You know how it is when you have that sense that you see all things in just one moment, as if all comes together at once. For me this trip can be summed up in one moment; swept away. Bill and I have seen, felt and learned so much yet it all amounts to traveling within ourselves.
Come with me as we drive into Florence along the most important street where no cars are allowed. Going by the Grand Cathedral we turned left at times when we should have turned right, and sometimes had no idea where we were going. But all this and the good stuff has been swept into one moment, a fantastic Grand Tour.
I’d like to introduce you to someone. These travels would never have happened without my Bill, who is and has been the most generous, thoughtful, and kind man, my husband, my guide, my best friend, and my love. His two children, Teresa and Ted reflect these same virtues. How appreciative can one be surrounded by this? Bill has driven the roads of Europe with such skill and ease, into small alleys, on fast autostradas, found parking, paid the tolls, carried our luggage and remember he’s “pushing” 82 at a the time of this writing (now he’s pushing 85). Throughout this trip I felt protected and taken care of, something Bill has done for so many others, including my children, grandchildren, many families in need and countless”extended” families. I only know my “travels” make me again aware of outstanding human beings.
There’s also a larger family that we’ve met: the French in Provence, courteous, welcoming, exacting, wine and food enthusiasts, even their backyard piles are pretty – the Italians, passionate, friendly, fun, emotional, they love their food and wine too – the Swiss, exacting, business-like plus all the other attributes depending on whether they live in the French, German or Italian regions of Switzerland.
The moments flash by: Provence, France – Uzes with the most picturesque open market in Provence where live the dear and talented Bradleys – Tiny Cucuron in eastern Provence and our darling Cousin Sue and Len – with them conversations and concerts (one a 16th century organ recital of 16th century music, another a big band and jazz concert with a vocalist singing with a French accent). This family adores their new life in Provencal Cucuron after exiting their birthplaces in Africa.
One special night was with Bill in extraordinary Eze, France with its enormous views. Eze is perched-on-an-outcropping-of-rock-over-the-Mediterranean Sea. No autos can drive past a certain point. From then on winding walkways pass enticing shops, ancient buildings, flowers and cafes till you reach the top where two hotels sit. There the feeling is a balance of being way up in the sky at the same time as part of a vast sea out in front of you. We went on into northern Italy with its walled city of Lucca, the Leaning Tower of Pisa nearby – next staying at the former monastery outside of Siena with its still active beautiful church. We drove the teeming Tuscan villages filled with history and surrounded by fields turned golden – Florence where a Charlie Chaplin-like street performer (for 27 years) picked me out of several hundreds and did his act with fire and smoke while I was told in a whisper, “Don’t move.”
Verona and its larger-than-life Tosca performed in the outdoor Roman arena – moving on from there unexpectedly because of unbearable heat to cool Cortina, located on Bill’s Bucket List’s jagged Italian Dolomite Mountains.
We found ourselves spending my birthday in St Moritz, Switzerland.
It was ironic that our birthday dinner was planned by a Scottish waitress. She wrote out directions to a hotel/restaurant only reached by funicular, 3000 ft up from the valley floor. We saw the world from there, through the rain. With this view, it seemed to me that the Father wanted us to know that there is such beauty, power and love here for us all if we would only see it, continue that awareness, and appreciate it. As we leave stately Zurich Switzerland those travels of ours, physical, mental and spiritual will stay with me. It’s here for all to enjoy, in good times and the difficult ones, if just in “Imagine Travel” within ourselves, for we really are traveling that way in the end.
Love, above all,
The Grand Tourists