#33 (Muggia, Italy - Split, Croatia)

Snow. Lots of it. Everywhere. It is twilight and we are many hundred meters above sea level and the ground all around us is blanketed in a thick wet mass of ice and slush and powder. It is dark and we are cold.

We want to camp but there is nowhere to camp. Nowhere suitable for a picky pair of campers like us, anyway. I suppose we can camp in the snow. I suppose that's something people do. But our tent is thin and technically sold as a "three-season" tent. Nowhere does it list which three seasons it covers, but my money's on all the ones that aren't winter. Because of the snow. Because camping in the snow is nowhere near as fun and enjoyable and comfortable as camping in the not-snow.

#32 (Ventimiglia, Italy - Muggia, Italy)

It is colder in Europe than it is at the north pole.

Literally. The temperature at the north pole is above freezing, maybe one or two degrees Centigrade. Which is a little terrifying, because there's a lot of ice up there that's supposed to remain frozen.

Meanwhile, it is well below freezing here in Europe. Some parts of northern Europe are below forty (Celsius, Fahrenheit, doesn't matter; minus forty is minus forty either way). It's not that extreme down in Italy, but it's still pretty damn cold.

#31 (Le Pennes-Mirabou, France - Ventimiglia, Italy)

So, Lauren's in the hospital.

It's a big, imposing hospital in the center of Marseille. This is, apparently, the only place certain to have the heavy-duty machinery required to drill through the blockages of hardened wax that have lodged themselves in each of her ear canals. Lauren has spent the past several days stoically managing the discomfort and difficulty hearing, and today is the day she gets her sense of sound back.

I, meanwhile, am playing the role of concerned and attentive partner quite well. I am several kilometers away on the Marseille waterfront rifling through items in the first Patagonia shop I've seen since leaving DC. I am like a kid in a candy store, oohing at the new line of backpacks and aahing at the latest edition of full-zip jackets.