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Vacation from hell

and | Tuesday, January 14, 2014

It was the vacation from hell. Literally, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. So please excuse me while I rant and complain for these next 400-odd words, because frankly, after this ordeal, I deserve it.

Don’t get me wrong — I was lucky to be going to London for a week solo, thanks to a generous grant from the Nanovic Institute. I didn’t have to pay for housing, since I would be staying in my old apartment from studying abroad last spring.
But when the Perfect Storm rolled into the northeast and dumped snow all over Boston and New York, I should have known I was doomed. I should have just thrown in the towel. My flight was already delayed three days, what more of a sign did I need?
But no, foolish bright-eyed optimist that I am, I just shoved my rose-colored glasses further up my nose and booked a flight for three days later. So my trip was cut virtually in half. So what?

I arrived in London Heathrow in style, having scored a seat in Premium Economy, where they ply you with champagne and ugly purple socks for sleeping. This was the last good thing to happen to me for a week.

My luggage was nowhere to be found. They were stuck back in New York. Determined not to let this silly little hiccup ruin my adventure, I struck out to enjoy London as best as I could.

My bag never made it to London. I wore the same clothes for three days straight until the fear of smelling like an insane vagrant compelled me to buy another outfit. I couldn’t work on my research report because my computer charger was in my bag. I couldn’t take pictures to document my research because, guess what? My camera was in my bag. I couldn’t even brush my hair for five days because combs in Britain cost more than a day’s worth of food.

Even the best part of my trip was ruined by another act of nature. My daytrip to Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum was almost cancelled by massive flooding that covered the train tracks to and from London. What should have been an hour’s trip turned into a six-hour tribulation.

Do you pity me yet? No? Ok, let me continue. Three days after I lost all of my personal belongings, I came down with a raging fever. Slammed with a killer headache, obnoxious sniffles and the persistent sensation that I would faint dead away on my feet, I was confined to my little bed for a full day, shivering alone while mourning the museums I could be perusing and the rare London sunshine I could be enjoying.

So pardon me for my unfettered joy when I came back to the good ol’ U.S.A. I love free vacations, and I love London, but after roughing it in one of the most expensive cities in the world, I’m going to swear off jet-setting to exotic locations for a long time. I don’t think I would survive.

Contact Meghan Thomassen at      
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    The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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