An email from the ominously named Ryanair Cancellations bid me good morning when I arose today.
\All was well. We booked a free Hilton room at one of the top hotels in Rome. They have a pillow menu! We booked our rental car for pick-up at the Marseilles airport.
Then this email. In the back of my mind today I mulled over our options (basically an overnight train or drive). My qualm with driving is that we’ve made a portion of this drive before. The shriekingly narrow lanes through the mountain tunnels between the Italian and French rivieras, home to a never ending series of semi trucks that can’t physically stay in their lanes nearly gave me a mental collapse last time. Brian, loving the fast driving along wild twisting roads hewn into seas-side mountains, even agreed he could never be a passenger on this route. My back tenses and I hunch my shoulders even recalling the hours of dread that we’d be crushed. Maybe I should talk to my doctor about a good old fashioned nerve pill.
After work tonight Brian and I looked at our options. Our budget is stretched to near shreds already. Losing the free hotel in Rome is bad. Paying more to drive or train is bad. But we have to do something. I used Hilton’s find-a-hotel-along-a-route tool and saw we could stay in Florence to break up the trip. This lets us get an early morning start to Provence the next day and make the drive in daylight. Brian loved the idea. We spent almost no time seeing Florence last year — our one day in the city was mostly spent at our cooking class. And he loves driving in Italy. “Let’s do it!” he said. I’m happy to go back to Florence too. I was only ho-hum about another night in Rome. It’s just not my favorite city and this is our third visit.
We were 37 points shy of the 35,000 needed to stay at the Hilton Florence Metropole hotel so the lovely lady Brian called tossed us an extra thousand. With that we’re booked. I check car rentals — I can rent the same car (Peugot 206) from Kemwel for only $50 more, picking up in Rome, than the Hertz rental in Marseilles.
We’re all set. New plans are exciting.
At dinner it occurred to me. I looked at Brian across the patio table where we sat outside with our spinach and leek gratin. “ooooooooohhhhhh yay!” I burst out. “No,” he said immediately, knowing without a word on my part what idea had just landed in my giddy little brain. “Please, please pleeeeeeez,” I said, grinning like a demented fool. He agreed conditionally. He wants to visit Mama Stefania’s farm (we visited here last year) with our friend Chas, while they drop Holly and me off. Holly and Chas are undecided about where to go after Rome but they’re now cordially invited to Florence!
The entire conversation took place without the need for me to tell him what I meant. He knew by my ridiculous enthusiasm that I want to go back to the stuff of lore — the Prada outlet outside Florence.
So thanks to RyanAir’s operational review we’ve just added a fun new interlude to our trip. And I might just bring home a new pair of shoes. Or two.