Travel Tips – By Patty

  1. Don’t overpack.  You wind up living on about 1/4 of what’s in your suitcase. I’m only bringing that 1/4 next time and washing it in the sink. It’s not that I packed that heavy, but…. everything weighs more when you are dragging it from train station to rental car agency to airport to hotel, etc.
  2. See Rule 1.
  3. Read rule before I left that says, “there are two kinds of people who go to Europe – those who pack light and those who wish they had packed light.” Brilliant Boys actually took this saying to heart, after I told it to them, and packed light. Their suitcase isn’t full and weighs almost nothing.

So… Avignon. Well, I wish we had rented the car here.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but there’s not a lot to do?  Outside the city would have been great, seeing the lavender fields and some wineries, but I just didn’t want to mess with parking, narrow city streets, astronomical parking fees.  Now I wish I had.  We meandered up to the old Papal Palace, which is big, but all the guide books say not to bother going inside, it’s empty.

Checking in with the boys —  Harry says best part of the trip so far:  Castles!!!  Alex says the best part of the trip so far:  Beautiful women and beer.  Harry concurred.

What I’ve noticed: 

  1. The lack of loud laughter in public. I’m so used to that around my house and with my friends, not to mention that I’m a pretty loud laugher, and it just seems strange with all of these outdoor cafes not to hear boisterous laughter around a pint or two during the day.  Is that true most places in Europe? 
  2. Every metro official I’ve met thus far claims not to speak any English.  Oh-kaaaay.
  3. Even people who speak very little English are very kind to us non-French speaking yokels, and correct our bad French gently.

Things I need to know:  Has anyone been to the Pratesi Outlet Factory outside of Pistoia?  If so, can you really get the sheets for about 1/2 price?  Just need to know if it’s worth the drive from Florence.

So we wound up with a couple of days of nice slower downtime, which we needed, the slow intake of breath before the more adventurous Italian leg of our journey.  Okay, I’m out for the day… something I ate upset my stomach, and I’m just out of steam.  Miss you all!

  • violetnoir says:

    Ooh, I hope you feel better, Patty. Being even just a little bit sick is a drag when you are on vacation.

    Yep, we heard plenty of boisterous laughter in Paris, especially one late Bastille night on the metro. We were jammed in there, no A/C, and the train just stopped dead. It must have been 100 degrees down there! Out of nowhere, a group of four ladies just started talking and laughing and having a good ole time. (Must have been the Bastille Day champagne.) Their boisterous outbursts really went a long way in soothing our tired, hot and frayed nerves. Before we knew it, the train was moving again.

    Is there really a Pratesi outlet in Italy? I say, “Go for it!” if there is.


  • Anthony says:

    It’s interesting about the laughter. i think that’s really a sign of a culture. The United States seems like a ghost town once you’ve lived in a Latin American country like I have 🙂 I go home and the restaurants and cafes in the U.S. seem quiet in comparison… 🙂 People here in Mexico are pretty loud… well, no, REALLY REALLY LOUD!

    • Musette says:


      I’m of mixed heritage: Black/PuertoRican/Central Am/Pacific Rim Asian…amongst others (I’m like a walking globe, LOL!)….and if you want REALLY loud you have to get all those cultures, who are bound by familial ties, in one place like, say, a pig roast! You absolutely have to invite all the neighbors so nobody calls the police for noise infractions!=))

      We’re loud…but we’re fun!

  • Musette says:

    Darling Patty:

    One Word: Rayon

    I traveled for business for 30 years and learned the value of rayon. You can actually work/play for 2 weeks with 2 pairs of rayon pants, 3 tops and a dress. I believe in black and white for travel, as I don’t want to color-coordinate anything. A pair of mid-heel wedges, so you can sort of dress it up and your feet don’t get stuck in the cobblestones, 2 pairs of flattish shoes and you’re good to go! Make sure the rayon is heavyweight so it hangs well and you can go anywhere in it and was it in the sink when it gets grotted-out!

    Say it with me: Rayyyyyonnnn!<:-p

    • Catherine says:

      I second your exclamation about rayon, Musette! It’s amazing how much packs into a small bag, and it’s the easiest thing in the world to wear.

    • Kim says:

      Eileen Fisher makes a viscose crepe that packs really well – wrinkles fall right out if you hang it overnight. I went overseas with all that brand in a carry-on for 2 weeks. 3 skirts, 2 light jackets, a shawl for the cold, a fancy silk scarf for dress-up, a few knit silk tops and a bunch of undies. You can wash the knit silk and crepe in a sink. Mostly black with color in the tops and scarves. One pair of nice medium wedges and one pair of ‘fancy’ but flat walking shoes. And there were still things I didn’t wear!!

  • moi says:

    I hear you on the packing: Forty-four years old and I still haven’t learned how to “pack light.” It’s the shoes. Even when I’m headed for the wilds of Utah canyon lands, something inside me feels better knowing I have a pair of the ol’ Louboutins along with. Just in case, you know?

    Your trip sounds marvelous, over packed or no.


  • pattie says:

    Patty, sounds like your trip is wonderful and something your sons will remember forever. Every great trip has some regrets . . ooh, I wish I’d done this, or that . . . That how you know you should go back! Have a great time in Florence-I love it, despite the crowds. Make sure you go to the outdoor market -its just up from the Ponte Vecchia and across from the fake David (which is in the middle of a courtyard filled with fabulous sculptures). The market (I’m sure there’s a name) is filled with beautiful scarves and shawls at very reasonable prices and great leather goods, that while maybe not reasonable, are cheaper than anything else in that town. Also, drag your boys into Santa Maria Novella pharmacy its worth the whining. cold and rainy in Denver today . . so be glad you are not here!

  • nava says:

    Sounds like you’re having a wonderful time, Patty.

    I am from the chronic overpackers and feel your pain. You really never know when you might need those extra dozen pairs of underwear! :d

  • Billy D says:

    You didn’t happen to bring along a little vial of Avignon to wear in Avignon, did you? I feel like that would have been the consummate perfumista’s experiment! How is the weather over there anyway? It’s dreary and humid here in Boston, so thanks for letting me live a little vicarious fantasy through you on this trip!

    PS: Are you picking up any souveniers along the way? I’m totally clueless when it comes to designer sheets, but I have heard that Pratesi makes some of the best.

  • allabouteve says:

    If you want loud laughter..just come to EVERYTHING is loud..laughter,chatting..the spanish, I believe, even whisper louder! 🙂
    Oh,yes, that suitcase-thing…overpacking is something I always have to live with..there should be some kind of rehab for that..:d

    Have a great time!!

  • Mariannetm says:

    Sounds like you are having a mild culture shock.
    Every country is different and each country has different regions with people of different temperament. If you are looking for more loud and noisy company on the terrasses then maybe you should sit there in the evenings instead of during the daytime?
    Italy will be different for sure:>

    You all would have loved Amsterdam! I’m flying back home to Amsterdam this sunday to visit my family |-)

    Outlets are a rather new thing in this part of the world and I never by my sheets in outlet stores. Good quality 100% cottons sheets are worth some extra money and it is always nice if you like them as well.

    From what I read I think that you all travel way to fast from place to place for you are not just going from one state to the next, but from one country to a totally different next country .


  • Louise says:

    Sorry you’re feeling off. But thanks for sharing the trip!

    I really love Avignon, but you’re right, it’s the countryside that’s most beautiful.

    I only pack light because I know I’ll be shopping, but surely those boys can haul your stuff :d/

    People in Europe are usually not so loud as Americans, partly explaining the “ugly american” reputation. I really appreciate that lack of jarring shouting so common here. Also-while you are meeting French people who say they don’t speak English (many do, but are hesitant), I am glad people are supportive of your French-speaking efforts. I have always found this so.

    On to Italy! When you feel better, clue us in on the food 🙂

  • hester says:

    Awwww, pity you didn’t go inside the Papal Palace! I remember it as being quite fascinating, and not quite empty, not at all. Also has fantastic views over the famous bridge (which, come on, you did go stand on, right?). you make me jealous…