Story 6 of 6

By Marla Iyer and Kristen Winkworth, KAB Members

I remember it was Sunday at the 2018 International Breast Cancer Paddlers’ Commission (IBCPC) Festival in Florence, Italy. And it was stinking hot. The port-a-potties were marginally better than they had been the day before. I won’t go into detail… you get the picture.

Knot A Breast Breast Cancer Survivor Dragon Boat Team had two races on the last day of the Festival at which 128 teams with over 3,000 people from 28 countries participated. Somehow, by the skin of our teeth, we managed to nose ahead and win this international participatory event!!

Kristen and I were flying home early Monday morning so we had already checked out of the hotel and had brought all our luggage with us to the venue. KAB member, Anna Candelori, had organized a celebratory dinner (win or lose, we raced our best) for after the races. There was no time to taxi back to the hotel so we all piled into the rented bus and drove into downtown Florence for dinner. We were famished. Ristorante Pizzeria was very quaint (as they all are in Italy!). We had a room to ourselves in the basement. I remember it was blessedly air conditioned… and I don’t even like air conditioning! But it was hot. And we had raced all day.  We were still wearing our race clothes. Again, you get the picture.

Three or four long tables had been set up for us and the dishes were brought in and served family style. Yum! Pizza, pasta, all the delicious Italian fare we had enjoyed since we arrived a week earlier. To tell the truth, I can’t remember everything we ate. But the vino was fabulous! Chianti is now my wine of choice.

After speeches and dessert (again… What was it? Maybe just more vino) the rest of the team got back on the bus to the hotel, and Kristen and I started our adventure home. I think it was midnight. We rolled our luggage through the streets and eventually arrived at the train station. There were lots of people still out on the streets, however the train station was deserted. And closed. Odd. Our train was supposed to roll through around 2:30 AM.  We sat beside the tracks on our platform and waited. A few more people arrived, but really, who takes the 2:30 AM train to Venice? Kristen kept watch while I dozed off, only to be awoken by an announcement that our train was delayed. We did eventually catch the train and arrived in Venice with plenty of time to find a way to the airport. Water taxi? I think it might have been!

By the time Kristen’s husband Jim picked us up in Toronto on Monday, we had been travelling for 24 hours and were still wearing our race clothes! I pity the people who sat beside us on the plane… oh wait… that was us beside each other!!

It was quite an adventure and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.