Here we are on horseback in Pisa before we rode off into the Tuscan countryside. Miles made arrangements for a surprise sunset picnic and we enjoyed antipasto, sandwiches of cured Italian meats, and the finest Italian vino. The space was magnificent with lights strung through the trees like in a movie.
When we were done eating Miles pulled a guitar out from behind the tree. I thought: what the heck are you doing with that you don’t know how to play the guitar. He’d been taking secret lessons! So sweet. He wrote me the most beautiful song about how much we mean to each other and his life didn’t truly start until he meet me. He wanted to surprise me with the song in Italy. When he was done playing a little Italian trio of old men, one with an accordion, came and played as we danced under the stars.
Oh. The magic of it all. Takes my breath away.
lol. Just kidding! We never made it to Pisa. . . .
We’d definitely do our day differently in the port of Livorno as well as a few other things on the cruise. And next time we cruise we will. You can read about our day in our postcard from last year (here). The post I’m writing today, as well as that postcard from Livorno, I write so you can learn from our mistakes as cruising newbies.
At the beginning of the cruise we were chatting to a fellow cruiser and mentioned that we had a rather unremarkable day in whatever Spanish port we were in. She remarked (in what I perceived to be the most uppity voice imaginable) “oh, no, I won’t get off the ship on this cruise until we reach Frrrraaaance.”
I admit, I wasn’t coming form a place of non-judgement and I fancied her to be a big time snob.
I was super judgy three days into the journey. Even if she was a snob, I was decades younger than her. A lot more spry. I shouldn’t have judged. I got hit with an energy crash like nothing I’ve ever experienced about a week later. I was all go – go – go. Let’s see everything!
Usually when Miles and I travel internationally we’ve got some time to adjust in the place we’d be staying in for awhile. On a cruise everything is changing daily so I didn’t want to miss a thing. Next time, one thing we’ll do differently is arrive earlier to adjust our body clocks before boarding the ship.
Another thing I’d do is really prioritize myself. Miles and I have a natural harmony with each other in everyday life and on our travels. Our needs and interests are really synced up.
On last year’s cruise, we were with my parents and I’ve been known to try and please everyone. Gotta make everybody happy. Well, on the cruise, all of my trying to make everyone else happy took it’s toll on me.
When we first arrived, my mother had made last minute reservations at Jacques. She was really excited about it. We did not have reservations scheduled for the day we arrived. I didn’t think it would even be an issue. I assumed we’d see them for a drink and we’d all go about our business either separately or together. Just go with the flow until we were adjusted.
Actually, going with the flow is really how Miles and I roll on trips. We do research and plan out priorities but we cultivate lots of room for spontaneity which works so well for us. It’s fun. We’re happy. And we get to see and discover things with childlike wonder and gratitude.
I digress. Back to the dinner reservation the first night on board. . . .
I did not want to go to Jacques. I did not want something scheduled. I just wanted Miles and I to naturally flow into into our adjustment. I wanted us to eat when we felt like it. Have some drinks if we felt like it. And go to sleep when we felt like it. Doing so would allow us to adjust naturally and quickly.
I knew that would be best but I did not say anything because I did not want to hurt my parents feelings. I was like a zombie at that dinner. I remember the food being good. I remember the atmosphere being good. I remember it was effort for me to make conversation. I remember I did not want to disappoint.
Don’t get me wrong, it was an amazing trip. But I regret not listening to my instinct. And the totality of my experience suffering for it.
Not listening to myself and what I believed would be best the first day for me. And as the days went on I did I continued to strain myself. I spent alot of time just short of feeling optimal.
Not bothering to nap, getting up early, walking, breakfast, social media + coffee time on the outside deck, touring each port midmorning into the afternoon, exploring, poolside to “relax” in the late afternoon, art class or photography class or wellness lecture, dinner, dancing, drinks in the lounge, and a night cap in our stateroom.
And repeat. And repeat. And repeat. Something’s bound to give.
The stop in Monte Carlo was pretty cool and I was really looking forward to that stop in particular. We were there overnight so you could explore for two whole days! The first day we signed up for an organized tour in Nice (about 30 minutes away) and went to a wine tasing with my parents. It was lovely!
Then we came back mid afternoon and shopped around Monte Carlo with Mummy. I’d wanted to get her an Hermes bangle for Mother’s Day. And I wanted to get while we were on the cruise so every time she looked at it she’d have a happy memory.
When we were ready to go back on board, the sea conditions were unsafe to tinder to the ship. We were delayed a few hours and made the most of it in a pop-up bar for the Grand Prix which was happening soon thereafter. Some rose and fine conversation later we could finally board.
I just wanted to order room service and lay in bed. I did not listen. I got on the merry-go-round of people pleasing, not want to hurt anyone’s feelings, not wanting any negativity. I ended up going down to the Terrace Cafe. Papa was on board waiting for us for hours. I felt bad about that. I sensed my mother wanted us to all eat together. And I knew Miles wanted to go to the restaurant and visit. So I went.
I went and my body finally said enough. We were in the Terrace Cafe. And I just felt so strange. Exhausted I guess. It was like I was shaky but not. Like I could literally pass out right where I was standing. I knew I needed to eat so I grabbed a slice of pizza which was the quickest thing I could get. I went to the table thinking that if I got it in me I’d be fine then could go get something “real” to eat.
I choked the little slice down. Got up and left them all there. I made it to our stateroom and I crashed with the balcony doors open to the most magnificent view of Monaco and the Riviera’s gentle sea air breezing in (it was seriously the most beautiful view to fall asleep too). I thought I’d sleep for a couple hours and Miles and I could head to the bar for a couple drinks. Not so. Not that night.
I did not understand the totality of the cruising experience — and the need to pace yourself. That, and my fear of upsetting my parents and dealing with that reaction, caused me to be the one that suffered and miss out on a day and a half on my birthday cruise. I did not get to get off the ship in Monaco the second day. And that is sad for me.
Here’s the real deal: Some ports are better matches for you than others. Plus the ship is f·a·b·u·l·o·u·s with so many offerings and amenities. All that, coupled with the fact that you’re dealing with a finite amount of time on your cruise, means you need to prioritize what you choose to experience.
Yes indeedy. Prioritize. Prioritize what you choose to experience. And remember to prioritize yourself.
Lots of love! Here’s to happy fabulous travels in the near future!
xxx – Jennifer (+ Miles)
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