By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Media Services
September 2, 2008
Born in the United States to Korean parents and raised in Canada — where she calls Vancouver home — Grace Park got the travel bug early.
Though concurrent roles on “The Cleaner” and “Battlestar Galactica” — as well as the Canadian series “The Border” — preclude her from taking as many vacations as she’d like, Park says visiting new countries is one of the joys in life she shares with her husband, Phil Kim. India and Brazil hold special places in Park’s heart, but her favorite destination thus far is Italy’s quaint Vernazza.
THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE ITALY: I love this little fishing village there called Vernazza. The first time I was there was in 2000 and the last time was last year. That little village comes alive, swelling to thousands of visitors in the summer with all the passersby. You eat like a king there. Everything is fresh and delicious, and I stuff myself with anchovies and pasta and cheese and, of course, gelato. The area isn’t super secret anymore and is definitely a destination, but it’s not as well known as Paris, Florence or New York, so you still feel like you’ve made a discovery.
BEST PART OF VERNAZZA: Definitely the people, who are so warm. It’s a jewel of a village that’s set against the ocean. It’s small — you can walk up and down the whole town in no time at all. If you can get a place to stay in the village, there’s nothing like it. You wake up to the sound of Italian voices wafting through the air and hear grandmothers and little kids walking around and playing.
TRAVELING TIPS: Take as little as you can. I’ll put out everything I want to pack and then cut it in half. Then after you do that, it’s nice and easy. I don’t like dresses. They just take up space. I just roll my clothes up and make sure I have a lot of wrinkle-free things. I’m so low maintenance when it comes to clothes, makeup and shoes. I don’t need much of any of that. I think I’m emotionally more high maintenance! I travel with a backpack that I got for my first European tour a long time ago. That’s what I roll with. My husband was amazed when he first saw me pack.
MUST-HAVE ITEMS: A bikini and some sarongs.
TRAVEL MISHAPS: We went from freezing Vancouver to Brazil and found that the airline had lost our luggage. We only had the outfits we were wearing and they were winter clothes. My husband said, “Cut your jeans off and make shorts out of them.” I didn’t want to ’cause I really loved those jeans! But I ended up doing so and it worked out fine. You really don’t need as much as you think you do — especially if you’re going to a warm place.
TRAVEL MEMORY: We had traveled about 40 hours to get to India. It was super hot and sticky there and we got to our motel, where there was a tub that looked like it had just been dragged in from the junkyard. There were layers of crusted thing on it. What did I do? I jumped in and had a sweet hot bath! I would never do that at home, but over there it just seemed fine.
FAN RECOGNITION OVERSEAS: I get recognized a lot in France, surprisingly enough. No one really knows me from “Battlestar,” even though I’ve been on there for a few years. People seem to know me best from “The Cleaner,” even though it’s only aired for a few months.
NEXT TRIP: I really want to go to Morocco and Bali.
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ITALY:
POPULATION: Almost 57 million people. Vernazza has a population of about 500.
TIME ZONE: Rome, which is Italy’s largest city, is seven hours ahead of Chicago.
CURRENCY: Euro. (1 Euro equals $1.60US).
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: Italian.
TO TIP OR NOT TO TIP: Restaurant checks will include a service charge, so you don’t have to tip. Italians tend not to tip taxi drivers. Due to the influx of American tourists who do tip, many servers may expect a little gratuity, if they recognize your accent.
FACTOID: Vernazza, Monterosso, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore are the five villages that make up the Cinque Terre. Fly to the Cristoforo Colombo International Airport in Genoa and the Galileo Galilei International Airport in Pisa to travel to Cinque Terre.
Read more about the Cinque Terre at www.cinqueterre.it. For more information about Italy, visit www.italiantourism.com.
© 2008 JAE-HA KIM
DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.