by Vivian Gacet
|Me in Cannes|
Traveling to Europe always seemed like a bittersweet daydream. On a weekly basis, I would drift off into my own little world: I walked the streets of countries I had only read about in books or seen on TV.
The day my boyfriend, Alain, told me he was going to Spain for a work convention, and that he wanted me to join him made me feel as if all my dreams had come true. To further the amazingness of the situation, Alain mentioned he also wanted to go on a Mediterranean cruise, which, of course, left me feeling like someone was about to open a curtain and say “Just kidding. You’re on Candid Camera!”
As the day of departure came, I was filled with uncontrollable excitement. There was a suitcase filled with odds and ends. I had been throwing things inside for a month in the hopes that I wouldn't forget anything. When we got on the plane, I prepared for the long journey across the Atlantic. About an hour after boarding, the flight attendants offered newspaper, wine, tea, coffee and food. Most of the behavior I saw from the attendants was expected, except that instead of bringing a trolley around to ask if you wanted tea, they came around with an actual tea kettle and prepared it for you right there. The complimentary wine also shocked me. I had never been on a flight that offered free wine before! (On the return flight, I was informed that it was actually a new custom for airlines.)
Upon our arrival in Barcelona, there was a shuttle waiting to take us to the cruise ship. The view from our seats was spectacular. We could see mountains and different buildings with architecture that isn't common in Miami. We ran to find food once we got on the ship. It's not that we didn't eat on the plane, we were just hungry. Following lunch, we walked around the ship to get familiar with the restaurants, clubs and other forms of entertainment. The first night in Europe was the hardest for us because of the time difference, so we called it an early night around 10 p.m.
The next morning we were in Cannes. The concept that we were so far from home finally sank in the moment we tried to communicate with bartenders while attempting to order food or a drink. Something that truly stood out for me was the public bathroom. In Europe, the sign for restroom is W/C, which means water closet. I'm still trying to make sense of that terminology. Even though I enjoyed the day in Cannes, I can't say I would go there again. It didn't hold my interest too much.
Now, when it comes to Italy, I can honestly say I wouldn't regret never making a return trip. I was thrown back by the beauty of the architecture, and the sensation that I was walking where history had taken place. During my time in Italy, I was able to visit Pisa and Rome. Both of these cities are magnificent! There is no way you can possibly understand the full spectrum of culture, art or food in just one day. Unfortunately, that was all the time I had in each of these beautiful cities.
Thankfully, I had amazing tours in both. With the tour guides, we were able to see some of the most popular spots in Pisa and Rome, such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. We also visited another church. Unfortunately, I can't remember its name. But one thing is emblazoned into my memory: a statue of Moses made by Michelangelo. The moment I saw it I honestly wanted to cry. Not out of pain or spiritual enlightenment, but at the beauty of art that I had never experienced before. The statue of Moses was so detailed: the curls of his beard, the definition of the muscles and the simple folds in the clothing he's wearing. What stood out most was how carefully the veins on the hand of the statue were crafted. I never would have thought that someone would spend the time to chisel such minutiae. Our tour guide informed us that when Michelangelo made a sculpture, he would take a lot of time picking out the block of marble because he felt that inside was a person trying to get out. He didn't feel he was chiseling out his imagination; he was in fact freeing a person from a marble prison.
Of course, you can't leave Rome without doing three things: visiting the Vatican, throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain and eating gelato. The second you walk into the Vatican you feel like a tiny little person. You can fit a 10-story building within the basilica! Along with its size, I was thrown back by all the art covering every inch of the interior walls and ceiling. There's writing high above you-- near the ceiling. From afar you would never imagine those letter are actually the size of a man that's six feet tall. While I was there, I took many pictures, but I can honestly say that not one did St. Peter's Basilica any justice. It's something I feel everyone should experience at least once in their lives. It doesn't matter if you are a religious person or not. Go for the beauty!
From the Vatican, Alain and I went to the Trevi Fountain. If you want to ensure your return to Italy, then you have to throw a coin into the fountain. Be careful that you don't throw in more than one coin. Legend says that if you throw in two, you will be married within the year. If you throw three, then you'll get rid of your mother-in-law. A nice bit of information about the fountain is that at the end of each month, city officials remove all the coins and donate it to charity. After we threw our coins in, we sat back and enjoyed a nice cold gelato. Quite honestly, if you want heaven on Earth, then you must have gelato, but choose the restaurants carefully. You don't want to end up in a tourist trap. As we were walking back to our bus, I was on the verge of tears knowing that I left behind so many unexplored places.
Our next day was spent on the cruise ship. We didn't do much but sit back, relax and enjoy our drinks. Something amazing happened the last night on the cruise. While we were packing our bags, I noticed Alain being very quite. I turned around to see him, and he got down on one knee to ask me to marry him. Needless to say my response was YESSSSSS!!!!!
|Architecture, food and fashion in Barcelona|
After making all the stops around Barcelona, we settled down for the animators conference Alain had been anticipating. The rest of our trip was pretty quiet but memorable.
I can't wait till the next trip!
I can't wait till the next trip!
Vivian Gacet is a message therapist from Miami. She is currently trying to find her passion in life, which is probably why she enjoys travels. She'd love to get paid to travel. She also loves reading, watching sci-fi shows, and spending time with her fiancé and Gizmo, her cat.