Next week we were on our way to Maine…before we had to cancel. This was the second cancellation this year…the first being in May. We thought that we could estimate the scope of our 2020 pandemic…but we were wrong. Adjustment and then readjustment are the secret words for the beginning of our new decade. The postponing of a vacation is of little consequence when compared with the suffering and grief and death of almost 200 thousand Americans. However the real need to become accustomed to our present reality is manifestly demonstrated in our regular order of living.
When you reflect on holidays that you have taken, you must admit that the memories are the enduring component of the adventure. MJ and I stayed in Europe for a month in 2014. We began our European adventure in Nice, France where we were privileged to stay with our dear friends, Margo and Jeff. They had a flat that was about two blocks from the Mediterranean Sea and Jeff and I walked to the rocky beach each evening. In fact we walked all over Nice! The sights and sounds of the city were mesmerizing!
Being in Nice for a week gave us the opportunity to absorb some of the Nice culture. Some of the things that Nice is known for are it’s: sunny weather, Beautiful beaches and Azure Blue Water, and a Stroll on the Promenade des Anglais. Our friends flat was a block or so from the Promenade…and we enjoyed a daily stroll on this famous promenade!
Venice was the next stop on our month safari. After our flight to the nearest airport it took an hour by water taxi to arrive at our destination. What an interesting and unique city! Our flat was near the Piazza San Marco and it had excellent air-conditioning! Venice is comprised off 118 small islands that are connected by 400 bridges. Jeff had taken ill the day that we flew out of Nice and was relegated to the flat for most of our week there. He and I would stay up late at night and laughed at British comedian Rowan Atkinson. At one point I was sitting outside our dwelling in the hot Mediterranean sun and enjoying an Italian cigar while wearing my new white hat that I had purchased at a wonderful hat store in Nice! I noticed several young men filming a couple that was just down from me in the piazza. Suddenly I looked up and the film students were in front of me. One of the group asked me if they could film me because I was very beautiful! Now I had lived 56 years…and had never been referred to as beautiful… He went on to say that they were making a film for the Venice Film Festival and they wanted me to be in the production. Later I found their film on line and there I was for 1 second…puffing my cigar and uttering 1 word…yes! Now Venice is an ethereal place! One evening we joined a haunted Venice tour…and Jeff felt well enough to come along. The ghost stories were chilling and at one point our guide invited us to peer into the murky canal and try to see the decapitated head of a woman who was murdered on the spot that we were standing…I peered intently into the dark waters… I think of Venice often, especially during our pandemic, as it is called the city of masks…
On our third week we rented a car and drove to Tuscany. Jeff had booked a 5 night stay for us in an ancient farm house. Portions of the dwelling had been built in the 12th century. The matron of the household was a colorful character! She made us feel extremely welcome and she and her son visited the chickens for eggs at around midnight…and she reviled her kittens when they did not quickly do as she instructed them… We attended a carnival in the local town of Montecatini Terme. Both of our husband and wife hosts seemed to throughly enjoy our visit with them to their local festival. I can remember my sitting at one end of the long picnic table and our male host sitting at the other and our both raising our glasses in a toast of fellowship and good will. Neither of us spoke the others language…but we understood each other perfectly! During our time in Tuscany I experienced my first and last massage. Jeff and Margo had told MJ and I how wonderful the massages were at the local spa. Jeff said that usually he received a massage wearing his swim trunks…but I had forgotten mine. I tried a pair or two on in the local markets…but they were made for a person that was half my size. Then I was struck with a bolt of inspiration…I would wear a pair of my dry-fit shorts that I had brought with me…and my fears subsided… We waited patiently for our masseuses to summon us for our sojourn to the land of muscles like butter and relaxation bliss! Out comes two women and one walks toward me and says, ‘husband of Mary?’ I replied that I was and she said to follow her. When we got into the massage room she handed me a paper clump. She then told me to remove all of my clothes and put on the bikini paper underwear! I protested and proclaimed that my friend, who had received many spa massages, assured me that I could wear my dry-fit shorts… She did not smile…and repeated that I must put on the bikini shorts and that she would be back soon… Doing as I was told and looking like Buddha…I was not experiencing muscles like butter… When she came back into the room she instructed me to sit in front of a full length mirror and then proceeded to pour oil on top of my head…. next she told me to go over to the bed and lay down…or as I like to refer to the experience…my visit to the Twilight Zone!
So that is three weeks of our four weeks in Europe. The 4th week was in beautiful Florence, Italy. MJ and I were so exhausted that we hardly could climb the stairs of the Uffizi Museum…yet we soldiered on! The ancient sculptor and art is breath taking! Margo told us that some people become ill by being surrounded by so much beauty… that it makes them a bit dizzy!