Tuesday, August 30, 2005

It's four in the morning...

again... Either this is becoming a habit or my body trying to pre-set to European time. Which would be useful if I didn't have to get through a few more days on this side of the pond.

We didn't get burned out, we didn't even get evacuated. We did get one more evidence of DD's competence as everything was packed and RTG by the time we got off The Island (another 4 in the morning) and home. She'd gone to work after about 3 hours' sleep. We walked down to gawp at the helicopters landing and taking off from the school field and wished for some little kids and their excitement about such doings up so close. And in the night, blessed, torrential rain and a temperature drop of at least 10 degrees.

Odd chap at Albanian Tire - firefighter's tee-shirt and the smell of something like booze rather than smoke (fire retardant?) but he knew all about the fire and had a full running soto voce commentary about it from the time he pulled into the checkout behind me until I walked away with my bags of Useful Stuff (mag lights, 4l 5/30W Castrol, Fram filter, camping towel that absorbs hewwwwmungous amts of h20) He was getting a part on warranty for a broken pump for "the guys on the line who might not need it so much now the rain's come but best to be ready..."

Tomorrow (later today) it's train pass and clothes sort. Think I might have to hit either 2nd Tyme or VV for a riding jacket as the usual one is so not going to fit into either the wardrobe plans or the suitcase.....

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Best of Friends

And why do women make the best friends? They send you stuff like out of print magazines with much desired articles (thanks, Jo) and they spend hours sorting out what they will do to cover your backside while you are away (thanks, Madeleine) and they make 'green with envy' noises which make you think you are brave even when you aren't (thanks, Carol) and they say, "What a great idea! May I join you?" (thanks, Elizabeth, thanks, Gill) and they say, "When women do the planning, these things don't happen." (thanks, Shameen) and they make you laugh and make you make lists and then ask if peppermint foot cream is on said list (thanks, darling daughter)

I know you all have been turning blue holding your breath, wondering "What will she do???" The short answer is: nothing. I am not changing my plans. Tomorrow we (fingers crossed) pick up The Sr Boy's new passport and carry on as if these last two weeks have been a small hiccup... hiccough for you Brits. Of course, he still has no visas for his adventure but this is Not About Him. I may be having a grand solo time in Italy but I know how to order 'un vino rosso, per favore' so I will be fine.

Yesterday I did what I didn't do months ago: went out and bought a bagload of travel books which I am taking away this weekend to (a) decimate, (b) post-it-notify, and (c) highlight. Actually, I am ahead of the game on this b/c I am usually doing things like that on the plane to wherever I am going. And, hey! I still have a week. The ladies at the book store asked if I was going on a trip (no, I usually buy this many travel books for Europe and donate them to the library). "Yes," I said. "Oh, when are you going?" "Next weekend," I said. They gaped at me and I dared them to say one more word. Wisely, they didn't. I figure if there isn't a short story with that as the opening dialogue, someone is missing a great opportunity!

Still don't have the clothes thing worked out - looks like a "spread it all out and put most of it away." Because I am going for so long, there is weather to consider as in: November in Zurich and Paris. Sounds wet and cold, n'est-ce pas? And I start in sandals and spf 30. maybe I could organize a clothing mail drop? Hmmmm.....

It's an early and long day tomorrow heading south to deal with a traffic ticket in the EweEssofEh, back to Canada for the passport before government office closing time and eventually finishing up on The Island. I think it's time to practice a little packing.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Make God(de) laugh:

tell Her your plans.

There is a glitch/hitch/problem. The Senior Boy has no passport. It is a long story but the short version is "it ain't here and he's gonna have to get another one AND get all the visa stuff done overseas rather than here". All that is NotMyProblem, however, we were supposed to be meeting in Italy (ahhh, romance, ahhh, sweeping roads and luscious food and quaint rooms with shuttered windows and siestas and ... ) for two weeks prior to the rest of LGA. This may now be somewhat up in the air.

So: do I (a) keep my travel plans and find something else to do in Italy whilst visa-messing-about happens? (b) change my flights and go a week later in 'opes of the vma being sorted? (c) drop the London/Pisa part of my flights and stick with The Boy and ride down with him when the vma is sorted? (d) none of the above and you have a brilliant other idea which you tell me for the pure delight of showing off your cleverness.

Waiting patiently...

Monday, August 15, 2005

Discount Travelling...

oh boy, oh boy!!! New stuff in the mail: the opening salvo for the Venice component (thank you Rick Steves, et al) AND The Official Youth Hostels Guide to Europe 2005. The OYHGTE2005 is clearly for youth: I need both pairs of glasses to read the fine print. Some extra memory cells would help too so I don't have to keep flipping from "Explanation of Signs" to the country in question.

.....pause...... ya know, maybe if I simply used the brain cells I DO have: seems that the "Eof S" page is designed to be flipped over so I can see the symbols while (trying) to read the descriptions. I may have to add "magnifying glass" to the Useful Bag.

The other indicator of "youth" being operative is the stuff that has discounts and/or concessions e.g.: in Australia (not going there this year but know someone whose HI card has been mailed to Melbourne!!) Aussie Disposals (the mind boggles) offers 10% off everything instore and Grt Southern Railway has up to 50% off daynighter seats (does that mean one only gets half a seat???) In France and Italy (where I am going) it's 10-30% off adventure tours and special rates for dental care! Where are the 10% off restaurant offers? The 20% off Ferragamo???

hmmmmmm: Maybe I can use the accommodation savings to create my own "discounts": as in 10% more perfume in Grasse and 20% more Barolo in Italy? Is this "chick (in my dreams) logic"? More importantly, Will it work?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Yikes! (Normal Size Font)

Three weeks to plane day and the beginning of LGA. Today's word is: Yikes!!!! But note: that is Yikes! in Normal Size Font, not Huge, not even Large - this must mean something. Possibly, I am getting organized.

Passport? Yes. Plane tickets? Yes. First few nights' accomm? Yes. Transportation in Europe arranged? Ummm.......... Well, it's like this: Eurail or point to point? And I guess that best be the next 72 hours' decision, don'tcha think? Not to mention the Great Footwear Question.

Most recent delicious moment? Calling my cousin in Zurich y'day and having her answer whilst on a hot-air balloon ride! Me, I don't even have the technology chops for call-forwarding to the neighbour. Today (on a land-line), she graciously said, "Of course you may stay and I will take time off work to take you places and Monday is laundry day" (Laundry is a semi-big issue when travelling with minimal duds). She also said, "A week in Venice???" It didn't seem long enough to me but what do I know?

Anyone else out there wanting a house guest for a few days?? Speak up quickly.

Oh, and there is an email about the Senior Boy's Adventure: it may be going in the opposite direction of all the original planning! Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.

Friday, August 12, 2005

(slightly) sleep deprived...

It's (relatively) early - early as in: for the past several nights there has been minimal restful sleep and last night was supposed to be catch-up night but I got caught by the glorious silence of an empty house and puttered and THEN we had sirens at the usual 0530 for whatever rescue was being attempted. (Thank you firefighters, Thank you ambulance attendants, Thank you police officers and I mean it) I'm actually doing not too badly on less than 4 hours (I know for some that is more than you get in a week total but this is not about you...) but had a small pair of moments just now.

I am awake, dressed and rtg b/c I booked a mammogram for this morning. Who in their right mind thinks about m'grams when La Grande Aventure is looming?? (well, I DID book it a couple of months ago and this was the first available date) But what? They're going to chase me down in the Wilds of Europe to say either "ok" or "come back immediately" which I won't do anyway? I coulda used the sleep or the time to do other fun stuff like laundry. Or trips to the dump...

The other thing was misreading the calendar. Thought I had only 2 weeks and 2 days and was starting to get a titch anxious - I still need shoes and trousers, oh! and maybe a bag to pack them in as I don't think plastic grocery bags will do for LGA. Turns out I have 3 weeks and 2 days. LOTS of time....

Oh, and MF Jo who was visiting was NO help at all: she showed me how I could have come home on a "re-positioning cruise" (it's not what you think!!) and now I am trying to figure out if I should dump the return half of my airfare and come home by cruise ship. Let's see: squished into economy for a zillion hours or 17 days from Rome in my own cabin. Hmmmm....

Breathing in and out...

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Four weeks to lift-off

The Senior Boy leaves in (slightly less than) four weeks. He celebrates by taking off for Utah for two weeks on two wheels with two other two-wheeled buddies.
I leave four weeks today. I celebrate by trying to avoid meltage by sitting in the turned-off but not drained hot-tub (now officially a cool-tub) and practicing siestas during the heat of the day (any time between 1100h and 1700h). And pondering Venice. And dithering about methods of transport - railpass or point-to-point?
Coming up, it's a dear friend visiting for a few days which means food, wine, laughter and sorting out shoes and clothes for one (very small) carry-on bag for one (smallish) person.
And right now, it's iced latte - not true Italian but close enough for Sunday morning prior to room sortage for friend...
Ride safely...

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The beginning - sort of....

So, when IS the best time to take a train in a foreign country when one's grip on the language is tenuous at best? How will I find my way from place to place in La Grande Aventure?? Will there be a bed when I get there??? Would more planning make me more or less anxious???? Am I smack out of my mind?????
Stay tuned....