Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: OVERSEAS VACATION (08/13/15)
- TITLE: Mediterranean Wonders
By Judy Sauer
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After a long overnight flight from Newark, New Jersey, Dave and I made it to Rome. This was our 20th wedding anniversary gift; the trip of a lifetime.
We had a full itinerary for 11 days in the Mediterranean. We boarded the transport to our hotel to drop off our luggage. Dazed and sleep-deprived, we trudged on since we had Behind the Scenes Vatican Tour tickets.
The bus zipped in and out of narrow streets which seemed more like small alleys. “Geez, these are tight and narrow passageways” I commented while holding my breath with each slender street as buses, cars, and scooters gathered together. I was surprised that few accidents were seen. Endless horn honking filled the stale air on the bus. The streets were lined with motor scooters and small cars shaped like the tip of a bullet. We ran for our lives when we crossed streets because the reckless drivers demanded the road be cleared for them alone.
Our energy rebounded as we found Saint Peter’s Square. It felt majestic and spiritual just to stand on holy ground. With wonderment and awe our eyes feasted on painted frescos and tapestries in the halls, on the walls, and across all the ceilings, of the Vatican. Such magnificence we saw. The attention to detail was astounding. We learned that the Vatican is the smallest country in the world. Endless clicks of my camera captured a breadth of memories. And this was only day one.
As our Vatican tour ended, the bells tolled because it was Ascension Thursday. We rushed to Saint Peter’s Basilica and were granted permission to join the congregation in the actual church for Mass. Taking in the splendor of the cathedral would happen after Mass. Angelic voices singing in Latin came from a choir of priests that wore black cassocks with white woven over-tops. To be privileged to attend Mass cemented a nostalgic moment in our lives.
Famished from a day of major jet lag, and afternoon touring, we slipped into a small restaurant where I savored the most exquisite risotto. My plate was filled with a large circle of three inch high saffron yellow deliciousness. My stomach could only eat so much and I felt guilty leaving any risotto since I never had a feast quite like that one.
We journeyed on. Next stop was Messina, Italy on the island of Sicily. The world’s astronomical clock comes to life every day at Noon was a sight we stumbled across there. The clock had many moving parts and played the Ave Maria. We saw animated characters from roaring lions, ladies dancing, and it ended with the resurrection of Jesus. We then dined on scrumptious real Italian pizza!
Another favorite stop was Athens, Greece. We drank in its rich history and artifacts. We climbed the uneven steps to the Parthenon and Acropolis. I marveled at how they built such architecture. The massive structures weighed tons and I gawked with mouth wide open from one view to the next.
Mykonos, Greece turned out to be my favorite Greek isle. Similar to Santorini, only not as commercialized, we walked the narrow stone paved paths. I loved the Dutch windmills on the island; something one would not expect on a Greek island. Jackie O, the restaurant named for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, is on Mykonos. Strong tides brought many large waves of Aegean Sea water that went up and over the tide wall and soaked quite a few restaurant tables.
On our actual anniversary, we visited the home where Saint John took Mary, the mother of Jesus, for safety after his crucifixion. The crowds respected the reverence of Our Lady’s home and only hushed whispers were heard. One truly felt a heavenly spirit there. When we walked into her tiny two-room home, it put life into perspective. Mary lived without much. Westerners live with too much stuff; quite a paradigm shift. Mary lived simply and that was the lesson I garnered.
We visited Ephesus, Turkey. Ephesus is where Saint Paul proclaimed the good news of Jesus Christ. The book of Ephesians was written for Christians there. We saw the Celsius Library, the primitive homes, and how, even back then, there were different classes of economic status. The Nike Swoosh logo was inspired by a triangular shaped rock in Ephesus.
The wonders of the Mediterranean truly were the trip of a lifetime…so much more to be shared, perhaps another time.
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