I’m back in the States. After a rough start due to strikes of air traffic controllers in Greece, I made it out of Athens. The airline had to adjust my flights a bit, but my friends and I made it back into the country late last night. I fly from Portland to Austin today, and though I am sad to see this trip end, I am ready to see my mom, love on Bread and Butter, do laundry and sleep in my own bed.
I learned a great deal on this trip about the world. So much of what I saw was “familiar” in that I know I’ve studied ancient Rome and Greece in school. I know I’ve read mythology and learned about the Pantheon, the Parthenon, and the Acropolis. I have heard about Michelangelo, Rafael, da Vinci, the David, the Sistine Chapel, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I have studied bits on the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the various churches built to honor saints. I’m sure somewhere along the way, I was told the difference between a painting, a fresco, and a mosaic. But those things were not real to me. I didn’t care about them when I was a kid, and I learned just enough to get by on exams – to get my “A” in school. How wrong that seems to me now after having seen these places and works for myself. Looking back, I see so many missed opportunities in my education because I had such little interest in the world.
I also learned a great deal about myself on this trip. I learned that I can live out of a carry-on sized suitcase for two weeks. I learned that I can disengage from email, my phone, Facebook, and Words With Friends, and the world will not end. In fact, disengaging opens up a much bigger and more rich world. I learned that I can manage my motion sickness well enough for cruises and ferries and any other type of transportation required by any journey. Mostly though, I learned that I love to travel and to read about the places I’ve been.
After just over a week in Italy, we took an overnight cruise to Greece. On the ferry, there was little to do but read and write, so I dove into a book called Bella Tuscany. I had started the book on my way to Italy, but it read so differently after I experienced the traffic of Rome, saw the tiny little cars and trucks people drive there, ate countless Caprese salads, visited basilicas across the country, and walked the towns of Ferrara, Assisi, and Venice. I loved the hours on the boat that allowed me to read and relive what I had seen. I didn’t want the book to end.
Now that I’m back home, I want to read more about the places I’ve seen. I welcome your suggestions for books on Italy and Greece. Art books, memoirs, history books, anything. I want to keep this trip alive and continue learning what I can.
I also want to start planning the next trip. I’m starting to create a list of places I want to experience, and I intend to start working through them one at a time.