Dear People of the Blog Reading World,
First of all, apologies that so much time has passed since my last post! I can only plead guilty to having too many good things filling my time (a good problem to have I think!)
I left off on Fat Tuesday, and boy have things gotten interesting since then! Wednesday’s main point of interest was waiting for the English Ash Wednesday mass at St. Thomas’s with two North Carolinians, a Sri Lankan, a Slovakian, and a Filipino who all showed up a bit early along with myself. Here I was attending mass in my native tongue whereas others were here in a foreign speaking country attending a mass in another foreign tongue. The affect language has on the way we interact with other people never really registered with me until I arrived in the Czech Republic, and became the person struggling to communicate basic ideas.
The great fun of this past week and a half began on Thursday when I took the good ole 119 bus to Vaclav Havel International Airport and boarded a plane bound for Frankfurt via London. Eight hours, two plane rides, a chat with Kent locals bound for Cape Town, one Guinness, a plate of fries, an Iceland soccer coach and German businesswoman as fantastic seat mates, and one directionally challenged but good natured taxi driver later and I arrived in Bad Soden, Germany (a town just twenty mintues drive from Frankfurt). There (after bailing out of the taxi having pulled onto the correct neighborhood street) I marched up the drive to the house marked Number 2 and knocked on the door. The sound of footsteps, the door opened, and there was my good ole Papa who in his excitement, exclaimed “YOU MADE IT!” just loud enough to wake up two sleeping kids and, more importantly, to make me feel like quite the luckiest girl in the whole world.
Thus began what my dad dubbed “An Excellent Adventure” where Mom, Dad, and yours truly took on three cities in just over a week!
Said adventure began in Bad Soden at the home of Mom and Dad’s college friend Heidi and her husband Max and two kids, Julia and Giacomo. This was the first time I had met Heidi—the last time my parents and Heidi saw each other they were only four or five years older than I am now. How’s that for time warp!? Bad Soden was an absolute little paradise! We spent the weekend there strolling through the woods and orchards that stretch for miles alongside their town, visiting with Heidi and family, eating some delicious Indian food and drinking some excellent Italian wine (compliments to Max), and on Saturday going for a day trip along the Rhine River Valley. Tiny towns and magnificent castles break up the terraced hillsides of the valley, and a tucked away monastery winery provided an excellent excuse to drive through the green countryside. Poor Mom and Dad have been living under feet of snow now for months, so the warm temperatures and blooming flowers were a welcome change.
We bid farewell to Bad Soden on Sunday and took a train to Nurenberg, stopped for a sandwhich (Dad also managed to run into some guys from a small farming town near his own stomping grounds), and then continued via bus to my temporary home: Praha. We carted the suitcases over the cobblestone (imagine that auditory delight!) and checked into pension Green Garland before heading off to a late mass. The place was packed, we got “re-ashed,” didn’t understand a single word of the Czech mass—but we got the “Amen”!
I was somewhat worried about Mom and Dad navigating the city whilst I was in class over the next three days—I needn’t have! They were absolute superstar tourists, fitting in an incredible amount of touring while I was in class, and dutifully arriving back at my school building to “pick me up” whenever I had a break. My class schedule allowed us to spend the better part of Tuesday morning and afternoon touring together—we hiked up to the Strahov Monastery and took in the view, made our way up Petrin Hill, and got to sit and soak up the sun in the gardens. Talk about bliss. Over the course of the week, I was able to show them all the places of my daily routine from the local grocery to the library to the metro. We enjoyed the local cuisine (here’s to goulash!) and the cafes and little shops I frequent. To my delight, they both loved the city and gave it their stamp of approval. As Mom said, “Even I could handle this city!”
And then, come Thursday we packed up again, made our way to the airport and headed off to Roma!!! The flight provided an excellent view of the Alps, and we soon landed in that great buzzing, lively, distinctly Italian place. Luckily we survived the taxi ride with the “suicidal if not homicidal” (Dad’s words, not my own) driver and said a few grateful Hail Marys as we settled into our hotel.
I don’t want to say we saw all of Rome in three days–but as much of Rome as humanly possible in three day? Yep, we did that.
We lingered in the Vatican Museums, I gawked and had some major heart palpitation moments as we viewed some of the greatest works of art known to man. We craned our necks in the Sistine Chapel, took in St. Peter’s square and Basilica, joined a group of school kids crowding to see Michelangelo’s Pieta. Took a night walk through Piazza Navona, sat outside eating pasta and drinking Agape wine, made our second gelato stop of the day and ate it looking up at the lit up Pantheon. Walked the Colosseum and tried to imagine elephants and hippos in the arena, which was easier than imagining all the people that died there. Made our way through the Forum (on the Ides of March no less), up Palatine Hill to perfectly manicured gardens, orange trees, and the remains of imperial homes and grounds. Braved the crowds at Trevi and the Spanish steps, hit perfectly adoration in Italian at the church with St. Theresa in Ecstasy, ran to the basilica with the English mass, ate bruschetta, gelato, and other entirely Italian food. Somehow we managed to wake up this morning, joined the masses in St. Peter’s for the Angelus and to hear Pope Francis.
That hardly covers it. Just ask me when you see me next about Roma—there will be plenty of stories to share.
So tonight the Mama and the Papa and I said farewell again. This Excellent Adventure is wrapping up, and the Big Excellent Adventure continues.
Here’s to the two who started this whole thing—say hi to the pups and to Babe for me, and I’ll be seeing you soon.
P.S. Happy early Birthday to the kiddo who couldn’t join in on the Roma fun because he was off digging ditches to supply water to people in Nicaragua. Love ya bro!
P.P.S Sorry for the lack of pictures from Germany and Prague–by the time I realized the memory card was full we were already in Italy so those pictures are now safely stored on Dad’s laptop. Here’s to technology (and the technologically challenged)
‘TIl next time