Galley Gossip: Packing Light – Rome, Italy

“Okay,” said the husband, shoving his cell phone into the back pocket of his blue jeans. People, all of them very fashionably dressed, whizzed by us while we stood on the cobblestone street outside a large glass window displaying freshly baked pizza. We had just exited the train station in Rome and were looking for our hotel, The Gregoriana. “The guy said to walk up the Spanish Steps, turn right, and the hotel is at the end of the block.”

“At least we’re close,” I said, eyeing a slice of pizza. It looked amazing. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one.

Sighing, the husband grabbed his black rolling bag, slung a backpack over his shoulder, and said. “So…any idea how many steps there are?”

“A lot,” I said with a laugh. Though I did not know the exact amount of steps (I do now), I had an idea there would be more than we’d like.

We turned a corner, walked a good ten feet, all the while taking in the history and beauty that surrounded us, and five seconds later found ourselves standing at the foot of the steps. “Oh. My. God,” said the husband.

“Good thing we packed light,” I said, and meant it, because we had, in fact, packed light, very very light for a ten day trip to Italy. And then I laughed, because all I could do was laugh, as I took in ALL THOSE steps, as well as all those people sitting on the steps. There were well over a hundred – People and steps! I’m not sure which frightened me more -the people or the steps!

One thing a flight attendant knows how to do is pack light. We do it every day. My secret to packing light, wearing only black, white, and brown, along with a couple colorful accessories. That way everything goes with everything else, creating several mix and match outfits from just a couple basic pieces. Of course, the other secret is to roll your clothes, not fold.

“Roll them military style,” advised Dee, a flight attendant I worked with from Dallas to La Guardia a few months ago after I told her I was going to Italy for ten days and would only be taking along my flight bag. “You can get more in the bag that way.”

I’m not sure what she meant by military style, but I figured it had something to do with rolling my clothes tight, really tight, which is exactly what I did, getting way more than I anticipated into my crew bag.

“You are not going to need all that,” said the husband, as he watched me on the floor from the bed.

“You don’t know that,” I said, as I proudly zipped up my bag – one bag. And a tote.

That was not the first time I had uttered that particular phrase, “Good thing we packed light.” Nor would it be the last. The first time I said it was in Venice. We had just arrived at our hotel in Cannaregio after walking the winding cobblestone streets for a good twenty minutes, going over bridges and across canals and through narrow alleyways, too many times to count, making our way from San Marco Plaza to Cannaregio, also known as the Jewish Ghetto. The last time I had mumbled that one particular phrase had been that very morning as we lugged our bags up the steep flight of stairs on-board the Eurostar train that would take us from Naples to Rome, after having visited Positano for a couple days, which is now one of my top five favorite places to go in the world. I do hope to make it back soon.

“Give me your bag,” ordered the husband, his eye on the prize as he wiped the sweat from his brow. We were still standing at the bottom of the Spanish Steps.

“I’ve got it!” I said, grabbing the black plastic handle of my Travelpro bag a little tighter, because I did, indeed, have it. Though at that moment I must admit that I kind of wished I did not have it, even though all I had was just a rollaboard and a small tote bag. But since I was the one who had packed it (okay fine, over-packed it!) I’d been prepared to carry it. That was only the fair thing to do.

“Give it to me!” demanded the husband, who had become, upon arriving in Italy eight days prior, very macho in the bag carrying department. Before I could resist he grabbed my bag, and with a rollaboard in each hand and a backpack over his shoulder, he began his long journey to the top of the stairs.

Behind him I followed, huffing and puffing the entire way up as I carried that one little tote-bag, which, as I took each step, began to feel not so little, along with a beautiful black leather briefcase the husband had found in a quaint little shop under a bridge in Amalfi. Together we zigzagged between all those tourists sitting on all those steps. For sure there were well over one hundred steps. I never thought we were going to make it to the top.

Finally, we dropped our bags and took a break, looking down from where we had just come, before continuing on to the hotel which was just a short block away. I’ll never forget the look on my husband’s sweaty face when the desk clerk greeted us with a curt glance and said, as his fingers typed away on a keyboard, “I forgot to tell you, there’s an elevator in the train station.”

Forgot to tell us? Yeah right.

Nor will I forget the sight of my husband as he stood, panting for air, behind a junky souvenir cart at the top of the Spanish Steps trying to catch his breath. For a good ten minutes. Maybe longer. Or course I took a picture. I’d love to share it with you, but he’d probably kill me, so you’ll just have to settle for these….

(Been to Rome? Share your favorite places to go and things to do here by posting a comment below)