March 13, 2011
Take my journey to Europe early next week. A wonderfully thoughtful friend in the south of France owns several beautifully furnished Riviera Experience vacation rental apartments and had a vacancy in one that overlooks the breathtaking Bay of Villefranche. During an e-mail exchange, she invited me to come for a visit. I thought her offer was far too generous and started to decline, but finally graciously accepted, as I’d LOVE to see her and return to one of the most gorgeous places on earth. And for me, a planner to my heart, that’s where the fun begins!
Because I’ve visited to the Côte d’Azur town of Villefranche-sur-Mer twice before—including a solo trip that rang in my 40th birthday—I know how to get there from the nearby Nice airport. I know my way around Vieux Nice (Old Nice) and how to get to glitzy, jet-set Monaco. But there’s still so much to do and see on the French Riviera and beyond. My head is nearly swimming with the possibilities. Hang out inside the adorable studio apartment or in its private garden and write? Grab my shades and camera and stroll nearby towns? Or merely open the seaside window and nap to my heart’s content?
But since I’m going to be this close to Italy—less than an hour from the border, in fact—could I dare not set foot in bella Italia? And where to go? I STILL have yet to make it to Emilia-Romagna, the region many Italians admit has the best cuisine in the country. Should I make a stop in Tuscany, to stop in Florence where I lived for too short a time? Or head way south to Rome, the only city that rivals Paris for my undying affection, and visit my many friends there? Eventually, Rome won out, although I’ll only be there for three short days—not nearly enough time to spend leisurely catching up with folks. But three days are better than none.
As I’ve been planning this south of France-to-Rome getaway for the past several weeks, many questions have crossed my mind: Head to Paris—my favorite city in the world—for a few days after leaving Villefranche? Take an overnight train and take in the romance of the rails on my way to Rome? Since I can’t get directly to Rome from Villefranche on the train, hit the road in a France rental car and pick up that overnight train in Dijon? Decisions, decisions!! (I finally decided to just take an hour flight to Rome to conserve my precious few vacation days… but you can bet I’ll be taking that overnight Artesia train on my next trip from France to Italy!)
I’d love to hear from you UrbanTravelGirls: What’s the best part of a holiday for you—the planning, the actual vacationing or the reminiscing? Perhaps I’ll become a convert!
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