Blame my dad, I’m a morning person. The feeling of waking up early and getting things accomplished is invigorating. When I start my day early I’m able to dictate the pace at which things happen to me. Well, for the most part. According to a 2012 Psychology Today article, early risers are “happier, healthier and more productive” than our night owl counterparts. I’m not sure I believe that completely, but I do know that when I go against my internal biology I’m definitely cranky.
My wife Kim is not a morning person. Her mind races at night and the creativity and accomplishment I feel in the morning, she feels roughly twelve hours later. None of these methods are better than the other one, just different based on our biology. Once we've found our pace and rhythm, we stick to it. This, however, is something we had to discover when traveling together.
The Steps In Cinque Terre
Our honeymoon was a beautiful affair. We flew into Rome and quickly caught a train along the coast to the Cinque Terra. Since Kim is a much better planner and events person than I, she handled a lot of the wedding while I was in charge of the honeymoon. As we got off our last train of the day in Corniglia, we were overwhelmed by the beauty of the Italian Riveria. We had a small apartment overlooking the water just below the steps up to the little town. By steps I mean 382 steps. It was a piece I'd overlooked slightly but was more of an annoyance than problem. (I don't know...walking up may have helped stave off the pasta weight gain for a little bit.)
Our time in Corniglia was beautiful, relaxing and magical. We made friends from San Francisco that treated us like royalty and ate some of the finest food I've ever had. The three days in Corniglia were exactly what we needed, but I had an itinerary planned and was determined to stick to it.
One Too Many Stops
It went like this. Three days in Cinque Terre, a few in Florence, on to Venice for two days, hop a quick plane to Paris for four days and then back to Rome for two to cap off the trip. Even as I write this, that schedule makes me cringe. I was so focused on maximizing our time that I didn't take into account our style of travel. See, Kim and I both like to live in a place. We refer to it as 'local touristing' and this plan threw that out the window. Think of this method as less guidebook and more travelogue. It's a slower pace on purpose and revolves around food and experiencing culture as someone who would live there.
The more cities we explored, the more exhausted we became. Travel was turning into a chore instead of an adventure. Lauren Juliff of Never Ending Footsteps recently wrote about how she stopped traveling full-time for lots of reasons, including her health. It got me thinking about why our honeymoon turned out to be a bit more exhausting than restorative. We were gong against our nature, trying to be people we weren't. Kim and I love to immerse ourselves someplace and two days doesn't allow for that.
A Respite In Paris
The longest leg of our trip was in Paris. Kim had never been before so it was a treat to show her around a city that I once called home. The more I look back on the honeymoon, the more I realize that Paris was our highlight because of the pace we took it at. There wasn't any rushing to see sights or experience things, we had breathing room. We even left the Louvre because it was too crowded and reminded us of the hordes milling about Florence. In Paris we did what we wanted to do and not what the guidebook suggested because we had time to make decisions. The Italian legs of the trip were rushed and full of expectations.
Florence turned out to be a nightmare for us. We were in this beautiful Italian city and we couldn't see past the crowds or galleries to see what real life in Firenze was supposed to look like. The highlight of that stop was seeing Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones filming Inferno in front of the Duomo. That's how disconnected we felt.
Finding Our Own Pace
Ever since the honeymoon we've structured all of our adventures around our desire to be a 'local tourist.' It's just how we like to do things. One of our favorite trips was to a little town in England called Oundle where we stayed with friends and just lived life. Sure there was a special excursion to see Kirby Hall and a few other local sites, but it was mostly just enjoying life with people we love. For us, that's what travel is.
Our pace is slow and steady. It's what works for us. What type of traveler are you and do you find that getting out of that travel lane disturbs your enjoyment?
For us, I think we're going to give Italy another chance, but at a much more leisurely pace. Anyone up for a trip to Rome with two pasta loving Americans?