ITALY - A TUSCAN ADVENTURE
Part I - The Adventure Begins
About 2 years ago, M received an invitation to take a trip to Italy to help her good friend, P, celebrate her 50th birthday. This was to be an ALL GIRLS trip. When she first started talking about it I quacked "She'll never do it....she's a big chicken! Cluck! Cluck! Cluck!" Well, she showed me! There was some hesitation, because, The Man wouldn't be going and she was feeling guilty leaving him behind. In the end the Gypsy in her won out.
Since The Man wasn't allowed to go, I had it figured out that I would have to stand in for him and once again stow away in the "personal" bag. I'm really getting tired of hiding out in those bags. You'd think by now she'd just give in and let me go without a fuss. This time it was a bit tougher because, you see, she decided to travel carry-on - no checked baggage. This is an accomplishment. M is a girl and girls can't go without all the hair gear and make-up and 22 different outfits for a 7 day trip. I had my doubts, but she did it. One carry-on and one "personal bag". I had to fit myself in between the new camera and 2 lens attachments. I'm not small, you know, but I managed.
Into the Friendly Skies
The adventure began on a Sunday afternoon in October. The itinerary is Detroit - Paris, France - Florence, Italy. This is gonna be one long night. We leave OKC at 4:45. I'm still hidden and hope to stay that way all the way to Florence. I can tell M is a bit nervous as she's traveling totally solo and will be the last one to arrive. What if she misses that connection in Paris? The whole trip is critically timed to make it as easy as possible for the welcoming committee to collect her in Florence.
We make Detroit and the flight is 15 minutes late. Oh, man......complications already! But M's friend B, another traveling gypsy, had advised that Detroit is easy to navigate and she was right. We made it to the gate with 10 minutes to spare and even got to go through that tunnel with the really really cool changing lights!
Next stop.....Paris, France. I thought I was home free but just before boarding the all-night flight, she found me! I thought I'd get another one of those lectures, but she was so relieved to know she wasn't totally alone that she gave me a bone crushing hug and kisses that I thought would never end. The really cool part was the plane was less than half full, so we had our own "bed" of seats and could totally stretch out. We cuddled up under two blankets and slept all the way to Paris.
Paris......What can I say? This airport is HUGE with 6 different terminals. To make matters worse we are arriving at the terminal that is really 6 terminals in one AND we have to go to another terminal to make our connection! Since the plane was so empty and since it seems no one was traveling on a Monday, we cleared customs in 5 minutes. Next task, to reclear security. Once again, not so many travelers and we were done within another 5 minutes. M had done her homework on how to get from one terminal to the other and knew exactly where she was supposed to go. The shuttle was found within another 5 minutes. What is with all these 5 minute segments? The shuttle takes 8 minutes. Life is sweet. We have more than 90 minutes to wait for the connecting flight to Florence where the welcoming committee of party girls will be waiting for our arrival.
Florence......Piece of Cake!!! We text message the birthday girl that we are on the ground. She texts back that she is on her way and which airline did we fly. This is the tiniest airport I've ever been in and I'm thinking...."What does that matter? There's only one door in and across the room there is one door out!" Two hours later the welcoming committee arrives. It took them 1-1/2 hours to find the airport and 1/2 hour to figure out how to get to the front door where we are. I won't understand this for at least another 3 days when we return to Florence to tour. I learn navigation here is clearly an unclear task, even with "Gypsy" GPS.
It's late so we head directly for the villa that has been rented in the Tuscan hills of Corsano, near Siena. Now that M and I are here, the group is complete. We are a band of 19 Americano Gypsies. Let the party begin! And begin it does.......We cook our first big dinner of salad, steaks and pasta. MMMMMMM.......and then we stay up til 1am dancing and drinking wine. These gypsies can sure party! There was table dancing and so much more! I have drunk so much wine. However I can't figure out why I have no buzz. If I have no buzz, will I be hungover in the morning? I hope not! Finally we are off to bed for some much needed sleep. We have to get up early in the morning to go to our Italian Cooking Class. Wonder what we'll fix?