Today I’m writing from Italy. When I was in the airplane from Budapest to Bari I was wondering when the last time I was in Italy was? Souvenirs came slowly but soon started to flood me with emotions.
If I recall correctly my last time was in Milan in January 2006 for a business trip. I was launching a new product in Europe and Milan was one of the capitals where we had organized a press tour. It was a very cold winter with snow and lots of snow the day I was supposed to fly back. My airplane did not like it. It was grounded for an hour, two hours, three hours! Meanwhile the stewardess refused to serve dinner because she could only serve when the plane had taken off. We were not allowed to get out either. When we were finally released from the plane, starving and exhausted, I assumed someone from the company would give us hotel vouchers and change our tickets to the next day. It was past midnight, there was no one to be found in the airport except my fellow passengers and myself. There was no taxis, the city was paralyzed by the snow. In last resort I called a colleague to save me: he picked me up and dropped me in a hotel. The next morning I took a train back.
My last trip as a tourist was in summer 2005. Our family visited Rome, the kids ran in the forum, drank and played at all the fountains, and we basked in the sun. Then we settled in the Sorrento peninsula. It was our first time renting an apartment from an individual rather than going in a hotel. The apartment was in a red castle perched on the highest point of the peninsula allowing us to see both seas. We felt royal. From there we visited Naples and Pompeii. I remember my son playing the hero on broken pedestals where he would freeze as a statue, my daughter chasing cats in the seedy streets of Naples. One day we took a boat to Capri and hiked around the island. On the way back, Italian strikers blocked the highways. People were stranded in their cars with no food, no water, under the harsh sun for a good part of the day without being able to move their cars. My family was happy that I made the Scouts motto mine: ‘always ready’. For a long car trip I always plan fruits, nuts, snacks, sandwiches, cherry tomatoes, tuna salads …and books.
In the spring of 1999 I accompanied my husband on a business trip. He had a client near Venice and each time he would come back without having had time to visit Venice. I just could not conceived being half an hour from Venice and not going there at all. On this trip, we worked all day, had to meet customers of our client, and enjoyed a nice dinner with our client – you can’t do business without a good meal in Italy – and then it was … very late, past 11 o’clock. Going now to Venice to arrive in the dark? Not an option. To this day I still have not visited Venice with my husband!
In the summer of 1993 we had decided to go around France, from Bretagne to Alsace, sometimes making France very large, going through Geneva, Como Lake or the Dali museum in Figueres. Our great souvenir of the Como Lake was when we rented a small boat to see all the nice houses that you can only view from the lake, not from the road. What made the memory stick (no pun intended) is that I was on my belly, driving the boat with my feet. I didn’t drive in a straight line but it was a lot of fun!