Most of the year, I spend eight hours a day stuck in my dark basement cube, listening to the copy machine and pushing paper around. However, for about 6 weeks in the fall I get to travel all over the place (this year, it was Minneapolis and 6 locations around Colorado, oh, and Wyoming, but that wasn’t work-related). While it’s my favorite part of my job, since I get to meet people face-to-face and do something I’m good at, it’s also rather exhausting. I am so glad that I will be sleeping in my own bed (with the exception of Thanksgiving) until we go to California for Christmas (and then Italy! woo!). I always forget how much better I sleep in my own bed with my own pillow and my own person (and kitty) than in a strange hotel room, no matter how fancy it is or how nice the pillows are.
Speaking of Italy, we figured out most of our accomodations today (scored a deal on hotels.com for Rome, and are going to do 6 nights in hostel dorm beds in Florence). Even though it is our “honeymoon” (though we won’t be married yet), neither of us is willing to spend a lot of extra money on lodging; we’d rather spend it on gelato and museum admissions and presents. It was shocking to me how much prices have changed since my trip in 2000 – for one thing, they weren’t using the Euro back then (except for banks) and the dollar was really high against all the European currencies. Italy was the cheapest country in Western Europe – I think my friend and I paid an average of $20/night (total) for hostels and one-star hotels, and that was in July during high tourist season. After our research today, Dan and I decided we got a really good deal on our average of $50ish/night (that’s both for the hotel and the hostel, total not each). This trip isn’t going to be nearly as cheap as the China trip, but we’ll still eat most of our food from grocery stores and travel as backpackers, for the most part. I guess we’d rather spend money on experiences rather than have cushy hotel rooms.
Also wedding-related, we went to the gem show today at the Merchandise Mart and I found the stones I wanted for my wedding ring. It will be worn with my engagement ring and I had this idea in my head, but didn’t know how it would play out until I found the right stones (a blue-green sapphire and some small dark emerald green tourmalines). Not only did I find some awesome stones that I think will look fabulous, but I also found a gorgeous tsavorite and two padparasha sapphires (these particular ones are a deep reddish-orange) to be made into another ring (for my right hand) or maybe into a necklace. For about 15 total stones (sapphires, tourmalines, and the fantastic tsavorite) I paid $150. Woot!
As for the awesomest thing I experienced this week, it was the dinner I had on Monday night at the resort restaurant in Stepford Springs. I had a phenomenal butternut squash bisque and a crab-avocado-portobella mushroom-veggie napoleon. It may have been the best combination of flavors I ever had in my mouth at one time from a restaurant meal. Both went very well with my glass of Geyser Peak sauvignon blanc. I don’t usually consider myself a foodie, but damn, that was an exquisite meal.