September 14th, 2011 at 2:33 pm
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Never travel without an itinerary

by Judy Kirkwood

Everyone in my family seemed in relatively good health so I wasn’t worried about going to a travel writers conference in Bellagio, Italy, in April 2008. In fact, I was beyond excited. I knew Lake Como was one of the most beautiful vacation destinations in Europe.

The conference went off without a hitch other than someone accidentally fell into Lake Como one rainy night getting onto the boat taking us from a private estate (where we saw remnants of Napoleon’s wife Josephine’s ball gown) back to Hotel Serbelloni.

But afterwards, when I was on my post-trip to the “Italian Riviera,” Liguria, I began to feel uncomfortable, especially because we had not been given a destination hotel address for our itinerary, which I always forward to my sister in case of emergency.

I borrowed an Italian cell phone to call my husband. I was connected just long enough to hear him say my mother had had a stroke and I needed to get home immediately. Then the line went dead.

Trying to get home

We were in a mountainous region where fewer people spoke English. I didn’t know my roommate, from whom I had borrowed the phone, but asked for her help. We didn’t know where the leaders of our tour were lodged–they hadn’t told us. We didn’t know where other members of our tour were lodged who might have a cell phone. We had all been divided up and assigned to different apartments in the village. I raced up and down the dark street, but there was no one to ask, nowhere to go to find a phone connection.

I suffered through an agonizing night until first light. It was pouring rain when I went outside to try to find help for getting me home. No one spoke English. I was walking in the rain crying when I saw a woman leaning out a window brushing her hair. It was one of my travel companions, who had an Italian heritage. I yelled up to her and she raced down and explained the situation to an Italian woman.

Phone calls were made. I jumped in a cab that took me to Genoa airport–$300. I pleaded to be allowed to bypass lines and make the plane to Berlin to connect with the plane to O’Hare in Chicago (over $2000), where I wasn’t sure there would be anyone to pick me up to get me to central Illinois where my mother was either in a hospital room or dead.

Come back to find out what happened next.

Posted in Caregiving, Other | 3 Comments »
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3 Comments to “Never travel without an itinerary”

  1. Helen

    Definitely want more…bring it on!

  2. Susan Gavin

    What a terrifying story. You can’t leave us hanging this way! MORE.

  3. Lila

    This should be a book! Tell us what happened next!!!

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