Patti & Nickie getting organized 9/1/13

Patti, Nicky & Nora getting organized

We’re doing something a bit different for our major vacation this year, at least for us. We normally like to remain independent and keep flexible when traveling. We’re not big on the thought of taking a cruise on one of the huge ships that we see in Port Canaveral or going to an all-inclusive resort, although we have a lot of friends who swear by them. We can understand the attraction, but we generally prefer to maintain the option of detouring from our itinerary and seeing what lies up a road or around a corner. Some of our best travel memories are as a result of an unplanned activity. We’ve stumbled across ruined castles in Ireland by following a tiny sign on the road, and took a walk in a slot canyon by the side of a road to nowhere in Utah because the locals told us where to find it. I found a beautiful set of waterfalls in North Carolina just a 10 minute drive off of an interstate because I needed to take a break from driving. After reading a flyer on a lamppost in Paris, Patti saw a soprano give a recital in the church the locals used before Notre Dame was built. (I don’t have a photo of that, so here’s one from a department store lit up for Christmas. The enthusiasm for the lights was a surprise to me; all the stores did it.)

This year, a change. We decided to take a tour, of Italy, on a bus.

We are taking a Rick Steves tour: The Heart of Italy in 9 Days. If you don’t know, Rick Steves has been doing Europe-based travel shows on PBS for decades. We decided to give it a try for several reasons: small groups, small, usually family-owned lodging, local guides and plenty of solo time (at least half a day and a dinner on our own everywhere we go). We also thought that it would be nice to have the art, architecture and history interpreted for us. We’re taking a bit of extra time in Rome and Florence before and after the tour, so we’ll still have time to get lost. Stay tuned here, as we’ll attempt to post while we’re galavanting about Italy.

So, hopefully, whether while on the tour, or on our own, we’ll stumble across our next best memory.


Ballcarberry Castle Ireland, 5/4/03

Ballcarberry Castle
Ireland, 5/4/03

Slot Canyon near Boulder, UT 8/1/12

Slot Canyon near Boulder, UT

Pearson Falls near Saluda, NC 9/11/11

Pearson Falls near Saluda, NC

Paris, France, 12/6/05

Paris, France, 12/6/05