Best souvenirs often tales worth telling


Last updated 5/24/2023 at 2:46pm | View PDF

The question recently overhead in a Hinsdale boutique wasn't meant for me but I could have answered it.

"When do you leave for Europe?"

I didn't catch the answer because I was on a mission. My implausible dream: Find chic attire that could lead to my being mistaken for someone fluent in something other than a Southeast Missouri drawl while traveling in - yes - Europe.

Given multiple news reports on the high demand for transatlantic flights, perhaps Hinsdale boutiques are packed with shoppers unencumbered with a drawl but nonetheless pursuing a similar goal.

For me and my husband, Joe, the summer itinerary includes revisiting some of our favorite/favourite places in London, as well as hiking new territory in northern England and Wales.

Then it's on to Sicily and Tuscany with an ever-changing group of friends and family. I'll post photos on Facebook, of course, but based on past experience, it will be the unexpected moments that will speak to the storyteller in me.

Disclaimer: Unexpected moments may need time before being deemed "entertaining."

On a 2016 trip to Ireland, the unsettling array of graves labeled JOYCE was noteworthy. But it was the ride on rough seas to the beautiful Aran Islands that warrants a recap. Picture a full boat rolling up, up, up and then sliding down, down, down as the tally of queasy passengers came perilously close to exceeding the number of available barf bags.

As crew members frantically rounded up unused bags from passengers with stable stomachs, it occurred to me that the crew's commitment was not just to the passengers' comfort, but also to minimizing the post-trip cleanup.

In June 2019, Monet's gardens in Giverny awaited about 50 miles outside Paris. But Joe and I along with two fellow travelers had doubts we would ever make it out of the Orly rental car area. After being told to load our bags into a waiting car, we were then told, "Wrong car." Then we waited 45 minutes before reloading everything into car No. 2. We headed out, only to circle back to the rental car area when the vehicle insisted there was no key detected, never mind what four pairs of eyes could clearly see.

We got a Gallic shrug regarding the key error and had to fight for a third car. On the plus side, we were sheltered from a pouring rain. An agent who was trying to help us was not so fortunate. He was soaked to the skin, his hair plastered to his scalp when he offered a third and final adieu.

So be open to all the moments, fellow travelers. Perhaps you'll have a story to share about being asked in Italian where you got that perfect outfit.

- Denise Joyce of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].


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