I have just returned from a most marvelous trip. For the past three weeks I've been in Italy and France, moving around from city to country, seeing art, architecture, eating wonderful food, soaking up memories that will become a part of who I am.
My friend Maggie and I discovered a couple of years ago that we would both celebrate decade birthdays this year. When we found this out, we said, "Oh, we should do something to celebrate!" At first, our vision was small - maybe go out to dinner. Then it expanded: "Maybe we would go to the city for a weekend." And then one day, Maggie asked, "Have you ever thought of going to Europe?" When I replied, "Oh, I've always wanted to go to Italy!" she asked, "How long could you be away?" I said that I couldn't stay longer than three weeks. And the planning began.
We decided to divide our time between Italy and France. She particularly loves Paris. Since I'd never been to either of these countries, I was up for seeing whatever we could see.
We met many times and talked about how to arrange our time, how to focus. We knew that we primarily wanted to see art and eat local food. We knew that we didn't want to cram our days full of running from one site to another. We wanted to have time to sit and draw, to watch people, to walk neighborhoods, to experience flavors. Gradually, we realized we had to whittle down some of our ambitions - we skipped Venice; we added time to Sienna. We asked friends for suggestions of their favorite surprises in the areas where we would stay. We made reservations for our lodging and transportation ahead of time, and did get some tickets for big things like the Borghese, Vatican, and Uffizi Galleries. And then we drifted.
What a fabulous time we had! I'll write posts about some of our adventures over the next couple of weeks.
The morning after I returned home, I lay in bed, listening to my neighborhood birds, watching the day come. It occurred to me that after this trip, I now know what morning looks like in eight different places. I've heard the birds, the garbage trucks, the Vatican bells, the neighbors chattering. I've seen the light changing, smelled the pastries, felt the warm humid summer air becoming sticky.
What I hope to share is the excitement of discovery, that my experience might encourage you to plan such a trip for yourself. Where have you been longing to go? What mornings await you?