Benvenuto a Venezia bella

Here’s the view Mrs. Toast will be enjoying in about six weeks:

We had waited until my doctor appointment last week to be sure I would be “in the clear”, so now that we know that I won’t be going under the knife for a while yet, it’s safe to announce that she is proceeding with her plan to visit beautiful Venice.

The way this all came about is sort of interesting. Mrs. Toast has a very close friend who is like a sister to her. (Since her friend has — more or less — successfully raised two teenage daughters, we will henceforth refer to her as “Psycho-Mom”. Any parents reading this will understand completely.) Mrs. Toast and Psycho-Mom are close to the same age and both sets of their parents were best friends long before they were born, so it was only natural that they grew up together. Even though P-Mom now lives over 500 miles away, they still stay in close touch and see each other regularly.

Last Christmas, Psycho-Mom received an unusual present from her husband (“Psycho-Dad”). You first need to understand that P-Dad is a big honcho in the Texas oil bidness; indeed, I suspect that at minimum, at least two cents of every single gallon of gas you and I buy goes directly into his pocket. With the booming price surge experienced by the industry during the last few years, P-Dad has therefore reportedly had to rent secure storage space in order to keep the huge bags of cash that have been piling up around their house. In fact, he can barely walk down the street without leaving a trail of money behind him, hundred-dollar bills falling out of his pockets like leaves blowing in the wind from an uncovered lawn trailer as it’s being towed down the street.

OK, I’m exaggerating — a bit — but the point is that P-Dad did have a pretty good year in 2006, and in a spirit of largesse gave his wife this present: a one-week all-expense-paid trip anywhere in the world for herself and three friends of her choosing. Fortunately, all those years of friendship paid off, as Mrs. Toast was invited to the party. We don’t know the other two women who will be going, but I suspect they will all become good friends very quickly as much Grappa is consumed. It’s gonna be one hell of a ladies night out.

I am, naturally, somewhat jealous that I won’t be able to go along, but this is tempered by the fact that I visited Venice by myself during my Great European Train Tour of 2002. I’m using the knowledge I gained during that trip to help Mrs. Toast plan her visit; I have maps, travel guides, and personal recommendations on sights to see and fun things to do, and will experience the city again vicariously through her. We’re all very excited, and I’ll post updates and perhaps photos of my previous adventures (if I can find and scan them – this was before I had a digital camera). In the meantime, when you next fill up your gas tank keep in mind that in some very small way, you’re helping to buy my wife a tasty gelato as she strolls through the Plaza San Marco. We sure do thank you.

P-Mom tells us that the decision to select Venice as her destination didn’t require a lot of thought, as she has always wanted to go there. There’s no question that it’s a lovely, fascinating place that everyone should visit once in their lifetime — but what about you? If someone offered you a week anywhere in the world, where would you choose, and why?

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