Tag Archives: Vatican

DPM Update – 2017 Dec – 40th anniversary

9 Dec

Italy adventures and cruise…

Early this year, Debbie was talking about our upcoming 40th wedding anniversary (which was in September) and said, “You know… I’ve never been on a Mediterranean Cruise before.”  And light heartedly, I responded, “You know… there are many things we’ve never done before.”  But I kind of had a feeling that it just might happen.

Someone heard of Debbie’s desire to celebrate our 40th anniversary with a Mediterranean cruise, and graciously gave us a gift toward making that happen.  Since we had plans to be in Israel already, it just made sense to combine the two trips.  The two trips added up to being gone for 5 weeks.

After Israel, we flew to Rome.  From there we immediately took a train to Florence and explored the older center of town.  It’s hard to grasp the contrast between the difference of what ‘old’ is in the US versus in Europe/Middle East.  Our ‘old’ is a couple hundred years of age.  Their ‘old’ is more like 500-1000… or even 2000 years old!  It’s mind boggling.

The second day, we rode a train to Pisa and viewed the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  It’s really there… and it really leans.  The third day, we took a train to Venice to explore the intriguing water canal city.  Lots of the buildings are 500-1000 years old and are sinking slowly into the sea, making many of the original first floors uninhabitable because they’re now flooded with sea-water.  It’s a crazy issue to try to get your head around.  We did the “romantical” gondola ride with the gondolier expertly steering us through the streets/canals.

On the fourth day we began our 8-day/7-night cruise which took us to five places in three countries (Italy, Greece, Croatia) (including the Mediterranean, Adriatic, Ionian and the Aegean seas and the Sea of Crete).  Through Debbie’s ‘super-duper deal finding abilities’, we were legitimately given a very spacious handicap room on the ship, which was larger than our hotel rooms where we stayed earlier that week.  It even had a spacious balcony. God is good!

At Bari, Italy it was a really great treat to meet special friends of my family: Vito & Pat.  They are strong believers, have huge hearts and are spilling over with love.  We spent about 3 or 4 hours with them and it felt like we’d known them forever.  It was hard to say goodbye.
In Athens, Greece we met my 2nd cousin and her husband: Marcy & George.  He’s Greek and they are Christian missionaries to regional churches.  They gave us a personal tour of Mars Hill and explained the Biblical context.  Fascinating to be sure!!  Just wish we would have had more time to enjoy their company and heart conversation.

After the cruise, we caught a fast-train from Venice to Rome.  Once there, after a little orientation of how to use the subway, we found it easy, fast and cheap… so we skipped around the city to see the Vatican and Coliseum, etc.  And of course we had to have a few romantic meals in the sidewalk eateries of Rome.

We found Italy to be captivatingly old and quaint, with friendly people… most speak at least some English.  The food was okay, but not sensational.  Mostly, we enjoyed the mystique of being in a unique and romantic environment.

Most sights we visited on our travels were old or ancient… and even though many architectures are stately, they look pretty ‘tired’.  Of course, oldness has it’s beauty because of what it stands for and the history attached to it.  It has survived wars, wear and tear, weather and earthquakes.  Since much of our Western culture has European and Middle Eastern roots, we give lots of respect to the relics and ruins which reflect part of our heritage.

Life there is pretty local… meaning, the mindset is mostly about the local community… little shops for everyday items, narrow streets, small apartments/flats, climbing stairs to higher floors, adjoining buildings with shared common walls, lots more walking to/from places or bicycle commuting and scooters for the longer distances, etc.  Here’s one for instance; There, most everyday groceries are bought in ‘little hole in the wall’ stores that are smaller than our smallest convenience stores.  Even their larger grocery stores are about the size of our local Panera Bread restaurant.

So, I could see why they may love visiting the West with its shiny glass, chrome, stainless steel and mirrors… it’s expansive green fields and crops… it’s modern mass travel on wide highways and interstates with a 65-85 mph speed limit.  In general, it strikes me that the West may miss the history and depth of culture… that could mean the West is more driven and less anchored.  But in any case, every culture offers its strength as an asset to all.

The artwork of paintings, sculptures and architecture are obvious and strong statements which give credence to a highly creative and deeply passionate people in that part of the world.

In those 5 weeks (Israel/Europe) I’m confident that we’ve walked more miles on more cobble stone sidewalks and streets than ever in our lives.  Walking in general, has been the primary way of getting around each city we visited.  BTW, it’s a little bit of a trick to learn how walk expecting unexpected unevenness in the ground… but that is the way it has been for 1000s of years… and after a while you don’t even think about it.

After Rome we flew back to Tel Aviv to catch the last half of our round trip ticket back home.  On this trip (because of different time zones, daylight savings time changes and different country policies) we had to change our clocks/watches 9 times to accommodate the local time.  That means keeping your body-clock flexible, too. That’s been fun! 😉

Our trip was very memorable and special for Debbie and me.  Most of our lives we’re happily ‘giving out’… but we were glad to get away from everything for just some ‘us’ time.  We both love adventure, so exploring everything new, was totally fun for us.  We’ll have to do that again… maybe on our 41st anniversary! 🙂  Or maybe the next time, we’ll take our family!  The Lord knows…..

Thanks for your interest, your love and your care for us.

The Lord bless you and keep you and give you peace!

Our love and blessings,

Mark & Debbie

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