Thursday, June 30, 2016

Italy 1-Fatigue, walking on basalt, why I cried and have no favorite thing to tell you about


Just a phone pic, as are all of these- I have yet to crack open the camera. I really love flying on planes and seeing the clouds from above.

Ok, I will stop with the Italian now- but what a gorgeous language that is.  I could listen to it all day.

Well, it seems I really didn't have the time, energy, internet connections or data to post anything from my trip, except a little on FaceBook.  I am quite grateful that I had unlimited texting there, as my data plan ran out I think on Tuesday or Wednesday.  But that is fine, I was good with that, since my lovely sister went ahead and checked me into the restaurants and such that I wanted to remember the names of.

Oh my, they say jet lag is a bitch, and oh it is.  When we arrived in Italy, at whatever time it was in the morning, we were too excited and then aghast (that is coming up here) to be tired.  Did I sleep on the plane?- I don't think so.  If I did,  it was lightly and poorly.  That whole first overseas flight was quite traumatic at the start, but that is a subject for another post.  And when we did get to Milano, our luggage did not come with us.....  So, yeah, fortunately after goofing around with that and having to travel to first Verona and then the Venice area- there was not much time for jet lag..... or for the rest of the trip for that matter.  HOWEVAH, the return jet lag is WAY worse.  First of all, we had a 2:30 wake up call on Tuesday morning- the a.m. sort of 2:30- and of course we had stayed up way late finishing our packing and rearranging (this happened almost nightly) and our alarm I think went off at 2:15.  I then proceeded to stay awake for 25 hours.  That is right boys and girls, I did not even doze off for more than a few moments on that delightful airbus seated between my sister (finally) and a nice Nigerian man who was very worried about people following the rules on the airplane- again another story.  So I barely made it to 8 pm at my sisters house, we both went to bed  (neither Rose nor I are particularly early bedtime people) and I slept hard and long.  10 hours is highly unusual for me.

Yesterday, I drank about a gallon of coffee (seriously, I need that Italian coffee again) and drove myself home.  I did very well, I really didn't get sleepy and I managed to stay up until 9:30 last night. The MA made fun of me because I wasn't in my robe like usual by 8, but I was and still am pretty disoriented.  I did manage to go see him at the office when I got home, and had unpacked the car,  and head to the farmers market to get myself some amazing veggies from Jake of Shady Knoll Farm fame.  You guys, I have had virtually no packaged food of any sort since I left, aside from the granola bars that I always had in my back pack for the trips to the new cities as we drove.  I just can't with it.  Even my fantastic coffee here didn't taste that good..... lol, my first crack at making the coffee was a fiasco as it over flowed inside, as I didn't have the thing put together correctly....  I told you I was zombie-esque.  But I digress, and added today's stuff into yesterday's paragraph - so if you are an English teacher (ahemadam) forgive me or pretend you didn't notice. Anyway, food here seems somehow inferior.

Today, everything is an effort.  Things don't really make sense and I seriously thought I would be recovered today.  I thought yesterday was my "bad" day.  Nope!  See above statement about said coffee pot.  I knew I needed to go get some food, as there was virtually nothing in the house.  But as I walked around the grocery store, I just did my best to try to not get lost.  I found the closest thing to Italian pasta and fresh mozzarella I could, plus a few things for the meat eaters amongst us and got the heck out of there.  The closest adjective I can come up with is disoriented.  I tried to put things away, and I walked in circles around the house and couldn't figure out what to do with anything. So that is done for now.  I have a table full of gorgeous Michigan peaches that need to be dealt with and they are going to have to sit another day too.  Attempts at baking are not recommended at this time.   So I am trying to do little things, and then sit down and rest.  I have read and played a few WWF games (ALL MY WWF GAMES DISAPPEARED!!!!  Apparently there is a time limit or something! Harrumph) and attempted some tasks that are proving to be too taxing.

Walking on basalt
Anyway, I have walked, every day except airplane travel day, a minimum of 5 miles, but the standing that took place during those miles made for some tired tootsies at the end of the day.  Don't tell the rest of the people on the tour, but I could have walked a lot more. Though my eyes were tired at the end of the day, I could have kept walking.  Except the day when I got blisters on my heels, that day I could not.  I did find a cute pair of sandals, though, so my heels weren't out and out bleeding, so that is good.  The other little glitch that happened during walking- more specifically during standing (the standing is what kills you) happened on a very HOT Saturday in Roma.

We were standing at the Colosseum , waiting for our amazing tour leader, Daniela, to get our tickets (he was so awesome- such a sweetie, and a very good grasp of the English language)  and we were standing on basalt pavers in the 96 degree heat and it did an interesting thing...  it burned- not sunburn, but like a heat rash sort of burn on my lower legs, right above the ankle to mid calf.  Fortunately, it was not particularly painful, or even itchy, it was just weird.  Red and blotchy, and at least 6 people of varying ages (the fair of skin is who had the issue) and I and one other woman probably had it the worst.  It was obnoxious and I had to wear long leggings the next few days to keep it covered.  **massive eyerolls**   I still had 2 cute skirts to wear.... sigh.  Anyway, we did a little research and turns out that they see this a lot at Disney, where you stand in the hot sun in line a long time.  Great.  Basically, standing on the black basalt allowed the skin to be burned by the radiant heat off the rock under our feet.  Fortunately, that was the hottest day, and it wasn't as hot for our last 2 days in Rome.  I still have a little red left, and it is managing to itch today, so what a lovely reminder of that very long day!

Why I cried

No justice is done here- I hope my DSLR pictures are better- a lot of tough lighting conditions and not a lot of time to fuss with the camera
I had 3 or 4 moments during this trip that were gasping, take-my-breath-away moments after which- no surprise here- I fought back my tears.  I had anticipated some of the art work having this effect, but there were a few times, I did not.  The very first time was in Venice- at Doge's Palace.  I was not expecting this at all.  We walked into the first of the highly ornate, gilded rooms  with beautiful Renaissance, Mannerist and Baroque art works on the wall and I gasped.  It was jaw droopingly gorgeous.  My eyes still well up when I think back to that moment and realized that I was in ITALY and seeing some of the landmarks and artwork that I had read about not only in the past few months but also when I was in college.  Up until that time, it didn't seem real.  Venice was a quirky town, and I really loved it- I was soaking in the sun, listening earlier to the guide who gave us a tour, but it didn't seem real.  Suddenly it felt real- I felt connected and it made a mark on my soul.  And here I am, reclining with my laptop, reliving that feeling and seeing that room in my mind and crying yet again. 2 days later I was in Florence, and doing a museum tour- the Uffizi gallery in the morning and the Accademie in the afternoon- and I was about to have my mind blown again.

So so crowded, hard to get shots without heads. Oh wait that is me!  HAHA  jk

I was on a mission in that Uffizi gallery to find Botticelli.  His gallery was being renovated, so we had to find the temporary home for the "Birth of Venus" and it took a while.  I almost sank to my knees seeing that painting, finally.  It is so beautiful.  A little side story, several years ago when our paper mill belonged to a larger company, I was asked to recreate some art works using the different papers that the mill produced.  Me, not know any better, thought it would be an interesting thing to do.  I don't remember what other ones I did, but I know I reproduced that painting using paper- a collage.  it took a LONG time to do it, and I have no idea where that ever went.  The mill has been sold several times since then, so who knows. I know that painting intimately, every bit of it, and again I tried so hard not to out and out sob.  You don't see the luminescence of the gold in her hair, nor do you see the detail, the shading the skill of this artist.  I could have stared at it for an hour.  I have this picture of me and it, but I was a sweaty mess who was trying not to cry.

And then there was David.  I had seen David a couple times- outside.  You know, some reproductions, and saw another one when we left Florence the next day.  But nothing can compare to the David who is installed towering above us all at the Accademie.  It turns out to be a very small museum, but between David and those glorious slave sculptures by Michelangelo, really, what else do they need?  Ah David- you took my breath away.  The Sistine chapel was pretty cool too, but with some guy insisting on "SILENCE" over the intercom over and over, the spell was not as strong.  I will say the colors there are incredible!  And the guide was outstanding- I learned a lot about the paintings.  Wow was that a crowded place.  So much to say, but have to save that for a different post.

I definitely had a tear or two as we last drove out of Roma to our Hotel Meridian out on a hill a 40 minute drive from the heart of Rome- or an hour or more if there is traffic- as I knew it was my final day in that glorious country.  What an amazing adventure it was....

Oh wait, spending 2 weeks with my sister was my favorite thing!

Favorite things
So many people have asked me what my favorite part was, and I can honestly say it was all my favorite.  The cities were so different, there was so much to it. Great food,  and the art, the gelato, the architecture that is SO old, it just goes on and on.  I could possibly figure out what a favorite thing was in each section of the day, but not my favorite of the trip.  I have no favorite, it was all my favorite. As soon as I start identifying favorite things, then I will think of another place in another city, or those charming gardens along the freeway, or the laughter we shared with our fellow travelers during dinner each night, or the joking we did with Daniela and his "10 minute" walks that always were more like 20... It was indeed a trip of a lifetime.  Don't get me wrong, it was far from perfect.  There were several odd glitches and annoyances, but we came through fine and nothing devastating happened.

So I better wrap up this first Italy post and rest some more.  My eyes are so heavy, I might need to nap again.  More to come!  I think in a similar fashion to my Denver trip, I am going to somehow organize these posts perhaps by subject rather than day.  I just don't know yet.  I am incoherent.

Until later- Ciao ciao and all the joy to you.

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