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Trip Report Enchanted April (What's that you say? "Crazy dear one, it was January.") Don’t fret, for it was oh so very Enchanted April in our minds. DH & Tiff’s Italian Journey

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Greetings all you beautiful Fodorites, I thought I might never 'see' you again!

Upon our return I was unable to post. (gasp!) Our precious LoveItaly emailed me that Ira had suggested it might be our internet provider and filters. Ira, you are the man, and indeed you were correct, so thank you, all is well in the land yet again. I had forgotten that we had changed it before we left. LoveItaly, bless your heart, thanks for always looking out for all of us and keeping us connected.
((L))

Bird's Eye View:
~Fly NWA Minneapolis-Amsterdam-lovely Florence 5 nights (to include one day trip with private tour guide, the extraordinary Luca from Hills and Roads)
~Train to Venice
~5 nights in magical splendor
~Fly Venice-Amsterdam-Minneapolis via NWA

Thank you is a MUST to all Fodorites that post here. I really mean that, I read and read and read, it enhanced our trip so very much and we are quite grateful. ESPECIALLY everyone that posted on the restaurants they dined in, not one bad tip in that arena. With each delightful bite in each new restaurant, my DH would look at me and nod, "Fodorite rec, huh'" and I would nod back in agreement, it was beautiful, he was so happy.

Thanks to every Fodorite that:
~Told us we weren't crazy to travel to Italy in January, you were right.
~Answered my thread, "Why do you love Venice?" You influenced our decision, and brought us from the "Hmmmmm, perhaps." to the "On my heavens, yes."

Preplanned Tools of Survival:
~Look at pictures and read everything you can about your destination.

~For winter travel, select a lovely jacket that can be dressy or casual, after all you will be wearing this every day, you had better love it. (In addition, I had our wonderful tailor add inside pockets into DH & my jackets, no need for purse, or those awful neck pouch thingys!)

~Do call Italy to confirm your hotel reservations, if only to hear them say, "Oh, how very lovely of you to call, Mrs. Tiff, we are so looking forward to your arrival."

~Seatguru (thank you, Tedgale ~ this website has every airline and seating descriptions on every plane, what a handy tool, loved it. I since have seen many recommend this site but Tedgale, you were the first that I saw, so thank you.)

~There comes a time during one's planning, that one should perhaps stay away from the computer and trust that they have gathered 'enough' information (you will know when you have reached this point, please see below in section: Pre-Trip Minor Myocardial Infarctions.)

Pre-Trip Minor Myocardial Infarctions:
~Came across an article off the AP less than two weeks before departure that read: "Effective September 2005, the US gov will no longer accept amended passports." Ran downstairs, put Sophie in her little bed (because after all, one cannot call DC with a Schnoodle on their lap) ran back upstairs, called DC IMMEDIATELY, and the kindest gentleman I'll ever have the pleasure to speak with informed me that the article was incorrect, that effective September '05 they will no longer MAKE amendments passports, one who has name change, etc, will need to reapply for a new passport, however, those that currently possess amended passports will be able to use said passport for the life of the passport. Heart goes back to regular beats per minute, I love you, kind DC man, I love you.

Decide that perhaps I should stay away from the computer until our departure.

The trip for me always begins when I have to drop off our little Sophie. She is an angel and any pet owner in Fodorville will understand my 'sigh' as I pull away from dropping her off. So sad to leave her but happy and excited about our trip. It is indeed bittersweet. For those that reside in my area, Minneapolis/St. Paul, I will tell you that Goldwood is Sophie's home away from home (651-429-0648). This is a family run business that has been around for 34 years. They LOVE what they do and it shows. Sophie loves it there.

And so, the journey begins'

Thinking of SueHoff, I promptly changed location of ink pen from my special-for-Italy handbag and placed in DH's black messenger bag, OCD almost compels me to place it a baggie first, but I deny this urge and am proud of self.

Onward! Go forth, NOW we are ready.

Our wonderful driver from Manny's Private Car Services (again for those of you who reside in my area, they may be contacted at 651-483-3033) picks us up on time and off we go to the airport.

Flight is on time, everything is smooth. We see someone we know, visit for a bit and before you know it, it is time to board.

This is where you will really begin to know what a freak your fellow Fodorite is. I have with me: comfy travel pillow, comfy socks, exceptionally soft clothing, my Sharper Image eye mask, ear plugs (with alternating use of travel sound machine with strong preference to 'rain' at highest volume on plane), and a sleep aid on board. My DH has and desires nothing. I ask him before we leave, "Honey, what can I get you, what would you like? Perhaps a little pillow like I have? Would you care for an eye mask, maybe some ear plugs? A little music, would you like an IPod? NOTHING. I still don't believe him and this time I give in to OCD and pack an extra pair of earplugs 'just in case'. I love him, he is so LM, I on the other hand am very high maintenance, but admitting it is the first step, no?

So there we are, all equipment (on Tiff that is) donned and I literally am laughing because I think, if I could see how I look right now... But I can't (because of my Sharper Image Eye Mask, and that solves THAT problem.

DH falls asleep immediately after eating delicious treats I packed. Even with, what I will refer to as the DSB's (Drunk Scotch Businessmen) behind us, he is OUT like I drugged him or something. I, on the other hand, rest and am very comfortable, but sleep is nowhere in sight.

When we are about an hour away from Amsterdam, they begin breakfast service. In classic fashion, one of the DSB's states to the flight attendant, "I sure hope this breakfast doesn't make me sick!!!!!" Oh yes, DSB, it won't be the bzillion little bottles of cheap Scotch you belted down over the last 8 hours that will irritate your tummy. I think of you and know this is the stuff trip reports are made of...

We arrive in Amsterdam, and let me just say, I LOVE this airport. Easy. Clean. Nice internet/office center. Many food choices. It rocks.

Leave on time for Florence. Again, even with the sweet Italian flight attendants speaking a million miles an hour behind us, DH is again out. I am reading, A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena de Blasi and enjoying it. (I have, of course, A Thousand Days in Tuscany packed, or as I say "On Deck" for when I finish 'ATDIV'.

As we take off, Amsterdam is so lovely. We break through the ceiling of clouds and I feel as though we have entered another land. The sight is breathtaking. What once was a ceiling of clouds has now become our platform. Large pillows of continuous fluff. I feel that if I were very careful I could tip-toe across it without notice. My jet-lagged eyes begin to play tricks on me and now the platform begins to look like the Sahara. Sun shining, never ending.

As begin our descent Florence, I get a tear in my eye. The sun is higher now, the land is rolling and greener than I expected during these winter months, it is beautiful and I can't believe that I am bringing my true love here. We first spoke of my love for Italy when we were practically strangers. He was curious and asked many questions, and so I went on and on about my love for this enchanting land. He later told me it was one of those first moments when a man thinks, Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, something here'

We land in my beloved Italy and DH wakes. We are here. It is real.

Next installment:
Heyyyyyyyyyy, Hey Baby, I want to know, will you be my girl? And it's a Holly Jolly Christmas
((8))

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