I’ve been back home for almost a week now, and getting acclimated to my old sleep schedule is proving difficult. No matter what I do, I keep waking up at 5 in the morning!
I was in Europe for five weeks. My initial schedule was: Reykjavik, Oslo, Copenhagen, Malmo (Sweden), Helsinki, Krakow, Olomouc (Czech Republic), Trencin (Slovakia), Cachtice (Slovakia), Bratislava, Vienna, Prague, London, Paris, Naples. I was so excited to get to go to castles and castle ruins in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
And then I sprained both my ankles in Oslo. As in Oslo, the second city on my trip. How I managed to do that, I still haven’t a clue, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise considering I have been known to cut myself with water and break my arm while making tea. So.
My left ankle was in intense pain by the end of Day 5 (my first full day in Oslo), but I didn’t want to go to a doctor because I didn’t have my insurance card on me (Oslo is insanely expensive). I figured I’d get better in a few days. On Day 6, my right ankle decided to also screw me over. At this point, I could still walk very, very slowly, so that’s what I did. And I did it in Copenhagen and Helsinki as well, taking bus tours to make up for the fact that I could barely walk, and coming to terms that Malmo was just not going to be feasible anymore. It was frustrating because there was a lot I wanted to see but couldn’t.
But by the time I got to Krakow, I could no longer walk. I have no idea how I made it off the plane; any time I tried to stand up, I came close to falling down because I felt like my ankles were going to snap off. The added weight of my backpack, a mere 20-ish pounds, was murder. I got to my hostel, somehow managed to make it up three flights of stairs (handicap friendly, Poland is not), and went to the emergency room first thing the next morning. Almost no one spoke English and they wanted to put one of my feet in a cast and give me daily stomach shots to prevent thrombosis (I declined). The hospital did not have crutches, which I needed, and since it was late Saturday, I was expected to somehow find an orthopedic store on Monday and buy crutches then.
The next day I wandered outside, and on the next street over I was approached by a tour guide. I ended up taking a tour around Krakow on his golf cart, and since I was his only customer, we got to talking. He ended up being the most amazing person, and seeing how I could barely walk, brought some crutches to my hostel four hours after the tour had ended! Two days later, his daughter drove me to Auschwitz (about an hour away), saving a very painful day of buses and standing around; on the way back, she stopped an a hotel atop a hill that had once been taken over by Nazi soldiers; it gave me an incredible view of the city. Later that night, she picked me up and took me to a church with mind blowing acoustics so that I could hear a choir concert (a group from Oregon, actually), and her father picked me up and took me home. Silver linings: I got to see things and have so many wonderful interactions with people that I would not have had if I’d been able to walk.
But since I couldn’t walk, hiking up to castles was now out of the question. I stayed in Krakow for a full week and had to cancel my plans for Olomouc and all those places in Slovakia. I adore that city (and Poland in general) and will definitely be heading back one day. When I left Krakow, I returned the crutches and switched over to a cane. I didn’t get to see Mozart’s home in Vienna or Beethoven’s grave; I was actually in a lot of pain in Vienna. But things started to look up in Prague. For the first time in about two weeks, I walked a very long way from my hostel, through Old Town and up a huge hill to the castle and cathedral that overlook the city. The same went for London, Paris, and Naples; my feet still got freakishly swollen, but for the most part, I had most of my mobility back and was able to walk long distances (one day, I walked about 8 miles!) so long as I took breaks.
Ultimately, this is where I ended up:
- Ercolano (day trip from Naples)
- Caserta (day trip from Naples)
- Procida (island day trip from Naples)
I’m still going through the photos I took on my DSLR (and will probably end up writing a different, longform piece about the trip), but here are some of the photos I took on my phone: