We often hear that if you travel to Europe in the winter, all the sites will be closed and the weather will be terrible. We shake our heads in disbelief. In major cities, most sites are closed just an hour or two earlier than in the summer. But sometimes, it’s the exception that proves the rule. This is the story of that exception, and how sometimes the best laid plans go out the window and you just have to roll with the travel punches.
The Game Plan
I distinctly remember thinking to myself after putting the finishing touches on our winter tour of the Amalfi coast, “Surely, I’m the greatest trip planner who has ever lived.”
That is the euphoria of a well laid plan, and there was only a pinch of sarcasm in my tone. I should have slathered that thought in self-doubt, heaped on the humility, or at least snickered at my self-confidence.
I had poured over the bus schedules for the Amalfi coast, and we could get into Amalfi in late December and out of it on January 1.
It was right there, in stark Arial font. The bus schedule said that we could leave the town of Amalfi on the first day of the new year, and after a quick stop in Sorrento, we’d be to Pompeii by the early afternoon. It was a packed but supremely well planned day of sightseeing—on paper.
In reality, the buses in Amalfi don’t run on New Year’s Day. Perhaps I read the schedule wrong at home or perhaps there was a change after my planing.
Either way, when we went down to the tobacco shop to buy our tickets, there was a little handwritten sign posted that indicated that buses wouldn’t be running. It was slightly less than official looking, but what could we do? My plan was shot. Worse still, we were absolutely stranded. There is no other public transportation to the town of Amalfi.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed in these kind of situations, so that is exactly what I did. How could we ever escape this jaw-dropping locale that many people, ourselves included, spend hours upon hours fantasizing about visiting? Luckily, Jane was there to snap me back to reality. So we ate some pastries and considered our options.
The taxi to either Salerno or Sorrento was going to be €100. Way more than we wanted to spend, but another night in Amalfi would likely cost the same and we’d have to adjust our travel schedule by two days.
If you travel enough, something like is going to go wrong. It doesn’t matter if you go in the winter, summer spring or fall. Eventually, something will not go to plan. The best course of action is to do what Jane did and think laterally.
What we wanted to do was get to Pompeii or Naples, but we didn’t want to pay €100. So Jane suggested that we head to a nearby hotel and see if we could hire a driver for less than the price of a taxi.
It turns out we could! Sure, our plan to go around the horn of Amalfi was shot. But instead, for€70, we were driven around the southern coast in a private Mercedes-Benz. Talk about living the life of luxury!
It’s Okay To Change
When traveling in Europe in the winter, you will almost never miss sites that you could see in the summer. This bus schedule change up is one of the only times we can remember something hindering our plans. Even when you occasionally do have to adjust your schedule, it’s better to take it in stride and see how you can turn that negative into a positive!
Have you ever been stuck in paradise? Let me hear your worst-turned best-travel story in the comments below.