Our Lady of Paris

“Just imagine! In the early nineteenth century, this cathedral was in such a state of disrepair that the city considered tearing it down. Luckily for us, Victor Hugo heard about the plans to destroy it and wrote The Hunchback of Notre-Dame to raise awareness of its glorious history. And, by golly, did it work! Parisians campaigned to save it, and the building was repaired and polished to the pristine state you find today.” ~ Stephanie Perkins, Anna and the French Kiss

I am devastated at the damage done by the fire at the Notre Dame cathedral.

My daughter and I love visiting cathedrals.  It was always our thing.  When we went to Italy last year and the year before, we visited as many churches and cathedrals as we could.  It has been over twenty years since I was in Paris, and I was planning to take my daughter there to see the Notre Dame.  We had planned for next spring.

The loss of history is immeasurable.

Food in Greece

“I hate people who are not serious about meals. It is so shallow of them.” ~ Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

One of the things that I miss about Greece is the food.  There are no other words to describe the food in Greece.  Even the “bad” food there is good.

I believe that the freshness of the ingredients is what made the food taste so good.  The sandwiches I ate did not feel like a boring and dry sandwich.  The sandwiches were fresh, rich, and tasty.  I am salivating a little just looking at these pictures and remembering.

I had this caprese toast on my second to last day in Athens.  I went to Syntagma Square and had lunch at the rooftop cafe of Public.

However, Greece, I am sorry to say, but pizza in Italy and New York is still better.  It was a decent try, though.

But your drinks, especially the ones surrounded by ancient ruins, were absolutely perfect.

Gone and Back

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” ~ Anthony Bourdain, No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach

I took Lindsay‘s advice and I took off to Greece a few weeks ago.  It was a last minute trip.  I met up with some friends who live near Athens, and we explored Plaka (the area beneath the Parthenon), Sounion (the ancient Temple of Poseidon in the southern most tip of the Attic peninsula, Nafplio (the romantic town named after the son of Poseidon), and the Isthmus Canal in Corinth, which connects mainland Greece with the Peloponnese.  It was a whirlwind of a holiday that lifted my spirits during the course of my time in Greece, but violently brought me back down to earth upon my return.  The going is always easy.  The coming back never is.

Venezia è Bella

“But maybe every life looked wonderful if all you saw was the photo albums.” ~ Liane Moriarty, What Alice Forgot

As I had mentioned, I finally had the chance to upload my photos from Venice – over a thousand!  I will spare everyone from that, however, and will only post a select few.

Our holiday was nothing short of fabulous.  It was a quick holiday – only five nights and six days, but we managed to pack in a lot during that short time.

We arrived at the airport in the early afternoon and took a shuttle bus into Venice.  Upon arriving in Venice, we had to take a water taxi (vaporetto) to our stop, Rialto Mercato.  We stayed at a very charming AirBnb apartment near the famous Rialto Bridge.

Throughout our stay in Venice, we managed to take a few guided tours that included St. Mark’s Basilica, the islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello, and a simple guided tour around the heart of Venice.  G even met a famous Venetian painter and bought a few of his paintings.

We also took a day trip to Milan and to Lake Como.  My only regret is that we didn’t have enough time to see more sights.

The Return

“Something told him that something was coming to an end. Not the world, exactly. Just the summer. There would be other summers, but there would never be one like this. Ever again.” ~ Neil Gaiman, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

After twenty years, I finally returned to Termoli.  It felt like a homecoming of sorts.  It was bitter and it was sweet.  I regret that I waited so long to return.  After all, A passed away ten years ago.  I wanted to come then to pay my respects and to say goodbye, but life and situations got in the way, and this year was the first time that I saw a clear path back to this magical place.  It was as if all the stars aligned just so that I could make this journey.

His parents met me at the airport.  I saw them as soon as I exited the terminal.  I saw the love and happiness in their faces, and I felt the love and joy in their warm kisses and embrace.  We all cried tears of happiness, tears of pain, and tears for the loss of A, our beloved, who connected us then and who still continues to connect us all.

We swam in the sea every morning, and we dined al fresco in the evenings.  After dinner, we walked amidst ancient fortresses and breathed in salty sea air.  We drank strong cups of espresso, and ate glorious fresh food from the sea.  The sun was strong and beamed upon us every day.  At night, the skies were dark in the way that made the stars seemed brighter.

I will always remember A.  He will forever live in my heart.  Without him, I never would have known of this beautiful place, and I would never have had the honor to meet his beautiful family and friends.  He is what brought me to Termoli.  I have tasted a slice of heaven, and I know he is in his own personal heaven watching over all of us.

California Trip; Series of Unfortunate Events

“Why don’t you go on west to California? There’s work there, and it never gets cold. Why, you can reach out anywhere and pick an orange. Why, there’s always some kind of crop to work in. Why don’t you go there?” ~ John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

So much has happened since my last entry.  The biggest event that happened was that G and I, along with my cousin, C, took a quick trip out west to California in April.  We went to visit my cousin, Ivy, and her three young sons. She was widowed last year when she came home from work one evening to find her husband dead in their bed.  It was tragic, and even more so as she was at that time twenty weeks pregnant with their third child.She was featured on The Talk.  Her tragic story can be viewed here:

She has been extremely strong in the face of extreme loss and tragedy, and her faith in God has never wavered.  I salute her, as I have crumbled in lesser challenges.Our main purpose for visiting California was of course to visit my cousin and offer whatever support we could give, even if just emotional, and despite the rather grey circumstances, we ended up having an amazing time.  It was nice to reconnect with my cousin, and it was nice for G to to spend some time with her cousins.Ivy and her sons live in what I call Central California, somewhere in between Los Angeles and San Diego. Although I lived in California when I was younger, I had never been to San Diego.  As such, we took a side trip to San Diego and met with some blog friends who I have “known” since 2003.  It was our first meeting. I already love these friends, but it was so special to finally see them in person after over a decade of online friendship.Here is a little video collage of our trip:

This month of May has been challenging.  Earlier in the month, I had made it my mission to take G to a particular park to get a view of the Manhattan skyline sunset.  While I was able to make it to that park, I was not able to leave in style.  My car got a flat tire as I was leaving the park, and it took over an hour to finally get the spare tire (donut) installed.

As I was driving home, wouldn’t you believe it, but then the spare got a flat!  Unbelievable bad luck and timing.  Fortunately, I was able to catch the favor and grace of a friend who came to my rescue.The following week, on Mother’s Day actually, I started to feel very ill.  I was at the tire place getting my brand new tire installed and my wheels aligned when I felt as though I was going to faint.  I made it home just in time before I collapsed into my bed with a high-grade fever.I was incapacitated and delirious for the next three days.  I was so weak, I could barely even sit up in my bed.  Poor G.  I couldn’t even take her to school on that Monday.  I did not make it back into my office until that Thursday.

In the middle of all that chaos, I had a falling out with a friend.  Prior to my becoming ill, she had asked me to borrow some money for another crisis she was having with her family overseas.  She has a history of constantly borrowing money, and as usual, she promised to pay me back as soon as humanly possible.  I reluctantly agreed to lend her some money, but then I had become deathly ill, and so my promise to lend her money was soon forgotten.I did not hear from her during the entire time I was sick, but I finally contacted her when I was recovered enough to make contact again with the public.  She responded with a text telling me that she was angry at me for not lending her the money when she needed it, and I told her that I had fallen very ill, and that I had totally forgotten about the issue.  She was still angry and she said that I was mean for saying yes but not following through with it.  I then reminded her that she in fact was still in debt to me for a few thousand dollars, and that she really had no right to be so angry with me.  She responded that she was tired of me hanging her debt over her head and that being my friend was “exhausting.”I was in no mood for her text rants and ended it by saying that I was done with her “friendship” as well, and that her conscience should tell her how much she should pay me back.  She owes me close to five thousand dollars.  I have a feeling I will never see that money ever again.

It is never a good feeling to end a “friendship” no matter how real or true it is, but I feel good that I am finally moving on from a relationship/friendship that was so toxic.

Pura Vida

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” ~ John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

It feels as though this winter is harsher than last year.  It could just be that as I get older, my tolerance level for colder temperatures decreases exponentially as my years in age increase.

I did manage to escape New York for a few days a few months ago by taking a trip to Costa Rica.  It was beautiful there.  I even got up close and personal with a crocodile.

I stayed at this fabulous resort, Los Suenos, near Jaco.

I saw a beautiful sunset from the cliffs of Zephyr Place in Herradura.

Pura Vida.  Pure Life.  It’s their main expression there in Costa Rica and is used in many forms, from a greeting to a synonym for “excellent.”  It felt good hearing it, and it felt good saying it.  It is their way of life.  See you later, Costa Rica.  I will be back.  Pura Vida!