Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 926: My Dream Trip To Italy and France
By BGE from Fox Creek, Alberta, Canada, Spring 2005
Page 2 of 38: Pre-planning, My Path to Higher Learning!
Florence Giardino dei Semplici
A trip to Italy ~ something I’ve dreamed of and thought about for years, ever since a good friend of mine encouraged me to think about it. “Just give it some thought, ok? You’ll love it there!” he said.
A trip to Italy ~ something that became a reality for me, after a year and a half of starting and stalling and starting all over again.
A trip to Italy ~ and 10 days in Paris! Where did that come from? Well, let me tell you a story...
PRE-PLANNING… always a good idea!
After spending eons of internet time lurking in the shadows of the internet and browsing Slowtrav, my guru travel site, I took a leap of faith and signed up as a member! I began participating in the conversations and the comings and goings of the Slowtalk message board. This truly was the best thing that I’ve ever done for myself and it proved to make my travelling to Italy and France a whole lot easier.
Next, I bought a really good map of Florence and thumbtacked it to the wall above my computer in my home office. I began to familiarize myself with the layout of the city, the pronunciation of street names, the locations of the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, San Miniato, San Marco... all very strange and unfamiliar names of places that I’d begun to read about.
Next, I bought a few travel guides in Chapters:
• Eyewitness Travel Guide Florence and Tuscany
• The Green Guide Italy
• Knopf City Map Guides Florence—this one is perfect!
After that, I read them, bit by bit, in the bathtub, in bed, at breakfast, sitting in my sunroom, wherever and whenever I had a free moment to read. It was my way of getting to know the city, the area around the city and the history of the places, piazzas, galleries, museums and cathedrals in the city.
Last, but most importantly, I began asking very tentative questions on Slowtalk, the Slowtrav message board and in the Chat Room on Slowtrav. I had many late-night talks with chiaro di luna, katecoleman, Karen, gloria, Marian, Tommaso, rbrazil… all far more experienced travellers than I, and all so very generous with their help and advice.
I posted questions and sought out answers to my questions on the message board. I started a notebook of travel notes, taking anything that others said that made sense to me and writing it down. After a few months, I began to learn a few words of Italian from watching and reading the postings on Slowtalk, from reading a little Italian Phrase Book & Dictionary by Berlitz, and also by practising pronunciation on a website that provides that wonderful service. I also made notes of new words that someone used in the chat room, or on the message board. I wrote the word down in my notebook in Italian, then wrote the English translation after it, and practised pronunciation over and over again.
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