Tell us about a journey — whether a physical trip you took, or an emotional one.
Photographers, show us JOURNEY.
My journey actually began back in 1967 with a journey that I didn’t take. My senior class was going on their class trip. Arrangements were made for the class to go to Italy for the senior class trip. It was to be the trip of a life-time. The class would fly on Lufthansa to Rome and spend five days in Rome and then take a bus to Florence and spend two days there. Then they would travel back to Rome and come home. The cost would be $300, expensive but manageable in those days. The trip was chaperoned by parents and the sisters from school. I was so excited and wanted very much to go. But there was one problem. My mother. She was very much opposed to my going. She had never been to Europe, she said. Why should I go to Europe? She didn’t she the need for her daughter to go traipsing around Europe. My grandmother and my aunt and my uncle all offered to pay my way and tried to convince my mother. They told her what a marvelous educational and cultural opportunity this was for me. How this would broaden my horizons. How another opportunity such as this would not come along. Nothing would sway her. And my father of course sided with his wife. I did not go on the trip. I was crushed. And I never quite got over not going on the trip to Italy.
Fast-forward to 2001. I am in therapy. I am talking to my therapist and we are talking about disappointments. And the issue of the trip comes up–again. My therapist finally asks me, “Why don’t you take that trip now?” I stop and think about this new idea. Why not? I could take this trip by myself. It could be a gift to myself, to put this memory to rest. And so I decided to make this journey for myself.
I took a Mediterranean cruise. I flew to Barcelona, Spain where I stayed overnight. I left San Antonio early in the morning, flew to Dallas-Fort Worth, then on to JFK in New York. At JFK, there was tight security. This was just a month after September 11. I remember my bra set off the sensors in the scanners. I was rather embarrassed. They were doing construction at the overseas terminal and it was difficult to find where I was going. I was in Business Class (there was no First Class) so I was as comfortable as I could be. I remember the actor-comedian Richard Belzer from Law and Order: SVU was on my flight to Barcelona. We had lobster for dinner. But then I got a migraine. Probably from the stress of traveling. It was raining hard when we got to Barcelona. I changed my travelers’ checks and caught a taxi into the city and went to my hotel. My head hurt so bad. I was able to get into my room and went straight to bed. I slept all day. I don’t even think I ate that day. The next day, I had breakfast, though I still had the headache. Then it was time to find the ship.
I got to the pier and found the ship. It was huge. It was the biggest ship in the fleet at the time. I was sailing on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. It was very nice. I found my stateroom. It was small but nice. I found where to go for lunch and decided to eat. That was a mistake. Right after I ate, I got sick. I had to go back to my stateroom and lie down. We set off and I stayed quite until dinner time. Then I felt better. I met nice people at dinner. The couples at my table were very interesting. They were brothers. One lived in California. He was a policeman. His wife was a nurse. The other lived in Texas, like me. His wife was the voice of Baby Bop, a dinosaur on Barney the Dinosaur, a television show for children. The other man was a telemarketer. He didn’t come to dinner much during the trip.
The first stop on our journey was Ville France and Monaco. We went to Monte Carlo. We anchored off the coast and took a boat into Ville France. Then we took a bus to Monte Carlo. We visited the Casino and took a ride through the windy mountain roads. We saw the changing of the guards at the palace. We ate lunch at a restaurant on the plaza in Monte Carlo. It was a lovely day. We sailed through the night.
The next day we spent in Florence. We took a bus into Florence. We went to the Uzzi Museum. There we saw the statue of David. It was magnificent. I have never seen anything that so impressed me before or after. We also saw Boticelli’s Venus. So beautiful. The Uzzi was everything I had expected and more. Then we went to several churches and saw where Galileo was buried. We saw magnificent frescoes and even saw some being restored. We saw the beautiful bronze baptismal doors. We ate at a small restaurant on the main piazza. And I spent some time just relaxing at the piazza while the others went shopping because I had forgotten my wallet. We were able to see much beautiful art in Florence and since that was on the list of cities that I had missed out on long ago, I was very happy.
Our next stop was Naples. From there I took a bus to the ruined cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. I am interested in archaeology so this was quite a treat for me. I loved walking amongst the ancient cities with the guides and learning about life there so many years ago. I also bought cameo rings and a cameo ring for my sister. They make them here and we watched them being made.
Then we were at sea for two days as we rounded the boot of Italy on our way to the northwest coast of Italy. It was a pleasant voyage. I enjoyed being on the water. We had good weather and the seas were calm. The food on board ship was very good and the people were very nice.
We docked in Venice and stayed there for two days. Venice is a very beautiful city. I went for a gondola ride through the city. It’s a lovely way to see the city. Very quaint. I also took a water taxi to a restaurant where we ate dinner. I visited St. Mark’s Cathedral which has spectacular mosaics both inside and outside. St. Mark’s Plaza is a marvelous place as well. The pigeons there are very famous. The plaza floods at high tide and they put out platforms for people to walk on. One day I took a boat ride to some of the islands near Venice where they make lace and where they make hand-blown glass. We saw them making these goods and I bought glassware and some lace souvenirs. I really enjoyed my time in Venice.
Next we traveled to Dubrovnik, Croatia. It is a very old city and was ravaged by the civil war that had been going on there earlier. It was very poor and very sad. We saw an old monastery that was undergoing renovations. There was a cathedral that had been damaged, too. There was also a castle. The streets were narrow and cobble-stoned. It was a quaint little place. But rather poor and sad.
Then we were back at sea for another two days on our way to Sicily. Again the weather was good and the seas were calm. Sicily was sunny and warm. We saw the volcano which had been erupting. Sicily is a lovely place. On our way to Rome, we passed by another volcanic island that was erupting.
We stopped at the port nearest to Rome and took a bus to Rome. We went to Rome and went to Vatican City to St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square. We went to some shops and I bought my uncle a rosary that had been blessed by the Pope. We ate lunch at a very nice restaurant across the street from the American Embassy. Then we were able to get into the Sistine Chapel. What a magnificent place that is! We also went to the Coliseum and the Forum. And we took a brief tour of other ruins and sites of Rome, such as the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. I was very happy since Rome was one of the cities on my long-ago abandoned trip. Now I had seen Rome.
We had a night crossing to Marseilles. There was a storm and the seas were very rough that night. The storm did not bother me but it made many of the passengers very ill. It was quite a bad storm. But skies were clear when we reached Marseilles. I took a bus to Avignon, and went to the Palace of the Popes, the residence of the popes when they lived in Avignon. I saw the famous bridge from the song we learned in French class. I bought little dolls in bright clothing for my granddaughters. We had wine-tasting at the Palace of the Popes and a nice lunch there as well. We saw the bullet train that was going to Lyon. Provence was a lovely place. I really loved the south of France.
That night we traveled back to Barcelona. I had arranged to spend an extra day in Barcelona to see the sites of Barcelona and I’m so glad I did. I took a city tour and saw much of the architecture of Antonio Gaudi. His buildings and gardens are spectacular! The Sagrada Familia will be unbelievable when it is finished. I only wish that I could be around to see it. Already it is a marvel. His apartment buildings are truly amazing. He was a master. The Gothic cathedral is also very beautiful. I stayed in a lovely hotel right across the street from it. The only thing to mar the stay was that I had another migraine that night. While I was in Barcelona, I bought a beautiful blue leather jacket which I still wear all the time and red leather gloves. I also bought a pearl and diamond ring and a souvenir pistol and a soldier for my husband.
When I was leaving Barcelona, I was in the airport. I was waiting for my plane when I heard my name called to go to the luggage area. They were checking my luggage and found the souvenir pistol! I had to show them it wasn’t real! On the flight to New York, we were not allowed to carry ANYTHING onto the plane, not even our purses. I retrieved all my belongings at JFK in New York and had to go to LaGuardia to catch my plane to go to Dallas-Forth Worth. It took forever to get through Queens but I finally got to LaGuardia and made it to San Antonio and finally home.
This was the trip of a life-time for me. It put all my demons to rest about not going to Europe all those years ago. I’m glad my therapist talked me into doing this trip. It was a good thing for me to do. Now I can get on with life.