Friday, October 30, 2015

Rising to the Challenge of Trip Planning

Rome. Naples. Palermo. Stromboli (the place not the food).

Sounds fabulous.  And it will be, I am sure.  But, tonight, I stare at AirBnB and Marriott and all the other sites that I know.  And then, there is the aha!  That is where I want to be! Except not really.  I want to be on the coast and in the mountains.  I want to have the view and be in city center.  I want the fancy kitchen and the close by restaurants.  And of course, the time to go to cooking school in each city.

I also want to be in the best reasonable seats at the opera in Naples and have good seats on the train from Rome.  Decisions, decisions.  It requires discipline, research, money and a little leap of faith.  Or a big one.

In a recent article in the New York Times, a young man told a tale of horror.  Nothing about his trip turned out the way he planned.  I personally have had great success with airbnb, but I understand the caution.  I have not traveled alone on these trips  This young man did.

Then there is the concern of the immigrant situation in Europe as told by many, but this article included the plight of Rome, which is where we are headed.  My heart breaks with the thought of planning a vacation, when so many are lost.  So many things to think about.

Migrants_in_romeAn image of contemporary Rome

And then, I remember that I won't be at work for two straight weeks.  Sixteen days total. Limited computers, lots of walking, thighs burning from stairs and laughing at how bedraggled I have become. Dragging suitcases up stairs and running through the market with the awe of a child seeing all the things new to me.  Especially the fish markets, that do not stock Florida fish...

Two weeks of no office and no confrontations, no negotiations and no bosses.  Just the opportunity of a new day every day and new experiences.

internet photo

That alone will improve my posture and improve my gait.  It will make my neck a little longer and my legs a little quicker.  I won't be driving so my left leg will re-engage.  I won't be sitting, so my core will have to work for its food.  The plus part of a late year vacation in Europe: fewer tourists, lower temperatures, fewer lines, a little less expensive.  On some trips, a little too cool. Small price to pay.

Departure day arrives and as we depart at the airport, my husband says not to worry about his new cast (he just had surgery) to have fun and to not worry.  This means, please write me and think of me.  I am sure he wants to milk this for the hunting trip to Kansas he wants to make in late November.

The long flight over is filled with older folks ( including me) but other people with white hair.  The ones that surrendered to the grey or white and joined the elderhostel crowds.  And a few very elderly Italian men traveling alone, looking lost.  One across the aisle, one such man can't figure out how to put the earplugs into the monitor or how to choose Italian on the screen. The ear buds come with the two prong insert, which is no longer needed.  I just can't stand to see him struggle, so of course I am up.

I climb over my seat mate and go to help him.  He can't hear well, so it really doesn't matter that I can't speak Italian.  I pat his arm and gently take the ear plugs and unwind them.  Then I remove the two prong insert and plug the mike in to the slot.  I hand him the ear plugs and he tells me, " gratcie, gratcie".  I am sure that is not how to spell it, but it is how it sounds.

He goes to sleep after the meal and I worry not about him for now.

The plane is packed and it is surprising how quiet it is.  even the babies know it is night and we are flying.  I think it is harder for older folks to sleep than the babies.  The fellow next to me dozed, then woke and restarted the "Godfather" and then dozed again.  How does one sleep through the "Godfather"?  Don't they shoot and kill people in that movie?  This must be a man thing.  Like sleeping through baseball and missing the grand slam.

The plane ride is ridiculously long and not the fault of the airline people.  It is just a long overnight flight sitting up, waiting to arrive in a a fabulous location.  A first world problem I am sure my children would say.

internet photo

Out to the airport in Rome, I ask my traveling friend if it feels like home. He says yes, go left. At this point, I am glad we have both agreed on the car to the apartment in Trastevere. The good news is the driver knew exactly where to go. The bad news is we arrived in rush hour traffic. Lovely ride though outskirts of Rome and we were so pleased that the flat looks just like the photo.

Exhausted on the first day, we stroll along the Tiber River walk south of the area we are staying.  The weather is wet and drizzles are on my coat.  I worry more about footing on the slick cobblestone pavement of the roads than about my damp hair or the wet coat.

We decide to turn back and my hair is increasingly curly from the rain.  We stop at a tourist restaurant to eat because my travel partner says he ate there before and it was good.  I said it is a tourist restaurant.  He says, "it's great"!  I say, he has this and only this day to choose where we eat.

There is more to tell, but it will be tomorrow.