In the common parlance of Slow Talk, a helpful site when planning trips to Europe and elsewhere, you mark off time to travel by counting the "sleeps"--nights before departure. We now have 2--tonight and tomorrow. Monday morning we are off and the daily grind is behind us for a few weeks. I have decided that part of my love for travel--besides the enrichment and cultural opportunities--is the total escapism it offers. Today this is less so than when we began our journeys--before the unavoidable prevalence of TV, the internet and mass travel, where new news is constant. But, it is still quite possible to lose oneself in anonymity and separate from home.
Anyway, we are ready. The suitcases are full and zipped--well, almost. We bring with us an odd assortment of things. Having lived in Italy for a year and having friends whom we know well, we bring gifts that are rather out of the ordinary. This year it is 10 lbs of pancake flour for Casey's friend Tommaso who asks for this each year. Then there are special kitchen sponge type things for Nicoletta because I know she likes them and can't get them in Italy. She will be surprised (unless she reads this) as she doesn't know that I know. Following these unique gift items are a couple strainers from Bed, Bath and Beyond for sink drains, kids things for Camilla, Sophia, Filippo and Tommy and other oddities for Alessandro, Signora Franca, Sara and Valentina.
So we end with one carry on with nothing but electronics and important papers. One carry on with clothes for each of us in the event of waylaid checked luggage. (I am pretty well convinced that our time is about due as we have had phonemonal luck with luggage over the years--even when we traveled with 9 huge duffles the year we moved.) And then my rather large carry on purse with a myriad of essentials.
We are checking 2 suitcases plus the duffel of gifts. This is not bad since there are 3 of us for 7 weeks. And, I know, that we have way more than we need. Do I really need 7 pairs of shoes? Of course! Fortunately, I buried them so Ken won't know until we get there.
When we return we will still have this assortment of valises as the replacement pieces for my dishes, which I had delivered to our home-away-from-home in Greve, will fill the emptied out spaces. This beats paying shipping costs to the US.
So we are off. Ten days in a limited area of Provence. Friends are picking us up in Nice. We'll have a couple days with them before heading off to Arles and surroundings. On the 9th we head to Italy with the first two nights in Bologna. There we will meet a friend from Hawaii for dinner. And... then our annual pilgrimage to our most favorite of favorite places, Sant' Antonio in Montepulciano before heading to the final 4 weeks in "our" apartment in Greve in Chianti.
This year we are facing the emerging adolescent in Casey as he is having mixed emotions about leaving for so long--or at all. This child who has been nurtured on travel and has a wanderer's spirit is turning out to be a normal kid. The consolation is that as soon as he hits foreign soil, especially that of his loved Italy, he will be just fine. He belongs to two worlds and each has a powerful hold on him. This is good.
God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.