Preface: My wife and I were fairly active travelers 25 years, 3 kids, a mortgage (a second mortgage) and many other events ago. Great Britain, Thailand, Singapore, and Germany were some favorite locations. We sent our children overseas many times with school trips run by EF Travel. Italy, Germany, France, Galapagos Islands. After much talk about where to re-commence our travels we decided to visit the same areas in Italy our children had all visited so we could have the shared experience.
To get started on planning the trip I checked out Rick’s Italy 2018 and the most recent Fodor’s, Frommer’s, and Lonely Planets from the local library. I reviewed itineraries from Tauck Travel and the EF Tours our kids used. I am a compulsive planner/organizer and work professionally as a project manager so, I realize less the need to say, but I loved the planning process. After a couple weeks of research I presented my wife with the 1st pass.
She shared that she was having second thoughts as she is the primary care provider for her 80 year old mother and we were planning to be away for 3 weeks. We discussed options and decided to cut the trip to 2 weeks and to get a positive verbal confirm from her mother that she would be OK with our adult children still home to help her.
Thankfully everything worked out and we got the green light to take off!
Overview: 15 full days on the ground. Milan, Lake Como, Venice, Bologna, Ferrara, Florence, Pisa, Cinque Terre, Genova
Left Dulles airport on flight to Munich. Didn’t realize the plane would be full of Oktoberfesters! Much beer drinking in general on the plane and I think an international love connection took place with 2 drunken Australians befriending what appeared to be an American nun at the beginning of the flight, but turned out to be quite the vivacious seat mate after take off 2 rows behind us.
Departure was dampened by jerky airline employee that snippily told my wife to check her carry on to make sure it was the right size by putting it in one of those little metal box measurer things. He had been rude to her earlier when she was trying to confirm our seats would be together. Out of a full plane I saw 1 other person have to check the size of their luggage. Anyway...being bigger and stronger than my wife I picked her bag up and put it in the measuring thing. It fit easily, but along the way I didn’t undo the little neck pillow thing she had attached to the handle, so the rope thingy got cut and I cut my finger taking the bag out of the measuring thingy. Cut as in MAJOR blood streaming from my finger. I didn’t realize how bad it was until we had walked down the galley way to get to the plane. A very nice flight attendant brought me lots of bandaids and I managed to staunch the blood flow before anyone passed out (most importantly me).
Our seatmate on the flight to Munich was a very nice German woman who had been in the U.S since 1986 and was taking her first trip back home to visit friends and family. Her husband had passed away last year. My wife and I got to practice our German with her which was fun.
Connecting flight from Munich to Milan took off one hour after we landed, so we raced through the airport only to get snagged at passport control. If anyone knows what people have in folders and all kinds of other files that they show to the passport people I’d be fascinated to know. One person literally had an accordion style file case that he kept pulling more and more papers out of.
Anyway, we made the flight, but all the overhead bins were full, so our brilliant packing strategy of only carry on luggage basically got thrown out with the bathwater and the baby. Getting the luggage after landing was seamless, but it was the principle of the matter that irked.