The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” ~ Henry Ford
Now that my two guinea pig tour groups are back home safe and sound, I am going over the past four weeks in my mind. While there were a lot of similarities between what the groups did, there were also a lot of differences because of when and where they arrived, how the days split, how the weather was, and so on. Still, I learned enough by just the little things to help me with the next groups that are brave enough to join me on a trip.
1. Take it easy.
I think this was the hardest thing for me to learn. I planned a lot for the two groups. I think that in Rome, Florence, and Venice especially, I may have planned too much because I wanted them to have the experiences. I didn't consider the jet lag, heat, humidity, and crowds—all things that are easy to deal with if one is by him/herself.
My next groups will have one complete day to recuperate after the flight, and I'll build in a few more half days to give them time to breathe.
2. Not everyone loves cappuccino.
Say what? Blasphemy, I tell you! Blasphemy!!
Of course, I'm joking. I need to remember there was a time that coffee of any kind would not pass my lips, so not everyone needs to have cappuccino every morning....except me. I'll get up earlier so I get the fix and don't have to hold anyone up.
3. Early admission tickets are really a good idea.
I purchased early admission tickets to the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums for both groups even though I wasn't too sure it was a good idea. It was. We got in at 7:45 while the general public got in at 9:00. While there were other groups in with us, there were so few people in the chapel while we were there that you could actually see everything easily. If you go, it's worth the extra money...unless you like hordes of crazy people.
By the way, you are not supposed to take photos in the Sistine Chapel. My phone just happened to go off at the wrong time. Of course, two weeks later, God punished it by having it fall from my lap onto a pavement, letting me not notice it, and having cars run over it. Bad iPhone. Bad.
4. Keep your phone in your purse when you are not using it.
I got lucky and noticed that my phone was gone about 30 minutes after we stopped and it fell from my lap. If I had not noticed it when I did, heaven only knows if we'd have found it. The entire incident was my fault, though, because I was editing photos on it and instead of putting it in my purse when I was done, I put it on my lap.
5. There really is a thing as too much food.
I think both groups would tell you that the best food we had was in Abruzzo. Hands down. I think both groups would also tell you that we had a LOT OF FOOD. Most of the meals we had there, which I prearranged, were five-to-eight courses. Next time we need to cut down on the portions a bit.
I did note, by the way, that no one mentioned too much wine. Hmmmmm.....