Well, it’s over friends. We have survived our big vacation of 2010 – our 12 day trip to Italy!
When we decided to take a big vacation this year, we wanted to 1) go international and 2) go somewhere we’d both never been before. Our brainstorming led us to a few choices: China, Europe, and Dubai. With the slightly weaker Euro and both of our desire to get to know Europe a bit better (I’d never been to the eastern hemisphere), we decided on Italy.
As an amateur travel agent, I did all the planning with the help of my esteemed travel mate. We booked flights, B&Bs, and created our itinerary on our own. We enjoy independent travel – going and doing and seeing stuff all on our own – so doing a group tour (while it might have been slightly cheaper) was out of the question.
Here was the itinerary:
Day 1 (Saturday): Arrive in Rome, Check in at B&B
Day 2 (Sunday): Explored Ancient Roman ruins, colosseum, palatino, and forum
Day 3 (Monday): Vatican, Vatican Museum, St Peter’s Basilica
Day 4 (Tuesday): Spanish Steps, Borghese Park, and Galleria Borghese
Day 5 (Wednesday): Train to Florence, Check in at B&B, Accademia Gallery (to see Michaelangelo’s David)
Day 6 (Thursday): More Florence wandering, laundry, shopping, museums
Day 7 (Friday): Travel to La Spezia, check in at Hotel Firenze e Continentale, Explore La Spezia street market and shopping
Day 8 (Saturday): Explored and Hiked the Cinque Terre
Day 9 (Sunday): More Cinque Terre – beach bummed all afternoon in Monterosso
Day 10 (Monday): Travel to Genoa – checked in at Hotel
Day 11 (Tuesday): Flew home from Genoa
Now you must be thinking — “Where are all the details, WhiteEyebrows!?!?!” Never fear – I’m going to blog each day individually – or maybe a few at a time. Part of the joy of vacationing like this is getting to tell the stories afterward.
I will say a few ‘overview-ish’ things in this introductory post.
First, it was so awesome to go and experience another culture for a good amount of time. It felt great to unplug from everything – work, church, school, home – everything. I was reminded how nice it felt to not feel constantly under a deadline or worrying about something someone needed. The only electronic device I took was my iPhone, and I only was able to use it with WiFi a few times while on the road. And honestly – I didn’t miss you, Mr. Internet. I mean, you are helpful and kind and provide me a nice living, but it was nice to turn you off for a while. Really. It was nice. Vacation is therapeutic. It’s something I recommend doing often.
Italians know how to eat, and we ate like kings! Most restaurants don’t even open until 7pm, and almost all of the menu items are fresh and local. There is a regulation that you have to indicate on the menu when something is frozen. We laughed, thinking that pretty much everything in the US would have that little asterisk by it. We had light lunches every day, and the dinners were multi-course affairs. A pasta followed by an entree with optional salads, side dishes, and desserts. We loved trying things that we’d never had before, and trying the local specialties. We also liked comparing the different breads we had in each region. (The bread in Florence is made w/o salt – so it’s really bland and gross, but hey – that’s the way they do it!)
We like active vacationing, and we hauled butt. No taxis or tour busses for us – we hoofed it all over Italy. We bought new running shoes before we left, and by the time we got back it looked like we’d owned them for at least a year. We got such great exercise and it was nice to be outside for a good part of the day. (Something you really miss when you’re stuck in a cube for work)
We packed light – only one carry-on sized bag each, a purse for A2, and a European-Man-Bag for me. We did have to do laundry once, but it was absolutely worth it to not be like some of the poor, sad people we saw trying to lug endless amounts of large suitcases up and down flights of stairs.
We stuck out, though. Apparently if the Nords or any other white, white people ever tried to take over Italy, they failed. Among the throngs of olive skinned folks, our phosphorescence was truly a sight to behold.
I was super-impressed with how much English everyone spoke. Granted, we were mostly in tourist areas, but we interacted mostly in English. It was always funny to see tourists from other countries who used English as a language-of-last-resort for communicating when they couldn’t express what they wanted in Italian. I kind of secretly hoped to have to learn and use more Italian while I was there, but it sure did make it easy for us to move around and get what we wanted. (This, of course, struck me as a stark contrast to foreign tourists who come to America and who are expected to speak English… we really should do a better job as a culture at being multi-lingual…)
OK – That’s it for now. More details to come in subsequent posts.