2006 should prove to be a very interesting year for me.
On January 20th, I make my first foray into international travel. On that day I depart Miami International Airport for a week in Paris, France! This is my first time ever traveling out of the US. I only got my first passport a few months ago. Yes, it's going to be cold there in January. I know that and I'm prepared for that. Why in the world would I go to Paris in January, you ask? Simple. I did not take any vacation in 2005. This means that I have 2 weeks of vacation to kill. The first week of vacation will be in the last week of December. I won't be going anywhere during this week. I'll just be relaxing at home. I never made any plans because the decision to take off the last week of December was a kind of last minute decision. There was no real time to make much in the way of plans. My company also allows us to roll over a week of or vacation from the previous year (2005) into January of the next year (2006). This means that I basically have a 'free' week of vacation. I just have to take it in January. That's why I am traveling in January. As to why Paris? Well, why not? I've never been there before and they have some incredible museums (The Louvre) as well as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Trompe etc. It should be an incredible experience. I am very excited about this trip! I have already booked the flight and hotel reservations. I also bought a couple power converters for charging my various gadgets over there on those 'oddball' European wall plugs. I also bought several long sleeve shirts and some new jeans. Why did I need all this clothes? Well, I never really needed long sleeve shirts before. South Florida never really gets that cold in winter. You don't really need them. Combine that fact with my massive weight loss over the last couple of years and any long sleeve shirts that I may have had would have been way too big for me. I was even seriously considering that leather trenchcoat 'duster' jacket that I saw in the leather store the other day. I've always loved those kind of jackets, but never bought one because I never really needed one. Now I have a good excuse to get one! :) This is only the first trip that I plan on taking in 2006.
While, the Paris trip is a definate, the next trip is still 'iffy'. Where is my grand tour of the world stopping off next? Germany. When I was telling my father about my plans to go to Paris, he commented that he'd love to take a trip to Germany and take a ride down the river there. (I forget the name of the river.) My father is German by descent, although he was born and raised in South America. As soon as he mentioned this, I made the very serious offer to take the entire family to Germany for a week next year! I was serious about this. I think it would be nice to go on a trip like this with my family. As far as I can remember, we have never gone on a trip anything like this as a family. I'd like to change that. I also think it would be a wonderful experience for me to see where my grandfather grew up. It would be in a sense, returning to my roots. I also think my dad would really enjoy being able to see all these places where his father once lived, all those years ago. I just need to convince my family to accept this trip, get their passports etc. so I can make this happen.
Why did I suddenly decide to go flying myself all over the world? Because it's something 'out of the norm' for me. I never do anything interesting on my vacations. The annual trips to Ft. Myers, or Disney World are getting really old. I'm tired of making these cheap, driving vacations. I've always wanted to travel the world and see some of the interesting places out there. Now that I have that money that I got from the stock options a few months ago, money is no longer the issue. It's time to enjoy that money! Screw paying money to 'The Rat'! I'm going to go somewhere nice. Time to put some dents in my nice, new passport. I've spent my whole life, being the safe, sensible guy. This has meant that my life has been pretty damn dull. It's time to change that.
As for where I'm going to go on my final week of vacation next year, I'm not sure. I'm thinking possibly Rome. I'd also like to go to Washington D.C. and check out the Smithsonian. That's another impressive museum. Somehow I don't think it compares to The Louve, but it would be interesting. The last time I went to Washington DC and toured all the monuments there, I was about 12 years old. I never got much chance to see the Smithsonian. I expect that seeing all this as an adult, I would have a much different impression of things. The funny thing is, it is actually cheaper to go to Paris, than it is to go to Washington DC! When you take into consideration the fact that in Washington DC, you'd have to rent a car, that puts it more expensive than Paris, where you don't really need a car. Paris has an excellent public transportation system, and besides, there's no way in Hell I'd try driving there!
If anyone has any suggestions on some interesting sites, restaraunts, etc. to see in Paris, I'd appreciate suggestions.