Transcribing my journal notes helped me to relive the most amazing trip I ever had, but there is so much that I didn’t cover in my notes. I was worried that taking the trip in early March would mean cold weather, but, except for the aforementioned half-hour of rain in Barcelona, the weather during the rest of the trip was perfect. Not too hot, not too cold. The days were sunny, except for my last day in Paris, when I was heading home. The skies were cloudy and the day was gray, almost as if Europe was sad to see me go.
The food during my trip was excellent. Barcelona, a seacoast town, prides itself on its seafood, which I don’t care for. I did eat fast food (McDonald’s and Burger King) for a lot of my meals. But, just before I went into La Sagrada Familia, I stopped at a restaurant around the corner and I asked the proprietor where I could go to get a paella that did NOT have shrimp or some other disgusting sea creature in it. He had me hold on while he went to speak with the chef, who then proceeded to go out of her way to make a custom chicken paella just for me. It was delicious! And they were so friendly and accommodating. As I mentioned in my journal, I did have the pizza and gelato in Rome. You can purchase the pizza by the pound. You tell them how much you want of the pie, they cut it, weigh it, and charge you accordingly. And every bite was such a delight. And the gelato…my mouth is watering right now just thinking about it. In France, at the creperie, I managed to enjoy both a sweet and a savory crepe. I also got to sample a delicious cider with quite a kick. Even with so many wonderful culinary memories, I think the one that stands out is when I had descended from the Eiffel Tower and was waiting for my tour boat to arrive. I got a hot dog from a vendor, but this was no ordinary hot dog. Two franks in a hoagie roll, a generous sprinkling of cheese, and then the whole thing was pressed. I sat on the bank of the Seine, facing the Eiffel Tower, and eating the most delicious hot dog I’d ever had.
Stairs were a big factor in my entire trip, and reading back through my journals, I’m surprised I didn’t mention it more. My hostel in Barcelona was on the fourth floor, a little piece of information they really should include online. But, of course, most of the occupants of hostels are young, energetic people, and not older, out of shape individuals like myself. I remember the first day, climbing those stairs and thinking I didn’t really want to go anywhere outside because that would mean climbing the stairs again when I returned. But I braved those stairs many, many times in my days there. By the end of my stay, I was actually able to take the stairs with minimal complaints. Stairs also factored in Rome. When I visited the Spanish Steps, I had to climb them, of course. And, as I mentioned, I climbed all the way up to the second floor of the Eiffel tower, the equivalent of 46 stories. I know that, if it hadn’t been for the fourth floor hostel in Barcelona, I would not have been in any shape to try the stairs at the Eiffel tower a few days later. Just another example of how everything happens for a reason.
Speaking of the hostel, these are the places I stayed at and would highly recommend:
Both hostels in Barcelona and Rome were inexpensive and clean. I did splurge in Paris with the Montparnasse, but it really was worth it.
There are so many other things, so many other memories. The kissing couple at the Trevi Fountain. The cats at the Coliseum. The awe of seeing the Mona Lisa in person. The countless sights, sounds and smells that, together, combined to form the perfect trip. And I can say that with no hyperbole. And I can’t wait for my next visit, because, good Lord willing, there will be a next visit.
On a final note, the last leg of my trip continued to be both nerve-wracking and fortuitous. When last we left our gutsy globetrotter, he had just gotten through the maze of the Charles de Gaulle Airport and had gotten himself a first-class seat on the way back to Atlanta. The story continues…
When I landed in Atlanta, I found out that my standby ticket had not been validated for the leg from Atlanta to Orlando, which meant I needed to speak to a ticket attendant in order to put myself on the standby list. Because our flight had been delayed, I barely had enough time to make it to the ticket counter. Once there, I see there are already more people on the standby list than there are seats available, meaning I may have to find alternative means of getting home. A later flight, or even possibly a car rental to drive home. While I’m talking with the ticket agent, I see a group of four who are also waiting to get on the plane, and, when three seats open up, the younger woman volunteers to stay behind and catch another flight. This leaves just two of us at this point on the list. A minute or so later, her name is called and she manages to get on the plane. And then there is one – me. As I’m on the phone discussing options with a friend, my name is called. I have managed to get the last empty seat on the plane. Soon enough, I’m seated comfortably and on my way to Orlando. A perfect ending to a perfect vacation!