It is perhaps fitting that I first read about this interesting thread from
Laurie, since she was the first group members my wife and I met (before
Laurie got married, which was roughly a century after we did). The meeting
was our second trip to Italy, and we are now anticipating our seventh trip.
That initial meeting was back in the days of the old Travel-L list.
I have been a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington since 1964 so I do things that most professors do like teach, do research, and write books and articles. I am fortunate to have been to Europe four times other than our Italian trips (Spain once, the British Isles three times, Scandinavia twice, and various Northern European countries twice). I have also been to Hawaii three times, Canada three times, the Caribbean twice, and Asia once although I must confess that Europe and, especially, Italy is our favorite, though Prague comes close. Within Italy, Florence is a clear number 1, so we always include it in our itinerary, but we visit places further South (including Naples which, perhaps perversely, we enjoy) half of our trips and places further North the other half. To be even more perverse, we enjoy staying in Padua rather than Venice when we are in that region.
We both prefer planning our own trips, and probably will never take a cruise or guided tour (except, of course, for city tours, which we always do take in a new city). My wife is the shopper, I am the photographer. One or both of our daughters usually accompanies us and they blend my wife's interests with mine. One daughter is in the Air Force, so she has traveled even more extensively in her young life than my wife an I have, having previously been stationed in Korea and Germany. We all enjoy eating! I speak a little bad French, bad Italian, and bad Yiddish (some would also say bad English as well, but I do have some evidence to the contrary on that).
This group, like Travel-L before it, is invaluable not so much for advice (which is generally very good), but for the people we have met through it. Meeting with them is de rigueur for any trip we make.
I will close by thanking Don and Linda, whom I have communicated with but never met in person, for making more than a bit of this possible by being, in effect, matchmaker to the various people we have met through this group.
Ira H. Bernstein Dallas, Texas