So now that all our hotels are booked and all the winery visits are arranged, and even all our restaurants are confirmed, including private meetings with two of the world's best chefs in Europe, there's only one more issue that's causing a headache before we all fly off to France and Spain next weekend for summer holidays: the problem of the rental car.
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LOOKING FOR SOMETHING
THAT'S NOT A BUS
We're such a big group with a couple of children in tow as well, so for the last few weeks we've been scouring Europe for an appropriate vehicle to rent, as we don't exactly want to drive a bus.
It's easy enough to fit everyone in somehow, into the biggest vehicle we could find. The problem isn't the people, it's the luggage.
None of us travel light, even if we are leaving home as light as possible, especially in view of the fact that we are hitting Paris, Madrid and a couple of major cities during sale season.
A HEAVYWEIGHT IN EVERY SENSE
I'm pretty famous for traveling heavy, especially on the way back from a trip. I usually leave home with luggage I can lift with my pinkie finger -- but it's an entirely different story on the way back home.
Many years ago, way before I even had a Travelife, I once checked in 105 kilos of luggage traveling solo from New York's JFK Airport to Tokyo's Narita Airport on Japan Airlines.
Actually, that happened twice, and not even a stretch limo that someone had so thoughtfully sent to Narita to pick me up could fit all my luggage.
85 KILOS FROM MOROCCO
Last weekend, the Travel Companion and I were in Morocco.
We left home with two pretty light check-in luggages each, and then we revived another bag each on the way home from Marrakech.
I think we checked in a total of 85 kilos from Casablanca to Asia.
THE STUFF THAT MEMORIES ARE MADE OF
In case you're wondering, none of the heavy stuff is very pricey.
In my case, I just like unique things that I know I won't be able to get back home, and most of it is not anything that would break the bank.
I bought these golden dessert plates in the souks of Fes,
and the handpainted glass plates in
a pretty upscale antiques store in Marrakech
Things to make me smile and remember our pretty happy days in Morocco, living a Travelife.
Or in the case of a trip to New York, regular stuff from Premium Outlets as it happened to be having a double sale. And if you've ever been to a double sale at an outlet mall in the States, you'll know these are just completely irresistible.
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SERIOUS ABOUT SHOPPING
This time around, for summer 2014 holidays in Europe, I think the other girl on the trip is even more of a serious shopper than I am. So between us both, we have a real luggage problem.
The guys are all traveling light.
"We could always take several cars and just do a convoy if the luggage won't fit," someone said.
He was looking at cars on the Internet and already eyeing a top-of-the-line Porsche Panamera or a soft-top Ferrari to rent and self-drive for our two weeks in Europe, if we were going to rent several cars instead of just one.
ONE FOR ALL, ALL FOR ONE
But, of course, it's more fun if everyone is together in one vehicle.
I did find something tonight that just might work if we girls downsize to just one medium-sized luggage each and avoid the Paris sales entirely on Day 1.
And if everyone squeezes in and holds their breath all the way to Spain from Paris.
AND A SERIOUS LUNCH
But I'm just not sure if that would work, especially with regards to the Paris sales. My own resistance to sales is incredibly low.
Or with regards to holding one's breath, for that matter. Not after a degustation meal at Joel Robuchon in Paris.
We arrive early morning in Paris and the first order of the day is lunch at Joel Robuchon, where we've booked an entire section of this small-ish restaurant for everyone, for a nice, delicious and casual meal in jeans and tshirts after a long flight.
We're flying in from everywhere on different airlines, and someone is even coming in after watching the games at Wimbledon.
But regardless of jump-off point and mode of transport, we've all made sure we're in Paris by 11 AM for a nice lunch to start what looks like a nice trip.
DINNER FOR 40 PERSONS
THE NIGHT BEFORE I LEAVE
So I really don't know what to do about the car, and thankfully I still have a few days to work on this; although I'll have my hands full with work and an eight-course farewell dinner I'm hosting for 40 people and in honor of two ambassadors the night before I leave.
Some things are just impossible, especially in a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.