On a Vacation Primer

For those wanting some background music for the post, here’s some music from the land.

On to the post.

The image shows are 12-days of cruising. Keep in mind that we had 4 days in London before cruising, plus 3 days in Reykjavik, Iceland after the cruise. Both of these stops were independent of the cruise and done on our own.

I was struck by the fact that each of the major cities in the British Isles were quite different from one another.

  • The most grand: London, England
  • The most captivating: Edinburgh, Scotland
  • The most walkable: Dublin, Ireland
  • The most unexpectedly different: Liverpool, England
  • The most gut wrenching: Belfast, Northern Ireland

… and we didn’t just visit cities on the trip:

  • The most scenic countryside: Northern Scotland
  • The most solemn: American military cemetery at Normandy (Omaha Beach)
  • The most quaint: St. Peter Port, Guernsey
  • The most geologic diverse: Iceland

We walked a lot – averaging about 13,500 steps per day with over 25,000 being the most. When walking, my eyes are busy. For those who remember, when in Florence, Italy – I say “Look up!” Whether walking or passing by in a touring bus, these business signs on the trip caught my eye. Other than the obvious, any thoughts on what they sell?

 

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On Doors

Door – Old English duru, dor, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch deur ‘door’ and German Tür ‘door,’ Tor ‘gate’; from an Indo-European root shared by Latin foris ‘gate’ and Greek thura ‘door’

Door – the entrance to a room or building

Door – a hinged, sliding, or revolving barrier at the entrance to a building, room, or vehicle, or in the framework of a cupboard

Door – a reference to the distance from one building in a row to another

Door – A structure that opens, closes, swings, slides, shuts, hides, protects, and symbolizes

If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” (Milton Berle, comedian)

The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” (Confucius, philosopher)

I truly believe that everything that we do and everyone that we meet is put in our path for a purpose. There are no accidents; we’re all teachers – if we’re willing to pay attention to the lessons we learn, trust our positive instincts and not be afraid to take risks or wait for some miracle to come knocking at our door.” (Marla Gibbs, actor)

Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” (George Washington Carver, scientist)

Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.” (Coco Chanel, designer)

Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.” (John Barrymore, actor)

Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door.” (Emily Dickinson, poet)

Listen; there’s a hell of a good universe next door: let’s go. (e. e. Cummings, poet)

 

No matter if it’s old or new, elegant or simple, metal or wood, ornate or plain – a door is a door while being a wonderful symbol and metaphor. Any favorite doors above or below?

All images taken by me  (a nonphotographer in Italy.

On The Fat One

Because I enjoyed a Rick Steves episode about this city along with an outstanding post by Debra, I wanted to go – but thought it was too far away. Then my cousins suggested going there because it wasn’t that far and easily accessible by train … so we went and had a delightful day – but where did we go?

It’s the seventh most populous city in Italy

With settlements dating back to at least 1000 BC, the city has been vital to the Etruscans, Celts, and Romans. The city used to have many towers, but only a few remain today. Formally a walled city, some of its medieval fortifications still exist.

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Under the watchful eye of native son Pope Gregory XIII (Mr. Gregorian Calendar), the main square and the surrounding area is vibrant. I personally love the narrow streets of the old city.

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Given the age of this city, a variety of architecture exists.

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It’s architecture includes many porticos for shelter when walking- actually 24 miles (38 km) in the city center and 28 miles (45 km) throughout the city. Portico di San Luca is possibly the world’s longest at almost 2.5 miles (4 km) (which we did not see).

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Home to the oldest university in the world (founded in 1088) – so it honors its scholars with statues through the city while proudly accepting “the learned one” (la dotta) as one of its nicknames. Today it is the largest city and capital of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region – and like much of Italy, a wide variety of things to enjoy. Besides, I know to look up.

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Nicknamed the “the fat one” (la grassa) because of its culinary delights – so citizens and visitors eat very well as this region that is famous for Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (the undisputed king of cheeses), Prosciutto di Parma, mortadella cold cuts, Balsamic vinegar, and various pastas as tortellini and tagliatelle with a famous ragù.
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Did you figure out the name of this city? Nonetheless, having Tagliatelle Bolognese with a glass of red wine in Bologna, Italy is a culinary treat.

Whether it’s the learned one or the fat one, visiting Bologna was a treat. Between our many walking steps or enjoying the hop-on hop-off tour overview, it was a grand day. Besides, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many attractive people in one place!

Enjoy this 2+ minute travel video of Bologna and the surrounding countryside. For more about Bologna, visit Debra’s blog (Bagni di Lucca and Beyond) for her 10 posts about Bologna.

On Look Up!

Do you know the place? I so-much what to visit the small town on the two, adjacent hilltops in the distance. Oh well … next time.

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If you don’t know, let’s move the camera to the left for some familiar places you may recognize.

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These panoramic views are from Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence, Italy. Everybody loves Florence! Then again, loving Florence is very easy to do because there is so much to enjoy. I’ve visited twice in the past three years, and I noticed something each time. Most people look left and right to make sure they catch the store fronts. Besides a lot of shopping, one doesn’t want to miss gelato!

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But for me, the window shoppers are missing some of the best things to see in Florence because their heads are swiveling on their spine to catch the shopping windows … therefore they are not looking up. So enjoy this view of Florence … the Look Up Tour!

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“Italy will never be a normal country. Because Italy is Italy. If we were a normal country, we wouldn’t have Rome. We wouldn’t have Florence. We wouldn’t have the marvel that is Venice.” (Matteo Renzi, Italian politician)

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“In Florence, classical buildings sit against medieval buildings. It’s that contrast we like.” (Richard Rogers British architect)

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“Florence and art is something that is part of my life and is part of myself.” (Roberto Cavalli
Italian designer)

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Any favorites?

On the Proud One

Upon arriving it the main train station, one can easily notice why the city is nicknamed The Proud One. Do you know where we are? (This isn’t easy, but I’ve the feeling Aussie Debra knows … Pssst … Don’t tell, Debra.)

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Here’s another hint: This monument honors one of the cities most-favorite sons and his house.

Alright – one last hint: It’s actually Italy’s sixth largest city, a port city (I actually sailed in and out of this port in 1958 with my mother), and it has a noble history.

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Before going to Italy, my wife asked me where I wanted to visit … and I always listed the Old City section of Genova (Genoa). So one day, we boarded the train to fulfill one of my requests. For those who may want to visit this city by train, Genova has several train stations, so select Genova Principe.

Blogger Debra did this post about her trip to Genova, and her pictures captured my attention and remained stuck in my memory bank. The Old City is well-preserved and we loved it.

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We also took the hop-on, hop-off tour bus for a broader view of the city outside the old wall.

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Notice anything odd here?
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To top off this day, we even saw The King.
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On Knowledge and a Place

I’m guessing you don’t know this Tuscan town and it’s 13th Century church … but I know you know something important about it.
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Here’s a hint. Does this look familiar?

Vitruvian Man is a great hint.

Vitruvian Man is a great hint.

Leonardo di ser Piero (aka Leonardo da Vinci) was from Vinci, a small town located on top of a rolling hill surrounded by olive trees and grapevines not too far from Florence.

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Visiting Vinci wasn’t on our radar, but not only did my cousins suggest visiting (only about 40 minutes away) – so they took us on a Saturday. Interestingly (in August) my wife and I visited the da Vinci travelling exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum Center. (Fabulous) … and now to get additional reinforcement of his brilliance in his hometown. (Something we never imagined.)

The museum ticket (9 Euros) includes three different locations: two very close within the town and his birthplace (a short drive outside of town). The 22-minute hologram story at his birthplace grabbed and held my attention. Simply fabulous. In short, the man was off-the-charts brilliant … and much more than I ever realized!

Enjoy images of Vinci, which are surrounded by quotes from one of the great intellectuals ever to live.

“The knowledge of all things is possible.”
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“All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions – yet, the greatest deception men suffer is from their own perceptions. Nature is the source of all true knowledge. She has her own logic, her own laws that she never breaks, and she has no effect without causes nor invention without necessity.”
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“The acquisition of knowledge is always of use to the intellect, because it may thus drive out useless things and retain the good.”
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“Experience is the mother of all Knowledge. Wisdom is the daughter of experience.”
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“Learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts, never fears, and never regrets.”
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“Knowing is not enough; we must apply.”
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“Although nature commences with reason and ends in experience it is necessary for us to do the opposite, that is to commence with experience and from this to proceed to investigate the reason.”
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“Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind: Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses – especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”
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“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
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“The processes of science are sure,~but there are regions where we cannot follow them. Our body is subject to heaven, and heaven is subject to the spirit. I speak not against the sacred books, for they are supreme truth.”
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Leonardo da Vinci … an artist, inventor, painter, sculptor, architect, mathematician, writer, explainer, philosopher engineer, scientists, and one who studied to explain botany, human anatomy, aerodynamics, optics, hydraulics, and more … yet, near the end of his life said, “I have offended God and mankind because my work didn’t reach the quality it should have.”

On An Unexpected Cap

This Explore has nothing to do with a hat or cap because Cappadocia is a region in central Turkey. I first heard about this region around 2010 while watching a 60 Minutes segment about Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome – the head of the Orthodox Church throughout the world.

The segment captivated me in multiple ways because I don’t know much about the Orthodox Christianity or Turkey – but the part about Cappadocia and its role in early Christianity mesmerized me – especially the landscape and its history.

Today, hot air balloon rides are popular in this beautiful land of historical intrigue – the land whose rock sites are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Below the video are links to additional information about Cappadocia, including the 60-Minutes segment. Enjoy the journey and views courtesy of a drone.

More Informational Videos
Rick Steves segment with information and a balloon ride (3 minutes)
A travel promotion video (3 minutes)
60-Minutes segment that sparked my intrigue (14.5 minutes)