I am leaving for Italy in 19 days. I am being perfectly reasonable and not at all crazy about this.

OF COURSE I made most of this up. Sheesh.


I always have a little pre-vacay anxiety. Fear that I will get sick with something that will affect my trip – which is not totally unfounded. I have been to Hawaii three times: once with my family when I was 11, once on a budget tour with a friend when I was 27 and I won a trip from my employer when I was 31. I got a horrible respiratory infection the last two trips, while I was there, that cost me days of activity. In both cases I believe it was caused by violently sucking in sea water while snorkeling and thinking about how much I must look like bait, which resulted in much flailing and choking and coughing which made me look even more like bait.

No snorkeling in Italy.

I did wake up believing there will be an angry guard at the airport demanding to see my entire immunization history. This dream did not end in the cage fight and/or sudden disappearance of all articles of clothing as is customary, but instead with me wide awake, trying to find an immediate solution. I solved the problem by binging The Widow until 3am, which is about a plane crash. FYI.

So I called my doctor this morning and opened with an apology for existing, as is customary in these situations. Then I laughed at how silly I was for needing an answer to a question that everyone else is clearly born knowing. I convinced myself that the Care Coordinator I spoke with hates me and thinks I’m an idiot. They said they would call back and let me know. About the vaccinations. Not whether she thinks I’m an idiot.

After that, I went to the bank to order Euros. Which essentially means I set $100 on fire so I could overtip everyone in Italy in appropriate currency. This was a much bigger deal than I had anticipated. I was greeted by the lady who continues to enjoy full benefit of her employment at this bank in spite of the fact that she has turned every transaction that we do at this branch into a three-ring shit show involving multiple visits, many apologies, passive-aggressive blame shifting and repeated signing of documentation.

But it’s right across the street and how hard can it be to order Euros?

I don’t even know this woman’s name. But she was there, and appeared to be training a new associate, which does not seem like a good idea but whatever.

“I want to buy $500 in Euros.” I said.

“You want to buy $500 in American dollars in Euros?” she asked.

“I want to buy $500 worth of Euros and pay in American dollars,” I said, figuring that covered everything.

“So you want $500 American dollars.”

“I want to withdraw $500 American dollars, purchase as much as that will allow me to buy in Euros and then take them with me to Europe to spend.” There.

“Because some people want to buy $500 in American dollars for Euros.”

“I have no idea what the fuck you are talking about and neither do you,” I did not say.

Meanwhile, the teller smiled reassuringly and called the appropriate department, took my ID and ordered the currency. After which they said they were sending her a receipt, which seemed to be a big problem for the trainer. I could tell because she smiled in that passive aggressive non-smiley way. She called the department back and carefully explained their job to them while they carefully told her she didn’t know what the fuck she was talking about.

She hung up and told me they must be new. I smiled. She told me I didn’t have to wait for the receipt they were emailing because I wasn’t paying for it until I picked it up.

No way I was falling for that. The last time she said “you can just wait for us to call you” I had to come back with my immunization records.

Just a few minutes later the “receipt” came, which was not a receipt. It was a form I would need to sign when I picked up the currency.


My doctor called on the way home and confirmed that I do not need to worry about vaccinations as I am up to date, unless I want to start hepatitis in case I want to drink dirty water or have sex with strangers.

I declined.

Next: Testing This Weird Pillow for Airplane Sleeping










6 thoughts on “Eat, Swear, Loathe – Part 1: Preparing for my trip to Italy

  1. I took a two month trip to Europe last summer. I did not bother getting any Euros prior to the trip. I just took my ATM card – there are ATM’s everywhere. You can’t even go into a bank in Europe and ask to exchange dollars for Euros (only the largest banks might do this). Put in your ATM card, and get Euros back – easy peasy. If you want to be extra careful, then only use ATMS that are inside a bank (instead of on the street or in a convenience store, etc). That way, you don’t have to worry about skimmers and the like. I usually took out 200-300 Euro at a time — you don’t want to just take out 40 Euro every day or you’ll be paying quite a bit in transaction fees. I also took my credit card and used that for most things (no foreign transaction fee for mine and the exchange rate is always great). Use your common sense about keeping your belongings safe, keep your cash, credit cards, and passport on your person (and take pickpocketing precautions) and you’ll be fine. Have a blast!

    1. I’m doing a tour – cash was for tips and such, felt better at least starting out with some already done. Yes, no foreign tran fees on my card either. How exciting to spend two months! Perhaps I will be braver next time.

  2. You asked for what at a local bank? Ya you like punishment. I get the hard hat and swim fins but thats going from kink to hardcore s&m. Mostly m. Been a while since overseas but usually easier to exchange at airport ,Hotel , and almost always a better exchange rate. Take travelers checks. Wad of currency like painting a target with neon arrows pointing at soft underside. Doesnt hurt to tell credit card reps you going overseas either. Fraud detection false postives can shut a card.

    1. The cash, unfortunately, is necessary *suspenseful music* This bank branch is particularly disappointing but I felt better having that done. Yep, did the credit cards this morning. Now to pack my bags….

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