Saturday, October 3, 2009

Travel Memories: Venice 2009

The second week of our Italy trip, we took a train from Florence to Venice
We stayed at Istituto San Giuseppe, we made arrangements through MonastaryStays via internet.

We had a short stay in Venice. The day we arrived we came in late in the day, and by the time the water taxi arrived near Saint Mark's, we had to run to the monastery to check in before they closed for the night.

The next day was our only full day in Venice.  We didn't find the breakfast that was to be provided with our stay. This monastery treated us coldly. They weren't concerned that we were on a pilgrimage, and didn't allow us to see their chapel. They hold classes for small children, and it was awkward and uncomfortable navigating our way to our rooms. For the rooms, boys and girls wings were separate. Max was 16 and helped Nicholas with him.
We were treated so well in Assisi, I was disappointed with the cold treatment, and overcharging we received in Venice. In the end, everything balanced out perfectly. 

Venice was strange and mysterious. A Disneyland for adults. And it seemed there was a pressure in the air for romance. Most couple we saw were unhappy and arguing, maybe because it was so easy to get lost in the long tunnel like streets where you cannot use the horizon to help you determine your way. 
There were graffiti arrows pointing the way to Saint Marks, undoubtedly for all the lost tourists.

As expected everything was expensive and overpriced. The vendors were happy to negotiate with you. I found myself in a negotiation for a gondola ride without realizing it. So I played along until I thought the price was too good to miss out. 

We were fortunate to find a grocery store and stocked up on snacks to last the next days. Nuts came in handy in Florence were food finding was difficult. On another botched negotiation, we had a wonderful dinner at a restaurant outdoors in a "lovely lit courtyard." I was desperate for a sit down meal and enjoyed every moment.

For us tourists, spiritually was missing in Venice, evident after Rome and Assisi. Saint Mark's seems to be more of an attraction to raise money than a place of worship. Extra fees added to each area of the church. We were not allowed to bring in bags, so Max agreed to watch our things outside while we toured the magnificent, historical, wonderful church which traders from the world over build so many centuries ago. (no photos allowed).

Early the next morning we were off on the train again to our last stop, Florence.

It was love at first sight for Molly

See how easy it is to get lost?


Our convent was the dot by the V in Venezia

photo credit:  Max

I need to write up other stops in Italy and will link when I do.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Travel Memories: Rome Colosseum

We spent a little over two weeks in Italy in 2009. 
I discovered I was pregnant with Lilly on this trip.
These day was our journey across Rome to visit the Colosseum. We passed by the forum, but planned to dedicate another day.
We didn't have the bus schedule down, and ended up walking quite a ways with each stop.
We stopped at a lunch cart for a sandwich.

Entering holy ground - unknown numbers of Catholics were martyred here.

Crazy steep steps
crazy steep steps off the edge.

sadly some students, or just fans, of UT and A&M left their mark on the Colosseum:

Wondering around to find a bus stop, caught us in an interesting street with images of marytrs on various estate gates.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Travel Memories: Southern State Visit

I am posting this in 2013, but wanted to date it when we made the trip. I am hoping to trace our route, mostly, this summer adding a few stops, and changing others. 
Here are my favorite highlights captured by my camera, many special moments were just fully lived beyond a lens..

Our first stop after leaving Texas:
Alabama - Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman just a few miles off Interstate 65 between Birmingham and Huntsville. A restful place build by Brother Joseph who maintained this garden on the Abbey grounds.

We stopped for lunch at Krystal's in some little town. 
I could have stayed on the interstate, but for nostalgic sake, I wanted to drive those curvy road that captivated my imagination as a child. Crazy curve after curve on mountain tops overlooking farms below. My father had driven that route so many times he would challenge us to guess which way the next curve went. we may have guess right, but he always knew.
I dreamed of living in those farms with the cure red barns or playing in the creeks with their calm rock waterfalls.

Later the same day, we arrived at my aunt's home on the Duck River.

A night at the KOA
We were low on propane and heard that the KOA had a swimming pool, so we spent a night relaxing before heading off to our next stop.

Cowan Train Museum

I love this little Tennessee town, so full of charm and people we love. and many life memories.

playing with second cousins they didn't even know they had.

having a great time at Aunt Treivies

visiting at Uncle Jack's with Deborah

Where to next mom?
We had a tight schedule and the kids helped me keep to it.
My grandmothers house
 The fastest way to Atlanta, was up and over Monteagle mountain. I never minded driving this in a car, but I was a little worried about taking the big rolling box up and over.
 "The Mountain"
If people didn't have trouble driving the mountain, why did they have run offs?
these have haunted me since childhood

We were on the go in Georgia, all around Atlanta, seeing old friends in and around our old parish.

A trip out to the country to pick blueberries at and old forgotten blueberry farm.
We picked three gallons to take home for smoothies.

 We made many stops in Georgia, with friends for swimming and eating and visiting.
We had several stops in Alabama. First with my old "neighbors" Gigi and Stan who took such good care of my family when we lived there with two small children.
Later we stopped outside Talledega, where another  old neighbor had settled to try their go with a BBQ restaurant. It was great, but the recession would see its close in the next year.

Not yet on our way home.
We stayed at a rv park near my old friend Lidsa' house. Her boys picked up Max to accompany them on their busy summer events and Lisa came to get the rest of us to hang out with her at the library and later her home. Such a special visit with a friend who has inspired me in many ways as a mother.

After this,
the long drive home with a rv full of tired yet satisfied children.