Subject: Re: Planning
Hi Tom in Chatham (Ontario or England?).

What I found most interesting about your note is that you rely on maps and books to plan the trip. Bravo! We spend a lot of time doing web reseach, but in the end we do the same thing. We have a casual dinner conversation somewhere along the line of You know we really should go to XXX. Then we check the web for some basic information on the chosen location and the next stop is our bookshelves for the Atlas to find out exactly where the country is and how we might get there from here. Next stop is the bookstore for a Michelin map of the country. We live with the map on our dining room table for a few weeks and then back to the bookstore for a regional map after we have spent many nights talking about exactly where we want to visit. This is the point where we really get involved in the planning and spend a lot of money and time buying and reading the guidebooks to plot the journey.

Now that we've finally decided on exactly where we want to go, we again surf the web to check out car rentals, train schedules, hotels, museum exhibitions, restaurants and other pertinent information. Then we book our flights. So in the final analysis, it all comes down to a place that grabs your imagination and interest and lots of research.

When this is done, we buy our airline tickets, anticipate, pack our bags and enjoy the trip. I love the planning part because it allows me to enjoy the anticipation of the trip. For the most part, we visit all of the places we had planned and then, suddenly we veer off the plan and discover something we hadn't planned for. We always read the local newspapers to find out what's on (local festivals and exhibitions make us change our plans). Very often we think we've discovered something only to come home and read in our newspaper six months later that the spot we found is now the in place to be and we feel quite chuffed with ourselves for having been there. Of course, the locals knew all along that the in place has always been so.

So, in the end, I say buy the maps, spend hours poring over them, and then go. Lucy