On our last day in Europe, we arrived early in Genoa, Italy. Our cruise was over. We needed to be ready to disembark the ship by 8 am, so it was an early morning for us. Plus, we were exhausted from our week on the sea and sad to be leaving. But we had the rest of the day in Genoa before our very early departure back to The States the next morning.
After the excruciating process of packing our bags and collecting our passports and other travel documents from the cruise staff, we found ourselves back on dry land. There were taxis lined up for blocks, all waiting to take the tired cruise ship passengers to their destinations, most of them to the airport.
Twenty minutes later we arrived at the hotel we would be staying at for the night. I’m not sure if it’s because we had just spent a whole week in a tiny little box on the bottom of a ship or because we were so tired, but the rooms we had were heavenly. Probably the nicest hotel I’ve ever been in. There were plush white sheets and blankets. And shiny hardwood floors. And enough room to host a small party. I spun around in my wheelchair feeling the freedom of space all around me. I felt like royalty as I laid my head down on the pillow that wrapped itself lovingly around me. Instantly I was asleep.
We woke up around noon, hungry but rested. We had all afternoon, with no agenda, so we found ourselves on a city bus just riding to nowhere but loving the view of the city that we were seeing. About 30 minutes into the bus ride, it started to empty out and we soon found ourselves to be the only people on the bus. And then the bus driver pulled over on the side of the road, next to the sidewalk, and parked the bus, turned off the engine, and left the bus. So here we were, somewhere in Genoa, on a parked city bus with no driver. What was going on?!
We sat in the back of the bus, looking at each other, confused. Mike was carefully reading a map he had picked up at one of the bus stops. Finally, he chimed in, “Well, we’re about 40 minutes away from the hotel…driving time. It looks like this is the time of day when all the bus drivers stop for a 30 minute break.”
“So now what?” I asked. We decided to just wait out the 30 minutes on the bus. Besides, there wasn’t much around us. When the driver came back, he turned the bus around and we went back to the hotel, the same route we had taken the first time. We arrived back at the hotel and walked the streets nearby, finding some sandwiches and gelato to fill our bellies. Matt pushed me along the cobblestone sidewalks and the food inside of me jiggled, a good sign that I had done my share of trying new foods on this trip. I would have to cut back on my intake for a while when I got back to The States. It’s important for me to maintain my weight when traveling, especially knowing that I am often being carried/pushed/lifted by others. I fear that if I ever gain too much weight, I won’t be able to see the things or the experience the world the way that I want to.
Back at our hotel room, we discovered a very small balcony off of our room overlooking the city. The sun was getting ready to set so Julie, Katie, and I went outside to take in the scenery. Matt and Mike were in the room next door resting. About an hour later, Julie and Katie were getting chilly and went inside. A few moments later I followed. When I got back inside though, I couldn’t find Julie and Katie anywhere. I heard giggling from the bathroom, and when I knocked on the door, I heard Julie say, “No, don’t let her in! You can’t come in here!”
“What in the heck is going on?!” I struggled with the door, pushing it open and wondering what could possibly be happening inside the bathroom that was such a secret. I finally broke through and saw a gigantic puddle of water on the floor and Julie, pants at her ankles, straddling the bidet, which was positioned right next to the toilet. Katie was attempting to clean up the mess and Julie was laughing hysterically as water shot in every direction.
As Julie finished up her “cleansing” process, Katie excitedly said, “Ok, now it’s my turn!”
As the saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” So, I guess when in Genoa, do as the Genoese do. For Mike, this meant riding the city bus. For Matt, this meant eating gelato. And for Julie and Katie, this meant using the bidet. They spent the next hour taking turns with the bidet, giggling and laughing the entire time. The floor was wet and the towels were dirty. But the girls were clean and the story of the bidet will forever bring a smile to my face.