Monday, August 18, 1997
On our long trip home (about 24 hours in all), we have time to reflect a bit on what we'll remember from the trip….
[Kaelen] I will remember the cool cities, Rome, Athens, Venice, Paris, Nice, and Sorrento. I will remember Rome for it's beautiful amphitheater. Athens will stay in my heart for the city's incredible acropolis with its tall pillars. Venice will never be forgotten, I loved the narrow streets. Paris will be remembered for Louvre, and the great romantic atmosphere. Nice is a place not easily forgotten, the beautiful water, the nude beaches and the ancient feeling to the city. The open street shops of Sorrento are something not seen often, I loved the festival atmosphere. I must say goodbye and hopefully you have or will see these sites your self.
WAY dOWN KATO
[Cameron] There were two places on this trip that had lasting impressions on me. My favorite was Sassinoro (no not because of the Beer Festival). Brian's extended family was incredibly nice and to the pleasure of both Brian and I the food was great. My favorite part was looking down on the city from the hill side with all of the buildings seemingly stacked on top one another. Finally, Paros Island or Yria (its first name). It so happened that the name of the hotel we stayed at was named Yria and like the island is a lovely hotel. On a final note I have some retaliation. I'm not sure if they were placed on the web page or not but there was a photo or two of me, asleep. So what the heck. This is the little turkey, who likes to take candid shots of those asleep, asleep.
(WAY dOWN KATO goes down on the way to Frankfurt)
[Patti] I will remember first impressions of the cities we visited, and the sometimes corrected impressions the next day. The first magical night in Venice and finding it less magical in the tourist crowds the next day. Arriving on Paros amidst too many cars and loud scooters, feeling we had arrived in a really horrible spot, only to have it all calm down and prove beautiful in the morning.
I will remember AutoGrills along the highways of Italy with their huge pieces of watermelon. I will remember eating at McDonald's one too many times in Rome and feeling afterwards like it would be a long, long time til I could face that fine chain of restaurants again. I will remember the endless offers of food in Sassinoro and the hospitality with which it was served. I will remember Cameron's mission to find Cocoa Puffs, milk, spoons and bowls to fulfill our joint craving for that fine breakfast cereal.
I will remember Brian driving along, feeling happy with his cute, fun-to-drive convertible. I will remember Kaelen getting into the GPS system and telling us when we got off the route.
I will remember Brian's and my joking every time we saw yet another abandoned castle - "ho dee hum, another castle." (yawn, yawn)
I will remember sitting in the park next to the huge Eiffel Tower in Paris. I will remember Pompeii and feeling I could almost see people from 79 AD in the streets. I will remember the endless lavender fields of Provence and the Valley of Butterflies on Paros.
I will remember traveling as a little band of 4. I will remember nice talks with Kaelen when the two of us bagged out as tourists.
[Brian] I'll remember the physical sensations of the trip. The hot August sun beating down on us, the cool deep blue sea, the warm beach sand, the wind in our hair as we drove. The rich taste of the local food, wherever we went. The pleasant feeling of eating outside. The cool sweetness of the watermelon that soon became my treat of choice.
I'll remember interacting with my travel companions. Teasing Kaelen, perhaps a little too hard. Getting a chance to relax with Patti. Getting to know Cameron.
I'll remember the people we met. The warm generosity of the farmer in Cavaillon, who spoke no English, but after seeing we were going to cut up and eat on the spot the melon she had just sold us, cut up a second melon and gave it to us at no charge. The helpfulness of the McDonalds manager in Digne-les-Bains, who noticed Patti reading a poster on a lavender festival, and came up and drew us maps to show us where to see the best lavender fields and where to get the best lavender products. The gracious hospitality of the Assini family, who invited us into their home for a wonderful dinner, though they had never met us before. The incredibly warm reception of just about everyone we met in Sassinoro, from the stranger who led us by foot to my family's house, to all of my relatives who housed us and wined us and dined us to the point of bursting. The very happy and friendly owner of a little taverna on Paros where I spent a couple of hours one day. The hustling aggressiveness of the porter in Athens who got us a cab in a fraction of the time it would have taken us and even tried to get us on our way before we had a chance to tip him.
I'll remember the especially beautiful places we visited. The impressive Roman aqueduct near Avignon. The endless lavender fields of Provence. The magic of our first night in Venice. The gorgeous vistas of Sorrento and the Amalfi coast. The rural beauty of Sassinoro. Everything about Paros, but especially the little outdoor taverna on the coast near Noussa I discovered one afternoon.
I'll remember the curiously different customs of the Europeans. Eating late, with restaurants busy past midnight. Drinks with no ice. Using "light" instead of "diet" everywhere, i.e. Coke Light. The lack of visible exercisers - we saw just a few joggers the whole trip (and given their lack of concern about fat intake, it is a mystery to me how they are all so thin and fit). The love people in some places had for their pets - we saw people buying food for them and special pet prices at hotels. Streamlined check-in procedures of hotels - they just give you the key. The insistence these hotels have that you leave the key with them when you leave the room (a custom that makes sense when you consider how it helps them never disturb you, give you messages, save on electric and cooling costs, and eliminate the need for second keys). The conspicuous absence of major US brands, like Pepsi, Snapple, and virtually every fast food chain except McDonalds. The greater emphasis on fashion - seems the only people I saw in t-shirts and athletic shorts were the tourists.
I'll remember the experience of trying to drive in some Italian cities. Trying to avoid hitting the sea of honking law-ignoring cars, the double and triple parked cars, the pedestrians, any part of the swarm of scooters and motorcycles that were always angrily buzzing about. All this while trying to decipher local signs and light patterns (what does red and green mean?), make sure we're going the right way down all the one-way streets, looking out for signs to our destination, and trying to keep some clue of where we are.
I'll remember all the little things that in the end proved invaluable. The $10 pair of sandals from Payless Shoes that survived weeks of sand and surf. The $15 fanny-pack that managed to hold all of our valuables and everyday essentials. The $50 copy of AutoRoute Europe that let us accurately predict driving times, gave driving directions, and, with the help of the GPS card and Kaelen, told us when we were off track.
Just as importantly, I'll remember the things I brought that I did not use at all. The video CD movies (the boys liked them though). The stack of technical magazines and CDs. The formal clothes.
I'll remember a vacation where for the first time in recent memory I did not think about work daily.
Most of all, I'll remember a vacation in which I relaxed, explored, learned, experienced different cultures, met new people … and yes, had fun.
Back in the U.S.S.A.