Italy - the adventure begins...

Trip Start May 09, 2009
Trip End May 27, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Michigan
Saturday, May 9, 2009

Well, we did it!!   Other than what we brought on the road with us, our worldly goods are in storage and we have started our "excellent adventure." Unfortunately, excellence is eluding us right now since we arrived yesterday at our campground in the Wisconsin Dells in the rain and cold and the engine light in our Tahoe came on at the start of the trip.  So our first order of business this morning was to find a GM dealership and take the car in.  They brought us back to our campsite, but it looks like we won't get to see much of the Dells since we leave tomorrow.  The bright side of this is that it gives me an opportunity to start the blogging!!  And, more importantly, to rest from the last few days of packing and cleaning which was rather intense after our return from Italy last Thursday.

But let us catch up by starting with that wonderful trip to Italy.   As some of you know, this was a gift from Pam's sister, Pat.  Yes, we know, this was a very generous gift, one which we can't reciprocate but for which we will be forever grateful!  Italy was all of (and more than) what we hoped it would be -- an overload (in a good way!) of magnificent sights, delicious food (yep - gained 4 lbs!!) and fun companionship. 

We had a fantastic journey with Tauck Tours.  This was our first experience with a tour and we weren't sure what to expect.   When our Tour Director, Debi, showed up at the welcome reception in a Renaissance gown, we started having our doubts!  But Debi was so fantastic and the costumes went with her personality -- we even started taking bets on what her costume would be with each city.  There were 41 total travelers on the trip but it didn't feel like that many somehow and everyone got along.  We  never thought of ourselves as tour groupies, but we quickly saw the advantages -- primarly not having to worry about making arrangements - luggage magically delivered to our hotel room, no waiting in lines for tickets to attractions, etc.  We had free time in every city to explore on our own, so that the tour "togetherness" never felt cloying.  

Since we didn't have our laptop with us, nor did we end up journaling, this will be the Reader's Digest condensed version of our 12 days in Italy (actually, Italia -- why is it that we call other countries and their cities by a different name than what they call it, especially when it sounds better??).  There will be separate blog entries for each city so that we can share some of our hundreds of photos.  The hardest part of this will be picking out which ones to share.  The amazing thing about Italy is that everywhere we went there was a slice of art to be captured - in the plants, the architecture, the water, statues, frescoes ...  Even if you haven't studied Renaissance or ancient Roman architecture or art, anyone would appreciate the sights which are breath-taking.  Our photos can't possibly capture the experience of seeing it live, but we tried.  

The best thing would be if this blog encourages you to plan a similar trip- I wish we had done something like this sooner!

Ciao...Pam & Jim
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