A friend starts every blog post she writes with a quote, and given our upcoming plans as traveling companions, I couldn't resist posting the quote that showed up in my Writer's Almanac email a few days ago:
"Half the fun of nearly everything, you know, is thinking about it beforehand, or afterward."
--Howard Garis, creator of Uncle Wiggily
I am in absolute agreement, and, dear internet world, you are going to have to suffer (enjoyably?) through my planning, my obsessing, and the sure to be endless stream of pictures and posts about my 14 days in Europe this summer.
The credit card purchase of $1177 has been made, the most I've spent on any one thing since my laptop in 2009.
The google doc entitled "S and B's Adventures in Europe!" has been created (I know, I totally should have jumped on it and called it "S and B's Excellent Adventures" but my traveling partner beat me to it!).
I'm starting to get gchat messages with ideas for hostels, train ticket prices, and links. And I could not be more thrilled. I'm so glad after five years that I'm finally getting to Paris. I am going to see Monet's garden (more on this later). I haven't been out of the country since seventh grade, unless you count Niagara Falls two summers ago (and while that was an awesome trip, Canada doesn't really count in my book).
The current plan is three days in London, then Paris, a jaunt to see the homeland in Switzerland, and then more Paris. Because really, when one has such a travel veteran and Paris expert to stay with...? It's going to be amazing. I could not ask for better hosts.
Thinking about my upcoming travels has had me scurrying around the local libraries and goodreads, trawling Netflix for foreign films, and watching old episodes of Rick Steves on Hulu.
While I'm not sure there's any way I could be more excited for my trip, this media-scavenging hunt has me thinking seriously about how stories and visuals from other places can really enhance the experience of traveling, before, during, and after the trip. And as I haven't exactly been to this part of Europe, I really don't have a clue what the ultimate this-part-of-Europe reading/music/movie list would look like. I did find general history books on Paris and London that I'm reading through, and I've been paging through Lonely Planet guides just to get myself introduced to the cities. And I really need to find myself a decent map that will orient me to neighborhoods, because I hate
feeling lost. I'm a big map person, I don't really feel comfortable in a a
city until I can orient myself in the space of the city---which means I
should really find some maps of the arrondissements, and finally
understand that neither Cambridge University OR Oxford is actually in
London (you should have seen the beat down I got about this from a Brit;
sometimes ignorance is distinctly not bliss).
And as a postscript, I've thought a lot about what I would do if my friends asked me the same questions about Minnesota as I've been asking about Paris. What are the books I should read? Any movies really give off the Minnesota vibe? Are there any artists I should read about? Fun coffee table books about specific museums that would give me a primer on where to start? What's important in the history? And I realized that despite my pedigree as the granddaughter of someone who knew all about Minnesota, I haven't lived there as an adult, and beyond my fourth grade state history course, I am pretty behind on these things. So, along with all Europe books, I've requested a bunch of Minnesota books from the library to read later in the summer.