Posts Tagged "Trevi Fountain"
The days leading up to a trip are packed with anticipation and excitement. We check our reservations, pack our new bathing suits, stock up on magazines and read up on our destination’s ‘must see’ attractions. Some things we don’t normally consider can make the difference between a great trip and a good trip; or at the extreme a great trip and a horrible trip.
I pack at least one pre-read paperback per leg for flight attendants. This one statement: “I finished this. Would you like it?” can provide you with amenities and service beyond the average traveler’s. Human nature urges us to give back when something is given to us. Flight attendants are the Wikipedia of the skies. They know the best restaurants, best attractions, things to avoid, things not to avoid and everything you would expect someone who visits your destination several times a month.
Travel Health Kit
Something as simple as allergies, bug bites or food that your system is not used to can create havoc on even the best planned trip. Daily medications will undoubtedly be brought with you, but always pack them in their original containers with copies of your prescriptions. Many travelers have their medications confiscated at borders because of improper packaging. Keep your doctors business card with your medication for further reference should you be questioned by authorities.
If you have ever had a severe allergic reaction carry an epi-pen with you at all times. Relying on the healthcare in developing countries is not worth the risk. Language barriers can often waste vital time in an emergency situation. A list of your medical conditions translated into the local language is helpful also.
Commercial Travel Health Kits are available from several reliable online sources:
• American Red Cross:www.redcrossstore.org
• Adventure Medical Kits: www.adventuremedicalkits.com
• Chinook Medical Gear:www.chinookmed.com
• Travel Medicine, Inc.: www.travmed.com
• Wilderness Medicine Outfitters: www.wildernessmedicine.com
One of the most useful accessories I bring with me on every trip is a digital pen recorder. It is simple to use, light as a pen and never fails to get me where I want to go. Getting lost in big cities like Paris or Rome is the best way to find things you are not looking for. The problem comes later when you want to find them again. It takes about 20 minutes to walk from Piazza Navona to Trevi Fountain in Rome, which passes several great restaurants. While you may not be ready for a candle lit dinner at 10 AM, it is much easier to record the name and location of the restaurant for reference later than to pull out the Italian-English dictionary at the taxi stand and bumble out “little restaurant by the big church”. The latter will provide you with a strange look instead of mouth watering Frutti de Mare.
Alma is 89. The Florida afternoon storm knocked the power out for a few minutes so I decided to go next door and check on my favorite octogenarian. There is no quick escape from the abode of Alma. Once over the threshold, that singular, unidentifiable smell found only in the homes of the elderly, an abundance of yellowing lace and hint of floury-yeasty aroma from fresh baking, invades the senses in a not unpleasant manner.
After checking the circuit breakers and resetting the range clock, I take my place on the sofa for the inevitable discussion on the present and horrid state of affairs topped off with how it used to be. Somehow this lovely old lady can make the Great Depression sound like the Renaissance.
“Well Mikey, how are you going to spend this hot summer day?” She asks me, stretching her conversation muscles before the work out.
She offers me a hard candy from a bowl. As always, I refuse politely, wondering if carbon dating would give an accurate age of the discernibly discontinued confection.
“Not too much, tweaking my blog some later.”
I regretted it as soon as the words fell out of my mouth. Poor old Alma turned to marble before my eyes. To a woman that firmly believed computers should only be owned by democratic governments with an ample supply of WMD’s and a capital named Washington, my words were foreign and apparently vulgar.
I attempted a recovery explaining what a travel blog was. I could see my words were falling on deaf ears. I might have been explaining quantum mechanics to my infant daughter, for all the understanding I was seeing on her face.
“Basically it is pictures of places I visit with a few words written about it.” I tried simplifying.
“And why is it you want this blob thing?” She asked sincerely curious.
“Blog…Well. I suppose I want my daughter to look back at it someday and see what it was like traveling all over the world.”
“Hm. And all this is packed away on your computer forever then?”
“Yes, sort of. I make backups.” Deaf ears again. She shook her head and stood.
“You sit tight. Let me show you my glob.” Ok now she was messing with me. Her way of showing my foolishness was obviously refusing to pronounce the name.
Alma returned a moment later with a blue velvet box 6 inches wide and twice as long. A patina colored Eifel Tower emblazoned the top with a delicate matching clasp. Wordless, she opened the box and gazed at hundreds of old postcards.
“When I was very young my mother was a burlesque performer. Not the hootchie cootchie burlesque in America; caricature performance burlesque.”
I didn’t bother to interrupt with a statement that I had no idea what that was.
“We travelled all over Europe with her older sister, my aunt Sophia, who watched after me.”
She chose a card at random and stared reminiscent. Gently, with eyes closed, both hands brought the card to her lips. She inhaled the memory before reading the back and passing it to me.
The vintage postcard was thick and heavy in my hand; the scene one I knew well. Trevi Fountain in Rome with all its water spouting glory stared back at me. The back read only “A tall man named Charles.”
“That’s a cryptic message.” I said handing the card back to her.
“To the unknowing perhaps: I tossed a coin over my shoulder into the fountain and wished to marry a tall man named Charles. It was our tradition to send postcards home to ourselves from all the wonderful places we saw. Sometimes I would write what I was thinking, sometimes notes to my mother or aunt. They would do the same. When we arrived home from our trips we would get postcards everyday for weeks with sweet memories, inside jokes or stories to share. My childhood travels are in this box along with the best memories of my mother.”
It was two hours later when my wife knocked on the door asking if we were ok in there. I think she was attempting a rescue on my behalf. Alma and I had not made it half way through the box. I am secretly looking forward to the next summer storm blackout. So many amazing postcards, each with a fascinating story are forever salted away in a little velvet box.
I love technology. But I can see the value in older traditions. Sending postcards home for my little girl to cherish eighty years from now is one I vow to start on our next journey.Read More