the decisions yourself.

    I bet if you took a shorter trip to Europe on spring break you’d have a great time. You clearly enjoyed the culture, museums, etc. Don’t give up — just figure out what works for you despite what everyone else says! Good luck!

  7. I too am sorry your trip did not turn out like you planned. Paris is my favorite city and it is a shame you did not enjoy it more. Staying in an apartment was a great idea for you. Perhaps if it had been in a different area where you didn’t have to ride the metro so much you would have enjoyed it more. I liked using the batobus to get around. Much better to be on the river than underground!

    As much as I love Europe (leave in 5 weeks for a 4 week trip – my 4th in 4 years), I don’t think it is for everyone. Some people just don’t like getting out of their comfort zone. I like to mix cities with smaller places. It seems that one of your frustrations has been problems with communication. If you are having problems in Paris, smaller towns with less English speakers will be even harder.

    If you are looking for a place that you can combine city and smaller towns, you might want to consider San Francisco and the Napa Valley. San Francisco has everything (except age) a European city has, and the Napa Valley is great for wine tasting and generally unwinding. You can drink, get spa treatments, etc. San Francisco can be downright cold in summer (Mark Twain said that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in S.F.) and Napa Valley can be warm to hot – but it’s a dry heat.

    Maybe after you return home and your trip becomes a memory, you will look at it with more fondness…

    • I actually thought I had a pretty wide ‘comfort zone’–it appears I was VERY wrong! Ha! Good to know though, right? And as for your San Fran suggestion–actually, that’s the next trip I have planned. Sometime this fall, actually, I plan to go visit a friend who I’ve been wanting/needing to visit for years. So I do have that to look forward to. I hope you enjoy your own trip!!!

  8. Tracy, like yourself, I can’t spend more than 4 days in the larger cities of Europe; i.e., London, Rome, Paris and Prague. After 4 days, I yearn for grass, trees and, most of all, mountains. In one of Rick’s tour books, he says when you land in Europe, get out of the city and spend a few days in a smaller town, on the outskirts. In this way, you can adjust to the time change and to the culture. That is how I plan my trips unless it’s a smaller city like Munich, Zurich, etc. We wiill be flying into Zurich next month and will take off to the alps. We also rent a car. It gives us the freedom we want and are used to. However, we don’t drive into the larger cities. We succumb to public transportation. We don’t make any reservations for accommodations unless we are staying in a large city. In this way, we are not locked into something we may regret later. By the way, we have travelled this way for many years and during the busy summer season–with our kids.

    It’s all about balance, girl. Some city (with constant sightseeing and dealing with crowds) and lots of countryside (more freedom and relaxation). In the States, you live in a small, rural town. It only makes sense that you have had a hard time adjusting. Try and enjoy your last day and keep blogging!

    • wow–i clearly have a thing or two (or three…maybe seven) to learn from the way you plan. i absolutely agree that countryside AND a rental car would have changed this trip 100% for the better–at least for me. again, i realize it is a personal preference thing. do you have a blog i can follow, with the hopes of learning how to do it better next time around? because there’s going to be a next time around, and damnit, it is going to be better!

      • Tracy, after you return home and have a chance to recover, I’d like to know how to start a site like this so that we can keep in touch with our kids while we’re in Europe.

        I’m glad to know that you feel there will be a “next time around” for you in Europe. Have a safe trip home.

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