Tales of a wandering lesbian

The essentials

When I packed for my trip to Italy, I wasn’t sure exactly where I’d end up.  I knew I’d start the trip with my friends Deb and Sandra, but from there, I didn’t know if I’d be in homes, hostels, or five-star hotels.  So, I packed light and deep.  Warm clothes that I could layer and other items that would make life easy.  I agonized over which electronics could share cords, and which jackets to bring (settling on one light jacket and one technical, winter coat).

There are a few things I’ve taken grief over.  Yes, it’s a little strange that I packed toilet paper and tampons, but as I said, I wasn’t sure if I’d be backpacking around.  Plus, I brought a big suitcase to fill with treasures for the return trip, so I had room.

There are other things that really make my friends laugh.  My headlamp, for example, isn’t something everyone would have brought, but it’s dead useful.  It’s good for reading at night, and can save you from being squished when walking at dusk.  However, it also might make your friends act like they don’t know you.

Also, for some reason, only “professional cyclists” – the ones wearing brightly colored team jerseys and riding fancy, fast bikes – only they, wear helmets.  I noticed this last time I was here.  I also noticed how American drivers tend to run cyclists off the road.  Thinking I might like to pick up a nice used Italian bike and ride around a bit, I decided to pack my helmet.

Every day, I assess the weather, select a combination of clothing, jacket, electronics and books that will get me through the day comfortably, and pack up my little messenger bag.  However, when I packed yesterday, it was with the assumption that I would be back at the house before I headed to Lucca that evening.

Bad assumption.

So, I started the day with two layers of icebreaker, my light jacket, sunglasses, my laptop and camera, and an array of books to help me plan my Italian itinerary.  Heavy bag, but lightweight clothing.  Good for bumming around Barga on a glorious day.

After a fantastic, surprise lunch with a new friend, I met up with my ride to Lucca.  Lucca is a really cool walled city.  The walls are hugely thick to withstand cannon fire.  Thick enough to ride bikes on the wide boulevard that sits atop them.  We got to Lucca (which is having a huge, international comic festival) just as the sun was setting.  Fortunately, I had my little wool hat, which I happily pulled on.  The 80 degree day was settling into the high 40s, and my light jacket was not so warm.  It was black, however, as was my hat.  Super.

As it got darker and darker, we stopped to turn on headlights that some of the bikes had.  I reached into my little messenger bag to see if I had my headlamp.  Nope.  But I did have a laptop and about 8 books.  Bonus!  Here I was, wearing black, riding around in the pitch dark cold with no helmet, no light, no warm coat and a bag of books and electronics, through an insane crowd of wandering people who were dressed like comic and video game characters.  Well done.  I probably should have put on my sunglasses and snaked some of the electronics cords through my hair.  I would have fit right in.

When we reached the restaurant after our harrowing ride, we all gathered around the fire to warm ourselves.  It turned out that the adrenaline needed to keep oneself upright through all the twisting, turning, swerving insanity provided exactly the right amount of warmth in the dark city.  Also, books are really quite insulating.

At any rate, the ravioli was some of the best I’ve ever had outside my mom’s kitchen. And I had my camera with me to capture it.  Va bene.

Raviolo con burro i salvia - mmm

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November 1, 2009   4 Comments

Clothes don’t make the woman (but Icebreakers might)

I packed up my clothes last night.  Just put them in plastic tubs to go to storage.  It was a strange experience.  (I’ve had a lot of those lately.)  It took less time than I thought it would.  Evidently, it doesn’t take that many clothes to be extremely well dressed…

I also packed up my backpack with most everything I’ll be taking and wore it around the house – in my new shoes.  The animals think I’m insane.

My little sister is a big-wig buyer for a sporting/technical clothing company.  When I asked her what she thought I should bring on the trip she responded, “Uh, duh.  Icebreaker, Icebreaker, Icebreaker.”  She was right, of course.  Those who work with me know my love of Icebreaker products.  For the last year I’ve worn Icebreaker to work probably 70% of the time.  So, why not wear it for trekking around?  That’s what it’s made for after all!

If you’re not familiar with Icebreaker, here’s the deal:  It’s the most comfortable, beautiful merino wool company.  You can actually track the shirt you wear back to a specific sheep in New Zealand.  Awesome.  I’ll probably have to go visit the sheep when I’m in that neck of the woods.

I’m going to put a packing list up  so that you all can comment and let me know if I’m forgetting anything.  Here’s a sneak peak:

Icebreaker mid weight sweater
Icebreaker base shirt
Icebreaker other base shirt
Icebreaker another base shirt
Icebreaker light weight x2

I’ve got a couple of Icebreaker t-shirts that I need to pick up and then I should be good to go.  Fortunately, there’s an Icebreaker retail store in Portland!  Truthfully, these are made so that I could use one shirt for the entire duration of my first 6-week trip.  They stay warm even when wet, they’re very breathable, soft, fast-drying and even keep odors down.  I think it’s probably important to be fashionable, however, so I’m bringing them all.  I mean, I am going to Italy after all.

I’m fairly sure you’ll be hearing about my Icebreakers on a regular basis, as I’m pretty much in love with them.

You’re probably asking yourself, “how much did Icebreaker pay Kristin to talk about their products?”  Here’s the answer – zero – for now.  I’ll let you know when they start paying me.

(Note to Icebreaker staff:  I would gladly accept sponsorship dollars, and would be a perfect candidate for any type of travel testing.)

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October 15, 2009   3 Comments