Playing catch-up in Europe

This is one of several postings that should have been made a couple of weeks ago. For some reason, I was completely unable to access WordPress or my blog via Apple’s Safari for nearly two weeks. I am now using a different web browser.


May 18, 2015

Nine hours of travel today.

I’m on my way to the Cinqueterre to hook up with some friends from my old church in Salem, Oregon. I can’t wait. Firstly, because it will be great to see someone from home. Secondly, because it will be fun to play host and show off my rudimentary Italian.

For quite a distance I will be sitting on this train cruising along the Adriatic Sea, sometimes twenty-five feet from the water. The sun is out, temps are in the sixties early this morning and there’s not a cloud in the sky. The train is comfortable, if a bit crowded. Indeed, I was not expecting so many people. Perhaps this leg of the trip is more crowded since it’s a regional train taking me to Ancona where I will switch onto a different train for Parma. From Parma I will switch once again for Monterosso.

Yesterday was a lazy, if not accomplished day. I probably walked a good fifteen miles south to the community of Giulianova. I didn’t realize how tired my feet were until I was more than halfway home and opted to kick off my shoes and dip my toes into a coolly refreshing fountain. I was certain that I saw steam emanating from the water.

Sunday had been a very warm day and I, wearing only shorts and a tank top got the full brunt of the Italian sun. Lying in bed that night, I could feel the sizzle of my flesh. Since I’m used to it every year, I wasn’t worried.

Now, I can relax. Actually, I should be working on my Italian. I’m so far behind I can’t even see daylight. Purchasing a kebab the other night in my favorite local kebab shop, the proprietor, Osmondo, remarked that my Italian was, indeed, terribile. That was embarrassing.

I figure that, when I get on the long distance train, I will sit back and work on my Italian. I should have more room and possibly even a small tray table in front of me for writing.

It’s funny, but my desire for learning Italian has dissipated somewhat. Maybe it’s because I have so much travel planned. Maybe it’s because I’m going to be doing so much entertaining of out-of-town guests. I don’t know.

I do think that I need to be enjoying more the time I have left. If I do nothing but work, I will have missed a golden opportunity to travel, learn and luxuriate. I’ve found that it is possible to live quite simply and economically while I’m here in Europe. Perhaps these are the lessons and experiences I will take with me back to North America—knowing that I can possibly retire here and indulge in the European lifestyle of divergent accents and cultures, foods and persuasions. And also feel comfortable eschewing the mass consumption that is American culture.

I have to admit that the view from my window seat on this train is enticing. I see breakwaters along the Adriatic, beachside cabanas and ristorantes. Palm trees line promenades. Raking machinery has gathered from the beach detritus washed up during the winter months. Preparation for the summer hordes descending from northern climes—Holland, Germany, Denmark. That’s why I keep getting mistaken for Dutch or German.

Somewhere out there, beyond the Adriatic is Dubrovnik, Croatia. I hope to visit that historic city during my Balkan trip. I’m formulating an itinerary that, I believe, will be economical and substantive. When I also consider the other trips I have planned for Morocco, Egypt, Israel and Switzerland (as well as a return to Ukraine), my plate will be full.

Hosting guests will also help me in my experience. It’s wonderful to have someone by one’s side that is unfamiliar with Italy. It allows me again to view the whole of Italy through innocent eyes, with wonder and exhilaration.


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