Making Connections

Fitting in to another country culture and understanding  their nuances requires one to be more open and accepting of differences.  I find it is helpful to learn some basic greetings and to use them even though it may be said incorrectly. I think that the effort is appreciated — Bonjour, Bonsoir, C’est bon!

An interesting aspect of southern European countries, that I have found is their desire to be part of life and a sense of place. They enjoy conversation and being a part of gatherings. Life moves at a much slower pace. In other words, “Stop and smell the roses.” I was amazed when I looked this quote up that it is attributed to golfer extraordimageinaire, Walter Hager. Huh! never would have guessed that.

We did just that!  We stopped at a market and there were 100 of bouquets.  May 29 is mother’s day in France and flowers were in bundles throughout the markets and flower shop.

Besides learning how to form a relationship to a new country, I find when traveling with tour companies the same aspects applies to your fellow travelers.  Each person personality and knowledge adds another layer to the historical fact we are learning about thus, creating an additional dimension to what we are experiencing.  It is the human aspect both past and present that creates our stories.

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At this medieval church we visited was a French archaeologist who was in front of the church starting a dig  not only to find the foundation to the missing portico but to see if there are any human remains( Angers, France). Our conversation with her was impromtu but most fascinating

Anxious Moments

Why is packing such an ordeal. Is it just me? I try to do the right things. I search the weather apps for my destination cities weather conditions, I  select clothes that coordinates and easily interchanges and I try to implement suggestions from guide books. But for some reason I am packing and repacking and checking that  I included all that is needed. Then, I work with my husband. He is definitely last minute. He used to do it all on his own but last last year he forgot his medication so now we work together.

Have you realized now that Facebook (FB) knows everything we are interested in. Once you search for something on google you become a target for those topics.  Now, I am receiving suggestions  on the “how to of packing”.  The latest idea is to fold all clothes items together.  One website, ebags.com, shows the use of soft containers. It looks  interesting.  If you are not sure what I mean just google packing or search on FB.

For my husband and I there is apprehension and nervousness until we can print out our boarding passes which of course, cannot be done until 24 hours prior to the flight. This is because two years ago when we were checking in for our Italy trip, we were denied and told to contact the airlines. We were informed that our passport was 4 days shy of  the exiting requirement of Italy. You talk about Hysteria?  Our flight was less than 20 hours off. How were we going to make this? But it all worked out in the end,  the government, the airline, family, and the Lord all worked together and we were on that flight. So be sure you check your passports and the country you visiting requirements.

It is difficult to feel relax about traveling with all the discussion about the TSA problems. We thought for sure that it would be a hassle checking in but we were surprise. At MSY, the New Orleans International, we had no problem what-so-ever. Of course we did have the pre-check-in approval. Even at JFK there was no problem. Personally, I think that they were trying to impress people by getting everybody through the lines quickly and securely since all the bad press.

Finally, out travel anxieties slipped away once we made it aboard our final flight. Calmness is achieved once, we arrive at our destination city’s hotel. We relax, we have a toast to our new adventure, and some local cuisine. Now, we are ready to experience all that the country has to offer and in the process make some new friends along the way. SANTE! CHEERS! SALUTE!

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Getting Ready

Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!  Where do we want to go? Do we do want to plan it ourselves or do we go on a Tour?  How much can we spend?  These things can be seen as a hassle or as Rick Steves says, ” it can be part of the experience.”

To me the hardest part is making the decision, once that choice is made, the planning kinda flows.  It comes down to your window of time, passport expiration date, and the airline choices. Then, it is selecting your itinerary–the places to see, the tours to take and selection of hotels or the researching of tour companies that best match the things and places you want to experience.  Don’t forget to use all available resources in your research (google, friends, bookstores (Barnes and Noble), travel agencies (AAA)).

Do your homework: check on travel insurance, passport expiration date, country’s weather, contact credit card company, check on your regular payments due date so you do not incur late charges, make copies of passport and other important documents, leave an itinerary and a contact number with family member, and contact your phone company for international travel service.   This is just a snippet of things that should be done prior to leaving.  A more detailed list can be found in travel books.

Whew, just writing this list takes my breath away.  And yes, my husband and I do want to travel.  As with anything worth doing, time and preparation are important.