From an early age I fell in love with traveling. Moving every 3 years at the start of my life was thrilling (as my father was in the Army). I loved every aspect of it, from packing up the house and having movers come (which now I realize I had absolutely no part of), to the newness of an empty house, to making a list of all that we were going to explore while in this new place. As I grew old enough, my grandparents began taking me on trips. My first trip that I can remember was going to Disney World with my grandmother – just the two of us. I can still remember playing at the beach and the chocolate on my pillow at night. I don’t remember Disney World. Over the summers my grandparents took my cousin and I on annual trips. I don’t know how we lucked out as being the two out of the nine grandchildren to be chosen. We went to NYC, Boston, Martha’s Vineyard, the Teddy Bear Picnic, Williamsburg, a cruise to Canada. As all the grandchildren aged, those trips stopped. Instead, my grandparents began taking us grandchildren overseas one trip at a time. When it became my turn, I went with my older sister to Italy for 5 weeks. That was the beginning. I feel in love. I was in high school and was in love for the first time.
Over the years, I have traveled at every chance I had. I have loved almost everywhere I have been but Italy will always be my first love. It seems like home. There is something about going back, I cannot explain it, but it is comforting, enticing, and thrilling. I love Italy.
I have not been able to travel overseas for a couple of years now. (The trade-off of starting a business.) But there are so many memories from trips. Blessed trips. There is something about traveling that makes time seem to stop. Life is on hold and you are able to be, to enjoy, to savor. It as if senses are heightened and those moments are experienced fully, without distraction, really connecting to where you are and whom you are with.
On one such trip to Italy, my sister, two friends, and I traveled to Cinque Terra. All the guide books said to show up and wander the city to find a room for let. We arrived in Vernazza at 9pm. Hopping off the train we started our search for a room. Boy, did we search. We knocked on practically every door, asking, begging even if there was a room we could rent for the night, but we were turned away. Obviously, we must have looked a bit desperate. People who were sitting outside in restaurants started coming out and suggesting this place or that or to tell us where they were staying and maybe we could try there. One traveler offered to let us bunk with her, but her friends did not seem very keen on the idea, but we appreciated the offer. Person after person all coming to us to offer help. Everyone was American and we were all bonding over our desperate attempt to find a room. One sweet, sweet couple on their honeymoon went out searching for rooms for us. Everything was booked. The entire town was booked, except one room. However, they would only allow two people to stay. We ended up giving it to another couple who was also looking. We were a little shocked. It was supposed to be so easy! My sister and I said forget it. We had homemade sleeping bags from sheets. We could just walk out of town and find a field to sleep. Our friends weren’t so keen on that idea. Going into the trip we made a couple of rules, one being that we had to all agree on major decisions. This was one and it was divided. So, we headed back to looking. Although we were worried and exhausted, it was neat to see how many people tried to help. The town was so cute…all the cafes were full of people eating and drinking under the stars, waves were crashing along the shore line. All we wanted to do was enjoy the ambience of this village. Instead, we were able to experience amazing generosity and seeing God answer our prayers in ways we could not imagine. Well, it turned out that one of the bartenders we asked for help said that if we could absolutely not find anything else, as a last resort, he lived with his mother in a surrounding hill village and they had an extra bedroom. After exhausting every option, we went back to ask if we could rent their spare room. Another rule, the gut check – when in a situation we were not too sure about arose, if anyone felt uncomfortable, we would not do it; but if we all felt okay, then we went for it.
We went for it. And how thankful I am that we did. Those few days were wonderful. It turned out our host was British. Her son was only half Italian. Her son had found us a place to rent the rest of our stay, but she kindly offered to let us stay with her if we would like. Coffee and steamed milk and conversation in the morning; the afternoon sharing walks along the terraced gardens; picking cherries in the orchard with her Italian neighbors; the evening listening to her read excerpts from her book that she was writing. That was amazing, touching. Listening to the depth of emotion and hearing the stories that surrounded what was written on the pages. It was an indescribable time, one of connecting and sharing of lives for a brief moment. One I will cherish. She opened her home and her life to us for those couple of days. I will always be thankful for that time and her hospitality. I don’t think that we were able to adequately express how much she touched our lives and what an impact she made on the trip. What a wonderful answer to our prayers.
I am longing for my next adventure. Until then…Virginia
*All the pictures are scanned images of my film from the trip.