A gateway into the life of Brian including random thoughts about life, travel, faith and living with chronic disability.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Tourist

I know Carol has already blogged about this but I thought I would ad a few thoughts. I have thoroughly enjoyed our travels so far, but one thing I have learned traveling to Mexico and Hawaii is that I just don't have the stamina that I used to. Doing the typical tourist thing, slamming in as many sights as possible in as short of time as possible, just doesn't suit me. I find that I have really enjoyed just walking through and getting to know the places I have visited. Here in Praiano, a city built in the side of a mountain, it's been a blast walking up and down the stairs and along the paths just seeing how the population has built here and how they live. As I explore, I find amazing vistas and sites that Carol and I will have to come back to so we can take some photos. Honestly, I don't really get this lifestyle, I don't know that I would want to live in a place like Praiano for a lifetime, yet it's so amazing. I feel so fortunate to be able to experience these moments. The seeing, the sitting and the sunsets with the most amazing girl in the world. God is good!


One morning in Rome, while Carol and the girls were having coffee, I was walking around trying to get different angles to photograph the Pantheon. The cobblestone can be quite difficult to walk on and there was a man with three deformed limbs who was pushing himself up the street with his one good hand while he was sitting on a large skateboard and begging. When I saw him, my heart was crushed. The image of this man begging outside the Pantheon, which used to be a temple to the Gods and later converted to a church brought the image of Lazarus and the Rich Man, so much so, that I couldn't let it go. There's no doubt that I am rich compared to the world's population and there's no way I want to be in the Rich Man's shoes. (Luke 16:19-31)

My life is fairly sterilized in the U.S. I don't normally see these images in my everyday life and it seems from my experience that the beggars in the U.S. tend to be in pretty good shape. I assume that those who are more disabled are in institutions or cared for by families, so unless we know someone personally, we just don't see this kind of poverty and disability in our country. While here I've only seen three other beggars, another who trembled violently with every step he took while making his way down our street using a cane for balance, a woman with a crying child sitting on the stairs of a church, (both in Rome), and a lady, who had no nose, with a child in Sorrento. The desperation of the trembling man and the woman with no nose hit me deeply, and both caught my eye when we were trying to get somewhere and while we were dealing with the unfamiliarity of the area. Unfortunately the realization of these scenes hit me after the fact. Something I regret. I wish I was quicker on my feet. These experiences really make me think about how good I have it in the U.S. The truth be told, after all that's happened to me since the Gulf War, if it weren't for the generosity of the country I fought for, I could easily be begging for a living. Even if our lives are somewhat sanitized from the harsh realities in life, we do a pretty good job taking care of our poor and disabled. I certainly don't know what procedures are in place to care for the disadvantaged and disabled in Italy, but I'm certainly thankful for the care my country has shown me. I really don't understand why God has taken care of Carol and I like he has, when there's so many others in need, but I sure am grateful. I hope that I always have the foresight to realize when I should be generous, and I hope that I have the wisdom to discern the manner in which I should be generous.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

And Crash!!!!

Yup, it was just too much.  Pushed myself a bit too hard seeing the beautiful sights of Rome and I had a flareup.  Slept hard for about 10 hours last night and at almost noon, I'm still not really out of bed.  That being said, the ability to write something right now is a good sign.

The girls have rearranged our schedule to give me an opportunity to see St. Peter's Basilica, which was very kind of them.  I knew I wasn't going to be able to move this morning and told them to go on without me.  So, if I can get moving today, we'll see the Colosseum this evening and do St Pete's tomorrow morning.  After that I can rest again.  Praiano should be a much slower pace.    Lois was kind enough to pick up some cookies for me hoping that they would help.  I'm not sure they did, but they are yummy!

Last night after dinner, we did a night walk around Rome that was suppose to end at the Spanish Steps.  Never found them, but we did get some pics at the Trevi Fountain.  It's a very popular place in the evening and it was packed with people.  We were fortunate to get the shots we did.

                                            (Trevi Fountain at night)

                                                  (Lois and Jan)

Anyway, I think that's all for now.  C Ya!!!!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Goodbye Poland, Hello Rome

Monday we said our sad goodbyes to Sabina, Chris and Poland.  Prior to dropping us off at the airport, Sabina and Chris took us to downtown Krakow, where we had the best chocolate I have ever tasted.  Sabina really talked it up and if anything, it was better than she described.  Mmmm! I believe Carol will blog more details later, so that's all I'll say....for now. : )

The  flight was about the same, time wise, as the flight from Seattle to San Jose, maybe just a tad shorter.  The landing was interesting though, we came in fast and it felt like we landed full throttle.  It was also probably one of the smoothest landings we've every had.  Once you land, they don't hit the brakes and you don't feel yourself being pushed forward, the jet just keeps going while it gradually slows down.  We taxied several minutes without ever leaving the runway. It had to be one of the longest runways I've ever been on.

Wow!  That's about all I can say.  We're in Rome until Saturday and already we've seen the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona as well  as several churches in the area.  Everything we've seen makes me feel so small, church ceilings are so high, sculptures are so huge and buildings massive.  It's amazing how the builders were able to construct these things without the technology that we have available to us today.

                               (Carol next to one of the Pantheon's pillars)

                              (Pantheon in the morning before the crowds)

The Pantheon is amazing, in part because it's only a few steps down our alley. We can look out our window and see the front pillars of the Pantheon and the plaza, which is called Piazza d. Rotonda.  Several shops and restaurants are located in the alley which houses our apartment.  We really couldn't have gotten a better location. Most importantly, out the door, to the left and a few steps brings us to gelato!

                                         (Carol and I at Piazza Navona)

So tomorrow we're off to Vatican city to see St. Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museum.  Friday will be the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.  Saturday we pack up and head to the Amalfi coast via train, ferry and bus. The weather has continued to be in the 80's and very nice.  In the afternoon I like to head back to the apartment to rest and enjoy the breezes that blow through our humble abode.  What an amazing privilege to be able to experience all this.

See ya soon!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Some pics for Poland

One of the funnest days for me was when Carol and I accepted a dinner invitation from Sabina's dad, Justin.  Sabina and her fiancee', Chris accompanied us as well.  The meal was fantastic, it was fun to meet Justin, who spoke no English and of course, I spoke no Polish.  Sabina did most of the translating and Carol did some.  Probably more tough for them than Sabina's father or I.  Afterward we traveled to a small village where the homes are all made from logs.  The following pics are from our day.

At dinner with Chris, Sabina and her father, Justin.

In the village having some fun

The church

The Church

Chris, Sabina and Carol

Some of the village houses

Off to Rome, but before we go....

I have to say that this was a very interesting trip to Poland.  In my mind, I saw this as a trip for us to spend some time with Sabina and do a little sightseeing then move on.   Once again, my perceptions were a bit off and while the above reasons for the visit certainly hold true, there's much more to the story.

Carol spent 9 years of her life in Poland, and as we met some of the people who had become a part of her life, what struck me was how deep those connections still are.  There were also several times when we went to a restaurant and there happen to be someone in the restaurant who knew Carol.  "Really", I'm thinking? I thought that Carol's time in Poland was finished and she had moved on.  What I learned is that her roots run very deep here and there are people who still very much want to be a part of her life.  Additionally, this is Sabina's and Chris' home, they both are as important to us as our kids, Alexis and her boyfriend Jeremy, Tyson and Brandon.

Thinking that this was just a stop to see part of Carol's past was a mistake on my part.  Poland is and will continue to be a part of her life and because I married her, it will now become a part of mine.   Future trips will be planned, more friends will be made and longer periods of time will be spent here and, it looks like I'll be learning a bit more Polish then I planned.  Life is interesting and life is an adventure.

Traveling Poland

Hi to everyone from both Carol and I. We are staying in Nowy Targ which is in Southern Poland.  It's a beautiful and mountainous area of the country just  miles from the Slovakian border.

So far we've visited Zakopane, a beautiful mountain village, Sabina took us on a scenic ride just to view the mountains and shoot some pics and we visited a castle.  Tomorrow on our way to the airport in Krakow we'll visit Schindler's factory in Krakow.  Six days has just not been enough time here.  There is so much I've yet to see.  We will definitely be coming back, but I'll write more about that in a later blog.  Our flight tomorrow night will take us to our next stop which is Rome.

Just in case you're wondering, yes it's been hot.  Temperatures since we've arrived have been in the upper 80's to lower 90's.  Beautiful weather as far as I am concerned.  Today is the first day that we've had cooler weather and significant rain.  On each of the hot days, clouds would form later in the day and we'd have torrential showers much like in the tropics.  The day we visited Zakopane, there was a huge thunderstorm with hail.  80 some degrees and hail.  Interesting.

On this particular day we took a trip across Czorsztyn Lake to see Niedzica Castle.  It was a fun and cooler way to spend a toasty day.  Both pictures of Carol and I were taken on the boat.
I love exploring castles.  It was one of my favorite things to do while living in Germany.  It fascinates me to walk in places that people from another time have lived.
There we also ruins nearby.  (Niedzica Castle above.)

Locked and stocked....

                                                       (The ruins)

Lastly I wanted to throw in a pic of our gracious host Sabina.  She has been very generous with her time showing Carol and I around this area of Poland.

Don't feel like writing much today but just wanted to share a couple of pics and let everyone know that we're doing fine.