It has been 18 days since my last post. This was not a disappearing act. We have been very busy at the Casa di Team G. One of the things we have done is book tours for our upcoming trip. That may sound perfectly normal for most people, probably a little boring. But for us, it is very weird. We do not do tours. We enjoy the freedom of going off on our own. We do not like being tied to someone carrying a flag on a pole, paying big bucks to follow them around, unable to hear or see what they are talking about. I am one of those people who needs to be able to see your mouth moving in order to understand the words that are coming out. I despise having to constantly shift around to peek between or above the heads in front of me to see the speaker. It’s annoying. Mainly, we just are not big on paying money to someone for something we can do ourselves. So why the big deviation now? Thanks for asking. Grab your cup of coffee or glass of vino. I’ll bring cheese and crackers. Everything is more fun when there are refreshments. Pull up a chair and I’ll fill you in. I like long stories.
It all started with a Facebook page. As part of our “vision board,” we follow a few Europe-based Facebook pages, most of them about Italy. At last count, I think the number was 74 different pages that provide us with tons of visual encouragement to maintain our focus on the Dream o’ Italy. One of those Facebook pages is Walks Of Italy. Those beautiful, kind people have a never-ending supply of gorgeous photography that we get to relish every single day. The only reason we followed the page was for the pictures. Case in point see below. Oh, the horror!
See, stuff like that gets burned into your retinas. Those images get into your head and are there for life. Years of therapy will not erase them from your memory. You have to deal with it. Face the monster! Ok, so back to how we ended up stepping outside our comfort zone into the tour world.
One day, Gigi Griffis, inspirational person extraordinaire and fine author of The Ramble, made mention that she had been on a Walks of Italy tour and had enjoyed it. Go over and take a look at Gigi’s blog, check out who she is, and then it will make sense to you why I took note of her endorsement. Ok, I’ll just tell you, otherwise I’ll eat all the refreshments waiting for you to catch up. Gigi, an amazing twenty-something, said, “later gator” to the corporate world, created her own company so that she can work from wherever-the-hell-she-pleases, and now lives a location-independent life traveling the planet with her dog, Luna. Does this sound like the type of person who needs or wants someone to lead her around with a flag on a pole?? I think not! So, yeah, when Miss Gigi made mention of having enjoyed her Walks of Italy tour, that little factoid stuck in my head.
Move along a few weeks or months, I don’t really remember. It doesn’t matter. I was just trying to distract you so I could refill my wine glass. I’m just a bit parched. I was reading through every Tuscany-related trip report and forum thread on the TripAdvisor website overwhelming myself with information so that I could plan the world’s most perfect trip ever in the whole universe or have a nervous breakdown trying. I kept coming across references for the Walks of Italy tours. As a matter of fact, Walks of Italy is highly rated in the TripAdvisor Things To Do category for both Florence and Rome. People rave about the tours, mainly how wonderful the tour guides are and their depth of knowledge. Several, like a billion, people said they were not tour-type people, but had they not gone with Walks of Italy they would have missed out on so much “inside” information. I believe in signs. They are there. It’s incumbent upon us mere humans to recognize them. The Universe was screaming at me to book a freaking tour….or three. Yep, that’s right. I said three. T H R E E tours. Why? Because, I couldn’t make up my mind. One time I ordered three desserts in a restaurant because I couldn’t make up my mind, so it’s not like it’s unprecedented in my world. AND! Yes, there is an and because I want to show I was using some part of my brain. AND, if we booked three or more tours we got a 10% discount. Score! So there.
The three outstanding tours that made the cut after four solid days of scholarly research only equaled to that of a doctoral candidate working on their thesis in molecular physics and some waling and gnashing of teeth are the Welcome to Rome – Twilight City Stroll with Gelato, A.M. VIP Access – Coliseum Underground, Arena & Forum, and Crypts & Bones & Catacombs – Underground Tour of Rome. The Twilight City Stroll tour is scheduled for the evening of our arrival in Rome. I thought it would be an easy way to get our bearings and settle in a bit. And, the word gelato was there, which means “refreshments” in English. Food? Yes, sign me up. The Coliseum tour – well aside from the obvious, it’s The Coliseum for heaven’s sake, this one is definitely a nod to the big guy, the G-man. G-man minored in ancient history in college. For a layperson, the man knows his stuff. It will thrill him to no end to touch, see and smell the places he has read so much about. I’m not saying I’m not interested. I am, for sure! But for this one, my joy is focused entirely on him, just knowing how cool it will be for him to be there. The Catacombs tour is more my thing. I just have this odd affinity for old cemeteries. I have no idea why or where it comes from. I just find them fascinating.
So there it is. We are going to, for the first time in our lives, follow the flag holder. Not once. Not twice. But three times. Some folks escape their comfort zone by jumping out of an airplane. We live on the edge by going on a tour. We hope that this moment serves as inspiration for others. Now, excuse me while I replenish my cup o’ vino.