When my lifelong best friend Ann and I were college students studying in Europe, we met in Italy for a quick and dirty tour of three cities. We had neither the time nor the budget for more than a breeze through Venice, Florence and Rome.
Oh, we had fun, especially celebrating Carnevale, and we experienced many tourist highlights. Gondola ride under the Rialto Bridge? Check. View of Florence’s striped Duomo? Snapped a photo. Visit to the Sistine Chapel? Saw it, bought the postcard.
It wasn’t until much, much later, when Carol and I spent a week in Rome, that I truly appreciated the country’s rich history and masterpieces. Aside from a few decades of maturity (mine), the biggest difference was Rick Steves.
Many of my well-traveled friends have relied on guidance from Rick Steves’ books, website, DVDs and TV show for years, but until recently, I shied away from his “Europe Through the Back Door” advice. I figured that I was smart enough to get the information I needed on my own. I was wrong.
In Rome, Carol and I found “Rick’s” tips invaluable. Without our guide book, we would have skipped the amazing Ostia Antica ruins. We wouldn’t have known the quickest way into the Sistine Chapel, and wouldn’t have fully understood the awe-inspiring ceiling. We would have passed by some fabulous sculpture, and, I hesitate to admit, missed the bus to the outlet mall.
And now, life has come full circle, as Carol and I will be imparting our own travel wisdom at Rick Steves’ headquarters this Thursday night.
We are scheduled to give a one-hour presentation on “Guilt-Free Girlfriend Getaways.” Our liaison at the company admits that our talk is a departure from the typical fare (e.g. “Beginning Swedish for Travelers,” “Packing Light and Right” and “Paris: Art Beyond the Louvre”), but she thinks it’s an important offering.
Carol and I have spent the past two years researching and writing our book and, more recently, our blog, and we know a thing or two about how guilt can serve as a roadblock to getting away without family. We’re evangelists, of a sort, trying to help women rediscover themselves through time and travel with girlfriends.
In our presentation, we’ll help attendees visualize the optimal vacation for them. Most of us have limited time and budgets for getaways, so when we do travel, we need to make it count. The trip must fill our own buckets; we spend the rest of our lives fulfilling other people’s needs at work and at home.
We’ll offer advice for choosing the optimal travel partner(s) – a selection that must begin with a discussion of goals and budget for the trip and an honest disclosure of travel style (for example, an early riser will soon get frustrated with a companion who likes to party until 3 am and sleep in past noon).
We’ll offer advice for trip preparation – both for the traveler and those she leaves behind – and for minimizing stress during the “re-entry process” following the vacation.
Most important, we’ll give attendees permission to pack up and let go.
Those who attend our lecture shouldn’t expect nuts-and-bolts advice on where to eat and sleep and what to see in Europe; Rick Steves does that quite well. However, we will explain why women need to go, who they should travel with, how to get out the door and what they will gain from their girlfriend getaways. If you live in the Seattle area, we hope you’ll join us on Thursday.
To sign up, follow this link: http://www.ricksteves.com/news/classes/class_menu.htm
– Linda Williams Rorem, 25 April 2011