I’ve been to the one place I always wanted to go – twice. That’s not to say that there aren’t hundreds of places I’d still like to go; I just don’t know if I want to see them badly enough to sacrifice to get there.
The problem is that I’m terrified of flying. My husband says I’m just scared of flying coach, and he has a point. I am considerably happier in first class – especially after that first drink. However, on our last flight back from Italy, my fear of flying increased exponentially. (You can read about that here.)
Ever since I becoming a Christian in my late 20s, I wanted to visit Italy: to walk where St. Paul walked, to stand in St. Peter’s Cathedral, to see some of the world’s most beautiful religious artwork and artifacts. And, of course, I have a special love for Italian food.
I convinced some girlfriends to go with me in 2002. I made some mistakes on that trip, though:
1. I didn’t learn any Italian.
2. I went with non-foodies.
3. We spent only two days in Rome.
3. While in Florence, we stayed in a villa a 30-minute bus ride from town.
Still, I walked where St. Paul walked, stood in St. Peter’s Cathedral, and saw some incredible artwork and artifacts. I couldn’t complain – much.
I wanted to go back.
When I married Dan, the urge to see Italy again gained strength for two reasons: Dan is Catholic and he’d never been to Europe. Year after year, I suggested we go there instead of on a cruise or a driving trip. I insisted that he buy me Rosetta Stone language software so that I could learn enough Italian to get around without fear. Finally, I convinced him to plan the trip.
Even after we bought the tickets, I feared the whole thing would fall apart. His father was vocal about not wanting us to go. We decided to add a room to our house, which threatened the vacation budget. And then, just a few weeks before we were to leave, there were terrorist threats against some major European cities. At each obstacle, I maintained my resolve to go. (If you want to read about the whole trip, here’s a link to Part I.)
Was it worth it? Yes. I knew enough Italian to greet people, get the check in a restaurant, and even buy bus tickets (trickier than you’d think). Dan is a foodie like me, and we ate some of the most delicious meals I’ve ever had. We spent a full week in Rome and saw almost everything we had planned to see. And in Florence, we stayed in a hotel in town. I had a fantastic time.
Dan thought he was taking this trip to please me. However, the longer we are back, the happier he is that we did it. We will always have those memories of strolling hand in hand through centuries-old streets, attending a papal audience, and exploring Ostia Antica.
I know that eventually my desire to travel will overcome my fear of flying. If I never take another trip overseas, though, I have been to the country I dreamed of seeing: Italy.