So I know promised myself (and several family members) that I would stay in the United States for a while.
But I booked some flights...
It started as an opportunity for us to stay put after months of being on the road, learn a little bit about cooking and save some money on what would normally be expensive accommodation in Europe. I didn't expect to end up feeling so close to our host, Chicca, and her wonderful family.
By the end of the month, Chicca and I were going on bike rides together in the evenings, cooking together in her beautiful renovated Tuscan farmhouse and talking about our dreams for the future. When we parted ways, I cried on the train thinking, "What if I never get to see these people again?"
One project we worked on while we were together was how we could expand Chicca's business teaching cooking classes. She mostly offered one-day classes, and we talked extensively about the idea of offering a full week of cooking immersion. Nate and I were both convinced that this was something Americans (and other travelers) would be interested in, so we talked and planned and built an itinerary together.
The week included accommodation at a country inn by Chicca's farmhouse and cooking classes throughout the week in her kitchen. We built in visits to local artisans, opportunities to try world-class wines and meet farmers from the area. By the end, we'd built a cooking vacation.
When I returned to the U.S. in January, Chicca and I started Skyping every week. I love getting updates about her daughter, Elsa, who's started University in Florence, and I get to hear about how Chicca's olive trees are doing leading up to the Fall harvest when she'll make her own olive oil to use throughout the rest of the year.
We've also been talking about how we can work together again.
I have since moved my business, tipsycooks, to Denver where I'm teaching in-home cooking classes using several recipes we learned and perfected in Italy with Chicca.
We decided to launch joint cooking vacations together, and I'm going back.
So my flights are booked. I'll be returning for the first two weeks in October and (hopefully) a group of Americans will come then too.
I used 60,000 American Airlines points we had leftover from our huge stash of over 800,000 points that we'd accumulated for the trip, and I booked tickets in and out of Paris for just $84.
From Paris I'll hop on a cheap round trip flight to Pisa, but I'll be spending an evening in the city of lights on the return. While we stopped in Toulouse for a day on our monthlong Mediterranean cruise, I've never been to Paris. I'm so excited.
Nate won't be joining me, and although I'll be sad to miss my favorite travel partner, I'm also excited about the idea of taking a trip by myself. I spent 10 days alone in Lima, Peru, when Nate returned from our trip for a job in Las Vegas, but otherwise I have never embarked on a trip by myself. I'm excited to see what those new challenges bring and how I'll feel on my own.
I'm also so excited to see Chicca again and to stay connected to her wonderful family. And I'm hopeful that we will find clients in the meantime to share her stunning slice of Tuscany. It really is such an amazing and unique place, and I can't wait to go back.
If anyone is looking for an incredible vacation this Fall, check out our available dates, and I'd love to meet you in person!