This past month, while away on a month-long trip through Italy and Slovenia, a dear friend messaged me.
“How is it that you have so many clothes with you? Following your social media pics, it seems you always have the right thing to wear,” Gillian wrote. “A friend and I have a question – do you travel with a suitcase or only a carry on? The bet is on!”
I practically laughed out loud when I read it. Oh how I wish I could stroll onto a plane with just a sleek carry-on and a handbag… if only! But no, this traveller goes prepared; a selection of shoes, a good clutch of scarves, some basics of course, but also outfits I might only wear once as was the case for the writer’s retreat, the main pretext for this trip. Naturally it was all too much and I regretted over-packing, yet again.
Was it because I knew that in the back of my mind my porter, aka my travel companion of thirty years, was joining me? He does often joke that the sole reason he meets me, wherever I might roam, is to help carry my bags home. And it seems, this trip was no different.
After the writer’s retreat, we agreed to rendezvous in Florence before making our way north and onwards to Slovenia. Checking into a rather stately hotel, was it not confirmed that my beloved Bruce is surely my very own personal porter?
Let me back up. After fleeing an Air B n B (a veritable ‘subterranean cavern’) that he had inadvertently booked for our reunion (accommodation is usually my department), we arrived at that lovely hotel on one of Florence’s prettiest streets.
But no, we didn’t glide into the lobby as if we belonged there. It was more a barrage of luggage, backpacks and two overheated travellers. We had rattled our way from one end of town to the other, the clatter of my luggage causing an obnoxious racket on ancient cobblestone streets. Did I imagine looks of disdain as the locals enjoyed their la passeggiata, their evening stroll?
But allora, then, we present ourselves at the hotel.
“Checking in for Wilson,” I say to the perfectly coiffed, attractive lady behind the sleek check-in desk, all the while attempting graceful dabs at my ‘glowing’ forehead. The silk scarf looped around my neck has come in handy indeed!
Bruce is standing off to the side, laden with two backpacks, my overstuffed suitcase and my shiny new leather grip-bag that I seemingly could not leave Pisa without. I glance over and smile at my travel companion, the one I’ve logged a ‘million’ miles, but the not so-romantic-image of the porters at Indian train stations suddenly pop into my mind – all he’s missing is yet another bag perched precariously on his handsome head.
“Yes, checking in… with my porter,” comes out of my mouth. It seems I’ve attempted a joke.
“But madam,” the lady replies matter of factly, “you’ve only booked for two.”
She surveys Bruce with a wry glance. Yes, she’s truly under the impression that indeed he is my porter and that apparently, my true romeo will appear at any moment. Perhaps he’s out front, parking the Maserati or the Lamborghini.
“Oh no, no, no,” I clarify. “He isn’t my porter, this is Mr. Wilson,” and hand over our passports as proof.
“Ah, va bene. Good then. Do you need help carrying the bags to your room Mr. Wilson?”
“Oh no,” my intrepid companion says with a grin, “I’ve got this!”
One last thing about that beautiful new leather bag. Surely it is part of a fervent plan. On my next trip, I will glide onto a plane with it and it alone… oh one can but dream!