Let’s be honest: we all have days when we feel like this little girl in the photo. Maybe we’d feel better if we just sat down and wailed until we got it out of our system.
How do you handle it when you wake up under a dark cloud whilst traveling? Or what do you do when you get triggered by an unpleasant interaction with someone in your travel group? How do you handle your exhaustion from jet lag or too much partying so it does not stop you from experiencing what a beautiful and interesting part of the world has to offer?
Recently I was traveling with a group of spectators for the Giro d’Italia. There was a small group of people within our group who called themselves “Axis of Evil”. Yes, really. I did not manage my travel plans well so I was exhausted by the time I joined the tour and once I was triggered it was difficult to recover.
Here is what I learned:
Make more space for rest and recovery when I travel, especially with a group.
For me, if I feel like crying then I am probably triggered.
When I am triggered I need to get curious before I have invested too much time in the confabulation I will inevitably create. (I definitely get attached to my stories.)
Stay engaged with people instead of withdrawing.
Start counting the positive interactions with people to start a positive feedback loop and break a negative one.
We all make a big investment of our time and treasure. We spend months anticipating our travel plans. It is important to spend at least as much time as we do packing to ensure we truly enjoy the experience.
The poet Shelley stayed here when he was sent down from Oxford.
I set aside one of my days in London to follow the path of Walk 5: Soho to the British Museum from Walking Jane Austen’s London by Louise Allen. I started from Paddington Station, but the Bakerloo line was closed for maintenance so I walked to the next station and got off at Oxford Circus.
Oxford Circus is a busy shopping area with a Top Shop, Marks and Spencer’s, and street performers, people raising money for charity, and tourists. It is hard to imagine Jane Austen might have once walked here. I walked towards Poland Street and glanced down Argyll Street before crossing. I spied the Liberty Stores and took a detour (see earlier post).
I rejoined the walking tour and entered Soho. The book gives a variety of historical facts not all of which are directly related to Austen but from the same time period. Occasionally, there are tidbits like, “The house of Doctor James Stanier Clarke, the Royal Librarian who showed Jane around Carlton House, was on the north side of No. 37. In December 1815 he wrote to her to offer the use of his personal library and to assure her that there was always a maid in attendance. There is no record of Jane’s response to the shocking invitation to visit an unmarried man’s home.” (p61)
I got to the brink of Chinatown and I was beginning to flag. I realized I was also a few blocks from the famous Foyles bookstore. I left off the walking tour and went in search of books, a loo and some hot tea. Little known fact, the creator of the mystery series Foyle’s War named the lead character Christopher Foyle for his favorite bookstore. There a number of outlets but 107 Charing Cross Road is the flagship. I started on the 5th floor at the cafe and then leisurely worked my way through every floor.
I rejoined the tour and walked to Bedford Square where I discovered not every blue historic marker is so special. On to the British Museum. The British Museum’s collection is first rate. The empire gave them the opportunity to haul a lot of cool loot back to London. I was disappointed that a few things have changed since I my last visit. I do not remember so much junk for sale in the center reception area, plus cafes. The museum is free of charge (although a 5 pound donation is suggested). I was not interested in a sandwich wrapped in plastic so I moved on to find a place for dinner.
The most direct way to get back on the Tube at Tottenham Court Road was also closed so it took a little longer to get back. By this time my ankles and feet were not responding to the signals from my brain so I went back to my room at the Hilton and put my feet up. I had yarn and stationary to sort through from the Liberty stores.
There are 8 walks in all to appreciate Jane Austen and the rich history of London. It also helps to pay attention to the layers of detail all around.
We met lots of cyclists who were racing in Italy the 3 weeks of the Giro. We missed some–one of my favorite riders Marcel Kittel of Etixx-Quickstep, dropped out before Tuscany. Fabian Cancellara of Trek-Segafredo dropped out after the time trial. So I was ripe to add riders to our favorites list.
It was easy to like Esteban Chaves with Orica-Greenedge. He is an energetic and charismatic young climber from Columbia. His smile is 1,000 watts and his teammates clearly like him. We met him on a rest day and he was relaxed and happy to be on the Giro. He is 29 years old but has the boyish looks and energy of a teenager. I instantly became a fan.
There did not seem to be too much team pressure on Chaves to win. Sometimes a team with a leader in the top 5 closes down and you can feel the tension of expectations. This team still felt like they were mostly having fun. This is probably an advantage on a 3-week bike race when your chances depend on surviving crashes and the daily grind until you can get to the final mountain stages when the real race begins.
In the last few days of the Giro the competition did get real. Chaves took the overall lead on stage 19. The maglia rosa (pink jersey) Steven Kruijswijk dropped in the rankings after a weird crash into a snowbank during a momentary loss of concentration.
The Sicilian Shark Vincenzo Nibali won the stage and closed the gap taking second overall. There was one more mountain stage before the final (largely ceremonial) last stage. Nibali attacked to win the 20th stage with Chaves on the podium in second.
If Orica-Greenedge was disappointed, it is difficult to tell from this loving tribute on Backstage Pass. Thanks Dan Jones for the terrific use of Steve Jobs’ speech.
I went to Italy for the first time to experience a few days of the grand tour Giro d’Italia. In the process I got to meet the Orica-Greenedge cycling team on the rest day.
They are a predominantly Australian team and their team culture is laid back, friendly, serious about sport, and open to fans. We waited quite a while for the team to return from their training ride. Normally they would ride on a rest day for 1.5-2 hours but they were gone longer because the journalists from the Global Cycling Network were filming a feature on the team.
Backstage Pass creator Dan Jones is a great raconteur.
While we waited the producer of the team’s terrific fan films, Backstage Pass, Jonesie hung out with us and regaled us with behind the scenes stories. Naturally the conversation turned to the stunning Paris-Roubaix finish by Mathew Hayman. The Paris-Roubaix is a one-day, spring classic bike race and has a reputation as one of the most challenging. This Backstage Pass is one of their most watched of all time. You can see why.
Venice was my last stop in Italy before flying back to London. I did a quick scan of priority stops and the Peggy Guggenheim Gallery was tops. I am walking through the gallery and I see this painting of a cyclist at the Paris-Roubaix race. Clearly at the end when he feels shattered.