Saturday, March 12, 2011

REAL TIME POST: Departure Observations

"What lies ahead?"

I rarely spend less than two weeks in Europe when I travel there. More often, I spend about a month at a time. In this case, three countries and five cities in 9 days, two of them travel. Not including daily jogs, I logged in probably 100 miles over cobblestone pavement leaving the bottoms of my feet feeling and looking like raw hamburger.

But it's worth it. Europe, especially, Italy, is always worth it.

Some observations before the juice in my battery goes and we board the big bird.

Driving the alps with friends in a car with bad breaks, the cliff edge leading to a 1000 foot fall barely inches away.

The train from Munich to Innsbruck, so crowded we have to stand on the coupling for hours.

The five hour train from Innsbruck to Venice through the Dolomites.

The masked faces of the Carnival goers in Venice.

Getting lost on a boat train, but not caring.

A gondola ride through the quiet canals, the water tricking against the sleek sides of the long, black wood boat.

Arriving in Florence and never sickening of that first sight of the white-marbled Duomo.

Climbing the interior of the Duomo Cupola.

The fresh rabbit with Chianti.

Running along the Arno.

The train to Roma.

The Colosseum and the Palatine Hill, and pocketing of small pieces of masonry from from both.

The demonstration by public transport union members that turns violent with explosions, an catching it on video and camera.

The Sistine Chapel ceiling now fully restored since the last time I viewed it 23 years ago.

The lack of sleep, and the dread of heading back home....

There's a man behind me reciting passages from the Bible. Announcements are blared over the PA system. I have no idea what they're saying. A woman is chasing her toddler across the length of the gate. She looks so sad. Other than her child, she's all alone.

Discovering that my novel The Innocent (As Catch Can), is No. 5 on the Amazon Hard Boiled Bestseller list, 222 overall and climbing...When Delacorte first published it some years ago, it quickly became a forgotten child.

So much has changed in the past two decades since I first started coming here. Things are going to continue to change, or so the woman who read the grounds at the bottom of my coffee cup high up in the Alps told me.
I'm ready for the adventure.

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