Subject: General - Italy and France Trip - Quick Notes
Hello ZINER Friends,

Nice to be home (I think); although, returning to my office is interfering with my retaining the 'holiday feeling'. I had a wonderful time in France and Italy. I made notes along the way - mindful of my intention to write a travelogue upon my return. I am not sure when that will be though. My goodness, there really aren't enough hours in a day!

Quick notes: LIGHT PACKING ... I've got a long way to go, but I managed! Eagle Creek organizers get top marks (I added to my collection for this trip). I need to confess that I did mail a parcel of 'extras' home from France, making use of my travel-essential duct tape. Travel-specific clothing, suggested by Ziner, worked well. PLANNING ... I think I did the right amount - enough to give some structure and not so much that I felt constrained. Unplanned events, e.g. the outdoor Paul Simon and Keith Jarrett concerts in Lucca, were most enjoyable. I took the Ziner advice to plastic cover and spiral bind (at Kinkos) my detailed itinerary, daily calendar and relevant printed material. My own modification was to also insert 8.5 x 11 inch plastic 'envelopes' for each of the major components of my trip. This worked well for storing brochures, post cards, business cards and other easy-to-lose paper that I collected and wanted to hang on to. CAMERA... Learning curve was too steep to convert to digital before my trip and so I lugged my 35mm with zoom lens and loads of film around. I captured loads of memories and a few good pictures. I am now going to SERIOUSLY investigate digital referring, of course, to the incredible Ziner notes on this matter. TRANSPORTATION ... I continue to be a great fan of Italian trains and buses ... despite the fact that I fell victim to rotating disruptions in service due to union issues. Nice 'glitch' in France: Eurocar was unable to supply the Renault Laguna automatic that I had reserved and so substituted a Mercedes Benz automatic. Life is tough! Cancelled flight (Air traffic controller issue) from Paris to Marseille, didn't cause too much disruption for me, b/c I headed straight to the Marseille TGV platform at CDG Airport .. and as soon as the train pulled in, persuaded the conductor to allow me to board the train buy a ticket on board. I avoided a line-up of 100's of people, trying to find ground transportation b/c flights were cancelled. MEALS/FOOD ... Wonderful! I was pleased to find the Zine-recommended Bistro Latin in Aix and enjoy a wonderful lunch. Dinners at my hotel in Aix, Le Piggonet, were excellent. Half board dinners at Grand Hotel Vittoria in Montecatini Terme were delicious ... some of their pasta dishes were amongst the best I have tasted. Cavaillon melons ,,, ahhhh! Moules et frites in Nice ... ahhhh! Fraises de boites in Gordes ... ahhhh! Paella at the market in Isle sur la Sorgue ... ahhh! I have to stop now .... and find something to eat. COSTS ... The conversion to Euros seems to have resulted in increased costs. I seemed to get more 'mileage' from the Franc and Lira than I did from the Euro (even considering current 'peg' against US $)

Happy travelling to all.

Lesley Toronto, Canada

p.s. I'll post more detail as soon as I can.