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Trip Report Packed our bags today preflight; Rocket salad-ing thru Florence,Rome&Paris

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Off to Florence on a 3:30 PM flight out of LAX via Paris. 17 fun and food-filled days in Florence, Orvieto, Rome and Paris and the ridiculous idea that I am doing it all with carry-on luggage. I would like someday to be the consummate traveller who can pack light and wash out her two pair of pants and one shirt that doubles as a raincoat and evening dress but I am not yet that gal. There is a lot of crap I need in the 17 days of our trip and when we hit Paris, it will be pretty cold. No, it wasn't hard parting with the Louboutins I didn't own anyhow or the 5 fake Pashminas I bought the last time I was in Florence but I did stuff a fair amount of scarves in every nook and cranny. My suitcase luckily sucked in its bourgeoning stomach with the help of Spanx-like plastic bags and we had a pre-trip cocktail party just so all of our friends could sit on our luggage to get it closed. Doors locked, mail stopped, fridge cleaned and we were off!

Let me back up a couple of months. The last bag I helped pack before the ones going to Florence were those of my son going off to college. I neatly folded his clothes for the last time and helped him pack his suitcase. Clothes that would probably never see the inside of a dresser but instead live happily on a dorm room floor. Up until now, we travelled everywhere together. Both my son and daughter share our spirit of travel and gregariously call for cabs or hop buses in foreign cities and there have been many crazy family dinners recounting, well, mainly times I "may" have embarrassed them in other regions of the world. Who knew I didn't really know Rosanna and Patricia Arquette as I drunkenly yelled their names across the Trevi Fountain at midnight? Apparently my kids did and ran as fast as they could away from me when the two sisters turned to look for a friend they didn't know they had. I thought back to all of the Spring Break trips and summer adventures we had together as a family and knew I was at a crossroads. My son's life would veer off into journeys of his own that didn't include us and ours would do the same. Leaving his university, I'm glad it was a sunny day and that I could wear sunglasses as I hugged him goodbye. We are now officially empty nesters and on our own for the first time in 18 years.

So on a warm LA day this past Monday, we tucked ourselves into our Premium Voyageur Air France seats and took off. About Premiere Voyageur. A few hundred bucks more per ticket than coach, a skosh more room,business class "free" alcohol no doubt hand me downs from the passengers behind the magic curtain in front of you, French croissants made in Downey, California, a piece of what they called Pastrami du Boeuf but what looked liked tranche du Spam, a comb, a shoe horn, some earplugs and seats that don't actually recline but instead slouch. Worth it? If your flight is over 10 hours and you don't mind paying that extra few hundred, I would say yes. The seats are bigger, there is more legroom and a footrest and you get on the plane little sooner. But it will never be business class in spite of the pretty pictures and video on the Air France website. But a teensy bit o' Xanax and a plastic tumbler of champagne helped - (seriously, when doesn't it?). And as Louis CK says, you're in a chair in the sky traveling thousands of miles in mere hours, there should be NOTHING to complain about. A quick plane change in Paris and 17 hours since we left LAX and voila/ecco! we were turning the key in our apartment on Via Della Spada in Florence.

Next - Our first rocket salad and apartment living vs. hotel living

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