We are returning to Venice next week. The last time we traveled in Italy was in 1985. We spent three weeks in Italy and France with a brief moment in Monaco. The dollar was strong and we were young – a perfect combination. I will say that our travels are far less Eat, Pray and Love and more Sex, Eat and En-Suite. Unlike Elizabeth Gilbert, we did not learn anything on our trip, we had no revelations, nothing book-worthy to report. In fact, when I travel, I really just want to have a good time, not be kidnapped by the Taliban, run over by a milk truck, or have a humorous episode during which I lose my passport.
I can only recall a few things from that first trip:
I learned my relatively new husband was not interested in standing breathlessly before Matisse’s Red Table Cloth, on loan from L’Hermitage to Venice because we will never get this chance again and in fact, he quickly learned to arm himself with a book so that when I did find some obscure art gallery, he could read in the lobby.
We learned that doing so was okay.
I learned that if I dragged this husband through the Vatican, that he would be less interested in the Louvre. So we spent five minutes in the Louvre.
He learned that I will always find homes to tour, both stately and model homes, like the one built on the roof of Printemps in Paris.
I learned that he will never sleep in a hotel featuring the bath down the hall. Never. Again. His wishes were made very clear as we sat in the train station in Florence and I suggested a cheap ($15/night) room within our budget and he suggested that for five dollars more I could avoid divorce.
I learned that I loved waking before him, trotting downstairs to the sunny hotel restaurant and write in my journal while listening to the espresso machine create the perfect drink to fuel the rest of my day.
I learned gelato.
We learned that the student section of Paris filled with ethnic restaurants and students was the best place to eat.
We learned to window shop. And window shop. And resist any and all temptation to purchase any item that was roughly the cost of the entire trip.
We learned to make friends on the streets and take advice from strangers.
We learned that driving in any city, was not desirable, but that driving in the country and getting caught in a flock of sheep blocking the road . . . was marvelous.
We learned that to be twenty – five and friendly allowed you access to the world.
And that even if you are fifty, and learn to say good morning, it will probably work again.