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  January 1, 2011

List three countries you’d like to visit, and why you want to go.

This is an easy one…France, England & Italy are tops on my list.

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to visit Europe.  I’m particularly fascinated by France, and I can’t believe that I’m forty-two years old and haven’t been to Paris yet.

When I was nine or ten, my grandparents took off for Europe.  They flew to Paris, and armed with a Eurail pass, made their way through several different countries.  The pictures of my glamorous grandmother, in her spectacular wool coat, a jaunty scarf around her neck and her magnificent red hair never fail to feed my imagination.  She & my grandfather made a point to hit many of the more touristy destinations, such as the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace or the Coliseum; but, they found all sorts of little places off the beaten tracks.  Their favorite place, however, was Paris.

Much like my grandparents, I want to wander.  My favorite part of traveling is to discover the places that the locals go.  I’m fascinated by people-watching.  To see people go about their daily lives in what I consider exotic locations…that’s my favorite thing.  The idea that they get to wake up every day in what, to me, is a magical place is something that I marvel at all of the time.  I don’t want to be shuttled through the gift shops and the over-priced gimmick restaurants.  I like to see what real people do, where they live, how they conduct their day.

My favorite movie is “Amelie.”  I am sure that Paris is probably not as pristine as the movie would have you believe, and I’m pretty sure that the wash of green that covers the film would be missing, too.  But, I can, and do, watch at least part of the movie every day.  I want to wander the side streets, and see the merry-go-round in Montmartre.  I want to ride the Metro, and buy my fresh vegetables from a street vendor.

In my imagination, there is always a soundtrack playing, with the music of an accordion.  Meals consist of fresh bread, cheese and fruit bought on the street.  The streets are wet with last night’s rain, but the sun is peeking through the clouds.

I can’t imagine that I would ever get my fill of Paris; but, I would also like to make my way to London.  As Eddie Izzard says, “It’s where the history comes from.”  Growing up in the suburbs of Phoenix, and Denver, I’ve lived in places that are no more than 30 years old.   I am part of the urban sprawl.  To see buildings that are centuries old, that are still lived in, worked in today, is fascinating to me.  

I don’t know as much about England or Italy.  I probably cling to the stereotypical ideals of both countries.  I imagine England as being cold & rainy, and Italy as sunny and busy.

Again, I would like to get off of the beaten paths, and explore.  To listen to the rhythms of the language, to follow my own timetable and just let the flow carry me along is to be perfectly happy.

I want to see churches and architecture.  I want to eat good food, drink wine and relish the smells & sounds.  I want to talk to people and exchange stories with strangers.

What I really want is to experience things in the same way that my grandparents did…completely on my own timetable, open to all sorts of new experiences, a bit outside of my comfort zone.