With less than a week to go before my trip, I'm trying to wrap up almost all of my planning. And it's going well; in fact, I've just confirmed I'll have a A HOUSE SITTER FOR MY ENTIRE TRIP!!!! Yay -- that's a bit of a weight off my mind. It's not a happy event for my friend J., who is going through a painful divorce and needs a place to stay. But this gets her out of her sister's basement and into my house. In fact, she wants to come to stay now; I'm holding her off until next week.
But nailing down a house sitter is the kind of detail that I like to wrap up well before I leave, because I know that close to departure date, I'm going to hit the wall.
Perhaps dubbing this the Great Wall of Panic goes too far. I don't really panic before a trip, I simply decide the whole event is far more work and expense than it's worth, and I resolve not to go. This is my well-established pattern, and I've learned to get as much done, as far in advance as possible because I'll have no taste for it as departure draws near. (BTW, the above photo was taken at the Eremo delle Carceri, or Hermitage of the Prisoners, near Assisi.)
Naturally, I overdo the pre-planning frenzy. For instance, yesterday as I was printing out a few Trenitalia timetables, I decided to rethink my plans for arrival day. I'm scheduled to land in Rome at 11 a.m. and have booked a 4 p.m. Eurostar high-speed direct train from Rome's main Termini train station up to Parma. The 5-hour gap may sound like a lot of time to waste. But in booking, I factored in the likelihood of my flight arriving late, delays in getting through Customs, delays in the Leonardo Express train from the airport to downtown, etc. I didn't want to be sweating that entire time, fearful of missing my train reservation.
If all goes well and I get to Termini in just a couple of hours, I've made a few plans to have some lunch and see a bit of Rome while I wait for my 4 p.m. train.
However, I can't leave well enough alone. Yesterday, I decided I needed contingency plans -- what if I get to Termini in such good time that I could make an earlier train for Parma? Granted, the other possible trains wouldn't all be direct, they wouldn't all be high-speed, but no matter. What if I wanted to try to change everything so I could leave Rome a little earlier? I posted this as a question on Slow Travel, and was swiftly -- and wisely -- reminded to stop over-thinking. And stop over-planning.
So, chastened, I'm going to stop thinking about logistics and finish what I need to do -- cancel newspapers, finish some laundry -- and try to just enjoy thinking about what I am going to see and do in Italy. I won't try to look up how many calories are in a serving of GROM gelato (because the company posts that information on its website, you know.) I won't try to plan where I'll have lunch in Spoleto when I visit Umbria during week 3 of my trip.
Hmmmm, instead maybe I'll just imagine spending time with one of my new Italian boyfriends:
Okay, that was childish and beneath me! I don't expect to meet these handsome Italian actors from the miniseries Best of Youth. But it's nice to dream and beats the heck out of over planning train logistics.