Sunset in Novy SvetYou guys, I don’t think I have ever been this stressed out about a vacation.

It started with me being super-stressed, period. Like, all kinds of mess at work, and “this is all too much and I need to get away” kind of stressed. Which resulted in some very haphazard visa arrangements, which led to a rushed selection of travel destinations, which led to committing myself to an itinerary that simply does not make sense. At least to me. Everything is just…off.

And the thing is, this trip is taking me to two out of my six dream destinations, which I wistfully described just a few months ago, thinking it would be years before I experience any one of them. And here I come, checking off spots 2 and 6 off the list! Yet, instead of feeling excited, I am a giant ball of anxiety. All I can think of is that nothing will work out, that everything will be terrible, and that I will come back from this vacation more tired and stressed than when I will have left for it.

This has never happened before.

I have traveled many different ways. I’ve gone hiking in the no-man’s land that is Yellowstone and Yosemite in November. I’ve visited all the major sites of Venice, Florence, Rome, Pisa and Cinque Terre in a span of 9 days in peak tourist season. I’ve managed a cranky boyfriend through a New Year’s in London. But never before have I felt so discombobulated. And stressed.Grand Tetons, WY, US


What am I stressed about? Let me count the ways. Or the reasons. Or whatever is the grammatically appropriate here.

First of all, I am stressed that I won’t get to see and do everything that I want to see and do on this trip.

OH! Hey there! This is where I realize that I probably should have told you where I was going. Here is it: Germany and Italy. Two weeks. Frankfurt / Rhine Valley / Munich, followed by a farm stay in Bologna/Emilia Romagna.

So yes, I am afraid that I wont see the castles, or drink the good wine on the top deck of the cruise boat, or take the perfect photo of a perfectly-Disney German village, that I won’t get to ride the Italian stallion – no euphemism, I do mean horses! – over the rolling hills of Emilia Romagna, taste the REAL, $100/100ml-bottle Modena Balsamic, or hike the foothills of San Marino. Yes, I am going to the two gluttony havens of Europe and I am afraid that I won’t eat well.Florence

I’m worried that the people won’t like me. I never cared about this, but suddenly I am craving to be Audrey-Hepburn-in-a-romcom-charming (I don’t know how to do ‘charming’). I want selfies with the Parma butchers, and all that. I want to be invited to a random grandma’s house where nobody speaks English for a ravioli-making lesson. I don’t even cook.

I might have to drive, so that’s another thing that stresses me out. I hate driving. And I am bad at it. But I might not be able to do without, because countryside vacations aren’t conducive to other means of transportation. My farm (villa-lite, really) has bikes, of course, but today I hurt myself with my friend’s bike while standing practically still next to it. So that’s out. There are cabs, as well, but if I take taxis around Italian countryside then I will quickly run up a tab that would otherwise get me a week on a luxury yacht with my own chef and a masseuse.

So yes, I’m afraid I will run out of money, because I never set a travel budget but I know what I can or cannot afford. I’m afraid that I will forget to turn off the “cellular data” option on my iPhone when I take off, and come back to a $10k phone bill. I’m afraid that there won’t be WiFi in restaurants. I’m afraid that I will fall off the horse while trying to keep up on a gallop (that’s happened before). I am afraid that there will be no cars with automatic transmission when I go to rent one. I’m stressed because of the inherent incompatibility of driving a car and drinking Lambrusco all day long.

I am afraid that I will be bored in Germany. And that I will be bored by the pool in Italy, but tired and stressed if I fill my days with sightseeing trips – which won’t be that good anyway. That there won’t be good hiking trails, or I wouldn’t be able to get to them because I would need a car and I couldn’t get one because transmission/wine/money. I keep worrying about money even though all of my hotels, flights, trains, and even a Neuschwanstein day trip are all already paid for, and even though there’s no way I am going to spend any more on food and taxis than I do in Moscow on a regular weekend (two words: designer cocktails).

I am afraid that I will miss one of my gazillion train connections and will be stuck in the no-man’s-land that is Western Europe and my life will be over.


I blame Crimea.

Horses and horizons, Sudak, Crimea

Have you ever had mind-blowing, life-altering sex with someone and – if that someone wasn’t your life partner – thought, “man, he/she/they have just ruined me for all the others”?

I think Crimea has ruined me for all other vacations. Those 18 days last summer had literally EVERYTHING. Crazy adventures all over the peninsula while staying in one place. Palaces, caves, beaches, horses and seaside cafes. Crazy nature and crazy culture. Hyperactivity and relaxation. HORSES. NO DRIVING. Ruble-denominated goods and services that weren’t suddenly twice as expensive because my salary just got halved vis a vis the local cash-money (damn sanctions; yes, I understand the inherent irony of mentioning them in the same breath as Crimea). HORSES. New foods. Wild cherries. Hedgehogs. Amazing people. Amazing wine. Kittens that stole my heart. Secret beaches. Rolling hills. Baby lions. Stupid attempts to scale slippery cliffs. Fishing. Soups made with fermented milk. Cucumber salads made of raw garlic. Breathtaking landscapes. Fascinating history. Ridiculous Putin t-shirts. ROSE OIL! Quiet evenings spent just writing. Volcanoes. Pirate boats. Swimming during a sea storm. Miraculous waterfalls. Watercolor sunsets. Draft kvas on the boardwalk. Birdsong alarm. Horses….

* * *

I didn’t want to go to the same place two years in a row, so I haphazardly threw together a vacation that simultaneously will take me to two of my dream destinations and that might also kill me by the way of an anxiety-induced heart attack, or a heart, broken by disappointment. All attempts to talk me off a vacation ledge are henceforth fully appreciated.

SO. Have you ever gone ‘full nutcase’ about a vacation? PLEASE TELL ME ABOUT IT I BEG YOU.


  1. Doctor Debbie says this seems to be more about current stress levels than the travel plans. It sounds to me like you have a great trip planned and all the arrangements are sorted. You will have a marvellous time once you actually start. And how’s this for good karma – I am writing this from a hotel in Frankfurt! I was out admiring all the tall shiny buildings yesterday afternoon and thinking if your Moscow City Centre post! The sun is shining, there’s good beer on tap and sausages galore. Heaven made for Anna! When do you set off?

    • I am leaving on Saturday! It’s almost here!

      I think Doctor Debbie might be onto something. I just have to keep thinking about beer and sausages, beer and sausages… Thank you so much!!!

  2. Man… that was so the wrong thing to read this morning, as I’m in my very own packing-and-leaving-in-two-hour-frenzie! …during which I’ve just found €200 in a dusty envelope while looking for something else that was already in my purse! Ha!

    German butchers and bakeries. Remember. We’v’e talked about this. Just think of those. And all will be well.

    I can’t wait to read about your adventures 🙂

    • Ha! See? Your vacation is already starting off well (I just spent 35 Euro on a pedicure…). Where are you off to?
      And yes, I have noted that I must eat meat scraps while in Munich….

  3. You obviously really need this vacation!

    I am a master at unplanned trips. I had that 24-hour adventure in Isla Mujeres, and this weekend I spontaneously stopped in Chicago on my way to Milwaukee. I knew very little about these places and how to get around, but it worked out and both were awesome trips.

    You’ve got your sh*t sorted out, it seems. I think that once you get going, you won’t be so stressed anymore. As for those ideas of what you want out of this trip, you know that they’re fluid. What you really want is to have a wonderful time at two of your dream destinations. And you will! If you don’t get invited to an Italian grandmother’s kitchen, well, that’s OK. You can go back and try again later. =)

    • I spent 20 yrs in the US and never went to Chicago, I’ve heard it’s a great town. Can’t wait to read your take! And you’re probably right – I just need to get my ass on the road and take it one day at a time.

  4. I am going crazy about our return home. There is so much more I would have liked to see and do while in Asia.I am just starting to get the language and just made my first sentence! Then there is packing, deciding what to keep, throw away and it stresses me to be so disorganised. Then I remembered this was MY choice to leave and what were the reasons I decided to go? Number one my health…. OK. Now I felt better. I also remembered my best advice I was given and shared. Wherever you go in life don’t regret the things left undone. It is a good excuse to return sometime.

    • OMG you win. That is MAJOR – I remember my move back to Russia, it was such an epic emotional roller coaster. But it really was for the better, so I hope it works out the same for you. Btw, pre-moving purging is my favorite activity. I love de-cluttering!

      • I wish you were there to help. I have such a hard time just throwing things away especially when I know I will need it again 😦 We made it back, but now trying to find a permanent place to live. Ug and the questions are you happy to be home??? I just don’t know how I feel nor answer. I know people are trying to be nice, but emotionally I am thinking they just don;t get it unless they experienced it.

        • I would have LOVED to help! I have helped so many of my friends through the moves – I am really good at organizing and purging 🙂
          I got rid of so much crap when moving to Russia!

          • I needed to do that… instead we took a lot home and paid the extra luggage fees. My husband purged a lot though. I should have planned more carefully since all my ‘favourite’ clothes were still in Shanghai and my OK clothes I brought home at Christmas.

  5. It sounds like you have an AMAZING trip planned, I’m quite jealous! I hope you can relax and have a great time, sounds like you really need it! God only knows I’m counting the hours till my next trip because everything sucks at work right now. By the way, if you do find out how to do ‘charming’, do let me know (though I’m pretty sure you’re lying and you’re already charming! :P)

  6. Okay now. Blow into this tube and take a deep breath. You’ve got an amazing holiday coming up and both Germany and Italy are very fine places and you won’t be bored! I’ll tell you a secret. I don’t do beach holidays. That wooooooould be booooooring but the Rhine Valley. Come on. Lots of wine and running through the vineyards and chocolate-boxed houses and beergardens and music and Oompah Oompahs with tall blond-haired-lederhosen-wearing-German-young-men. Plenty to do there!

    As for Italy. I hear every blogger and his mum is pretty much fighting to get down to Bologna as it’s sooooo Italian and rural-small-town-pasta-eating-olive-oil-making-home-made-pizza-by-an-Italian-Mama type of place. So you’ll be fine.

    And you’re tall, pretty and charming. They’ll love you. Just don’t come back married!

  7. Pingback: EUROTRIP 2015: Mid-Vacation Report | Home & Away

  8. One of my friends in Denmark is exactly like you before going on a trip, while I’m the kind of person, who sometimes fail to book hotel/transportation/air tickets in advance:) Usually it works out anyway, and if not, you can always go back at some other occasion to ride that Italian stallion:)

    • HAHAHAHA well I guess there is that option 🙂
      I just sort of rode it out, though the Bologna part really should have been planned better. Turns out I really needed a car and you cant rent those there on a short notice >.<

  9. hahahha reading this now after you left it’s pretty funny 😀 you were soooo worried! I am pretty sure you aren’t that stressed out right now! And I hope you got invited to a grandma’s house to cook some pasta 😀

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