Bongiorno, and prego!
In my 48th year here on earth (which actually makes me 47, no doubt coming as a bit of a surprise to some people), the dream of visiting Europe was finally realized. Two cities have always been at the top of my list, and the first destination on this trip with my family was one of them: Rome. Paris will have to wait.
For two glorious weeks, there was an endless stream of places, objects, and human remains that were many hundreds, or in some cases thousands, of years old. This is not the case in America. The palpable sense of awe within each of us will stay with me for what I can only hope will be the rest of my days. As one who believes that travel is always worth it, no matter the cost or inconvenience or locale, seeing places such as these has instilled a sense of completeness within me that I didn't see coming. Let me explain...
Life is change, and change is life. When one finds a soulmate, the feeling that an irrevocable change has taken place is very real. That alteration, however, continues. The change keeps changing. It's the same with the birth of your child, or in our case, children. Yes, everything changes in that moment, but the changes keep on coming for the rest of their, and our, lives. In the ancient places that we experienced, some more ancient than others, there was an inescapable separation of "then" vs. "now," with the process of change somehow absent in the things themselves. The artifacts are still there (allowing for some decay and erosion) just as they have been for centuries.
The ruins, or objets d'art, or often still-beautiful and fully functional structures such as they were, had very obviously been created by people who are no longer here, and in that sense, they are creations that are frozen in time. They do not change. The Arch of Constantine remains largely, if not completely, as it was when it was created 1,702 years ago in the year 315. When I stood a short distance away, aware of the perfect late afternoon/early evening rays of sunlight that fell upon it, the only thing to do was to contemplate the countless others throughout the ages who had done the very same thing. Their clothing may have been different, as would the backdrop of other structures and surfaces, but the thing was the same, as were the people. Those people could have been us, but for being born in a different time, and we them. Our souls were created for eternity, while our experience in that physical space and moment in time is so fleeting as to seem almost non-existent. Somehow though, the memory persists forever.
This rumination has a point. Other people may be about to embark on similar journeys, if not tomorrow or next week, then maybe some years down the road, so in the hopes of providing some useful information to you and them, the plan for the coming days is to post something about each town we visited. I'll share details about the trip itself, what worked and what didn't, touching on our mostly positive but not perfect first experience with airbnb, traveling through Italy, France, and Spain on planes, trains, and automobiles (including rental cars and buses), phone usage for navigation and social media while relying on the cheap and awesome Google Project Fi wherever we were, the things we did and did not do...ok, I can start to see why so many people do travel blogs.