Yes I know I've been MIA, but really, I've been busy! We just got back from a trip to Vancouver and Seattle, a two week trip done on a budget, visiting friends we met while living in Italy. I swear, it's so nice to talk with people who really, truly, 'get it' - people who understand that while you might find a great pizza here in the states, or even some good gelato, without the accompanying ambiance of Italy itself, somehow it just doesn't taste as good. We talked of food and wine and wondered why it is that no one's adding porchetta trucks to the movement. We talked about the good and bad parts of living in Italy, and just like with family, it's okay to bitch amongst ourselves, but please, don't let anyone else talk trash about our adopted country!
So, that trip's over, time to start planning the next one, and the one after that, and then the one after that. I LOVE planning trips! Deciding where were want to go, how long we should stay, should we head north first, or maybe it makes more sense to go south? Should we rent a car or take the train? New unexplored areas always compete with old favorites anytime we're planning a trip, so maybe we can squeeze in a few days in Rome, or a quick trip to Florence.....
Up next on our horizon is a quick visit to the Grand Canyon, six days for sightseeing doesn't sound like nearly enough for the Grand Canyon and the surrounding area, and it's not, but it's all we can afford, and we just decided it's better to see a few things than nothing at all, so we'll head to Arizona, hope for good weather, and see as much as we can in our allotted time. In my next life I'm going to start traveling MUCH sooner and not save everything for my old age!
2011 has been the first year since 1999 that we have not been to Italy, so obviously that's high on our list. And next summer my son and his family will be moving to Frankfurt German for a two year stay, so that sort of mixes things up. My head is swimming with possibilities: fly into Frankfurt then train or drive south to Italy, passing through Bavaria and Tyrol - gorgeous scenery, but pricey. Maybe we could fly into Frankfurt then take a budget airline to England for a week - at least we'd be able to leave all but the necessities in Frankfort; it just wouldn't be possible to fly into London and take a budget flight to Germany - those cheapie European airlines don't let you travel with much more than a purse these days.
We also saw a Rick Steves' show about Slovenia that really, really piqued our interest - it seems to combine the best of the Alps, Germany, Austria AND Italy into one compact country that's not (yet!) over-run with tourists!
So here's the rough plan, at least for today:
Spring 2012: Italy, with a side of Slovenia. We're still working out the details and checking various options, and I'd LOVE to be able to fly open-jaw without a huge surcharge, but that might not be possible. We want to spend some time in Umbria, of course, but I wouldn't mind a few days in Florence, then we thought we could do a driving trip, Venice to Venice, traveling through northeastern Italy and Slovenia. OR - we could fly into Vienna and drive down to Slovenia and back to Vienna - or fly out of Venice - but then we'd still have to get down to Umbria.....as I said, still a work in progress....
Fall 2012: Frankfurt, then a quick trip to London and southern England. Yes, the exchange rate IS even worse than the euro, but England is my first love and it's been a long, long time since we were there. I'm thinking this also might be the time to visit Belgium.
2013: Ireland? I'd love to see Ireland but the thought of driving on the 'other' side of the road just terrifies me! Yes, we drove in Scotland, but really, it was scary. Art does NOT share my fears and is happy to drive.
At some point I'll need another bite of the Big Apple, but who knows when that might happen. Oh, and we'll have to plan for a quick trip to North Carolina next May for our granddaughter's First Communion. What else? We still haven't visited Sicily, I still need to visit Carcassonne (France), and we'd both love to make another visit to Turkey....