Living (and writing about) the Law of Attraction!

Posts tagged ‘Travel’

Insights from Italy—Day 21: Homeward bound!

Town along the northern coast of the Mediterranean

This has been an unforgettable trip. We’ve been in eight countries in three weeks: We started and ended in Canada, fell in love with Italy, saw bits of Croatia, Greece and Turkey on our cruise, ended our holiday with three days in Nice, France, included a day trip to Monaco and experienced a teeny bit of Germany (okay, so it was just the two hours we spent at the Frankfurt airport, but that still counts).

I’m sooo ready to go home now, though—to sleep in my own bed, to turn on the TV and watch a english channel, to surf the internet without watching the clock or pulling my hair out because it’s so slow, to enjoy a leisurely  chai lattè at Starbucks, to wear clothes that aren’t wrinkled, to read a sign and know exactly what it’s telling me to do (or not to do), to drive in traffic that isn’t absolutely crazy…the list goes on. Just seeing Calgary on the departures board at the Frankfurt airport this afternoon warmed my heart. But I also have a treasury of wonderful memories and over a thousand digital photos (good ones – we already deleted the duds and duplicates as we went along).

A pretty waterfall in Nafplion, Greece

I have yet to process my thoughts about the trip as a whole. I’d wanted to wrap up this travel blog by sharing some profound wisdom that I gained along the way, but I think that will have to wait until my tired brain has a chance to recharge. Accomplishing that on this ten-hour plane ride seems unlikely, but a night’s sleep in my own bed tonight should do the trick. I’m on my way home!

Ron relaxing on the deck

Dining on the cruise

Insights from Italy―Day 18: Changing trains in Milano

view from the train

It’s a train day. Starting at 8:30 this morning, we were to catch the first of five trains to take us to Nice. The taxi driver, rather than taking us to the local station, pulled on to the autostrada (freeway) heading for Verona. Not sure if that was miscommunication or if he just wanted a bigger fare. Oh well. We paid more, but saved one transfer.

The trip to Milan took 90 minutes on a Eurostar (one of their faster trains) and now we’re waiting aboard another train in Milano Centralè that will take us to Ventimiglia (a town that borders France)

It’s one of those trains you see in movies with the passageway down one side and compartments with sliding doors that seat six. Our compartment is full, but Ron and I each have window seats.

Understanding the language would, again, have been helpful. I just used the toilet and apparently, they’re not to be used while stopped in the station. Whatever you deposit goes right through to the tracks below…enough said!

We’re moving now. The passing scenery south of Milan is mostly farmland—nothing to get too excited about. But as we move closer to the coast, we come into mountains. An area called Isola del Cantone is particularly beautiful. We’re snapping pictures like crazy. Not sure how they’ll turn out when we’re going this fast.

Mountains north of Genoa

One of many pink houses in Genoa

We enter a tunnel that may just be headed to the center of the earth. It seems to have no end! When we finally emerge, we are in Genoa, a city at the base of the mountains, perched overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Genoa is very pink—the color of day-old cotton candy. (I’ve noticed that some cities take on a general hue determined by how many houses and other buildings are stuccoed in that color. The lake town we were in yesterday was predominantly yellow)

From here, the train more or less follows the coastline all the way to France. The terrain is still very mountainous, so we are in and out of tunnels. The sporadic, but breathtaking views have us reaching for our cameras, but as soon as we’re ready to snap the picture, we’re in a tunnel again. Forget pictures. Let’s just enjoy what we can see.

The French Riviera

At last, we have an uninterrupted view of blue water, endless beach, palm trees, marinas…ahh the French Riviera. I would have liked a glimpse of Monaco, but we passed right underneath the city/country and all we saw was the inside of a very fancy-looking train station through glass doors as we scurried to catch the train to Nice already waiting on the next track.

Stunning sunset in Nice

Finally our train day is over. We arrive in Nice and decide to walk the short distance to our hotel. After checking in we head for the beach where the setting sun is painting the sky in rippling waves of red. Ahh…tres magnifique!

Insights from Italy (and beyond)―Day 11: Athens

The Acropolis in Athens

We climbed the Acropolis today. A steep climb but the view was worth it. You can see Athens spreading out for miles in all directions (a city of 4,500,000 inhabitants). Old and new blend almost seamlessly here―the ancient alongside the modern everywhere you look.

Dogs are everywhere here. Unlike Venice where every dog was attached to his master, here they simply follow the crowds of people or lie in the shade. I watched a few, curious to see if they belonged to someone, but no one seemed to pay them any attention. Some looked sad. Others relaxed in the sun. Some appeared to be guarding something―like the one we saw atop the acropolis, just lying near the Temple of Athena watching the crowds pass by.

 

Guard dog on the Acropolis

Arriving at the port, we experienced what was to be the theme of the day―confusion! No clear direction. Even the English signs and English speaking people in the terminal weren’t much help. So we headed out the main doors, hoping we might see which way to go. There, we were met with swarms of taxi drivers, ascending on unwitting and disoriented tourists, like wasps at a picnic. And just like the wasps, I felt like swatting a few of them!

Someone from our cruise ship had told us of a city tour bus aptly named ‘Hop on, Hop off’ so we kept walking away from the terminal until we found it. It wasn’t far and soon we were seated on the top of a brightly colored double decker bus. Perfect. If we had understood the man who sold us the ticket (and we were confident we did) we could now just sit back and enjoy the sights, listen to an English tour-guide on the earphones and hop off at any point to have a closer look at the tourist attractions on our route. We really only wanted to get off to see the Acropolis and the rest we were content to view from our open-air seats on the bus.

Herodeon Theatre

Ten minutes later, the bus stopped and we were told we had to get off because the bus we were on was going back to the terminal. The one we needed was across the street and would take us on the Athens tour. Okay, fine. We crossed the street and again managed to get a seat on the top deck. The Acropolis was the second stop, but getting to it involved a slow drive up a narrow street following a line of other tour buses. We could see our destination, but were inching our way there and breathing in diesel fumes. Another couple got fed up and asked the driver if they could get off and walk. We followed them.

Finding shade near the Parthanon

In my mind, Athens is one of those places that you go to see because it’s famous, it contains one of the seven wonders of the world, it is the birthplace of philosophy, democracy and drama… yada, yada, yada. But having seen it, I have no desire to go back. The marble is lovely (and plentiful) the columns are impressive, the architecture is to be appreciated. The history is fascinating.

Anyway, it was an experience―one we will laugh about as we reflect on the day spent in Greece’s capital. Getting back on the tour bus, we were looking forward to a relaxing and informative tour, but it was not to be. We had three and a half hours till we had to be back at the ship, which should have been enough time to take in what they advertised as a ninety minute tour. (I think they clocked it at 2:00 AM when the traffic was light) In reality, it took us 45 minutes to go 9 blocks and we realized that at that pace we could potentially be late getting back. Traffic there is much worse than Rome. I’m glad we weren’t driving. Busses cut across several lanes blocking traffic, cars squeak in at the smallest opportunity and motorcycles drive on the sidewalk to get around jams. Then they honk at the pedestrians to get out of their way! So we hopped off once more and crossed the street. (The street I’m referring to is six lanes of bumper to bumper traffic with pedestrian walk-lights that only get you to the median in the center)

Hadrian's Arch

Waiting at our stop on the other side was a large crowd of disgruntled people. Apparently they had been waiting awhile. Several busses had come and gone, but were mostly filled so only a few people were able to get on. Things worked out (as they always do) and we got back to our cruise ship on time. We even had time to stop at Starbucks near the terminal for a frappachino. We were hot and tired and thoroughly enjoyed the icy cold beverage as we left the confusion of Athens and were greeted by the smiling faces of our cruise ship personal.

Athens at first light

Insights from Italy—Day 1: I was meant to fly!

Waiting…I don’t mind really. It’s relaxing and I can let my mind wander as opposed to the business of packing and preparing…endlessly searching my mind to try to ensure I’ve remembered everything we need for the trip.

Now I sit with a steaming latte in a comfy chair, watching the planes come and go. It’s interesting. As I pull my gaze from the still-pink morning sky, I notice the other passengers—some chatting enthusiastically, eager to get going on an adventure with friends or family; others, filling the chasm of time alone with their laptop or newspaper.

Then there’s the…fast forward…we’re on board now, the plane has reached cruising altitude and the seat-belt sign is off. I pull my journal out again and continue writing.

I was meant to fly!! I love the sensations—all of them, even the turbulence we’re now experiencing—but the take-off is my favorite part. We taxi endlessly, it seems, and then it happens. Sometimes there’s a pause, but today just a turn of the big bird as we align with the take-off strip. The engines roar (we’re sitting over the left wing, so it’s particularly loud) and suddenly my chest is sucked back into my seat. It’s an effort to tilt my head, even slightly, to look out the window. Even a deep breath takes a concerted effort. I think most people simply forget to breathe in those magical (or scary—depending on your views of flying) few seconds.

I love the power. I feel it all around and through me. I’m one with the aircraft—heavy and earthbound one minute, then suddenly light and free. I will never understand the science behind it; it’s enough for me just to be a part. Yes, I was meant to fly.

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