When it comes to adventures, the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected. You go on an ordinary high school field trip and get bitten by an irradiated spider, giving you special powers. You’re running for shelter from a tornado, and the next thing you know, your house is dropping on a witch. You’re starting a typical day with the family, and flesh-eating zombies overrun the planet. We’ve all been there.
Rich and I have been planning our great train trip through Central and Eastern Europe for a year. We’ve talked about it ad nauseam (just ask any of our friends) and corresponded with people all over the world. I’ve been blogging about it for months. Rich has researched every kind of app, gadget, and gear known to Google-kind. Our first hiccup was having to postpone our original June 1 departure date to attend my brother’s wedding. (It took place last Saturday, on a sun-drenched beach in Oregon, and they seem blissfully happy, thanks for asking.) Rich and I were supposed to return to Seville this week and head to the train station a few days later.
Rich has been complaining about pain in his right leg for some months. At first, I responded in my usual compassionate way by telling him to man up and walk it out. When it became clear it was more than just a pulled muscle, we started visiting doctors and physical therapists, first in Spain, then in California. A battery of tests has (gracias a Dios) eliminated all the big scary stuff, but we still haven’t identified the problem. All we really know is that his leg hurts abominably whenever he walks more than 15 minutes; the good news is that he can swim, bike, and do pretty much everything else in perfect comfort.
Hmmm. Do we think he’s having second thoughts about the trip?
He assures me that he’s as eager as ever, and judging by the wistful glances he gives our suitcases whenever he’s in the attic, I believe him.
Our medical team said he could go on the trip now, as long as he took heavy-duty pain meds and promised not to walk much or lift anything.
Our Sherpa in the Himalayas. (Note the flip flops.)
Doesn’t that sound delightful? Me playing Sherpa, hauling our bags on and off trains and dragging them up endless flights of stairs, while Rich stares off into space in a drug-induced stupor, repeatedly asking me where we are now and how long he has to wait for his next pain pill. To add to the fun, there would be the constant worry that this unidentified problem would suddenly flare up into something much, much worse, most likely in some obscure Transylvanian village where there’s only a 95-year-old doctor named Igor and no train out until the following week.
Call us crazy, but we’ve decided that we’d better stick around California long enough to get a diagnosis – and, with luck, an effective treatment plan. Rich feels he will enjoy the train trip more if he has full use of both legs and all his mental faculties. Go figure.
So we have rebooked our flight to Spain for the end of July and hope to head off on our train trip the first week of August. However, if we’ve learned anything from all this, it’s that plans are written in pencil, not carved in stone. If our trip gets derailed again – due to, say, alien invasion, a meteor hurtling towards Earth, or an invitation to visit Sweden to pick up a Nobel Prize in Literature for Dancing in the Fountain – we’re standing by to come up with Plan C. One thing you can count on: you’ll get all the latest updates on this blog.
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I'm an American travel writer based in Seville, Spain and my home state of California. Right now I'm on a Nutters' World Tour seeking eccentric people, quirky places, and wacky food so I can have the fun of writing about them here.
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Winner of the 2023 Firebird Book Award for Travel
#1 Amazon Bestseller in Tourist Destinations, Travel Tips, Gastronomy Essays, and Senior Travel