Travel Lesson #3: Choose Travel Companions Wisely

I’ve had my share of eccentric travel companions, but none can top my alcoholic ex-boyfriend. On our trip to Italy, his antics epitomized the disgusting reasons why we are called Ugly Americans. The list below clearly catalogs ten reasons I now choose my travel companions wisely.

Our trip to Italy began as most do: pleasantly, in romantic Rome. We had been dating for nearly a year and, for two months leading up to the trip, he quit drinking and limited his smoking! I was feeling optimistic. We spent the day walking to all the major sites in Rome except for the Sistine Chapel, which we agreed would be a nice culmination of our travels and saved for the end of our trip.

Reason #1: A Peroni in Florence

Walking along the main promenade our first evening in fiery “Firenze,” he was hungry and stopped by a pizza joint, ordering pizza and a Peroni. “I can’t travel in Italy and not drink at least one Peroni,” he insisted. He was hungover the next morning, and we were an hour late to our reserved date at the Uffizi.

Reason #2: A Moretti in Venice

We arrived in the maze that is Venice by train. Claiming he was hot and in need of a refreshment, he ordered a Moretti at a nearby café. Then, upon arriving at our hotel, he continued to drink at the nearby bar while I showered. Four beers later and much to my embarrassment, he jumped off a bridge into the contaminated channel. A passing resident scolded him and a fight nearly ensued. For the remainder of our stay, he was on a quest to find the highest bridge from which to jump. Due to a “mysterious” ear infection, he ultimately decided against it.

Reason #3: Wrestling Match in Venice

In what became known as “The Wrestling Match that Shook Venice,” a shouting match ensued one evening by the river over who could speak better Spanish. At the climax of this spectacle, I was clinging to a lamppost sideways. He was pulling on my ankles, insisting that we return to the hotel together. After punching his anger out on another lamppost, two nice old ladies asked if I was okay and I frankly replied, “No.”

Reason #4: Peeing in the sink in Bologna

An argument culminated with him walking out, getting wasted, then stumbling back to the hotel and peeing in the sink three times that night. Hungover as usual the next morning, he agreed to sober up. I told him I would leave him if he picked up another drink.

Reason #5: An unwelcome beer in Ancona

The day before my birthday, we were about to board a ship headed for Croatia. After buying the tickets, we purchased some groceries and he insisted that we drink to celebrate my big day. I firmly gave him an ultimatum: “You buy beer and I will leave for Croatia without you.” He opted for the beer; I sold his boat ticket. He bought another ticket and apologized for his flawed judgment.

Reason #6: Fooled in Naples

He purchased a brand new Sony video camera from a guy on the street for 150 Euro. We both knew it was too good to be true. On our ride to Amalfi, he discovered no camera—just a box stuffed with a bag of sand.

Reason #7: Disruption in Positano

A week without alcohol and his mouth was watering. He started drinking, so I changed hotel rooms. When he got back to the hotel and discovered I had disappeared, he pissed off the owner so badly that he was kicked out onto the street. That evening, in a drunken search to find me, he fell down a steep flight of stairs and landed on his chin. The next day, which happened to be a national holiday, was spent having tea and cookies at a nearby café with a marching band, the Mayor of Positano, and six other ambulance drivers, policemen, translators, and counselors.

Reason #8: Visiting Capri’s Blue Grotto alone

I tried a new approach to my travels: shack up at night, but travel solo by day. While he downed shots of tequila at the pier, I visited the Blue Grotto and met a New Jersey cop. I told him of my recent woes, and that I would be going to Sicily. He told me he knew the Chief of Police in Palermo and wrote his name and number in my journal. He told me to call him in case anything would happen on the rest of my trip.

Reason #9: While I was sleeping in Palermo

I fell asleep early and while I was sleeping he decided to drag my belongings into the bathroom and perform a full-on search. Upon finding the name and number in my journal, he tapped me awake and began questioning me. I told him it was none of his business and he proceeded to flush my belongings down the toilet. My camera, iPod, journal, car keys, jewelry—gone. Again, I changed hotel rooms and the next morning was rudely awakened by a swift kick to the hotel door and an angry, psychotic drunk in my face wondering why I wasn’t answering the phone or his knocks at my door.

Reason #10: The Sistine Chapel will have to wait

My passport: the only valuable I had left in possession (other than my life). At this point, I figured, if I want to get out of this in one piece, I should change my flights and leave now. I flew directly home, leaving him high and dry. The Sistine Chapel will have to wait for my next, hopefully drama-free visit.

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