August 24 – November 15
As promised (threatened?) in the last post, I’d like to talk a bit about Jenny Manetta, who we’ve referred to quite a few times while we recounted our month with the Greeks, and for those of you whose heads are spinning as I’ve time shifted major sections of the blog for the last six months, our overall three months in Europe last year. For those new to the blog, or plagued by a bad memory, short attention span, or possibly just early onset dementia, it might be best for us to explain who she or he is (Manetta’s gender is unclear, a sign of these changing times) and how she/he came into our lives.
Jenny first found us on our third morning in Greece. We were to meet a bus at the Athens Gate Hotel to start our five-day tour of the Peloponnese; we got there a little early and waited 30 minutes or so for the bus to arrive. When it did, we were introduced to a third party who would accompany us for the rest of the trip, Jenny Manetta. This is how it came about.
After I had made the payment for our tour I received a confirmation email and invoice and not checking it that closely, did not pick up that they had listed my last name as Manetta. And so, when the tour came to get us that morning, we almost missed it as they kept calling for Jenny Manetta, (mistaking the r’s in my name for n’s) our new name for the rest of the week.
As Joanna will recount it for us here (she denies it, but she is truly the writing talent in the family):
“Towards the end of the first day traveling from Athens to Nafplio on the big smoke green tour bus, I was alerted to my name change. Our guide had called off all of our 30 last names which were mostly pairs of people. Not hearing my last name, we deduced that the name closest to our original name was Manetta, so we became Jerry and Jenny Manetta. I was ok with this having become used to the idea through book club where if one of the members of this prestigious group felt they were going to intentionally commit a faux pas they became Tammi.”
And thus, it would become our code for our own screw ups, the useful deception an experienced traveler uses when they have yet again made an error, the Jenny Manetta moment. Our first Jenny moment occurred long before we got on the plane to fly to Athens. We’d simply brought too much bulky and heavy luggage which became our ball and chain for the entire trip, slowing down bus changes and hoping on and off crowded trains.
Our most consistent day to day Jenny sighting usually involved either not having food, water, or both when we needed them. This is one of the challenges of traveling like we did, not having a car to use as a base of operations. Thus, you have to bring what you need with you wherever you go. We consistently forgot to bring water, or enough of it and more times than I’d like to admit failed to understand long distance bus schedules, particularly those with a number of stops too short to accommodate grabbing some grub and spend many hours on the brink of starvation. Well, maybe not that bad, but we did get hungry.
And then there were the big-ticket moments, blunders so monumental they could have only been the work of Jenny because, let’s face it, Joanna and I are experienced travelers and by golly we’re good at it. So, we don’t make mistakes. Much. Shall we recount them?
- The blown hotel reservation on Naxos – Long story short, I made our original reservation for a week after we wanted to arrive. The original rate of 125 euros for three nights was a total bargain, and we would end up paying that for the two nights we actually stayed there (after I fixed the error, shorting us a night on Naxos but adding a night to Santorini), still a bargain For more details see this post: https://wordpress.com/post/3jmann.com/8507
- Ferry ticket screw up in Paros – When we bought our tickets for the ferry from Paros to Athens, the agent inadvertently printed them out for the second ferry of the day, one that departed late in the afternoon. They reprinted the correct tickets but, inexplicably, stapled the cancelled ticket to the new one. When we lined up to catch our morning ferry, we referred to the side that had the afternoon departure on the Blue Star Delos, instead of the boat we wanted, the Blue Star Naxos. Even after the Naxos showed up and people boarded we kept waiting for the Delos to come into port. Finally, our Jenny Manetta antennae started vibrating and we asked a nearby guard who informed us that we better get on the Naxos in a hurry as it was our boat and it would be pulling out of port soon. To read about it in detail, see: https://wordpress.com/post/3jmann.com/8912
- The tossed bug spray at the Athens airport – In preparation for our Camino adventure, and knowing we’d be sleeping in multi-bed hostel type accommodations where bed bugs sometimes abide, we brought a bottle of bug juice to treat our sleeping bags (it has a 40-day life span) once we got to Montpellier. We’d packed it in a bag to be checked at the Athens airport for our flight to France but at the last minute switched bags to check, forgetting to remove the bug juice. Sure enough, it got flagged at security and tossed. We’d hauled that damn thing around for a month. Fortunately, we found an equivalent in Montpellier for one-half the cost. If only we’d known that before we packed the original bottle. To see more, go to: https://wordpress.com/post/3jmann.com/8966
- The rental car missed pick up in Arles – We arranged to pick up a rental car via Hertz at their local branch in Arles on Saturday after our day trip up to Avignon. On the way back to Arles we got stung by French train authorities for our misuse of the senior discount (a 40 euro fine) and then as I’d misread the operating hours for the rental office, showed up about 15 minutes after they’d closed on a Saturday afternoon, when they would not re-open until Monday. In the end it worked out much better than we could have hoped for, a better car and a seamless experience, but there is always a few moments of self-doubt and re-crimination. For all of the downlow, go to: https://wordpress.com/post/3jmann.com/9236
The key to handling Jenny, or one of her moments, is to get the frustration and panic out of your system quickly; take a few deep breaths and if you find screaming at inanimate objects effective, do that as well. Then calmly approach the dilemma like any other challenge in life. Do any research necessary to provide additional information, ask questions of those knowledgeable around you, consider your options, make some phone calls or send some emails, and then move forward with a new plan. Often, the solution is no more complicated than simply tossing that bottle of bug juice in the trash can.
This then is the legend of Jenny Manetta, that mischievous imp, gremlin, or rapscallion that pops up in our lives from time to time and makes us realize, no matter how practiced, experienced, or knowledgeable we think we are, we’re all really just amateurs at heart. So, embrace your own personal Jenny, feed her and keep her close because without her periodic interventions, you’d be insufferable.