I just read that Vaclav Havel died. He was the dissident playwright who became Czechoslovakia’s first president after the collapse of communism in central Europe. The news turned my thoughts back to a trip to the newly-liberated country a year after freedom arrived in the guise of the Velvet Revolution.
We drove up from Rome and turned right at Bayreuth to cross the border into an exceedingly dreary country, one where time seemed to have stopped after World War II.… Read more
No, not that one. I’m talking about the one on the Black Sea.
The day was hot, the bus shabby with no air conditioning. The tour company said that they had scrounged the country to find the best. But what would one expect in a poor country trying to dig itself out of communist domination, suffering from separatist attacks and having the misfortune to be the birthplace of Stalin.
A blast of black exhaust punctuated our departure from Batumi as we headed inland for Kutaisi, the former capital and known to the ancient Greeks as home of the Golden Fleece.… Read more
A book recommendation for all Italophiles: The Pursuit of Italy by David Gilmour. The author is a British historian who has a long association with Italy beginning in childhood and continuing to the extent that he resided in all Italy’s 20 regions to research the book: a revisionist look at the history of Italy as a nation.
When I think of Italy I think of a country where the disparities of culture, cuisine, climate, and geography were more apparent than elsewhere in Europe when I lived there and now when I visit.… Read more
SOUTHERN CARIBBEAN PART II
Grey and green became the predominant color as our little ship left sunny Grenada for the north coast of South America. We sailed a short way up the Demerara River bordered by low growing jungle, a few homes on stilts and rusting hulks drawn up on the water’s edge. We docked in Georgetown, Guyana.
The only thing I knew about the country was the horrifying episode where the Reverend Jim Jones passed out poisoned fruit drink to his followers resulting in 918 ghastly deaths.… Read more
One Saturday when Glenn and I lived in Rome I happened to notice some simple posters tacked up on nearby telephone poles between ads for “French lessons” and communist rallies. The flyer said that the Bishop of Rome was coming to our small local church the following Sunday. After we realized that this bishop was also the pope we walked a block to the church on the following morning. To our surprise, only about thirty people were waiting, some in matching sweat pants and shirts (a tutto or “all”), instead of a huge crowd dressed in Sunday best.
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Similar words were written by a 19th Century Italian writer. It’s my motto for travel when one is beyond life’s midpoint. Adventure travel no longer has the appeal it once had – now it’s the prospect of a nice hotel or a comfortable cruise ship that compels me to drag out the suitcases and head off to someplace interesting.
Italy is my (or, I should say, our) usual goal but there are so many places to see my husband and I only get there every other year, not often enough but what can you do when there are still over a hundred countries that haven’t provided us even a glimpse of their history, people and places.… Read more