The logistics of travel can tend to be tricky. Knowing what to bring, what flights to schedule, and which train to get on presents a considerable challenge. Earlier today, we almost made a huge blunder and got stuck on the wrong train. This misunderstanding would have resulted in over 1800 Euros in fines, and different members of the group would have been kicked off at different stops. Overall, it would have been a horrible ordeal that would have temporarily derailed CR. Thankfully, we jumped off the train dragging a small cities worth of luggage behind us.
That brings us to our main story tonight (or whenever you are reading this):
Now my mother pokes fun of me for always overpacking, and she is not wrong. I tend to think of it as an instinct to be over prepared, but she thinks it gets a little excessive at times. Case and point, I almost ended up with a $75 overweight fine bringing home all the stuff I did not need at college. (Thankfully, I ended up doing some quick finagling and was able to redistribute the extra weight.)
All of that said, I was determined to not over pack for Europe. I took a conservative approach and only brought the essentials. There were some tough cuts (my thicker Patagonia fleece would have been an excellent addition to the experience), but in the end I was left with a cary on bag that had some extra room for any goodies that I might purchase. Overall, I was pretty proud of my effort and the night before I left, my parents and I purchased some travel detergent slips from REI (highly recommend) for doing laundry in a sink. Finally, I was set to take on Europe.
I arrived in Berlin late, so it wasn’t until the day we left for Munich that I realized how much less I had packed than the majority of my fellow travelers. In talking with previous CRers, they learned that there were laundry machines in Interlaken, so they packed around 10ish days worth of clothes. In comparison, I had about 6 days worth of clean clothes and it was there I knew that I would be doing a lot of sink laundry.
*Quick tangent for all the CR 12+ people who are reading this blog*
DO NOT OVERPACK. If you want a physical number to shoot for, try to stay in the 30-35 lb range, 40 lbs maximum. An exception to this rule would be if you can consistently shoulder press over 85 lbs for reps, so hit the gym if you want to pack more.
I ended up doing sink laundry the second night in Munich and man it was a lot more difficult to hand wash clothes than I thought it would be. All I had was the detergent and my hands, so it took a great deal of scrubbing to remove all of the dirt and grime. I took having a washing machine for granted. It truly is incredible that for generations, this was how people did laundry. After hand washing the clothes, I put some of the clothes on the heated towel rack, and put the rest out to drip dry the majority of the clothes. My goodness, it took forever. I was constantly switching the wettest clothes onto the drying rack. Eventually, I was able to have clean, slightly damp clothes. It was exhausting, but I was successful.
That set of clean clothes lasted until Interlaken, but there I put off doing laundry in Interlaken because our group ran into some hostiles in the hostel’s laundry room.
By the time we arrived in Riomaggiore, my clothes were starting to reek. The second day there, our plans were changed because of weather and I decided to use some of my free time to finally tackle my mountain of dirty laundry. After spending over an hour hand washing the clothes, I had to find a new method to dry my clothes without a heated towel rack. I decided to hang my clothes on the balcony to dry, but was forced to hang them up inside once it started raining. The next morning, they were nowhere near dry. I once again transitioned most of them back to the balcony. When I returned that night, some of my clothes had been blown off the railing, so I decided to transfer them back inside to finish drying. One shirt had even been blown into the rain gutter, so I used the hairdryer on it for about 10 minutes until it was no longer soaking wet. When I began to pack the next morning, I noticed that my jeans were nowhere to be found. I checked the whole hotel room and balconies, but they were nowhere to be found.
The only reasonable explanation is that when I brought my clothes in the night before, I failed to notice that my jeans had blown off the railing and onto the patio below. The owner of the patio must have then taken my jeans inside, leaving the impression that they disappeared without a trace.
In hopes of returning my favorite pair of jeans to me, Dr. P was kind enough to email the owner of the hotel to see if he could ask the neighbors if any of them had picked up some black jeans, but I fear this may not be a very fruitful search.
I now have a greater appreciation for the objects we so often take for granted in our homes. The amount of time that can be used more efficiently because we no longer have to dedicate hours to washing clothes, boiling water, or doing dishes is immense. No longer do we have to wear wet clothing because it is too cold outside to properly dry our clothing. The fact that I did not have to seek out a local body of water to wash my clothes in is probably shocking to our ancestors. Maybe the reason that our society has been able to advance at the pace it has in recent years is because we have developed more and more ways to reduce the time cost of doing menial tasks. If Steve Jobs was busy trying to light a fire to cook the dinner he just spent 4 hours hunting and killing, his brilliant mind would be much to preoccupied with simple tasks to even consider starting Apple. Everything from heating, to air conditioning, to visiting the grocery store is a gift. We should be more appreciative of the years of small innovations that have made the present so productive. While you go about your day, think about all the brilliant ideas that make our lives so much more enjoyable. In the meantime, I will be appreciating how easy it is to buy a new pair of jeans.