Set a Course for Adventure

Okay, we’re not exactly setting out on The Love Boat, but my family is leaving on a Mediterranean cruise later today to celebrate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. I have been looking forward to this vacation for almost a year, and considering Domingos and I are in the middle of our Korea PCS, I feel we’ve earned it more than any other vacation in our lives! It has been a busy and stressful couple of weeks in Virginia Beach, so this cruise comes at a perfect time to relax, bliss out, and enjoy family.

We had a very long travel day on Saturday. We stayed at a Richmond hotel Friday night and had a JetBlue flight from Richmond to Boston at 6 a.m., which meant a 4 a.m. wakeup. Everything went perfectly smoothly and I think our flight even arrived a little early in Boston. We got our suitcase from the baggage claim and had a short walk to the USO lounge, where we were able to leave our luggage and get some coffee. Then we decided to go into the city for brunch. We were going to take the T, but we noticed a sign for the Back Bay Logan Express, a $5 bus straight from Logan to Copley Square! It was a little pricier than the T, but really simple and easy to do. We will definitely be taking it again on future visits.


We got off at Copley and walked down to Newbury Street, where we ended up brunching at Trident Booksellers and Cafe, one of D’s favorite grad school hang-out spots. Then we browsed in some favorite Newbury shops and slowly made our way back to Copley. It was a gorgeous day, not too hot, and after looking at an exhibit of old maps in the Public Library, we bought some fresh-squeezed lemonade and hung out in the Square before catching the bus back to Logan. We spent a couple of hours in the USO lounge (very comfy chairs!) before checking in for our Aer Lingus flights – overnight to Dublin, then on to Rome Sunday morning.

As soon as we got on the plane at 6 p.m., we got set up with all of our gear to try to help us sleep. We had already decided to skip dinner, as we had a late lunch in the terminal and it was only a 5-hour flight. Here are what I consider my travel essentials:

  • Travel blanket from TravelSmith – love the pocket at the bottom to tuck your feet in, plus the pocket in the middle into which I put my iPhone; we got these blankets after I read this article and freaked out about the blankets on planes
  • Eye mask from Flight 001 – best eye mask I’ve found because it’s poofed out over the eyes, which means it isn’t pressing on your eyelids
  • Bose QuietComfort Noise Cancelling Headphones – the link is to a newer version than the ones we have, but we love these – they’re tiny, comfortable in the ear, and really block out the jet noise. If the battery runs out, you can still use them as regular headphones, but I think the battery lasts a long time. I had them on for about 8 hours of flying total and they were still going strong. I listened to the fantastic Brian Eno album Ambient 1: Music for Airports (thanks, BC, for that awesome Christmas gift!), which I highly recommend.
  • Compression socks to help prevent blood clots when sitting for so long
  • Travel pillow that I take with me everywhere I go (current one is from Brookstone)

So with all that, plus the Tylenol PM I took 30 minutes before boarding, I slept fitfully for a whopping two hours. Oh well! I am just resigned to not sleeping much anymore; it’s been many months since I feel like I’ve had a normal, full night’s sleep. Case in point: I’ve been up since 3 a.m. while my husband sleeps peacefully away next to me. I’m so jealous!

Anyway, we got to Dublin early, where we had time for a leisurely breakfast, got euros out of the ATM so we wouldn’t have to worry about it in Rome, and put our European sim card in D’s phone (it worked fine!). The Dublin airport had free wifi, which was nice. We left on time for Rome and landed a little early, made it through customs easily, picked up our bags, and my family was there waiting when we walked out, along with the shuttle driver from our hotel! Even though it was a long day and a half of travel, everything went more smoothly than I could have dreamed. The drive to our hotel, Hotel Traiano in Civitavecchia, took about an hour and was kind of a blur to me in my exhaustion and the hot and humid weather.

The hotel is very cute, though the bed feels like concrete and the A/C is more of a hint than an actual thing. I felt somewhat revived after a shower, but it was a struggle not to fall into a deep mid-afternoon sleep! We all met up at 4 and walked down to the beach, where we had a nice dinner, followed by gelato, and walked by the water.


Then we turned in, and Domingos and I fought valiantly to stay up until 9, which was obviously pointless on my part since I woke up at 3 anyway!

Anyway, this turned out to be a very long post because I’m bored and waiting to go have breakfast, so I will leave you now, if you made it this far, with a selfie of my mom, my sister-in-law, and me, in a park a few blocks away from our hotel here in Civitavecchia.


Most of my updates from the trip will probably come after the fact, because I’m not going to pay for the expensive cruise ship internet!


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