Oh The Places We (Can) Go …

Piazza Navona

Since I was a child, I knew it was possible for me to go anywhere in the world. My grandparents travelled abroad quite often, staying for 3 or more weeks on each trip. And despite my mom not being about to fund trips for our little family, knowing that one day I, too, could save up enough money to travel drove me to be fiscally conservative.

Then I became old enough to travel and the world was changing. I went to Israel in the early 1980s, to live on a kibbutz. My first several days were spent in a bomb shelter. That leaves quite an impression. But then I also went to Lebanon and had pizza and shopped and met Lebanese teens who were a lot more like me than I thought they’d be. Conflict in the Middle East is the norm, still, as it has been for thousands of years.

College came along and the money went to pay tuition and books. Maybe a few movies and dinners out. But travel was limited to places I could go with friends who had a car. And it was fun, but it wasn’t what I had imagined. I wanted to travel. Go places. As in places far away and filled with people who didn’t speak my same language.

Today, despite the conflicts that exist all over the world, travel is so much easier. And cheaper. Sure, trips can be expensive but there are so many opportunities to go places both near and far.

Spanish Steps in Rome

I love seeing my friends post check-ins and photos of all the places they go. Some go to the same place year after year (Guilty!, but BabyGirl loves Disney!). Others are constantly checking out new cities, visiting friends, discovering gems and sharing them. With social networks it’s easy to be an armchair traveller.

Recently, I was talking with a few friends online and the subject turned to summer travel. Some had big plans to take their kids abroad while others were planning on a road trip to see family. There was excitement about what they’ll see and do and the fun their kids will have. Even my friends who are grandparents and travelled with their grandkids focused on if the kids would enjoy the trip.

Forum in Rome

I have to admit that BabyGirl has a big say in where we go, which is why Disney is often our destination. But that doesn’t mean we don’t go other place or consider them for future trips. BabyGirl actually has a list of places she wants to go.The list is quite diverse and very global, and that is fine by me.  And though Italy wasn’t on her list, our trip to Italy is definitely one of the highlights of her young life.

Vatican Museum

So while I joke with CycleGuy about going to Iceland to see the Northern Lights in October, he knows there is a seriousness to my suggestion. And when I talk about going to China he no longer looks at me like I’m nuts. Well, at least not about travel anyway.

The list of places we can go is only limited by our desire to make those trips happen. We may need to make sacrifices or make different choices. But we’re less constrained by options and possibilities than we are by other choices we make. I know we all don’t have a pot of gold we found at the end of the last rainbow we saw. But I know that if you want something bad enough you’ll figure out a way to do it.

Were do you want to go?


Visit Italy With Me

Even though BabyGirl and I have been home from Italy for several months, we often take time to look through the thousands of photos we took. I see the photos and think about how amazing it is that I saw these historical sights, and was able to share the experience with my daughter so early in her life.

Come with me on a little trip … to Italy!

Roman Colosseum

This is inside the Roman Colosseum, which was originally called the Flavian Amphitheater. It took 8 years to construct and was completed in 80 AD (or as I usually refer to it, ACE). To think, I stood there. In the same place people stood over 1,900 years ago. It truly is spectacular. From where I stood to the fence at the far end of the photo is approximately 350 feet. The walls in the inner oval (part of the hypogeum) area were actually underground. They were the holding areas for both the gladiators and animals that would fight. It is truly a sight to behold. It is enormous and despite being exposed to the elements all these years it has stood to tell the story of modern civilization. Sure, it’s a tourist spot. But due to it’s delicate state the number of visitors allowed inside is limited. That makes it even more special.

Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius

Pompeii, with Mt. Vesuvius in the background, was buried under nearly 20-feet of ash when Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD (ACE). While Vesuvius pretty much destroyed both Pompeii and Hurculaneum, the ruins of Pompeii remained buried for nearly 1700, until they were intentionally excavated after the accidental discovery of Hurculaneum in 1738. Over the last 250 years there have been major excavations, providing so much detail about the lives of people in Pompeii. They had running water, although all the pipes were lead. There was an open-air fresh market and a bakery, fish market, public bath and even a brothel. It was interesting to see how small people were based on the size of the buildings. The one thing that struck me was how well planned and organized the city was given the time it was developed. The ornate mosaic floors and vibrant frescoes are a testament to the artistry of the time. If you even have the opportunity to visit, do not hesitate to say yes!

Original Pompeii Road

This is probably one of my favorite photos. Not because it’s artistic or beautiful. But because of what it captures. This is a road in Pompeii. You can see the curb on each side, which are about 18-inches high. The curbs were so high to accommodate the flooding that was common from the rains. And at one time this hodgepodge of stones were actually perfectly fitting stones which created a very flat road. These were for chariots. And you’ll notice that there are grooves that were created by the wheels of the chariots. The deep groove at approximately the middle of the photo is much more prominent. But you’ll see the other wheel-made groove near the right edge. You can’t help but hear and feel the energy of those who used these roads over 1,900 years ago.

Venice Italy

Strada Nuova in Venice, Italy is one of the main walkways (roads) parallel to the Grand Canal. We were on our way back from spending a few hours exploring the Jewish Ghetto. Strada Nuova is lined with shops and, despite how barren it looks, is pretty busy. It’s an easy way to get from the South part of the island to the North if you need to be on the West side of the Grand Canal. The building are gorgeous and the little foot bridges break up the tunnel feel of the tall buildings. In this photo BabyGirl sports her new scarf she picked out at one of the many boutiques that line Strada Nuova. There was just so much to see and not nearly enough time.

From North to South, Italy is home to so much history, much of it we read about in school. Before going I had an appreciation for what the Romans did to advance civilization (even though they plundered and pillaged a great number of my Jewish ancestors and confiscated their holy relics). Seeing it first hand makes me wish I had actually cared more in my youth. And having been there once, I know now that I will figure out a way to go again and share it with CycleGuy.

Have you ever been to Italy? What are some of your favorite places and memories?


Italy: 2 People, 10 Days, Carry-On Luggage Only

When I was in the final stage of planning the trip to Italy for me and BabyGirl, one of my big concerns was luggage. Traveling with a 9 year old girl presents a variety of luggage issues. It’s one thing to be dropped off at the airport and picked up on the other end. It’s something altogether different when you’ll potentially be dragging said luggage through an airport or two in Italy, on and off a motor coach and up and down narrow stairs in hotels that do not have an elevator. And let’s not mention the possibility of all the steps over bridges in Venice.

Of course, add to that having to convince a tired little girl that mommy can’t manage two giant pieces of luggage, her day bag, a Hello Kitty Bag and whatever has managed to escape said Hello Kitty bag. I really wasn’t looking forward to that part. Oh, and did I mention that many of the areas in Rome, Florence and Venice aren’t paved smooth but instead have cobblestones?

But I wasn’t ready to just yet commit to carry-on only. For months I’d been trying to convince myself that it really wouldn’t be as bad as I was imagining it would be with our luggage. I kept trying to convince myself that I could do a 10-day trip to Italy with a tween with carry on only. All the while trying to glean tips from travel bloggers I follow on twitter.

For well over a year I’ve been following Robin, who blogs at My Melange. She’s a travel blogger who specializes in travel consulting and itinerary planning for Italy and France. And while I did not use her services since my trip was arranged with a group, I did spend quite a bit of time on her blog learning about Italy and how to manage my way around.

Robin has 3 terrific articles about traveling with carry-on luggage only which I bookmarked and probably read about 20 times each. See, it’s pretty easy to do carry-on when you’re on a few day business trip. But 10 days in a foreign country with your 9-year old daughter is a bit different. While I could think of 20 reasons why I shouldn’t just do carry-on, these 7 reasons why you should go carry on kept drawing me in. I agreed with every one of them!

I knew if I was going to do carry on only, I’d have to cut out a lot of ‘must haves’. But how? Again, Robin to the rescue! She offers do-able tips for getting over the stumbling blocks of carry on only travel as well as what beauty products you can do without when traveling to Italy. She speaks from experience, which I needed.

But still, I wasn’t ready to commit. It was going to a wedding a few weeks before our departure to Italy that convinced me. I packed up the new luggage I purchased and quickly realized how inefficient it was. The rounded corners, the molded inside to account for the sleek retractable handle. All wasting precious space.

After some research I bought the Rick Steves Convertible Carry On in red. Compared to my full-size spinner suitcase it had more square inches of packing space but is a fraction of the size. It is both a suitcase style with a handle and also has straps to make it into a backpack.

It took a lot of planning about what exactly to pack, but Robin’s tips were so helpful. Also, I tweeted with her and she was constantly encouraging and shared with me how she’s traveled to Europe numerous time with just carry-on luggage.

In the end it was so nice not to worry about whether my luggage will arrive when I do. I avoided schlepping multiple pieces of heavy luggage up and down stairs or maneuvering into small elevators. And despite having ‘deluxe’ rooms, they were very small and unlike others on the trip we never had a problem finding a place for our luggage in the hotel room.

Traveling with carry-on only isn’t for everyone. You have to be willing to sacrifice taking different shoes and multiple changes of clothing for each day, as well as your entire bath and cosmetics collection. I did have to do some hand washing. And I did have to work with BabyGirl to create easy mix and match outfits. But in my fun red carry on I had everything I needed for 10 day, and it only weighed 22 pounds!

If it weren’t for Robin’s constant cheerleading I may not have taken the plunge to go carry-on only. But I’m glad I did. It was one less thing to worry about. And because I used packing cubes, everything was organized and contained for easy unpacking and dressing. Having carry-on only was great on the return flight. After being up for over 24-hours it was nice not to wait at baggage claim before heading home.

If you’re planning a trip to Italy or France, check out My Melange. Robin is also on Twitter and Facebook and I know you’ll appreciate all the travel tips and information she shares. Feel free to tell her I said hello!


Vibrant Italy

Roman Colosseum

While I’m glad to be home, 10-days in Italy just wasn’t enough time. Yes, this was an educational trip for BabyGirl so I knew there would be long days filled with history and art and lots and lots of walking. But the beauty. Oh, the beauty. This country is gorgeous. Not just the buildings, but the ancient roads, the bridges, the fountains, the marble and stone and tile work. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Italy, just say YES and figure out the rest afterward.

With a rich history that continues to shape modern history, everywhere I looked there was something that caused me to say WOW or That’s Amazing! I stood upon ancient grounds and saw modern marvels that were at least a thousand years old. And I took in some of the most spectacular art the world has ever seen.

Yet, it was the simple things that impressed me the most. Simple foods, simple homes. The simplicity of a life lived for pure joy and not to impress others.

While Rome and Florence and Venice have their place in history, and the hearts of millions, it was Pompeii and Burano (a small island in the Venice archipelago) that was a feast for my eyes and my brain. Two small villages steeped in history, one reliving its past and another hold on to a past quickly slipping away. Both places you should visit. Both places I wish I had more time to discover.

Almost 2,000 years ago an entire civilization was covered in ash from the volcano Mt. Vesuvius. It was a local man trying to tap a well who unearthed the amazing city below the earth’s lush groundcover, Pompeii. This is an archaeologists dream. A city that has brought insight to early Italian civilization and continues to give us a further history of who we are as people. While I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Pompeii, I wish I had more. If you ever get to Italy, Pompeii is a must-see! Walk quickly past the stands hawking Pompeii-emblazoned junk made in China and spend that money on a good guide or audio-tour and umbrella to shield the sun so you can truly enjoy your walking tour.

Pompeii Italy

Up north, along the Adriatic coast, Burano is a colorful fishing village holding on to a slow world while boatloads of tourists traipse through their narrow alleys and young people embrace technology while losing patience for the art of lacemaking. The story goes that the small fishing village, a 25-minute boat ride from the docks of Venice, painted its houses in colorful hues to help lead tired fishermen home at the end of a long day. It is an island known of lacemaking, just as its neighbor Murano is known for glass blowing. There are still a handfull of women who make lace, by hand, to create gorgeous masterpieces. A large tablecloth can take a year to make and requires nearly 100 pieces of lace that are then sewn together to make it look as if it was done in one piece. The island is also known for a cookie that is not too sweet, but perfect for dunking in a coffee (or tea) any time of day. The Busola is their signature pastry. I thought it was delightful and had a plain one as well as one dipped in chocolate. BabyGirl didn’t care for it so much, preferring her gelato.

In walking the narrow alleyways of Burano, your eyes are treated to a multitude of plain buildings awash in bright colors, like those below. You can’t help but be happy. And because you can walk from one end of the island in 10 minutes (at a brisk pace), you have to slow down. The shutters, bright colors and fabric door covers beckon you.

Burano Italy

While Italy isn’t really all that large (as compared to driving across the US), it is very diverse and every road is filled with history. This was just my first trip and yet I will not cross Italy off my list of places I want to go. There was just too much I didn’t get to see. But of what I did see I know I want to return. The people were gracious. The food was simple but delicious. The colors are a sensory rainbow.

Go to Italy. Find a way. Eat ramen noodles if you have to, but go. Italy was never high on my list of places I want to visit but it surely won me over. Until next time, Ciao!

All images by Sara Hawkins


A Trip To Italy: From Wishing To Doing

Venice Italy

To be honest, I’ve never been an Italy girl. France has always been my place. Don’t get me wrong, Italy is beautiful and full of historic place. And the food, a carb-loading bonanza! Oh, and gelato, can’t forget the gelato. But growing up, Italy wasn’t a place on my ‘Someday List’. I figured I’d go one day but there wasn’t a yearning. But, after all, Italy was on the list. I’d go someday.

When I was presented the opportunity to travel to Italy for 10-days, I thought it would be fun but I didn’t immediately jump at the chance. CycleGuy was actually the one who said “You’re going, right?” before I even thought of going. For him it was a no-brainer – take BabyGirl to Italy to see history up close and personal, eat great food and create a love for travel that can only be formed on a trip like this. Me, well, I knew he wouldn’t be able to go so I didn’t think of going without him.

For CycleGuy, not going wasn’t really an option. How do you pass up a 10-day trip to Italy with your child? A trip focused on education and experience that can never be replicated in any curriculum. So with two feet, I jumped in.

On the itinerary is Rome, Florence and Venice with a stop in Pisa and Pompeii. More history in 10 short days than I could ever manufacture. BabyGirl and I will begin the adventure with a flight to New York and an overnight flight to Rome. There will be ruins, religion and really good food!

While going to the Vatican is a ‘must do’, the Jewish history runs very deep in Italy and I want to make sure to see it first hand. I want BabyGirl to experience Judaism first hand, to know she is connected to the world in a very special way. And, of course, experience Jewish food from an Italian point of view.

This will be my first big trip with BabyGirl. We’ve gone other places without CycleGuy, but nothing quite like this. From the moment he drops us off at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport it’ll be just us for 10-days. A bonding experience like no other. I hope this will be a trip she’ll remember her entire lifetime, but I don’t want to orchestrate or manufacture her memories.

As I finalize all the packing and organizing – I’m committing to travel with carry-on only – I look forward to sharing this experience with you. I know many of you have traveled extensively with your kids. So whether you’re an experienced international traveler or enjoy armchair traveling, I’m excited to show you Italy!

Have you ever been to Italy? What are your best tips? If you haven’t been to Italy, have you traveled other places? Any tips for traveling with a tween (who’s going on 22?)

Image: public domain


Can a trip change your life?

I know people who have traveled the world. They’ve enjoyed their travel and look forward to their next destination. Every once in awhile I come across someone who will say their life was changed because they traveled somewhere. I can’t say one place changed my life.

Western Wall in Jerusalem IsraelWhen I was 14 I went to Israel. I was supposed to live there a year on a Kibbutz. My first three days were spent in a bomb shelter. Not so usual for a girl who had just moved from California. But, in the early 1980s in Israel time in bomb shelters was pretty much normal.

I never look at that as a life changer though. As a Jewish kid, stories about bombings in Israel were dinner conversation in my house. Not just because I was Jewish but because I had family living in Israel and there was always concern.

I lived in Israel for a few months and then came home early. I obviously wasn’t cut out for bomb shelter living or worrying about being blasted into seventy-three thousand pieces. To be fair, the kibbutz I lived on was never directly hit. It was a few kilometers from Lebanon and near the Golan Heights. All was quiet in the Golan Heights, but the early 80s saw periodic hostility between Lebanon and Israel. No matter how hard I tried, I worried that I’d be killed. It affected me. It affected my family.

Fast forward almost 30 years and I’m perched on the horizon of BabyGirl’s first international trip — Italy. Unlike mine, she’s not going by herself. Nor is she going to an area of hostility. And the trip is only 10 days, not a year.

My trip to Israel helped shape who I am today. There were some negative parts, but the biggest impact was being able to see a world bigger than me. It made me want to travel. I gave me a sense a freedom and wonder. And that’s what I hope for BabyGirl.

Gondolas in VeniceWith a 5-city itinerary I know it’s going to be exciting and every day will be full of history, beauty and amazing experiences. We’ve taken time to learn about Ancient Rome and the history of Italy’s great cities she’ll be more of a participant than an observer. And we’ve both decided to learn Italian to feel a little more comfortable to explore.

Right now I don’t know if this trip will change her life. I may not know for many years. What I do know is giving BabyGirl the experience of international travel will mean something to her. Seeing history first hand will bring to life things she’s shown interesting in learning about. Seeing a new culture. New foods to try.

International travel offers rich experiences if you’re willing to allow yourself to go beyond your comfort zone. It’s not an easy task for a child that crave order and predictability. As the departure date gets closer I’m sure the excitement level will go up. And while we’re going with a group that will include kids her age, BabyGirl won’t know any of them. Luckily, we’ve got 7 hours at JFK airport to remedy that!

Can a trip really change her life? I think so. And I hope she’ll look back on this trip with great fondness for how it changed her.

Image Credit: Gondolas –graur codrin/FreeDigitalPhotos.net; Western Wall – Jeroen van Oostrom/FreeDigitalPhotos.net


I Nearly Lost My Mind Renewing A Passport

US Passport Image by Damian613 on FlickrImage Credit Damian613

I’m a follow the rules kind of gal. You tell me to bring 2 copies, I bring 2 copies. Directions say to write in blue ink, I don’t ask about shade of blue because I know they’re talking about the standard b-l-u-e, blue kind of ink. And because of the internet, my ability to follow the rules and be prepared when it comes to dealing with federal agencies has been well-honed.

I’m thinking, this passport renewal will be a breeze! Since we’re going to Italy next spring I wanted to make sure BabyGirl’s passport would be valid at least 6-months after our departure. That’s what the rules say, so I’m just following them. I figured that since I got her passport I’d be fully prepared to do the renewal.

First, let’s clear this up. Renewal is a misnomer. For kids it’s actually more like getting a newly issued passport. Kid’s passports aren’t really renewed as much as they are issued. With a few clickity, click, click, clicks I’m at the US Department of State website downloading and filling in the application. Print! Now instructions. Need to make sure I have the right size photo and correct number. Do I bring the old passport or not? Birth certificate? Watercolor from kindergarten? Let’s just see.

I gather up the current, still valid, US Passport. Fill out the form which I downloaded from the official site. Download and fill out the extra form to provide CycleGuy’s consent since he won’t be there in person. Get that notarized. Have photo taken. Head to passport agency at the county courthouse with BabyGirl in tow.

First stop was at the metal detectors. It’s like TSA except with real police officers and real guns. No joking! I beep and merit being hand-wanded. Something in my chestal area (yes, my chestal area as stated by Officer Hand Wand). He just keeps waving said hand wand over my chestal area as it beeps and beeps and beeps. A few more waves and I could have busted out my own flash mob to Friday!

With chestal area secured, I’m able to proceed to pick up my belongings and go to the passport office with BabyGirl. This office also issues marriage licenses so there were quite a few young couples all giddy and filled with love. I sign in and wait my turn. OK, not really my turn because BabyGirl put her name down. It’s her passport, she said. Hard to argue with that.

We’re called and we hand over our documents only to be told ours are outdated. Evidently in the several weeks between when I printed out the documents and when I got my busy self there the US Government updated the forms. For an uber type-A this is not good. I’m a print out the form typewritten kinda gal. I’m not diggin’ the write-it-in-even-though-you-have-nice-handwriting-you-still-think-it-looks-sloppy process. But I do.

I turn in the new form, the notarized authorization from CycleGuy and the current passport. I hear noises. Thinking noises coming from the passport rep lady. I filled out the form correctly. Notarized form is in order. But then come the questions.

Do I have a birth certificate for BabyGirl? Uh, not on me. The instruction I had printed out didn’t say anything about bringing one. Besides, I have a valid US Passport for her right here. That should count for something since I provided an original birth certificate for that one. Out of courtesy she’ll submit the application without the birth certificate but it might be rejected or I’ll get a request for additional information. Sure, whatever. Let’s move this show along!

Next question was do I have a copy of CycleGuy’s driver’s license? Uh, no. It’s not in the instructions for the form. Oh, right, it’s good to have that because he’s not there in person. Right. Because if he was I wouldn’t need the darn form! I get that the US Government is trying to protect children from the crazy antics of a non-custodial parent but the rules didn’t say to bring it. So I didn’t!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never taken a mind reading class. Possibly I should consider that next time I find some free time! What do you think? And if I’d have taken a mind reading class I wouldn’t have had to ask you what you thought!

I’m feeling good that she’s going to take my paperwork and soon take my money and I’ll be on my way. Until she tells me they don’t take credit cards any more. But it’s on the website! Oh, right. I’m supposed to know the rule changed. (Note: find mind reading class ASAP!) And they don’t take cash, despite the fact that she sent me out to the ATM for which I paid $2.50 to withdraw funds to pay for this new passport. Checks only!

Ugh! Leave and return. And now I’m back with my check book. I write the check. It’s picture time. I hand over the photos. She eyes them a few minutes and hands one back to me. They only need one now. ONE? But, but, but, the website says 2!!!!

I pay, receipt in hand, empty pink leather passport cover held by BabyGirl. I leave the now submitted US Passport materials in the hands of the rep who will submit them despite my ‘potential lack of proper documentation’. Yah, sure, whatevs! I’m in no rush, so if they need this stuff I can get it to them.

But I’m still unsure why I’d need BabyGirl’s original birth certificate. She has a US Passport. I provided a birth certificate to get this official passport we now have. Oh, right, they need proof of US citizenship. Uh, that would be this here US Passport I’m offering. But I am polite and keep all sarcasm to myself.

I’ve checked the online status page and the passport is ‘currently in process’. Me, well, I think I need a few hours of therapy to sort out this experience. While the lady was really nice and very pleasant, I left the office shaking my head.

How can I have followed all the directions yet somehow missed that it’s all actually wrong?

UPDATE: Day after I wrote this, guess what showed up in the mail? Yes, you’re exactly right! BabyGirl’s passport arrived in record time. 12 business day including mailing time! Guess all my paperwork was done right. And I’m so happy I didn’t pay extra for expedited processing.


Traveling To Italy

Leaning Tower of Pisa image

In spring 2012, I am taking BabyGirl on her first trip to Italy! I’m so excited because it will also be my first time to Italy. We will be traveling with a homeschool group and the trip is primarily educational.

I was thrilled to join the group for this experience that will take us to to Rome, Naples, Florence, Pisa and Venice. We’ll not only see marvelous sites but we’ll also get to eat traditional foods and visit locations not usually on the traditional traveler’s itinerary.

I’m excited and nervous. Excited to visit Italy and see history come to life. Nervous because I’ll be traveling across the world with a 9 year old. Sure it’s not like she’s incapable of helping or taking care of herself. But, still, she’s my baby and I worry. All the what-if scenarios are playing out in my head. That’s normal, right?

As I mentioned, we’re going with a homeschool group. People who are like us. Who won’t think we’re weird because we want to take time to read every. single. word. Families like mine who will spend the next several months learning Italian, knowing our kids will really be our translators. Moms like me who will scrimp and save at every turn to make this trip possible.

I was 14 when I first left the United States. OK, that’s not really true. I lived in El Paso and would go to Juarez, Mexico on any given weekend with my Grandmother. But that really wasn’t the same. At 14 I boarded a plane and set out for Israel. I don’t remember what I thought back then. However, when I told BabyGirl we need to update her passport because we will be going to Italy next year she was as nonchalant as can be.

As if going to Italy is just like a trip to Disney. For her, though, it may be. I will spend the next several months preparing her for this trip. Italy will be woven into our curriculum at every turn. I want to be prepared as much as she is. I want to get the most out of seeing history come to life.

After a discussion of how we’ll get there, things we’ll see, places we’ll go, the real questions came. She needed to satisfy her 8 year old curiosities. She had to know what kind of hotel we were staying at. The all important, do they have wi-fi and can we bring the iPad. And the ever-importnat kid question, “Do they have normal food?”

Fortunately we have over 9 months to get all our questions answered and prepare ourselves for what is sure to be a wonderful trip. My concerns, though, are much different. Well, except for the wi-fi questions which is actually very important. International travel presents a number of issues, the least of which is the who plug situation. Is it two prong or three. Do we need an inverter or converter? How do I best protect my laptop and phone? You know, important stuff!

I know I have plenty of time to figure this all out. It’s an 11-day trip and I am already thinking about extending it a few days and going up to France. I mean, really, I would be very close to Disneyland Paris. *wink, wink*

So if I start getting obsessive about travel-related stuff you know why! And, if you’ve ever been to Italy, please tell me all the details and secrets. Please!