Sunday, May 13, 2007

Look out Europe... Here I come!

Back in January I started my countdown for the trip of a lifetime: 16 days in Italy and Spain. I bid a tearful goodbye to Meredith, sobbing as I held her precious face in my hands while imploring her to have a great time. It seemed like an eternity before I would be joining her. But now my counter sits at 4 days! and on Thursday I will get the best Mother's Day gift possible, the chance to fly to Milan, reunite with Meredith, and travel with her through some of the most beautiful countryside imaginable.

As quickly as the past few months have flown by, they have been busy ones. I've spent countless hours planning every aspect of the trip: airline tickets, hotel reservations, Eurail passes and reservations, attraction tickets, shopping for a wardrobe, getting Euros (no small deal in a remote outpost like Portland!) and consulting with the experts (Meredith and my fantastic AAA travel agent, Chris) on every little detail. I've also worked hard to rehabilitate the ankle I badly sprained in February so that I can walk for hours and hours on all kinds of terrain.

...ok, maybe not ALL kinds. Bridges like that are just death wishes waiting to be fulfilled.

You see, I've never travelled to Europe. Unless you count brief forays into Quebec and Toronto, I've never left the United States. So, I am very excited to finally make the trip "across the pond." And getting to see my daughter after a four month separation is just about putting me over the top of the happy meter. It's a good thing the Italians are emotional people because there is going to be a massive PDA (Public Display of Affection) in the main Milan train station when I spot my little pookie-lou. They will need the Jaws of Life to pry me away from her!

We have a VERY busy two weeks planned. We will spend two days in Milan where she will introduce me to sights that she has come to love and know very well. We will then travel to Naples for two days, taking a side trip to Pompeii and visiting the tragic ruins of 24 August 79 A.D. Of course we will have to try Pizza, the culinary pride of Naples and unlike anything we have here in the states.

We then travel to Rome for two days. Two of Meredith's favorite movies of all time are Ben Hur and The Gladiator so we will visit the site of the Circus Maximus and the Colosseum so she can imagine herself back at the famous chariot race and mentally relive the bloody battle between Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix. My contribution to that city's itinerary is a tour of the Vatican Museum culminating in the opportunity to stand in the Sistine Chapel and gasp at the glory of Michelangelo's breathtaking artwork. I know two days will only whet our appetites to see more but we will cram as much into that time as possible...and probably make a pact to come back again someday.

Florence is our next stop. Meredith has been there before but is eager to return. Our plans include trips to the Uffizi Gallery with its magnificent Renaissance sculptures and paintings and the Accademia where Michelangelo's David is displayed.

We also plan to climb the famous bell tower next to the cathedral. That will be the true test of my ankle and one of many points, I'm sure, where I will wish I had stuck to that weight loss plan I started in January! I'll be the one wheezing in the back of the group saying, "You go ahead... I'll catch up!" as I gasp for air.

Two days later we return to Milan for a night and, perhaps another chance to enjoy an Apertiva, an italian version of "happy hour" with wonderful finger foods. I think those have been one of Meredith's favorite experiences over there.

The next morning we board a train and head west. We will travel along the Gold Coast, through Monaco, spending a short time in Nice for lunch and trip to the markets adjacent to the train station, and then on to Montpellier, France for an overnight stay before we board the train the next morning for Barcelona, Spain.

We will spend two days in Barcelona and then travel to Madrid for two days. We have no set itinerary in Spain and will probably enjoy doing things at a slower pace after our busy first week. I do want to visit the Prado Museum in Madrid, see some Flamenco dancing and indulge in some tapas, a Spanish saucer shaped minisnack. We'll play the rest of the week by ear and see how the spirit moves us to play tourist.

Friday June 1st we will take a brief flight from Madrid back to Milan to spend the night and then fly home to the U.S. the next day. We will hopefully be tired but happy travellers, carrying back so many memories of a special mother-daughter journey together.

I don't expect to be able to blog from over there but I will be keeping a journal. So, it's arrivederci per ora, i miei amici. I promise many pictures and stories when I get back.


Carol said...

It sounds like your going to have a wonderful mother-daughter journey and you enjoy it to the fullest.

Busymom51 said...

Thanks so much, Carol. I certainly will do my best! :~)


Oh what a wonderful time you are going to have!!!! Wish Lyndsay and I were going with you - but that would be way too much fun! Sue

Rebecca said...

That sounds like so much fun! Have a wonderful time! I can't wait to see the pictures.

Busymom51 said...

Can you imagine? Europe would never be the same. We would either be asked to leave or given honorary citizenship wherever we traveled! :~)

Anonymous said...

Try to get to the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid if you can. I liked it even more than the Prado. I will be following your blog. Nothing like a mother/daughter trip to bring out a few "good" stories. Have a blast and we can't wait to see the pictures!!!

Anonymous said...

Okay, that last comment was from me. Karen MacDonald

Busymom51 said...

Hahaha, thanks, Karen! I really enjoyed your blog entries on Eastern Europe last summer so I hope you will enjoy mine. I wish I could do them in "real time" but Meredith and I will be sharing her computer and I'm afraid when we do have internet access my blogging will have to take a back seat to her desperate need to stay connected to her social circles. We'll see how it goes!