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This is a travel post about how to travel with an invisible disability (C-PTSD, TBI, deafness, Asperger’s) and visible disability (Down syndrome). It includes access notes and opinions about parenting and travel.

Travel with an Invisible Disability

I wrote a post on traveling with a disability in Budapest that is focused on physical access but touches on deaf, blind and other access. But I realized after I wrote it that I didn’t cover a lot of things that I actually do while traveling, and how I make things work for myself with an invisibility disability when traveling (with my C-PTSD, TBI, deaf), for Moxie (with Down syndrome) and for Micah (with Asperger’s). And I need to finish telling the story of Budapest, so I’ll do that all in this post.

You can, however, jump to the end of this post for the summary with lists of everything that I use for travel with an invisible disability.

Why I Came to Travel to Budapest in the First Place

To recap: I was originally going to go to Europe with my mom and my 3 little kids. My mom changed her plans last minute, and decided to meet us much later in the trip. With Eurail passes already purchased, I decided rather spontaneously to go to Budapest.

I booked an Air B n’ B and reserved a night train while I was in Amsterdam, and without knowing much more about Budapest, left.

After arriving, I slammed up against grumpy people and things were looking kind of grim. But then I met a deaf lady….

Connecting with Locals in Budapest

Meeting the deaf lady in the train diner in Lahel Ter was a modern day version of meeting a fairy who sprinkled stardust over the world and caused all the smiling rainbows and unicorns to appear. Because everything after that was just great.

Budapest shimmered, people weren’t as grumpy and we made friends.

mack and Micah at Szechenyi baths

We went to some famous places

Szechenyi Baths with an Invisible Disability (and Kids!)

The Szechenyi Baths – which was the heart of the reason why I wanted to come to Budapest in the first place.
travel with invisible disability in budapest: image of 3 children with brown hair looking at camera and smiling and a woman with invisible disability also smiling; there is water behind them; they are at the szechenyi bath in budapest

It was incredible and all that it seemed it would be. Like bathing in a freaking palace, complete with multiple baths, pools, whirlpools and water jets.
In terms of all of our disabilities, the most challenging piece was staying together.

Moxie does not bolt anymore, but I don’t think I’ll ever really recover from her doing so.
Her suit is neon-rainbow for a reason: it’s easy for me to spot her in it. I also kept her – and the boys – by me for the whole time.

The water means no hearing aids for me, which is fine with the kids, but makes communication with anyone else more difficult (as then I am relying 100% on lipreading, which, as we all know, is an imperfect science).

kids in the warm pools at SzechenyiMy kids are many things.

Unable to go to the bathroom when there is a bathroom stop right there (but then desperately needing to 5 minutes later when there are no toilets around), hard squabblers, occasional whiners.  But one thing they sure have down is bathing in hot water!

They are pretty amazing in how adept they are in the baths, how much they visibly enjoy a good soak in quality mineral water.

Both Moxie and Micah’s disabilities lend them a propensity and strong attraction for and with water, but I think that all of the visits we’ve made to hot springs since they were babies have done a lot in developing their hot tub skills.

two children in the hot pool in the szechenyi baths

It cracks me up in how they turn in to little reincarnations of Japanese old people when they get into a hot bath – all, “aaaaaaaaah” and go silent except for an occasional sigh of delight.

So we went to Szechenyi and other baths, and then mosied on over to the castle by way of the funicular tram

The Castle and the Funicular Tram

funicular tram in budapest

kids in funicular tram in budapest
Up the Funicular Tram in Budapest

Travel with an Invisible Disability at the Budapest Castle

I’m not one for touristy stuff.

Big crowds wear me out and when I’m worn out, my hearing shuts off and I shut down.

By “shut down,” I mean that my TBI goes into overdrive, I can’t remember much, I get disoriented easily, I can also easily be triggered.

Being prepared goes a long way. That’s both in mental preparation (- just psyching myself up for something that I know is coming), and actual physical preparations. I knew there would be crowds for the castle and funicular tram, and I was as prepared as I could be.

meriah nichols and kids by the castle in budapest overlooking chain bridge

Which by “prepared” means that my watch was programmed to nudge me to breathe more, I was extra set for the day so there would be no hiccups or melt downs from the kids that I’d need to deal with as I myself was having a hard time from triggers (- so, set up with lots of water, enough cash, snacks, zip fizz,  external battery charger, extra tram tickets, map apps set with directions).

mack and moxie look at budapest

All the things!

I feel like I should already have received a Master’s Degree in Organizational Motherhood.

the kids in front of budapest lookout
So there we were, with millions of tourists around us on top of Budapest with the castle right there.

 

I was feeling so prepared and full of Mommy With It-Ness that I decided to chance going into the art museum in the castle.

kids in art museum

The Art Museum in the Budapest Castle

When I was a kid, I could (and would) stand in front of paintings for hours. There was so much in it all that I wanted to absorb, right down to brush strokes and light capture.

My parents were unfailingly indulgent with me in this and let me stay as long as possible, only gently peeling me away when the museum was closing or we were going to miss the last train back.

I still love museums to that degree, so of course I had to try. Now, I’m saying, “try” because my kids haven’t really been to museums. I mean, they live in Hilo, Hawai’i – small town in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and before that, they were in a yurt off the grid on the Lost Coast.

Art, they’ve seen and practiced plenty. Museums are kind of a foreign concept for them.

So there they were, all, “MOMMY THAT LADY IS NAKED!!” – with Micah’s eyes widening and looking quickly away and shying his head so he wouldn’t see anymore, walking by fast and Mack and Moxie planting themselves in front of any and all naked paintings

child walking by paitnings

They were loud! They ran around! They got the guards really worried!

view from art castleI had to reign them in and basically bribe them to spend a smidgen of some quiet time in there

I do think that it would have been awesome if it had been more interactive with kids (like a scavenger hunt for finding some paintings? Kid-friendly information on paintings?)

Or maybe if I knew more about it all and could provide that myself.

Anyway.

I think I got some love of it all lightly slathered on for them, I think they like art museums more than they did to start with, so I’ll take it as a win.

view of budapest

Last Slices of Budapest

Budapest is a beautiful city.

boy looking at the city of budapest

It has a way to go with regard to disability access, and it’s worth going – as in, it’s worth going that extra mile and implementing everything it can to become accessible, because the city itself is so beautiful.

Everyone should be able to enjoy this place, and to connect with the lovely people who live here.

It’s true that Budapest started off rough for us – so much so that I was wondering if we should even stay.

But it ended up so, so sweet. We didn’t want to leave.

 

invisible disability in budapest: a boy with an orange shirt in front of the train station

How to Travel with an Invisible Disability

Travel Tips for Traveling with Specific Invisible Disability

Obviously, I can’t cover everyone’s invisible disability. I am a seasoned traveler though, and I know the disabilities that I experience with my family very well, and how we “do it” – how we make travel such an enjoyable experience for all of us.

A lot of what I do is unconscious: I just know it works and I do it without a lot of planning, it’s second nature. I had to really stop and think some of these through for you to articulate exactly WHAT I do for my kids and myself, and WHY I do it.

If you have any specific travel questions or you are stumped in trying to make something work for you or your child, please email me and I’d be glad to help.

Asperger’s:

  • Information: my son has Asperger’s and one of the most important pieces in keeping him neutral and happy is for him to have as much information as possible in advance or when there. So, we read up as much as possible about a place in advance, and most importantly, we get a map of the place upon arrival. If they don’t give out maps, I take a photo of the map where I can find it for him, or take a screenshot of a map in an app.
  • Rules: he wants to know what the rules are, always, and we go over those too, whenever present for his ease of mind.
  • Snacks, water, breaks: Snacks, water and breaks are an integral part of keeping meltdowns at bay. I can’t stress how important this is!
  • Processing: he needs to have extra processing for everything we do. So, if we finish going to a museum, for example, I’ll get the kids an ice-cream (- which is a snack and a  break) and talk about what happened, what was their favorite part, least favorite part, etc. Then, having wrapped up that activity, we talk about what’s next, the next plan, and look at the map, give him lots of structure.

Down syndrome:

  • Escaping or Bolting: my daughter has Down syndrome and while she no longer bolts, I use these tips for traveling with her. This is not specific to international travel (- I do it while at home at Target too), but I periodically call a family meeting (where we group together in a huddle) and have the children repeat after me, “we stay together.” “We are a team.” “We do not wander off.” “We stay together.” “We are calm.” “We stay together.” (- yes, lots of repetition!). I do this whenever I think it’s likely to get kind of crazy, or when they are excited, or when I think they might be inclined to run off. I also do this when they’ve already done just that, so we can re-group.
  • Stranger interaction: she doesn’t have a lot of boundaries with strangers, so I make sure to keep her by me. In some cases, I’ll let her go ahead of me, as long as she is in easy sight and I know I can reach her in a few seconds if needed.
  • Clear communication: I give her many “first, then” conversations. “First we go to that pool, then we go to that one.” and so forth. The more clear everything is laid out (and this goes for my son with Asperger’s as well), then the less likely a meltdown will occur.
  • Deep breaths: my daughter can be enraged by something her little brother does (or something else!), and will start shrieking or hitting him or the table or is tempted to throw something. We work on deep breaths, and calm downs. Then I try to figure out what is going on. She often does not have words for her rage or the injustice of what just occurred, so it’s helpful if we can breathe, calm down, then figure out how to move forward before it escalates..

Deaf

I’m deaf and my kids and I are still learning ASL.

  • Lipreading: They are aware when I take my hearing aids out and I’m relying solely on lipreading. While this is not an issue in communicating with them (because I’m used to the way their mouths move), it’s extra important that my older son (with Asperger’s) stays close so he can tell me if he hears something important (like on a loudspeaker or someone announces something, or asks a question).
  • General communication: my son does tell me when someone says something and I didn’t hear it (- even with hearing aids on), or as a general “translation.” This Is a great role for him, because he likes to be in charge, and he likes to know what is happening.
  • Printed material/visuals: in general though, I always use apps or printed materials. I read my way through traveling and it’s really not a big deal. I feel like international travel is absolutely ideal for deaf people, because we tend to be  so visual and also tend to be absolutely fantastic with nonverbal communication. In international travel, there is usually a language barrier and most people (who are not Americans) don’t expect you to know their language. I think there is a distinct deaf advantage, in being skilled at figuring out what is going on when you don’t hear or understand the verbiage.

C-PTSD and TBI

I have chronic post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

In terms of traveling, this boils down to:

  • Apps: I use a lot of apps! I use apps to remember to breathe, I use apps to remember things, take notes, keep things collected. I think the most important thing is for me to remember to breathe, because if I do, everything else comes together easier.
  • Breaks and Rest: it seems like a no-brainer, but I have to remember to take breaks and get adequate rest so that I don’t get triggered or shut down.

In Summary

It feels weird for me to say how to travel with an invisible disability, or to collect notes on what we do.

But the truth of the matter is that we DO have a lot of disability in our family and we DO enjoy traveling tremendously. I would love to see more families in the disability community traveling (especially internationally), so I hope some of these tips are helpful.

This is about disability access in Budapest. It includes deaf access in Budapest, blind access, and physical access in Budapest. There are links to helpful organizations and other posts at the end of this article.

Budapest was a real shock for me after the Netherlands, because one country (- the Netherlands) is the absolute best country I’ve ever seen for every kind of disability access.

Budapest, while not the worst, has a long way to go to become accessible.

Physical Access in Budapest

I don’t know how someone would be able to use a wheelchair and be able to access Budapest.

While there some areas in which curb cuts are employed and the sidewalks are great (like this one)

accessible sidewalk in budapestMost of the access is inconsistent.

You just don’t know when it’s going to be great or when you’ll hit stairs, super narrow sidewalks (with cars parked on it), flower planters in the way or something. My double BOB stroller -which is the exact size of a wheelchair – was too much for me to navigate after the first day. I gave up and left it at Susie’s Place (the Air B n’ B).

I counted the number of people that I saw using a wheelchair in the week that I was in Budapest.

There were two.

stairs in station in budapestI also saw one woman, whom I will never forget – she was struggling with her crutches to walk a short distance which would have been easy to cover had it been accessible and had she had the right tools.

Budapest Mass Transit for Physical Access

They say that the Metro line 4 is completely accessible, as is the Tram Line 2 (see the notes below), but – really?!!

physical access in budapest

I was always looking for elevators and never once found one that went to the actual train platforms.

Furthermore, the escalators would cause major issues for anyone with balance issues.

Some of the trams were more accessible than others:

Budapest accessible tramWhile the door came close to being flush with the platform, I didn’t see any trams that were without stairs.

Maybe there are some cars on the Number 2 line that are specifically marked and don’t have stairs? I’m not an expert on this; I just didn’t see any that were really fully physically accessible, so I kept my stroller (which is the exact size of a wheelchair) at home the entire time.

 

Budapest Baths for Disability Access

I was really wondering before I came to Budapest how accessible their famous baths are.

Szechenyi Bath for physical accessWhile their signs tout disabled access, I saw no people with physical disabilities in any of them, nor did I see ramps or lifts into the water. None of the lockers were accessible, nor were the toilets, showers, changing rooms (called “cabins”).

I’m willing to wager that “bathing disabled access” in Budapest might mean that an attendant would carry someone with a disability into the water.

There might be another secret to the access (a back entrance? a hidden ramp?), but I don’t know what it is.

Budapest for the Deaf

I think Budapest is pretty accessible for us d/Deaf.

Signs are everywhere, it’s a very visual city.

All of the trams and trains have visual displays for the stops, clearly reading what is coming next and so forth. Maps are everywhere, not many people speak English anyway, so it’s pretty easy to figure out what is going on through our Deaf Skillz.

visual signs in the tram on budapestI did not go to the famous Ruin Bars (or any bars for that matter). I was just a mom traveling with her little kids. I don’t know how the nightlife would be for us d/Deaf in Budapest; I simply assume it would be just as easy to navigate as it is at home when it’s loud and no one else can hear and we are at an advantage!

In terms of signed language, like I wrote, I met a Deaf couple in Budapest and had a very enjoyable conversation with them. The woman was quite fluent in ASL; the man only signed a Hungarian sign language.

Apparently, there was a long history of sign language suppression in Hungary because the Communists feared that signed language would be used by spies, and/or would promote political/social unrest. Signed language was forbidden for years. The result was that a multitude Deaf communities and languages emerged in Hungary, one for each institution/community.

The woman that I spoke with said that many Hungarians know ASL. This makes sense – if Hungarian signed language was suppressed for decades, then ASL would be an easy back up.

I also met a deaf woman working as a cashier at a supermarket checkout stand.

She was like me – with powerful hearing aids and neck loop and speaking. She also used signed language and we had a nice short chat. I thought that the fact that she was hired as a cashier was a positive for the employment of deaf people, but of course, I’m sure the fact that she speaks has something to do with it. I wonder what the employment levels are like for people who sign only, and/or for people who don’t speak?

Budapest for the Blind

I saw quite a few people out and about using their white canes in Budapest.

I thought that Budapest seemed just as accessible for the blind as it was for us deaf. All of the visual displays, my kids told me, were being announced.

The only problem then would be in being able to understand what was being announced. Something that we would read as one thing would be quite different with the correct accent!

The design in the city was not, I thought, very blind-friendly.

There were ATMs and machines tucked into walls which would make it pretty impossible for a blind user to tell it was there. I saw a lot of sudden swerves, dips and bi-passes on sidewalks without safety barriers – I think that would be really scary for a blind traveler.

It reminded me of a fantastic talk I attended years ago in which a Ukrainian man detailed all of the access barriers they faced in the Ukraine, and what they were trying to change. Budapest reminded me a lot of that talk.

Budapest for People with Down Syndrome

I was searching for people with Down syndrome to connect with in Budapest.

I actually saw an adult woman with Down syndrome on the metro with what seemed to be her mother. I actually followed her for a while, until it became clear that she wanted to smile at my daughter Moxie, but had no interest in talking with me or interacting with any of us.

Then while playing at a park, we met the most wonderful family with a child with Down syndrome!

My daughter and their daughter became fast friends and we enjoyed time with the family, even going to their home for a delicious Hungarian meal.

We talked a lot about Down syndrome in Hungary and Budapest. The mother told me that the countries that border Hungary do still institutionalize people with Down syndrome, but that Hungary does not. If a parent decides they do not want a child with Down syndrome, the child is placed in an adoptive or foster family. She said that it is not difficult to find a home for a child with Down syndrome.

The parents said that the education system is still a challenge. Their daughter attends a private English-speaking school (so she speaks English!). Children with Down syndrome are always segregated in Hungary, never included in general education. The family that I spoke to are not sure how they will continue in the future. They are just doing what they can, trying, and helping their daughter live her best life and fulfill her potential.

Disability in Budapest

Disability access and inclusion has a long way to go in Budapest.

While the Deaf access in Budapest is great in terms of getting around the city, I have no idea how it is with access in education and Budapest is inaccessible enough so that one rarely sees anyone with a physical disability on the street.

The city being so incredibly beautiful, I would love to see that change in the way that their playgrounds have so that they become of a model of access, design and inclusion.

Read More From Others on Disability in Budapest:

How the Disability Community is Developing in Budapest

Accessible Budapest: How to Enjoy the City with Limited Mobility – this article has really specific details which I liked. I did not notice any of the things that it speaks of (– elevators on Metro Line 4?! Where were they? Also, fully accessible Tram Line 2?! Really?! Accessible Szechenyi and Gellert? I did not see any of that), but I’m including this link because I think if you have a disability that affects mobility, it’s useful to have a list of what is SUPPOSED to be accessible so you can ask about it. That’s this list, or this official one from the office of Budapest public transport

Sage Traveling: The European Disabled Travel Experts: cut the chase and connect with these folks. They offer accessible tours, a run-down of accessible hotels and places to stay in Budapest and more.

Deaf Club in Budapest – I found this link just now and I sorely wish I had seen in before visiting Budapest. This looks so great!!

The Invisible Exhibition: an experiential exhibition on being blind (well, “being blind for 15 minutes without any pre-text or context, which is ultimately really unlike a real blind experience”)

This is a photo-heavy travel post about Budapest

I was fascinated by so much that I saw in Budapest.

The grocery stores, markets, food

Spaces, things available to the public.

book cart in budapestwater fountain on groundbike rental in budapestwreath on a wall in budapestscooter parking in budapestPlaygrounds

The playgrounds were so nicely designed, new, cushy, the kind every child wants to spend time in.

beautiful playground in Budapest with child on the rope walkway
children playing on a mound in a playground in budapest
child on rope path
children on round swing

The buildings in Budapest are famous for a reason: they are almost unbearably lovely.

beautiful row of old buildings in Budapest
old apartment building in budapest
hungarian parliament? something important
liberty bridge in budapest
geraniums on window sill in budapest

The doors are like art; the details made my soul ache with the beauty.

door in budapest
bridge lamp detail in budapest
geraniums in window sill in budapest
bridge details in budapest

But I found after a while that I didn’t care very much anymore about how gorgeous everything was.

I was just unhappy with how mean and grumpy everyone seemed to be.

You know, I’d walk up to a little kiosk and smile and make eye contact and emit ALL THE GOOD VIBES and ask for some bread or something and the sales person would visibly roll their eyes and all but spit at the bread before handing it to me.

chimney cakesIt was like they could not be more put out by being there, by our existence, by absolutely everything surrounding them.

Add that to heat, miles of walking, trying to figure things out and you’ll get a mom who was getting increasingly put off by the attitude, less willing to shine the good vibes.

Even though I suspected that I could be in the wrong areas at the wrong time – or in a tourist zone? Or just unlucky? – I was seriously thinking of just leaving because there didn’t seem to be a point to being in a place that, however gorgeous, was just mean.

The Railroad Museum of Budapest

We went to the Railroad Museum when I was feeling no positive vibes and ready  to leave the next day.

It took a long time to get there – about 6 transfers through Metro and Tram (we left the stroller at home through the entire trip to Budapest on account of the flights of stairs and lack of overall access).

kids on subway in budapestsubway in budapestshop in subwaywalking undersground in budapestwalking in budapestI noticed that people got nicer as we got further from the city proper.

They looked less grumpy. We got more smiles – even if just eye smiles or eye warmth.

I thought later how impossibly different Hilo is from Budapest – I mean, the town where everyone smiles at everyone else and says hello, waves shaka, with the city where everyone walks around like their house just burned down.

little girl holding bread and cheeseAnyway, so.

Like I was saying, people were getting a little warmer with more transfers we had, then we were at the Railroad Museum.

The Railroad Museum was cool.

trains at the railroad museum
trains at the railroad museum
child in front of train entry
view from old train

The people there seemed nice and I definitely enjoyed all of their trains. As did the kids.

child in an old train
inside an old train
two children on an old train car
child smiling on a miniture train
child with arm up on miniture train
going through tunnel on a miniature train
engineers taking a break at the railrway museum
train at the museum

We made our way back

in between trainstrains on tracklittle girl running by trainsopen gate to circus rides walking down tree-lined sidewalk in suburban Pestplayground and outdoor open gym in PestWe made our way by walking, then via trams to the subway station and decided to stop for a bite to eat at a station eatery (that looked remarkably like a Mexican taqueria).

Hungarian train station eatery with child eatingWe got food, settled in, and after a while, Micah told me that people at the back of me seemed to be deaf, signing.

I turned and sure enough!

We started talking, and it felt like I was home.

The lady spoke ASL; the man only Hungarian sign.

But we had the best conversation about just.. stuff.

Everything and nothing and it felt so easy and wonderful to talk to them and laugh at their (many) jokes (like she couldn’t believe all of my kids were from the same father, and joked that I had a lot of guys stashed around with all these kids of mine).

We laughed and laughed and it felt sooooooooooo good after holding all that tension inside – it was like the steam blowing out from a pressure cooker. 

Tears slipped out of the corners of my eyes from the delicious release of all the pressure and joy of friendship and through the laughter my heart opened to Budapest.

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This is a travel post about arriving in the train station Budapest and finding our way to the Air B n’ B through public transport.

Budapest dazzled and intrigued me as we stepped off the train at the Kaleti station.

Like a glorious glass lace building, it’s arches soared and sunlight poured in. It was easily the most exquisitely luxurious train station I’d ever been in, and yet, bordering the hall were distinctly communist-type shops, titled simply by what they sold, “Tobacco” or “Grocery”; “Luggage”. Even the fonts used harkened back to communist Russia, and reminded me of China.

in kaleti budapest train station, two shops next to each other, one reading grocery store" and the other reading "tobbaco shop"

We went to the Starbucks across the street first for the wifi and to get our bearings. I downloaded the directions and address to the Air B n’B we’d be staying at, and tried to condense the bags into the suitcase (because things always seem to spread out after some time on a train).

Once ready, we went back to the station to get to the underground. I had told Susie, who owned the Air B n’ B that we were going to be staying at, that I would be traveling with a heavy suitcase, huge stroller and 3 little kids. She had given me directions to her place. I have to admit that I was really surprised when we got to the metro station and found that there were NO ELEVATORS.

There were only escalators, and I’m talking, escalators that go into the bowels of the earth, like, escalators so long that it takes like, 20 minutes just to ride them going down to the station.

I gulped.

Big heavy suitcase, stroller, all of us with backpacks.

I was nervous. But I while I was probably justified in being nervous about that stuff, I hadn’t even considered the fact that Mack and Moxie had no clue as to how to ride an escalator!

Later on, I was slapping my head, I mean, OF COURSE they don’t know! We live in HILO, HAWAII, where there are two escalators, both located in the airport the kids have never flown from! Before Hilo, we lived in a yurt on the Lost Coast of California, where they sure have bears, mountain lions, scorpions and fields of marijuana but nary an escalator in sight.

Unthinking, I was gripping the suitcase in one hand and the double BOB in the other, and urging Mack and Moxie to get on after me. Mack was screaming and crying, wanting to hold my hand – I was already on the escalator and being pulled away. Right then, an old Hungarian woman grabbed Mack by the hand and led him over and helped him on, holding his hand firmly the whole way down. Another elder did the same for Moxie, and the kids made their way down that terrifyingly long way to the subway.

Once there, we wound around the tunnel to the train car, caught the train and it was at the very next stop that we were to disembark.

I admit I was a little ticked off with Susie as we navigated those escalators once more. I just couldn’t understand why she would recommend we take that whole route, when she knew what we were coming with.

Anyway, I shrugged it off and focused on trying to figure out the next step: the tram.

I asked person after person where the tram was, showing them the directions that had the Hungarian names on it. No one knew, people simply shrugged and said, “no” and walked away. I was feeling like I was back in Communist China (when it was really Communist), really trying to figure something out, pouring sweat as I moved something heavy and met with shrugs and nonchalence.

I found that the only way up to the trams was up a double flight of stairs.

I sighed and got ready to carry it all up when a  little old woman (what is it with these old women?!) came over and tried to lift the suitcase for me. I thanked her and said no and took the suitcase and somehow hauled it up, but was so much happier just have someone care.

Then I went and got the stroller up, and the kids and I found the tram – once I saw all of the stairs to the tram, the narrow doors,  throngs of people, and the tiny margin of time allowed for boarding, I knew I couldn’t do it. I mean, I knew I wouldn’t be able to get the kids, the suitcase and the stroller and myself all in those doors with all the other people around in the 2 minutes or so they give you.

I figured the Air B n’ B had to be close by, since that last stop was only one away. I thought it had to be less stressful to just walk it.

Finding the Air B n’ B

Four hours later, we found it.

Yes, four hours of walking, wandering around in the neighborhood that the apartment was in.

So many times we were in spitting distance, like we just walked on streets just one or two over from the one we wanted… and yet each and every time I showed the address and asked someone where it was, they just said, “no” and looked away.

I was getting pretty frustrated, like, ‘can you even look at the address? Can you even see if you know it? Do you have to just say, “no” right offhand?

I finally found it, and once there, kind of cried when I saw that instead of it being on the second floor (as Susie had assured me), it was actually on the third floor, and each floor had two flights of stairs – so it was more like 6 flights of stairs for me, my arms, the suitcase and the stroller.

It was a beautiful apartment – high, high ceilings, so much space and a lovely design.

The smell of stale of smoke was overwhelming, so I found the windows – double windows! – And opened them, and loved how the curtains lifted with the breeze and the light came in.

I couldn’t find any wifi though. So I gathered the kids up again and left the apartment in search of someplace with free wifi so that I could contact Susie to figure out what was up.

I found the wifi, a few blocks away in a movie theatre, contacted Susie.

Susie said did indeed have wifi and all kinds of helpful information (including the password) that was kept in a mysterious folder that the cleaning lady may have forgotten to leave… but that I should be able to find the password and network somewhere on the router. Thanks, Susie!

We all walked back to the apartment, walked up the flights of stairs, and eventually found the router, network and password and all was well.

But I kind of hated Susie by that point.

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