My friend Marbie asked me how we have been handling, as 67-year-olds, the two issues that can be a dilemma for travellers: doing laundry and adjusting to new beds. I had actually been composing something along these lines for the end of the trip, but since Marbie brought it up now, I’m challenged to discuss our adventures with beds and laundry.
First of all, I must admit that sleeping arrangements are the one area where George and I are rather high-maintenance (there may be other high-maintenance things about us, but I can’t identify them as such). After 45 years of living together, we simply cannot sleep in the same bed anymore; our sleeping patterns are just too different, and we are both rather set in our ways (0ne could say neurotic) about sleeping. We can sleep in the same room, but not the same bed. So one of the dilemmas on this trip was finding solutions to one-bed arrangements, or better yet, making sure we had two beds. We were so committed to this necessity that George brought along a genuine bed roll that he can blow up and use on the floor (which is where he’d rather sleep anyway). Add to that the fact that I’m a ”pillow princess”–that’s what the boys call me when they scoff because I always bring along my own pillow–so we had to take these items into account when packing our bags.
The great thing about travel now is that we have AirBnB, HomeAway, VrBo, and the like, making it possible to stay in real houses and apartments instead of hotels. This makes all the difference for long-term travel, and does ease to some extent the worry about bad beds or frequent shifts to new quarters. In our now eight months of travelling so far, we have stayed in 16 different rooms, some of them for long periods, only four of them hotels. George has had to use his bed roll three times. None of the beds have been truly bad, and only once have I felt strongly that the room was just WRONG–the first time I have really FELT the concept of feng shui! The bed was against a wall in a funny room that was like a closet, and I couldn’t get comfortable.
Just as I was getting up from that last place after a night of very light sleep, George was reading this article in The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/04/why-we-sleep-badly-on-our-first-night-in-a-new-place/479091/
We can attest to the fact that the first night is always difficult, and this article somehow reassured me that we weren’t fussbudgets, but just experiencing a normal neurological reaction. And while it hasn’t made me sleep any better, at least I know I’m somewhat normal. Along with having my own ”special” pillow, which I use like a huggy blanket, I also always use ear plugs, which drown out any unfamiliar noises.
Our only real complaint has been that ALL European beds seem to use feather-bed comforters/duvets, which are exceedingly HOT. This was fine in cold rooms in the winter, but not in heated rooms or on warm nights. We have at times taken off the quilt covers and used them as our only covers. I am curious to see what people use in the summer.
As for laundry: again, things are SO different from the days when we stayed in hotels or in student times when our accommodations were usually primitive! Now that we are staying in apartments, we have almost always had a washing machine in the place. We only had to go to a laundromat once, in London, which was kind of a fun experience. But then there is the perplexing problem of DRYING clothes. For some reason that seems to be universal across the EU, Europeans have not cottoned to dryers at all. Our current tenant in our Pasadena house, who is French, says that the French are convinced that dryers ruin clothes; when she insisted on buying one in Brittany, people came over to see how ruinous it would be! This lack causes the biggest problem for us travelling–especially since George has a phobia against travelling with dirty clothes in the bags. Even when we have been fairly settled into a place, we have had to dry things on clothes racks (see above), or out the window like the locals, or strewn all over heaters and the back of chairs. Very unaesthetic! I have taken sweaters and other woollens into dry cleaners, where they have often treated my modest, nearly embarrassingly shabby items as if they were gowns by Dior.
I have been getting better about wearing clothes a little longer between washings than I would at home, but at this stage, I am so sick of all my clothes that I’m planning a big bonfire when we get back to the States and burning them all! G. thinks I should give them to charity, but I doubt even the Goodwill would want them.
So Marbie, that’s our experience up to this point!