I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to travel, when I didn’t want to see what else was out there. And, for me, even though I’ve traveled extensively throughout the U.S., exploring the World beyond my country’s borders has always been this dream of mine.
When my son, Vernon, and daughter-in-law, Charlene decided so graciously to send me to Paris for my 50th birthday, I jumped for joy. No, really, I literally jumped for joy. These two loving people even encouraged me to bring a friend. But, this was one trip I needed to complete for myself, by myself and with myself. And, I did exactly that. From April 1-22, 2006, I spent three weeks with my Rick Steves guide books and journal on my own to explore Rome, Florence, Venice, Paris and London.
Landed in Rome, stayed at the Hotel Italia, walked the trail of Ancient Rome from the Colosseum to the Capitole, was disturbed by the riches of the Vatican and gazed in awe at Michaelangelo’s stunning artwork on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I was captivated by the beauty of St. Peter’s Basicalla, the dome of the Pantheon, the art of the Borghese Gallery, the romance of the Trevi Fountain, the spectacular visions of the Villa de’ Este in Tivoli and the ancient ruins of the Ostia Antica. Rome was enchanting.
I took the train to Florence, staying at the Davanzati Hotel, and for me, the best thing about Florence was Michaelangelo’s The David at the Accademia Gallery. He is stunning and must be seen in person.
From Florence, I was off to Venice. Ah! Venice! But, I didn’t feel that way my first day there. It was crowded and commercial. But, that all changed the next day when I ventured out, walked along the Canal, rode the vaporetti, explored St. Mark’s Square and visited Peggy Guggenheim’s home and art work.
Left Venice in the a.m. and arrived in Paris by train in the p.m. In my journal I wrote, “My body was born in New York, but my soul was born in Paris.” The cab ride to my hotel, the Splendid, and the views along the way were everything I dreamed Paris to be. I waved to the Eiffel Tower from my hotel room. I went to sleep in Paris, and spent the next day walking the streets of Paris even taking a boat ride on the River Seine. I did my laundry in Paris, I rode the Metro in Paris and I spent two whole days at the Louvre loving every single minute of it.
Took the channel tunnel from Paris to London, where I explored the city atop the Big Bus Company tour, gazed at the Crown jewels in the Tower of London, loved the British Museum, Buckingham Palace and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
This adventure, this journey opened the door to that longing desire to see the world. At 50, it was time for me to explore my dreams and I jumped at the opportunity.