When you have seen the REAL Michelangelo David statue, you’re able to quickly discern the fakes. Seriously. This week, I have seen 3 of these statues and I am glad I saw the real one first. I saw my first replica at the Piazza Michelangelo yesterday and today, I saw another copy. More on that later . . .
Today, I went to the Opera Santa Maria Del Fiore Museum and saw another famous Michelangelo statue, The Florence Pieta. He has done a few versions of this scene, which depicts the Virgin Mary cradling Jesus Christ after he has been crucified. Nicodemus and Mary Magdalene are also part of this statue. Yesterday at the Accademia Gallery, I saw another version of this Pieta – again by Michelangelo – which wasn’t nearly as complete as this one. Frankly, this work by Michelangelo was awe-inspiring and comes “alive.” You sense the anguish, grief, love, and acceptance that emanates from this statue. The museum also had some of Donatello’s sculptures, including his magnificent Magdalene Penitent.
It’s amazing how good I have been feeling lately. My health – sore left knee, chronic cough, flu – had been a concern since Nepal. Despite my poor physical condition, I trudged on steadily and with purpose. Frankly, I didn’t let it get in the way of seeing and doing wonderful things. The trip was barely impacted because I refused to let any of my ailments get the best of me. The last week in Greece and all of my time in Italy has been fabulous insofar as having the energy to complete this RTW trip with “mucho gusto” (literal translation – Much Pleasure)!
I am doing this post on a train making its way to Florence. I should be able to complete the draft by the time it arrives in approximately 3-4 hours. The express train does this route in a little over an hour, but I decided to save the 10 extra Euros and take the less expeditious route (i.e., more stops). I should arrive in Florence early this evening.
This morning I decided to head over to the Vatican and see if it was worthwhile to get in line for the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museum. Unbeknownst to me, something much better was going to happen to me that I will remember for the rest of my life. I saw the Pope.
This morning I was thinking that I would notch three days of a planned four day Rome excursion and quite frankly, I was getting a bit nervous that I was falling behind “schedule.” HAHAHA! Yes, even people on round the world trips have some sort of internal schedule they are ticking off. Basically, I was upset about the day before being more or less a rain out. Yes, I had visited the Vatican, but I had not gone in to see the Sistine Chapel, nor the world famous Vatican Museum due to the inclement weather. Grrrrr. Consequently, today – I wanted to “hit the ground running” as the saying goes. If my legs could talk, they would say, “mission accomplished.” Not only did I visit the Colosseum – spending almost 3 hours there; but I also spent a good 4 hours touring Palantine Hill, the most famous of the seven hills of Rome. All in all, quite a (walking) workout if I say so myself. More important, I felt like I really got to experience ancient Rome.
I was so paranoid about losing my wallet to a gang of thieves that I took extraordinary precautions on my flight to Rome, Italy. Better safe than sorry, right? As many of you are aware, i had my wallet stolen in Greece . . . and then returned by a good Greek samaritan. Still smiling about the way that turned out. The flight itself was smooth as silk. In fact, the plane was less than half full, so I moved to an exit row and met a delightful young Greek lady, Constantina (I hope I spelled it right, because she has my blog address). She was very interesting and also, helpful when she introduced me to an Italian gentleman, Luca (also on the flight), who provided me with very good directions to my hotel via the airport train and Rome subway (metro) system. Constantina is searching for work in Italy (Milan) and I hope she is eventually successful in finding a job here in Italy. Good luck Constantina!
I don’t expect anyone to believe this story, but here goes . . . Yesterday, I posted a blog thread about having my wallet stolen on an Athens Metro train on Thursday. The Athens Police indicated that there was a chance (snowball chance in Hell?) the wallet would be found and returned. They added, “Usually the cash is taken and the other stuff is left alone.” Guess what? I got my wallet back with all personal affects, including my Colorado Driver’s license, Visa credit card, credit union debit card and SCUBA Dive Certification card. Oh My God!
Many years ago, I use to play the “blame game” where I pointed a finger at some one, some place, or some thing, never noticing the 3 fingers pointed back at me. Consequently, I was mostly in victim mode, where I felt I was owed something for nothing. At around 30 or so, I began to wake up to the fact that the universe doesn’t owe me a thing and I better get my ass in gear and figure out how things do work on this ball or I was going to be stuck in that victimhood role forever. What’s all this have to do with this post? Well, yesterday I had my wallet stolen and although I am still processing many feelings, including anger, I am grateful for everything I have in my life. I am especially happy and grateful that I am living a life that allows me to be in Athens, Greece, where I have visited the Parthenon, SCUBA dived the Mediterranean Sea, and yes, even had my wallet pick-pocketted on an Athens Metro Train. As the title of this post suggests, life really comes down to those two choices, right? I can go with the flow and recognize that stuff occasionally happens and learn to accept it; or, I can spend negative energy on anger and resentment, which doesn’t resolve a damn thing and only ends up with me being frustrated. Yeah, I wish this hadn’t happened. My wish and 5 dollars might buy a cafe latte at Starbucks, but that’s it.
Lycabettus hill is Athen’s highest hill, offering a panoramic view of the city. Essentially, you have 3 ways to reach the top – by foot through the wooded pine trees; or, you can wuss out by taking a taxi or the funicular railway that ascends to the top via the end of Ploutarchou Street and Aristippou Street in the Kolonaki district (near the Evangelismos station). Me? I wanted to explore the hill, so I walked. However, while walking through the woods, I took the wrong direction and somehow ended up on the top of an adjacent peak – also part of Lycacbettus hill – which overlooks the amphitheather . . . And, boy was it windy! Unlike Lycabettus hill, which is also windy, this site has no protective rock walls to keep you from falling to your death. Gulp.