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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 7 of 38: Florence, Here I Come!

photo by BGE

Santa Maria del Fiore, the Duomo, or cathedral of Florence

I sleep well, get up late in the morning and after a shower and breakfast, I organize my luggage and zipper it shut for the flight. I have some time before the shuttle takes me to the airport, so I decide to go for a long walk in the cool rain, storing up the freshness of the rain-soaked air before the much-dreaded 8 hours of cramped airplane seats and stuffy airplane air. The rain is so refreshing!

About 30 minutes before the shuttle leaves the hotel for Pearson International, I think to myself, “Brenda, you don’t have any really ‘comfortable walking shoes’ and you KNOW that these are a Slowtrav staple!”

I ask at the hotel front desk if there is a shopping mall close-by, I call a taxi and ask the driver to speed to Woodbine Shopping Center… he smiles and guns it. I rush into the Bay, first aisle in the shoe department, there they are! Aerosoles for $49.95 and they fit!

I buy them, feeling a little smug. “Yeah, right, like I can’t buy ‘comfortable walking shoes’ at the last minute…ha!” Back at the hotel, I cram them into my already bursting-at-the-seams large Pullman, call a porter and he loads me and my packed-sorta-lightly luggage onto the shuttle.

Sitting in the bus, waiting for the driver to arrive, there are tears in my eyes, as I realize that this is actually the beginning of a long-dreamed-about trip. My thoughts go to two of my family members who are really ill right now. Though several things have almost stopped me from making this trip, I’m actually here, and I’m actually in the process of going to Italy and France!

I’m still running on adrenalin. This truly seems like a dream, as I just cannot take it in.

Am I REALLY going to be in Florence?

Paris?

Chartres?

Places I’ve only read about, watched movies that were filmed in, looked at photos that were taken in those great cities…is this really happening? I feel a sense of wonder that I’ve managed to save enough money to travel with a bit of luxury, that I’m able to go with a 'buy it if I love it' mentality… and not have to worry about my pennies, for once in my life. I’m also amazed that my darling daughter has agreed to take over and run my office so I can have this vacation, and her family has agreed to share her with my business for the next 4 weeks.

At the airport, I see my son and his partner and we hug, laughing out loud, and hug again. “Can you actually believe this?”, I ask. “I’m going to Europe! ME! I am actually going to Europe!” They laugh at me, laugh with me, and help me with my luggage. We line up for check-in, with my 2 really heavy suitcases in tow, and I packed light, honestly I did!

The flight to Florence via Frankfurt departs just before dinner, a Lufthansa flight, partner of Air Canada. If I ever wonder why I will, never, never, NEVER in this Universe, take another night flight, this Lufthansa flight is a sordid reminder. Sardines in cans have more room that we find ourselves with, it is sufficient to say that I don’t sleep at all, the seats are crammed in and the flight attendants run out of the chicken choice of dinner about ¼ of the way down the plane. Those of us left have a choice between salmon… and salmon!

The plane is hot and stifling, the leg room is non-existant, my seat mate is a tiny woman and SHE is crunched up like a fiddlehead fern. Rather than ranting about this horrific flight, I’m going to fast-forward to my arrival in Frankfurt and then on to Florence.

Best Things Today:

~ waking late…taking my time getting ready for the flight

~ seeing my son at the airport

~ talking about this glorious trip with them

~ actually “getting it” that I’m on my way

~ watching luggage tags going onto my bags... for Florence!

Worst Thing Today:

~ the dreadful Lufthansa flight

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