On travel and turmoil…

Well, it’s a good thing I don’t have to support myself with my writing.  Given that I haven’t found anything to say here for over two months, I’d sure be hungry right about now otherwise!

In my defense, June and July were tumultuous months for me.  The last three weeks of June were spent on a fabulous, perspective altering trip through the eastern Mediterranean with my dear friend, Deb.  A week after returning, and while still in the throes of severe jet lag, my father-in-law passed away.  While that wasn’t entirely unexpected, it was still emotionally draining for a wide variety of reasons.

So this post is going to be a bit different.  While I have – of course! – been reading, the books don’t necessarily lend themselves to stand alone reviews, so I’m trying a different approach.  What follows are “memorable moments” with corresponding photos (since a picture is worth a thousand words, right?)  One caveat:  pretty much every moment was memorable for a variety of reasons, so these are just the ones that tend to float into my mind most often, usually when I’m trying specifically to clear it, say during yoga.  And in fairness to myself, I did subtitle this blog “Reflections on books, travel, and whatever else occurs to me…”  Along the way, I’ll mention what I was reading.

Memorable travel moments

…Walking into the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul for the first time, then gazing at the (mosaic) face of a long dead Byzantine empress.

…Bosphorus cruises by day and night.

…Walking into the challenging-to-find-and-seemingly-forgotten Church of St. Savior in Chora (now a museum) and gazing at too many breathtaking mosaics to even wrap my mind around.

Finally succumbing to the entreaties of a carpet salesman and participating in the tea drinking/wallet challenging ritual of viewing lovely Turkish carpets.


…Observing the breaking of the Ramadan fasts, with the attendant festivities.  The Blue Mosque was spectacular at night with a projected light show and music, and there were fireworks all over Istanbul.

…Visiting the Basilica Cistern and gazing on the face of an upside-down Medusa.

The “Turkish bath” experience at the Hagia Sophia bathhouse.  When they had me on the big marble slab covered in bubbles, I truly felt like I was on a cloud!


…Boarding my first ever cruise ship.

  …Reading during “sea days”, or just gazing at the passing coastline.

Waking up in Greece!  Exploring Mykonos and my first proper Greek ruins at Delos (“The Birthplace of Apollo”).


…Waking up to Valletta, Malta!  Exploring the island and marveling at pre-historic spiral carvings in the Archeological Museum.

…Waking up to Catania, Sicily, where the elephant statue in the main square really charmed me.  Deb and I had the Greco-Roman Amphitheatre there almost to ourselves, and spent hours exploring with just the occasional feral cat for company.

Pompeii.  Enough said.  And even though I don’t love tour groups, I was glad to be in one, because otherwise I suspect I would STILL be there exploring.

…A drive along the Amalfi Coast, where none of my pictures could capture the stunning colors or the smell of lemons.

Exploring Rome and actually knowing what I was looking at this time!

…Getting a text message from my daughter about the bombing at the Istanbul airport.  We were supposed to return to the US via Istanbul, but were instead able to negotiate with Air Canada to return directly via Rome.  As a result of that extra day, we visited Ostia Antica, which is sort of like Pompeii without the crowds.

  …Mosaics, mosaics, mosaics…  One day in Rome, Deb said “Do you think you’ll ever reach a point where you’ve seen enough mosaics?”  My answer:  NO!!

 …So many fabulous meals!!! So many food pictures (too many to post here…)!!!  I still wake up every morning wishing there were an expansive buffet (Istanbul) or fresh breads (Rome) for me to start my day with…

What I was reading:

La madre del cordero: Curiosidades y secretos de la simbología cristiana (Spanish Edition) Kindle Edition, by Juan Eslava Galán.  This very exhaustive study of Christian iconography was quite helpful in informing how I looked at all the art I encountered during my trip.  It also seemed to take forever to finish…

Memorable July moment:

…The funeral of my father-in-law, who served in the military during the Korean War.

What I was reading: 

H is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald (Grove Press, 2015).  This lovely book explores the author’s attempts to work through her grief after the death of her father by training a goshawk.  The prose is exquisite, and the explanation of the intricacies of falconry makes for unusual and fascinating reading.

Hopefully some of the turmoil from this post’s title will soon calm down. Of course, there is an election looming that has me worried about the future of civilization…






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