As I write this blog entry, I am on the plane returning from my Italian adventure with my nephew, Harry. As we boarded el aeroplano, I asked him if there were any surprises he didn’t expect going into the trip (besides being awed by the sights and delicious food – which I’ll get to later).
Among the things he cited was “how easy the (logistical) travel was.” I agree with him! We lucked out in so many ways. When I traveled throughout Europe decades ago with two college friends, we encountered train strikes in Italy twice. So we just slept in the sketchy train station, and hung out with local Italians we befriended to “protect us.” Hey, I was young, on a budget and had different accommodation standards then.
This time around, Harry and I encountered only one minor inconvenience. There was a worker protest in Roma and some streets were blocked off, altering traffic patterns. Our taxi driver was not happy (I don’t speak Italian, but do understand when I’m in the presence of someone impatient with traffic – ahem hubby), but we got to our destination simply enough.
Our flight from NYC to Roma – arrived early. The transport greeting us at the airport – awaiting. Taxi availability in Roma –pretty much on our demand. The subway – seamless. Train ride from Roma to Florence – perfecto, complete with complimentary beverage service. Our feet and legs holding up during the millions of steps we walked/climbed – bravo (three cheers for my knee). The train from Florence to Orvieto, subsequent Funiculare to the top of the cliff, plus connecting bus to the town square – seamless. And in particular, the early morning train from Orvieto via connection to the Roma airport to catch our aforementioned flight (which I was particularly stressed about missing) – no problem!
And when we arrived at the airport and talked with the airline about catching an earlier direct flight (instead of having to connect via London) – after initial hesitation, our request as answered with a smile and a nod. Shout out to Delta! Apparently the connecting flight from London to NYC was late, allowing the system to approve us. So basically since our connecting flight late, we were able to get on a direct flight and will be home 5 hours earlier. Score!
Not to bore you with all that detail, but the travel gods were certainly with us this week, even though we were in a country with a reputation for an unreliable network.
Harry experienced first-hand the power of positive thinking. We both went with our expectations in check, hoping for the best, but ok if we encountered some glitches. Not only were travel hiccups rare, but also our expectations significantly exceeded.
When thinking about what to write this week, I was going to talk about how humbling it is to have your body not quite able to cooperate with your mind. That although I walked day and night on my recently repaired knee, I was still unable to do certain things. That is not something I am used to, and I have a new appreciation for stairwell railings!
- Climbing up and down the 1,000 steps of the Duomo Bell Tower? – Unfortunately not!
- Walking uphill to the top of the Belvedere Fort, with the reward of amazing views and a cool exhibit called “Human?” Only then to walk down and up the next incline to the top of the Piazza de Michelangelo? – Yes!
I pushed my limits and the some, and knew when to say no even if I didn’t want to. Humbling indeed. I made sure not to hinder Harry, and he was super supportive, happily going off on his own those few occasions and reporting back with descriptions and pictures to share. Gosh I love him.
Alternatively, I was going to talk about how we ate ourselves silly. The good news – all the pasta, breads, meats and dairy were homemade, local and fresh. Really, to die for in most cases. The challenging news – it is not harvest season, hence a struggle to find fresh fruits and vegetables. I do love my fruits and veggies! As they say, “when in Roma!” I decided, “Who cares?” it was one week for goodness sake!
Harry had a saying during some of our more delicious meals: “I choose this over the Uffizi.” Now pick your jaw up off the ground – yes we did skip the Uffizi. But do not fret – we caught the Academia, Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, Coliseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, and countless works of art along our walking tours and amongst the Duomos, Piazzas and other sights.
At my nephew’s request, food was the centerpiece of this celebratory trip and I obliged, planning most restaurant visits with care. He tasted numerous pastas and sauces, antipastos, cheeses, atypical meats like rooster and boar, vino, beer and over a dozen flavors of gelato. I did my best to keep up, and although I ate more than I normally do by far, I couldn’t hold a candle to him. Thankfully my pants still fit, albeit a bit snugger, but a few days of clean eating and I’ll be back on track.
But instead of writing about the lessons in being humbled or eating off-strategy, I would like to highlight a guiding principle that we saw fulfilled over and over again on this trip:
The power of thinking positively.
On the train to the airport today, I literally prayed that we would get on that earlier flight, and here I sit drinking a glass of vino rosso writing to you. Call me an optimist, but I do believe philosophically that an open mind and positive attitude critical in life. If in a situation you think, “fill in the blank will never happen,” then guess what, it won’t. But if you approach it with hope and positivity it’s much more likely to go in that direction.
Please, take a moment and think about how you might change even a slightly negative conversation in your head to a positive one, and go there. If there is something you desire, think or even say it out loud. Right this minute!
So when I get off this plane, I’m going to hope that our luggage has arrived, comes out on the conveyer belt quickly, and there is transport waiting. Given it will be around 5:30 on a weekday, I’m not naïve enough to think there will be no traffic, but I’ll have faith we’ll get home within a reasonable time.
And with a full heart I look at Harry and feel so grateful to have this experience together. Whether it a quiet meal, a lively discussion about politics or his upcoming entry to University, it has been a true gift to be in his presence and share this time with him. I think he’s gotten a lot of joy out of seeing new things and I cherish that. I can only hope that this trip has had a small impact on him, and he feels even more confident in his remarkable abilities. Wow we’ve had a great time together!
Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™