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Report 926: My Dream Trip To Italy and France

By BGE from Fox Creek, Alberta, Canada, Spring 2005

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Page 6 of 38: An Amazing Adventure Begins!

photo by BGE

Hey! YouTourist! Whatcha Doin' in MY City?

Departure day dawns, and I need to be on the road by 11:00 A.M. to be on schedule, AND the drive to the airport is 3 hours, barring any incidents. I load my luggage into my Intrepid’s cavernous trunk and head downtown to gas up. Then, I make a stop at my office to hug my daughter and say goodbye to her, trying not to cry when I leave her standing in the doorway. Then as I get into the car, panic hits me like a ton of bricks!

I totally forgot.

Oh, my God!

I need to go to the bank to sign Power of Attorney over to my daughter, and I am running late already.

I feel like the addition of one more thing to do is too much, and I go back to tell my beautiful child that I just can’t do it, on top of everything else that is on my list. Hugging her again, I tell her I love her, again, and then I drive away, and head for the highway.

I calm down a little, re-think this Power of Attorney thing, and after a fast reconsider, I realize that it is necessary for me to take the time to do it, so I turn around, drive to the bank and sign the document.

I now notice I am 15 minutes behind schedule and I'm desperately hoping there'll not be any other hitches in the gid-a-long. I finally leave my home town and drive south towards Edmonton International Airport and my very first trip to Italy and France!

Turning onto the 4-lane divided highway, I feel a very real sense of exhilaration. I’m actually going to Italy and France! I’ve been planning this trip for so long, there have been so many cues and miscues, stops and starts, hits and misses… and here I am, finally cruisin’ down the blacktop, on my way at last.

As usual, when leaving my family, who live just a few blocks from my home, (they include my exquisitely lovely daughter and my most special son-in-law, along with my more-than-perfect grandchildren) as I head out on any vacation, I am very emotional and teary. For a nickel, I would turn around, drive right back and say to them, “I’m not going, ok? I’m staying right here! I miss you way too much to leave.”

They are such a part of my heart and it is so painfully wrenching to say goodbye to them. It always has been, and I expect it always will. Still, it’s a blessing to have these amazing people in my life, people who are so hard to leave behind. I know some people never have this kind of longing for anyone, so it is a bittersweet thing for me. This happens every time I leave them, and it is 30 – 40 miles down the highway before it passes. Finally, the tears subside, and I turn on the radio.

The 3 hour drive to the airport is an excellent opportunity to reflect, calm down, breathe deeply and relax, and it is over before I know it. I’ve arranged to meet a good friend at our favourite place for lunch and a long-overdue visit before my flight. At Earl's Southside, we order our usual favorites… perfectly amazing grilled fillet of fresh salmon salads, topped with crispy sautéed and julienned strips of yam and huge chunks of creamy feta cheese, plus warm, fresh goat cheese and grilled artichoke hearts. As always, it is perfection on a plate.

My friend hands me a very lovely little bag, with 2 stunning scarves inside. She tells me that she knows that scarves are 'in' in Italy, and she wants me to be prepared. What a good person she is and how blessed I am to have her as my friend!

After lunch, I drive the short distance to the airport, park in the airport parking and check in at the Westjet counter. Browsing in airport bookstores is one of my favorite time-passers while waiting for my flight and today is no different. I buy 'Eyewitness Guide to Paris' at Chapters Books. There are no deals to be had at Chapters today... it’s a whopping $38 and change. I paid $24 for the Eyewitness Guides to Florence, Tuscany and Sicily at the downtown store!

They see us coming here in the airport shops, don’t they? After re-thinking this, I laugh when I consider the fact that I’m going on a trip with a pretty hefty price tag, so a few dollars more for a book that I’ve been wanting for a few months is really no big whoops-a-daisy.

Just bite it, Brenda, and buy it.

I do.

The flight with Westjet to Toronto is good as usual, with entertaining flight attendants and a smooth-as-silk flight. I check into the Park Plaza Airport Hotel, 33 Carlson Place near Toronto’s Pearson Airport, ready for a good night’s sleep before our flight to Florence on Thursday evening.

There are interesting news stories on CTV, CBC and CNN. Pope John Paul XXIII has passed and the Vatican is gearing up to elect another pope. I wonder how that will affect our trip. I wonder what the new pope will be like…what country will he be from? What will change on our trip because of this happening and how will it be different than if we were going during a more ordinary time?

Interesting also, that my book club has just finished reading Dan Brown’s “Angels and Demons”, which is about the election process of a new pope. Another fine coincidence is that I've just loaned my copy of "Angels and Demons" to a friend to read. He was able to explain some of the process of electing a new pope to his children, after reading this book. It is very cool to be travelling to Italy with this historic event unfolding.

The news report indicates that officials are recommending no more people come to Rome… they are saying, “Stay home!”

As if.

“Sources tell us” that, in addition to the 2 million residents of Rome, there are an additional 2.4 million visitors expected…that’s all I need to hear to shut down my plans for a 3 day trip to Rome by train. No thanks, I’ll pass... maybe next time?

Best Things Today:

~ the drive to the airport

~ lunch with my friend…my scarves

~ Westjet humor… weird, funny, wacky!

~ my clean, cool hotel room in Toronto

~ sitting in my ’jamies on my bed and writing in my travel journal about this trip...what I expect, what I hope for

~ watching the coverage of Pope John Paul’s life and death

~ staying up as late as I want… I’m on vacation!

Worst Things Today:

~ not being ready as soon as I wanted to be, and the ensuing frantic-ness that creates for me

~ saying goodbye to my beautiful daughter.

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