My dad is my great friend and to the disbelief of my old high school self, I have come to realize we are actually quite alike in personality.
Except at some crucial moments when we are traveling.
Over the last few years I have taught my dad the beauty and art of savoring the moment and throwing schedules to the wind. My dad has reminded me that patience with family and a perfect packing job make for a better vacation. Here is my list of favorite travel moments with him. Some good, some bad and some utterly embarrassing. Hey dad, this is pay back for grilling my boyfriends in the living room before they could date me.
10. My parents met me in Rome after a cruise. This was their first time ever in my favorite city on the planet and I couldn’t wait to make the introductions. One of the first things I taught my dad was how to cross the busy streets; walk out with confidence while maintaining eye contact and never hesitating. At his first lesson, I told him to stay close and do what I did. When we got to the other side of the street he turned to my mom and said, “Our daughter has balls of steel!”
9. I have driven a stick shift most of my life and usually have no problem, but on one particular day I was trying to get up a steep gravel road in our excessively weighted down sardine box of a rental. I stalled half way up and couldn’t get the momentum back. My dad saved the day, maneuvering that sorry car up the hill with gravel flying and smoke trailing behind us. I am sure our hosts were wondering what they had gotten into watching our approach from above.
8. Speaking of that cracker jack box of a rental, I had accidentally reserved an economy sized car instead of a compact. Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Not unless you want to take your luggage with you. I stood in front of the car and fought back tears. There was no way we were going to fit four adults, one child with her car seat and our luggage. Then my dad started putting stuff together like a real-life game of Tetris. The ride wasn’t the most luxurious but we didn’t have to leave anyone behind. I know for a fact I could not have done that without him.
7. My dad has an uncanny sense of direction, maybe it was all the Boy Scout trips of his youth. You can blind fold him, drop him in the middle of nowhere and before you can say Bear Grylls he will have found his way home. Except in Italy. For some reason his internal compass goes awry and I’m not sure if he would be able to find his head if it wasn’t attached. Of course, we didn’t discover this until one fateful night in Rome when my dad was leading the charge toward the Spanish Steps. Instead, we found ourselves repeatedly visiting the Column of Marcus Aurelius. My dad commented that he didn’t realize Rome had so many relief style columns; I commented that I didn’t realize my dad knew how to read a map upside down. Not the best night for the two of us.
6. The issues with directions didn’t end there. Originally, my dad was to be my co-pilot and right hand man in the car. Nothing was farther from the truth and the tension came to a breaking point near Milan as I was demanding to know which exit to take for Lake Como. He was utterly frozen and I was less than kind. My mom decided to chirp in from the back seat (where her sole job was to entertain my daughter) and ‘help’ which only infuriated both of us more. My dad balled up the map and threw it in her face, telling her where she could put it. Mind you, this all happen in front of my four year old and the version found here is toned down for the sake of my readers. The event made a lasting impression on my daughter, and to this day she will ask me to reenact the day Papa threw that map at Nana.
5. For the most part though, travel with my dad has been bonding. One of my favorite things to do with him is go for a morning cappuccino and then spend the rest of the day popping in and out of little cafes for our espresso fixes when my mom isn’t looking.
4. Another great memory is cooking together with my dad after shopping in the morning markets. Sometimes we would make nothing more than cheese and meat platters, other times we would go all out. Once my dad made us steaks cooked over a centuries old hearth in a little villa in Tuscany while I put together a simple Carbonara. Perfection.
3. On that first trip to Rome, I took my dad into the Roman Forum. I can’t explain how touching it was to look over and see him bent down on one knee and weeping over the site of Caesar’s cremation. I knew then he wasn’t the average tourist.
2. His love for Italy and travel in general started on that first trip and then blossomed even further when he returned two years later. Watching him grow to appreciate and love the people and lifestyle of Italy was amazing.
1. I made sure my parents both traveled with their money belts containing everything of value safely tucked beneath the pants and safe from the fingers of pick-pockets. They were instructed on the importance of use and what they should keep stowed inside. What I forgot to mention, because the thought never ever even occurred to me, is that you do not need to remove your pants to access your money belt. Yes, that’s right. I happened to walk into the lobby of our hotel and found my dad in the corner with his pants around his thighs trying to pull a credit card out of his money belt.
Sorry dad, but this one was too good not to share.
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Copyright 2012 Andi Brown, Once in a Lifetime Travel
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