Home. 

Returning home after an invigorating journey is like the cherry atop the ice cream. One without the other wouldn’t be nearly so tasty.

We’ve been home for a few days and for some reason jet lag coming back was harder on us than usual. My apologies for the late date writing about our trip. Was the anticipation delicious?

As per my usual, let’s start at the beginning.

For years we have tried to get my brother and his wife to travel abroad with us. Last March, my sister-in-law popped by to visit and I mentioned the desire to do a trip with them. 

“I’d love to if you could persuade your brother,” she said. Well, persuading my brother? I’ve been doing that since we were kids!

The next day I found a great package for Italy, as well as a few other destinations. Airfare, hotels, train between cities. This deal I got off europeandestinations.com. (Other favorite sites for me include Groupon and Travelzoo.) Seriously, it is cheaper to go to Europe than it is to travel to California (if you include car rental and hotel) or Disney in Florida. This is especially true if you are willing to travel off season.

Locating some suitable packages, I texted my brother. “Hey, Roxanne said she’d be good for a trip to Europe if you would go. Interested?”

“Sure!”

Picture smiling me. I had ‘em.

Next text, “I found some great deals to so and so and to Italy. Which are interested in?”

Long story short, I had a package purchased within the hour.

My husband began taking online Italian lessons.

Just because that’s what he does. He learns languages like other people learn about food.

My brother started watching shows about Italian food.

I started watching history movies. Because that’s what I do. My sister-in-law was busy watching her grandkids, so I suspect she watched kid movies interspersed with travel and cooking shows. 

Hey! At least they’re traveling–or trying to!

Ok. I probably exaggerate. We all did a bit of history and food. Doug and I added some Marvel because that’s what our teenage son likes. Only Doug did the language. Like I said, that’s what he does. (My brain is very selective about what words it retains. After a whole semester on German self study, all I could remember is, “Weiderholen sie bitte,” meaning, “Please repeat.” Trying to learn French, I retained “Suis Désolé.” “I’m sorry.” It’s such a musical phrase. I leave the languages to Doug.)

While following an Italian language Vlog, Learn Italian with Lucrezia, Doug learned about an Italian American that helps people plan and organize their vacations in Italy. With this being the first venture to Italy for my brother and his wife, Doug decided to splurge and hire Cassandra through Travel Italian Style. Normally we go pretty budget, but this trip was special. For those who want the extra touch, especially if you’re not familiar with travelling in Italy, I give Cassandra a huge thumbs up.

She can arrange for hotels (and some of the locations she uses sound dreamy!), tours, special experiences, and pretty much anything you want. It’s not cheap, first class rarely is, but neither was it exorbitant. We already had our flights, hotels and train so we used Cassandra to help mostly to arrange for tours. I’ll tell you more about them later.

Because of using Travel Italian Style, my pre-trip duties were minimized. Truthfully, I love the research involved in planning a trip and it felt rather strange to not be doing any arrangements. Doug kept telling me to just relax. So, I did. 

I relaxed and played with my new granddaughter.

Have I told you about my granddaughter? Well… 

Ok, ok. Note to self: Don’t get distracted. Stay on topic.

I taught my sister-in-law the joys of packing everything in a carry-on. (See my previous blog post.) She did amazing, especially since she didn’t even own a carry-on before this trip. Full size suitcase for a weekend was their norm. 

Funny how such a small thing gives me tremendous satisfaction. I have changed the world in a miniscule way.

The week of the trip I finished packing, printed out each day’s itinerary, printed train tickets, got the passports out, checked my list twice. Three times. Made sure there was plenty of food for our son to eat in our absence. (He had grandma and an older brother keeping an eye on him. Still, those teenagers can eat!)

Finally, the day arrived. We met a very excited couple at the airport and were on our way.

Join me next time for Day One: Rome!!! Until then, keep smiling!

Brenda

P.S. My book is currently on sale! Get a copy here!

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