Sunday, September 25, 2011

Parlare la lingua

Speaking the language.

Wikipedia explains...

Not surprisingly, Italian is the language spoken natively by most Italians.

Every region in Italy has a distinct native Romance language in addition to Italian that may or may not be the native language of the locals depending on the area: in areas like Rome or Milan the spoken language is nowadays mostly Italian with slight local influence, whereas in southern rural areas the local language is more common; though people will usually be bilingual. Even though Italians call the native languages "dialects" they are in practice seperate languages, much like Chinese languages; they have their own way of writing and don't always belong to the same language family as Italian.

A good phrasebook will be very useful if you're going anywhere remote, while in most big cities you will find many people understanding English, Spanish or French. But even in those areas Italians will be happy to hear you trying to speak Italian or the local language, and will try to understand you even if you are making many mistakes. If you want your errors to be corrected to help you better learn the language, don't forget to ask before starting a conversation. Italians will rarely correct you otherwise as they consider it very impolite to do so especially since it's a second language for many of them. They also appreciate your efforts to speak their language, even if you do it badly, and won't make too much fuss about your mistakes.

Well, I've just purchased the first 4 CD's of the Pimsleur Approach
to learning Italian.

With a 30 minute commute each way to and from work, I intend to use the drive to learn Italian. It should help that I'm an auditory learner!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


I am the luckiest.

My best friend, Rick and I are celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary today. We were married 9/18/76 at the Jewel Box in St. Louis. We had moved to St. Louis 5 months before the wedding and all of our friends and family traveled to attend. It was the 4th annual Great St. Louis Balloon Race and Rick told everyone he arranged to have it for our wedding! They just had the 39th Race yesterday! Like our incredible relationship, it just gets better every year.

We do not remember all of the 35 anniversary celebrations...we wish we had kept a journal or scrapbook. But we do remember some of them. And every one of them, we talk about how "someday" we are going to go to Italy. In honor of our 35th wedding anniversary today, we are planning our dream trip for next year.

We celebrated #10 in Puerto Vallarta. I won the trip from a radio station. Felt pretty nauseous the entire trip...didn't know we were pregnant with our precious Emma.

We didn't go back to the Jewel Box until our 13th anniversary.

I love these pictures as they capture our family in that moment in time.

Balloons remained a theme on occasion...on our 20th anniversary, Rick sent me 20 roses, three days in a row. The first day they were yellow, for his friend of 20 years. The second, pink, for his wife of 20 years. And the 3rd day, red, for his love of 20 years. I had a custom stool made for him to use in his classroom...and delivered it with 20 balloons.

Our 30th anniversary, Kacy and Emma surprised us with family and friends at their apartment building's recreation center. The biggest surprise was that my mom and dad came down from Nebraska to celebrate with us...very special.

People ask us what our secret is...Rick says "Love the Momma", I say he is "Simply Irresistable."

We have survived hard times and enjoyed the view from many a hill we have climbed. I am safest when I am with him. He is my hero, my best friend, and the love of my life. I look forward to our dream trip to Italy!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fun ways we're saving money for our trip

Cutting and using coupons (only on products we always buy...otherwise overspending becomes an issue.) At the bottom of the receipt, our grocery stores show us how much we "saved"...we come home and put that much cash in our "trip" jar! Also, I've started to take my lunch when I do not have a lunch meeting. My record keeping shows me that my lunches run between 7 and 13 if I take my lunch...$10 to the "trip" jar!

Simple steps that will add up to our dream vacation.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

How do we get there from here?

Raumtweet (an author and teacher in Italy) found me via my sister Holly, also an author and avid tweeter...I'm trying to learn the whole tweet thing...I'm more of a Facebooker.

Raumtweet tweets me "In 2 weeks, I'd say, from North to South: Venezia (2 days), Firenze (2 days) Assisi (1 day) Roma (5 days), Naples (2 days), Sicily (3 days)". What would you recommend if we had 3 weeks?

Hmmmm. Thanks Raum...I love how you broke it down for us by days...and I will be drilling down into each of your suggestions in blog updates and welcome any and all suggestions/insights.

Quickly checking the airfare compare sites on the looks like flying into Venice with a starting point of Tampa, FL will be between $1800 - $2400 (US) per person. Flying to Rome would be approximately $1500-$2200 per person. Any hints on finding the best airfares will be greatly appreciated.

Venezia - Venice...sounds like a wonderful place for Voskuils to start their Italian adventure.

Is it possible to have the "historical" experience with the "real life" experience? 

For example, the Grand Canal,  Public transport is provided by water buses (Italian: vaporetti) and private water taxis, and many tourists explore the canal by gondola.  Travelling by "Vaporetti"  (learned a new Italian word!)  would feel more "local" perhaps?

While I love history and architecture, the idea of spending hours of precious time in Italy standing in queues in large groups of tourists is not for me.  When my dad and I visited the Capital building in Washington DC, we were fortunate to have a friend of a friend who was a Capital Guard give us our tour.  Can we have that kind of familial touch in Italy?

If you have been to Venice, I would love to see your pictures, videos, stories and suggestions for the best way to spend 2-3 days there. 

What art the top 3 sites that are "Musts!"
What about a top cultural experience...opera? art museum (Peggy Guggenheim?
Hotel or Bed & Breakfast? 
Best places to eat?  What to eat?

Thank you for reading and sharing and dreaming with me.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Discovering Italy's Ancient Roman Coast

Rick participated in an Earthwatch Expedition a couple of years ago... A week long reef research study in San Salvador. It was an extraordinary experience supporting his passions - oceanography, environmental sustainability and teaching.

So as we are contemplating our trip to Italy, we thought we would check out Earthwatch to see what they might have in Italy. Check this out.

There is a trip June 3-8, 2012 that is a possibility. It is in the Tuscany area we are most interested in seeing - not only would we be in Italy but we would be doing research and contributing to Earthwatch.

What do you think?