Two weeks ago I embarked on the journey of a lifetime with my dad. We took a Mediterranean cruise beginning with two days in Rome. The flight seemed to go by quickly and we arrived energized and ready to explore, and then… I can’t find my luggage! I don’t panic; I roll with it and wait patiently. I wait and wait, it never appears! I watched the luggage from two other flight’s roll across that fricken turnstile and still, nothing. The ‘lost luggage’ counter was neither helpful nor hopeful. With all this drama, we missed our prepaid lift to the hotel. But, I was in Rome with my dad, how lucky was I!
We get to the hotel and check in; the hotel manager offers to contact the airport to track down my luggage, great. As we get into our room I can’t find my phone. It took me about a half an hour to come full circle and take the ‘glass half full approach’ which as you know is NOT my disposition of choice. Okay, I don’t have my luggage, I don’t have my phone but damn it I am in Europe with 85 year old father, how lucky was I? Downstairs in the lobby, the taxi driver appears with my phone; one of the happiest moments of my life, really. I quickly grab a few Euros from my purse and hand it to him. He smiles and says ‘madam, you give this to a church mouse’. I thought, how humble, he wants me to make a donation in honour of his kind gesture. No, he was insulted. I didn’t get it. I was stressed and all could think of is where is my friggin suitcase. He stands there, almost imposing. The hotel manager says something in Italian to him and he leaves. The manager explains that I was offering the equivalent of about $5. Okay, I am sorry but in case that driver didn’t notice, I had NO luggage, give me a break!
We did a brief tour of Rome and had dinner, beautiful. I did expect my luggage at the hotel when I returned….nope. No big deal, I am in Europe with my dad, fabulous, surely, that suitcase would arrive at the ship. Just in case, I dropped into a store to get a couple essentials; underwear, t-shirt and pajamas. Turns out, English isn’t THAT common in the department stores in Rome. Through broken English I found what I was looking for, or a Roman version of them. Apparently their underwear section only had sexy versions of even the basics. But, when in Rome….
The next day we toured through Rome. It was stiflingly hot and that 85 year old father of mine did the tour like a champ. In yesterday’s clothes, I saw the Colosseum, the Forum and more. Once we got to the ship my search for that suitcase continues. Again no luck but I am hopeful because now the ship is looking for it too. In the meantime, I popped into the ship store and bought the only two dresses that weren’t floral tourist gear with the ship’s name emblazed on the front. I soldier on despite not having any of the things that I packed; make-up, contact lenses and any kind of jewellery. But I am nothing if not flexible; in my airplane comfortable shoes and touristy dress, I head to dinner. Here I am, in Europe with my dad, how lucky am I?
First port on the Father/daughter cruise is Florence, another beautiful city and another heat wave. In 31 °C we saw Piazzas, Palazzos, Statues and other pieces of history that until now, I had only seen in pictures. All without any of my clothes! And new fun bit, my father tells anyone who will listen that I am his daughter and not his girlfriend. Cute, if you know my dad, none of these people knew my dad so it landed more awkward than cute! The ship has offered to laundry my clothes every night, if I have it out by midnight, they would have it back by 6am. Only one glitch; I would be enjoying the casino until well into the night. Here’s a fun fact for travelers, yes they can separate the king size beds but no there is not more than a quarter of an inch between the two beds – literally.
Cannes is our next port and my dad takes a break from touring. He felt comfortable leaving me to go solo because I had made a couple of friends. I can see how he thought a middle aged woman, in less than stylish attire could be at risk in Cannes. Monaco and Monte Carlo were simply stunning, it was right out of lifestyles of the rich and famous. All of it was beautiful and that excruciating heat wasn’t nearly as bothersome as the repetition of my clothes.
Palma Majorca is the next Jewell of a city on our cruise. This time we opt for the Hop on-Hop off tour, it was less structured than the other tours and my dad needed a break. This was perfect, in the comfort of a bus, and in those same damn shoes we saw gothic castles, ancient Arab baths and cathedrals. Then, out the window I see what appears to be a lingerie store. I told my dad he should stay on the tour and I will catch the next one, I will see him at the ship. He would have none of it, off he came with me. Again, the 85 year old man was going to protect his middle aged daughter, charming and a little painful. Instead of sitting on the nice bench in front of the row of stores, he comes into the store. Picture it, an elderly man who’s sweaty from the heat with a much younger girl who’s wearing disheveled clothes walk into a lingerie store, who wouldn’t judge! The good news is, I was able to remedy my undergarments situation. The bad news, this bra shopping expedition is a scar on my brain forever.
We get back to the ship and I make my daily call to Air Canada and speak to yet another call centre representative about my bag. Again, they have no idea where it is. I have been patient, I’ve been understanding but now I am furious. I bark out at the less than helpful customer service rep that ‘if there was bombs in that bag you would be really sorry that you didn’t find it’. One of the ship crew members hears this exchange and offers to take over the search; she says to leave it with her and to go have dinner with my dad. By now, many of the guests have heard about the girl whose luggage never arrived. People are offering me clothes, lovely really. But even better was the tequila shots they bought me at the casino.
Beautiful Barcelona is our next stop on this father/daughter trip of a lifetime, in the same pair of clothes EVERY day. The city is exquisite and the architecture is unreal. During the free time I got a couple of more articles of clothing and a pair of sandals. I am good.
Return to the ship, do my call to Air Canada and again, they have no idea where my luggage is. This time, the aggravation builds in me and I literally erupt. I ask the useless customer service call centre rep how he would feel if his wife, mother or daughter was wearing the same pair of underwear all through Europe! Obviously the question was redundant but he does attempt a feeble answer of ‘that seems terrible’. Again a ship crew member comes over and takes up my fight. I go for dinner with my dad. Later that night, at 2:30 in the morning, I hear ‘pisque’ (mouth in Yiddish), I turn and see my 85 year old father. He has come to look for me and is all worried. Where could I have possibly gone – with my comfortable shoes and by now much worn outfit! He’s mad, I am embarrassed, and we call it a night!
Day five is a day at sea and my limited wardrobe didn’t include a bathing suit. My dad and I had by now exhausted our topics of conversation. We’d revisited every childhood birthday party, family vacation and high school mishap. So there we were, looking at each other; he, with great happiness and me, still so bitter about my luggage. To be fair, he did play Deal or No Deal with me and he did participate in other ship activities that I’m sure he wouldn’t have otherwise. Of course I did take the opportunity to again find my long missed items. This time the useless Air Canada call centre person asked a whole whack of new questions. She wanted specifics of what was in my bag; sizes, colours, brands and so on. Obviously, they had found something. Obviously, they had articles to compare to. As it turns out, that is not the reasoning of that ridiculous line of questioning. They were just amusing me, they did not have a bag; they did not have a clue where my bag was! Once that was made known, I lost it, literally. I uncorked a boat load of anger that had been building for at least four years. There I was at the beautiful guest services counter with hundreds of people around me yelling at the top of my lungs. Sadly, it felt good, despite no positive outcome.
Our final day is in Naples and I do a fabulous tour. I’ve by now gotten over the luggage fiasco, sort of, and used to my limited wardrobe. When I wrapped up my last night in the casino I became excited at the prospect of coming home. Packing up was easy, my stuff literally fit into a Walmart shopping bag. We get off the boat, go to the airport, get on the plane, transfer planes and finally get home – it was a 20 hour journey. In the cab ride home I reflect. It really was a great trip and I really was lucky to have had that experience with my father. And the luggage thing, it appears to be an on-going story – today is day 20 of not having all of my summer clothes.