Italian Folktales ~ Day 1 (June 25, 2011), Vermont to Somewhere Over the Atlantic Ocean

Michael and I first saw the Dolomites when we were backpacking through northern Italy, on our way to getting married in Norway. “Let’s come back and hike those mountains someday,” we said to each other.

My, how 20 years can flash by.

Four months after we returned from that long dreamed-of trip, I find I haven’t written much about it. It’s now or never. I have sixteen days of NaBloPoMo left; just enough time to write a little something about each day of the trip. A mini challenge within a challenge.

I don’t really have a plan. All I know is that I’ll post something each day that represents one day of the trip. I’ll also try to include a thought or memory from each of us, so that we can look back on this in another 20 years (via our embedded blog viewer contact lenses) as a sort of trip diary, written after the fact.

Oh, and here’s a handy travel tip: If you’re produce shopping in Montréal, you can find GIANT carrots at Trudeau Airport.

Montreal

June 25 trip diary

H ~ Welcome to your gate, ladies and gentlemen. Please enjoy sitting in the filthy seat at least 200 other people have sat in, with no cleaning, while you wait for an equally dirty plane to arrive so you can get on it and sit uncomfortably all night! Our airline is the best; we have MINIMAL LEGROOM! Personally, I can’t stand planes. Uncomfortable, crampy, bad food and (worst of all) my ears really really really hurt when we descend. The only thing that livens up the trip for me is having a personal TV. At our house, we don’t actually have TV (gasp!) so the only way I can watch something I’ve never seen before is through a DVD or we can stream it instantly. But that doesn’t really fill the empty gap of TV-lack, so the little screens on airplanes are the only things that can lure me on the flying monstrosities. Unfortunately, on this particular trip, out of 350-odd seats on a massive airplane, very nice TVs, guess who got the only–I repeat, only–TVs that do not work? Wrong guess: it was us!

3 screens out of 325

What a pretty little message. All-night flight (rhyme!) with no TV for poor little me (another rhyme!) . Whee. Luckily, the flight back was better, since–oops. You’ll hear about that in TWO WEEKS! Mwahahahaha (cliffhanger).

M ~ Having planned, replanned and over-planned the whole trip — over years — and having pointedly picked Montreal over 5 other possible airports to fly out of, we subsequently learned that Montreal has, or had, a huge stolen car industry — the airport is on the St. Lawrence itself and multiple rings of thieves work the city, particularly the hotels near the airport and at least in the old days, the airport itself; the stolen cars are often freightered and headed for out of the way corners of the world within hours of having been parked and locked by their owners, never to be seen again. Is this something to worry about the whole time we’re gone? No. The first step in letting go after so much planning is to say “we’ve done the best we could, now what happens happens”. And really in all likelihood our car would not be stolen (nor was it) and even if it had been, what can you say? Give it up and let it go. Fine. Only to have the smiling and friendly Canadian customs officer at the border ask us not only where we were going and how long were we staying abroad, but… what parking lot were we using at the airport. Wait– what? Which lot? Who’s ever been asked anything beyond “Where you from, where you headed”? Why would she possibly ask such a question unless she was part of one of the gangs — what clever thieves, getting one of their own right in the customs booth — thought we — well, thought I, as she waved us through (no doubt looking after us just long enough before texting her confederales up ahead– “grn hnda elmnt, gone 2 wks, vt plates number xxx xxx, lot b”). Argh! The car would be halfway to Kurdistan (you can get a lot of rolled up rugs into an Element, if you really mean to) before we even reported it stolen– why else would she possibly ask such a question? Is it going to be THAT kind of trip? Stolen car, Lost Luggage? Missed Connections? Lost in the mountains? Stomach begins to churn as I (perhaps for the last time) accelerate the Element to highway speed and point it toward Montreal. I can be absolutely no fun to travel with, at the start of a long-planned trip.

R ~ This is my favorite part of any trip. Everything that we can plan in advance is planned. The pets are in the care of others. The house is as clean (or dirty) as it will be. The mail is stopped. The chores are done. From the time I sit down in the car until the moment we arrive in Italy, I’m in limbo and nothing much is expected of me aside from moving from gate to gate, selecting my entree from the uninspiring Air France menu, and figuring out how to sleep while sitting upright. I can handle that.

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