My last vacation was in December and I spent it in Paris. Since then, I've contended with family illness, a major system rollout at work and various and sundry other life issues. I'm long overdue for a vacation, I feel. I demand the ability to recharge my batteries, clear my head and forget all the unpleasantness, stress and hassle of the last 6 months. I much prefer taking off to somewhere fun and exotic over staying home, but since I've opted to do a mega-vacation later this year (that would be China, in case you're just tuning in), I'm taking the four business days this week off (today is a national holiday, so I'm not burning a vacation day for this) just to "relax". If you could call it that. Already day 3 of 9 and I'm sort of stir crazy. Sure, I have a trip to the travel clinic for my pre-China vaccinations to look forward to, an early morning training session with my personal trainer, and all sorts of errands to do. You could even call me marginally productive because in addition to four hours at the gym and three at the beach over the weekend, I've already emptied the vacuum filter and cleaned out that junk cabinet in the kitchen that didn't close properly until now.
I hope to visit the MFA one day this week to finally see the new American Wing and the Chihuly exhibit. I'm hoping mid-week will be less crowded as kids are still in school.
Later this week I'm headed to DC for the day to meet the two litters of lion cubs that I have been raising virtually from my desk at work via Lion Cub Cam. For me, it's special because these little guys have kept me sane when I'm both bored and frazzled. They're fun to watch and I'm anxious to see them all together as a pride. I'll also see the National Zoo's pandas for the last time before I head to their homeland, which will be sort of exciting! I also want to try to get to the butterfly garden at the Natural History Museum (hot/humid weather permitting, I don't get overheated well!) and get to the National Gallery for the Gabriel Metsu exhibit. I'm following all that up with dinner at Cuba Libre; it's not often (ok, never) that I find Cuban food in Boston, and this restaurant is near the National Gallery where I'll end my day.
In terms of preparing for China, I've watched a bunch of travel shows I downloaded from iTunes: Anthony Bourdain's first China episode, and three by Samantha Brown. The last of her episodes was in Sichuan, and she visits the Chengdu panda center, where she gets to play with and hold baby pandas. I was surprisingly emotional watching that. I can't believe in 3 months, that will be me! Other than the obvious attachment to the pandas, I'm finding myself somewhat wary of the impending culture shock. I think I said this last year when learning about Russia, but China appears to be a whole nother ball of wax. It is overwhelming enough that the language is both unreadable and unspeakable. But the food is so drastically different, hell, even what they consider "food" is different enough...I wonder how I will rise up to the challenge. IF I will rise up to the challenge...but this is why I travel. I want my eyes widened, my mind opened and my beliefs questioned.