Tag Archives: Lonely Planet

We’re Going to Italy!

Andiamo Italy!

To those who have previously accompanied me on my adventures in India and Cuba, welcome back, and a very warm “Benvenuto!” to those who are visiting my travel blog for the first time.

From May 5 to 27 of this year (!), Arnie and I are going to Italy, with a few days in Croatia. I am beside myself with excitement because – unlike almost everyone I know, including my own children – I have never been to Europe. A few days ago, I finished booking hotels for the trip, and I am beginning to believe this is really going to happen.

Aside from reserving rooms and a few tickets to museums that we might not have been able to get into if we’d left it to chance, I have been doing the usual things in order to prepare myself for our journey: reading a few books, including The Lonely Planet Guide to Italy, and learning to speak some Italian with the help of Duolingo (Como sta?).

Arnie and I also recently watched a fun movie called The Trip to Italy, with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. Despite the pair’s tour around the Italy of Byron and Shelley, two poets I’ve loved since university, the film primarily made me hungry. The hotels they stayed in (such as the Villa Cimbrone, “a medieval palazzo perched above the gulf of Salerno” @ $700/night €460) bear no resemblance to the ones I’ve booked.

Our departure date is about six weeks away at this point. I invite you to join me in the anticipation. In the next few weeks I’ll be posting about our preparations, and welcoming your ideas of what not to miss while we are there.

Andiamo!

Countdown to 3 a.m. departure

Cuba: Day 1 Minus 1

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 5.28.26 PMOur house is in a state of disarray as we pack suitcases and attempt to get all of those things organized that it is necessary to organize before one goes away for any length of time.

Our plane leaves at about 6:30 a.m. tomorrow, and the airline says we have to be at the airport three hours ahead of time – which seems ridiculous, but there you have it. So we will be leaving the house at 3 a.m., which means that we will be trying to get to sleep REALLY early tonight. And that in turn means that all the packing and sorting and checking of lists needs to be done before early evening. We’ll see how that goes, since it is almost early evening already and I haven’t packed anything yet.

Tomorrow we fly from Toronto to Varadero, Cuba, and then take a bus from the airport at Varadero to our hotel in Havana, where we are meeting with our group for dinner. Even though Havana is in the same time zone as we are here in Toronto, it is going to be a long day. But I am so excited that I probably won’t sleep at all tonight.

In preparation for this trip, in addition to the copious materials sent to us by our tour guides, I have read the introduction to the Lonely Planet travel guide to Cuba, and I am looking forward to reading the entries for our particular destinations as we approach them. Our trip will include stops in Bay of Pigs/Playa Girón, Cienfuegos, Santa Clara, Trinidad, Vinales and Havana, and will wind up with a couple of days at an all-inclusive in Varadero. I will post something about each place we see, but not necessarily as we go, as I understand that internet is iffy in Cuba, and that wireless internet is almost non-existent.

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 5.33.34 PMIn addition to the Lonely Planet book, I’m taking the Wallpaper City Guide to Havana, a gift from Arnie’s nephew Paul Resnick (thanks, Paul!). And as far as communicating while we are there, I’ve downloaded a Spanish-English dictionary onto my iPad and iPhone and I am hoping that this – combined with the past couple of months of refreshing my Spanish on Duolingo – will see us through.

In regard to Duolingo, I love the app/site and think I will take up German next. My biggest problem with Spanish (aside from being only about half way through the course now that it’s time to leave) is remembering vocabulary, and trying to change verbs to the past tense. But I can stumble along. I am looking forward to hearing Cuban Spanish, which is I’m sure much different from the Spanish I heard in Mexico and the southern U.S. – and to what I heard on Duolingo.

On my last day on Duolingo, I wrote this on Facebook: “I am now ready to go to Cuba. According to Duolingo, I can say ‘This car has no battery’ perfectly in Spanish.”

The next day I posted this  (utterly unrelated) thought:

I have been looking over my travel insurance in preparation for my trip to Cuba.  I am wondering why it is that if something really awful happens to you when you are out of the country and they have to ship the pieces of you back to Canada, they refer to the process as “repatriation.” The word makes me feel as though the insured, demised though she may be, is expected to rouse herself on arrival back in her home country at least to the point where she is able to salute.

So on that upbeat note, here we go.

Hasta luego.