Buongiorno!  


It’s been a year and a few months since we were fortunate enough to embark on our long-awaited journey across the pond.  We’d waited for what seemed liked forever.  Then, came the day we got the ok from the doctors that we could travel world wide. You see, for those who may not know, my husband James was on dialysis for about 5 years due to kidney failure.  It wasn’t that we couldn’t go anyway, heck, we went on a big trip every year - Disneyworld, New York, a Mexico cruise, road trips to Arizona, the Pacific Northwest.  It was during this last trip where we got the call from Cedars Sinai Hospital that we good to go for the transplant, and it was perhaps serendipitous that we were at a spot on our hike where we were able to receive cell service.  It’s a call I will never be able to forget as I was the one who would be gifting the kidney to the love of my life. But that’s another story that you can find on our Jimmy McBean Facebook page if you’d like to read more. For now, how about a little Italian adventure as share by my guest and partner in crime, James. 

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Now, I had studied Google Maps and online travel guides to get a basic idea of what was where, what to see and what not to see, but I wasn’t expecting to be left the amount of awe from each of the places we strolled through.  Some was good, some not so good, but I’m glad we were able to experience it all.  
 
Buongiorno Roma!  Initial thoughts - beautiful buildings, amazing art, wow there certainly is a lot of graffiti, the food is fantastic, why does everyone smoke, look how beautiful . . . .  It’s a good thing we didn’t take a film camera because we would have had to change rolls twenty feet outside the hotel lobby.  It was amazing getting to walk hand in hand - or arm in arm since it was chilly - the whole time our eyes were gazing up, down, and all around.  Getting to walk through the narrow cobbled streets, smelling fresh pastries and coffee, and listening to incomprehensible conversations while attempting to order gnocchi in Italian . . . priceless.  Piazza Novona, the Tiber, Vatican, the Colleseum (hopefully next time we can actually go in), the Pantheon along with the numerous other houses of worship.  The photos do their best to portray the majesty of the city, but being there is the only way to feel it. 

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Venezia/Venice.  Initial thoughts - how the heck do we get to the hotel!  This map makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Let’s wait here with this other couple who also look lost too.  We made it thanks to a sweet French couple who had a much better map that we did.  What an amazing and beautiful city.  All we did was walk around and get lost and take photos.  But it was okay because we were still experiencing it all together despite not feeling well. Oh well, we kept trekking along.  The images can speak better than I can of this sinking, but beautiful city.

So, what are the final thoughts?  Just Go!  Charge it to the credit card if you have to (just be sure to pay it off quickly).  Take a camera and go and capture the sights, experience the sounds and tastes of someplace foreign.   Some people have told me in the past to not wait til it’s too late.  Don’t put off a trip because it may not seem like the right time, because more often than not there’s never going to be a perfect time.  Thanks to Cedars Sinai, Pati and I taking care of each other, we are going to have plenty of more opportunities to go on these trips together and create memories that will last a lifetime!

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Fast forward two years from our transplant call and we were on a plane to Italy.  I’m not going to mention the rocky start of the fender bender (more like side swipe) on the way to the airport because . . . . wait, I just mentioned it . . . There was no way that anything was going to keep us away from Italian Adventure. Anyway, on with the story.

First, I have to give props to Costco for making the planning so easy.  Plane - private car - hotel - train - hotel - train - hotel - plane . . . Everything went fairly smoothly.  What mistakes or hiccups that came about, we learned from and will be better prepared for our next grand adventure. UK? Greece?  The good part - no need to pack the dialysis machine or the 15 boxes of dialysis solution. Which is a good thing as it was bad enough Pati wanted to take the extra large suitcase, which luckily didn’t happen. 

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Firenze or Florence for us non-Italians.  Initial thoughts - thank goodness we made it (as leaving Rome was a stressful situation in itself), let's hurry and and find a power converter, wow, wow, wow.  Cleaner, colder, smaller.  You can’t say it’s more beautiful.  It’s just different.  I think we waited in line more here than we have at Disneyland - even for the re-opening of Star Tours.  But the images we captured from the top of the Duomo over the sprawl of the city was pretty amazing.  Everywhere we walked was very interesting as well.  Then there was the walk across the river to watch the sunset, huddled among many other romantics while an acoustic guitar player sang American 90’s songs.  

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