Questo animale e cinese, ma non parlo cinese:
I’m going to Italy on Sunday! (And going up to New York tonight for Passover, so don’t expect to hear from me before I leave.) I’ve been lucky enough to get to go out of the country a number of times, but not in a very long time, and certainly this is the longest vacation I’ve taken in years. I’m excited! Have a good time without me, kids; I’ll be back on the 30th, there’s an Aunt Fattie in the freezer, Kate has my number, don’t give her any trouble while I’m gone!
I will not be traveling in a panda suit, though I do love the e-card that SM sent me this morning. I will instead be traveling with one small suitcase full of balled-up t-shirts and an overabundance of underwear just in case. I’ve packed Keens and Danskos an iPod loaded with Lost episodes. It’s really important to me to at least make an effort to speak the language; I didn’t get as far as I would like in my Italian studying, as concentrating too hard makes me pass out asleep, but I can say “we need clean towels” (as well as useful phrases like “this animal is Chinese but doesn’t speak Chinese,” above, which truly was part of my language software and did indeed refer to a panda — n.b. you can tell how well I did from the fact that I conjugated “parlare” wrong!), and I have some learn-Italian podcasts for the flight over. We’ll be doing some stuff that requires advance tickets (like going to the Uffizi), which is not usually my style — not that I’ve done a lot of traveling alone, but theoretically I like to get the pace of life in an unknown city and just try to blend in. But we are establishing Florence as a home base and taking day trips to other towns, which is very much my thing. (Past family vacations have involved house-swaps, and past personal vacations usually involve visiting SM, so my memories of travel often involve a home and a neighborhood.)
How do you like to travel — whether abroad or just to visit friends and relatives? Do you take tours, or muddle through by yourself? Is there something you always have to bring to feel prepared and confident? (I felt immensely relieved when I saw that Florence weather would allow me to wear my military jacket.) Do you dread the airport and the bus station, or do you thrive in liminal places? If you’ve gotten to travel places where you don’t speak the language, do you try to learn it, or just do elaborate mime? Is the guidebook your god, or do you play it by ear? When you’re visiting someone, do you try to get out and see the landmarks, or just hang out in the house watching Rock of Love? And where would you travel if money, time, and commitments were no object?