Cheryl and I travel a lot, she more than I. Our travels are always work related. But we have been blessed to make many trips together. However, we have never spent much time relaxing or touring -- fly in, fly out. A few years ago we promised ourselves we were going to add some time to each trip just for the purpose of seeing the sights. Other than the Society for Pentecostal Studies conference in Oregon in 2009, we have not kept that promise. If you don’t count or honeymoon or a three-day cruise to celebrate our twentieth anniversary, this is the first time in 35 and ½ years of marriage we have gone to a city to see the sights.
We use to joke about writing a series of travel guides with titles like “The Hurried Traveler: Volume One, Venice in a Morning,” or “The Hurried Traveler: Volume Two, London in a Day.” We’ve been there and done that. On our first trip to Italy together we spent two hours in Verona where we saw the supposed house of Romeo and Juliet fame and we toured an ancient coliseum where Christians were martyred. We also had lunch while there. On that trip we squeezed out four hours to see Venice. If you map your visit carefully and walk rapidly, you can see a lot in four hours. Plan your trip around Saint Mark’s Square with the Campanile (tower), easily the most recognized scene in Venice. Take the time to tour the Basilica; you will find yourself planning a return trip just to gaze at the artistry. On a side note, if you go in the summer you will sweat a lot and dehydrate rapidly. If you order a Coke, you must request ice. This is Europe after all and if you request “extra ice” that is exactly what you will get, a second, small cube. Be sure to take a credit card with a large line of credit; you will need it for the coke.
“London in a Day” is not for the faint of heart or weak of frame. Again you must plan the trip carefully. We spent the nights before and after in a Bed and Breakfast close to the train line and near the air port. We were able to tour the Tower of London where we saw the crown jewels. We went by Westminster Abbey but were unable to go in because a wedding was taking place there. We went into the crypt of another old Cathedral where we did a wax rubbing of a very old tomb stone. [Because we were rushing to make a connection it was not well done. Our dear friend Larry McQueen found the exact same one a few years later, did an excellent rubbing and had it framed for us. Thanks, Larry.]
Our rush on the rubbing was to get to the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. That is a “must see” if you are in London. We then took time for shopping at Harrods of London. Boy is that place big and they have everything you would ever want. We bought a lot of gifts there, but the only thing I remember is a pitcher and bowl we got for my mother. Now that she and Dad are gone I cherish it. On the way back to the B&B we stopped by to see the Queen at Windsor Palace but she canceled on us at the last minute. If I recall correctly, there had been a major fire at the palace and they were not allowing tours. Thus, we were locked outside of the gate, along with a few thousand others.
Our anniversary cruise was a lot like these trips. We spent a day on Cozumel. While there we spent the morning taking scuba-diving lessons. We dove down to a WWII plane wreck thirty-five feet below the surface. WOW, that was beautiful! After lunch, we rented a car and drove around the island, and I do mean around the entire circumference of the island. On the western side where the island is open to the Gulf of Mexico, we caught the tide just right to see a most phenomenal sight. As the waves crashed into the coral shore line they vanished into the rocks and then erupted some distance from the edge, straight upward twenty to thirty feet like a geyser. If you go, don’t miss this sight.
On the driving loop we stopped for a walking tour of the Maya archeological site of San Gervasio. These ruins are fascinating and deserve a full day of exploration. Because we rushed through the tour I felt like I missed too much. On the other hand, because we stopped to see them we have the pleasant memory of running as fast as we could down the long peer to catch our ship just before it embarked.
New York has been so relaxing. In five days all we have done is (1) walk through Central Park six times, (2) spend several hours in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, (3) visit our friends, Danny and Rachel Alvarez, on Staten Island, (4) visit our friends Lamar Vest and Debbie Davis at the American Bible Society offices, (5) see a Broadway play, (6) attend a worship service, (7) tour the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, (8) shop and (9) walk about 25 to 30 miles. Life in the slow lane isn’t bad.
New York, NY
June 14, 2010