We’ve been home for a month now and have had some time to reflect on our trip. Aside from getting sick, it really was a special time.
My initial planning grew from four weeks to seven weeks rather quickly. It didn’t make sense to me to skip places we wanted to see, especially since we’d be passing right by them. On prior trips we didn’t stop and just said ‘next time’, so now was ‘next time’.
We love Italy, and thanks to my paternal grandmother, I can claim to have an Italian heritage – even if it is only twenty-five percent. Her family came from Sicily. They were farmers and they even grew grapes. While we’ve not visited Sicily yet, we make sure to honor their memory by drinking the fruit of the vine – especially in Italy!
Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo – No, we didn’t see Clint Eastwood, but we did see, do and experience many things during our time in Italy. I just wanted to reflect on those things and share – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
Il Buono – The Good
Every location we visited was different from the others. We saw so many unique things that we never felt bored. Canals, ruins, vineyards, beaches, art, rolling hills, cathedrals or monuments – everything was interesting.
Learning a little Italian before we went. Sue and I had fun with our language lessons and the payoff was immense. Nobody laughed at us; in fact, they encouraged us and helped us along when we got stuck. We got surprised looks and then smiles when we asked for things in Italian. We were treated differently – in a GOOD way.
We interacted with some great people who really helped make the trip special. We had so much fun, learned so much and we were humbled by the various people we encountered. Everyone from our drivers to hotel staff and guides were all great. We cared and they cared right back – it was a beautiful thing.
Making some new friends along the way. It was fun meeting others on tours and at the hotels, especially people with many of the same travel likes. We even met a couple who stayed at a couple of the more obscure places that we have stayed at in our previous travels.
We truly lucked out in that the dollar and the euro were basically at par while we were away. Compared to previous travels, it was a tremendous savings.
Il Brutto – The Bad
For me, it was the crowds. There are so many people traveling and some of them have the manners and intelligence of rocks. Drunk, loud and obnoxious are three words that jump right out. But then again, those people are everywhere.
The frequent strikes are also incredibly annoying. I guess it’s an accepted way of life there, but for an outsider it is a real nuisance. Getting caught up in the rail strike was incredibly frustrating. Customer service was useless, as was the thought of getting a refund for the tickets. I think the rail companies use it as a revenue source. I’m sure my tone would be a lot different had we also gotten hit by the airline strike. That was a near miss that would have tainted the entire vacation.
Il Cattivo – The Ugly
Getting sick while traveling is not fun, especially if it gets to the point where you need medical attention. This was the first time that we reached that point and the language difference is definitely something to be aware of. There may be someone that can help, but don’t count on it being easy.
It also made us think about Travel Insurance. As I mentioned in a prior post, we were extremely disappointed with our insurance – Generali Global Assistance. It wasn’t cheap and when we needed them, they completely let us down with incompetent, useless staff. On top of that, they never followed up with us at all. No call, no email, no text – nothing! We might as well have sent Gift Cards to get extended warranties on vehicles we don’t own. We will definitely not be using Generali again.
Would we do it again? Definitely! If the right opportunity presented itself, we know where the luggage is stored.
No matter where we go and how much we enjoy ourselves, it’s always a good feeling to come back home. Being around the people you care for and who care for you is ultimately what life’s all about.