He had just completed two flights from Seattle to Newark, then JFK to Rome, and he had just a few hours in Rome before hopping another flight to Istanbul. Somewhere in his rush to see as much of Rome as he could, he zagged when he should have zigged, and found himself in front of St. Paul’s Basilica (also known as the Papal Basilica St. Paul Outside-the-Walls) instead of the the more popular tourist destinations.
He said it wasn’t even all that much to look at from the outside, deserted even, but once he entered the gates – wow.
Sometimes that’s how it works. Sometimes it’s the errant zags that lead us to the magic – magic we wouldn’t have found if we weren’t in motion in the first place.
I’ve been googling all morning, and I still haven’t figured out why “Outside-the-Walls” is so important that it became a crucial part of this basilica’s name. If any of you know, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
My husband just returned from a quick trip to Istanbul, where he presented a paper at the International Society for Iranian Studies conference. If you ever wanted someone with whom to discuss the Gothic Sublime, and repetition and imagery in Sadeq Hedayat’s The Blind Owl, I’ve got your man. Also, here’s some pictures he took of Istanbul.
Unfortunately, he had no time for sightseeing, but I think he got some great shots.
Above photos are all by Aaron Albert Haley
Check out Walking on Travels for more adventure tales from bloggers.
One of the most precious and valuable benefits of travel is that it takes you out of your comfort zone, and if you’re open to the experience, it provides perspective. Travel teaches us about other cultures, but it also gives us the opportunity to learn about ourselves.
It is hard to forget the devastation of Hurricane Katrina when thinking of New Orleans. The city and the people are still recovering from that natural and man-made disaster. But they are recovering, and New Orleans showed my friends and me a grand time while we were there last month.
But as we strolled outside the welcoming, touristy areas of the French Quarter, I was reminded that there is a hard-earned need to be a bit self-protective here.
It also made me think about how guarded I can be in my own life, sometimes sharing information in one area to draw attention away from another.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
The streets were lonely, but for my friend and I. No signs of life. No movement aside from the occasional breeze. The picture below was different just because there was another person on the street. The quiet was eerie. There was no question we had wandered outside of the tourist area.
This sidewalk seating area looked like a page from a catalog to me. Different in that there were signs of life with the chairs and tree, and yet, I wonder how often anyone actually sits there.
The shutters faced outward, to the world, to the environment, but we learned that most of these homes surrounded courtyards that were the gathering places of friends and family.
Just a glimpse here and there, and we could see that once past that tough shell, the interior was a friendly and welcoming place to those invited.
We spent the evening walking down Bourbon Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans, The Big Easy. It’s Friday night, and I’m told much tamer than the partying a few nights earlier on Fat Tuesday.
My friends and I stand at the corner waiting for the light to change so we can cross the street, while revelers around us brazenly jaywalk – behavior that seems foreign to this group of girls from Seattle.
We stop for drinks at Howl At the Moon, and when they are delivered in 36 ounce plastic cups, the server explains that the 3 for one special means everyone is automatically upgraded to a triple, and the cups are plastic so we can take them out in the street.
We look outside: Everyone does carry their drinks with them in the street.
Don’t worry, we adjusted. It wasn’t long before we were jaywalking while carrying open containers. Talk about multitasking.
Beads hang from balconies, street lights, stop signs, trees, public art, and anything else that will sit still long enough to be draped with the twinkling strands in all colors of bling.
A sprinkling of rain and a sturdy breeze lends more sparkle and movement to a street that is already teeming with life; humans, pigeons, palm trees, flowers, moss, mules, dogs can all be seen in a single glance.
The next block we walk through is closed to traffic, and pedestrians fill the area between the buildings as they laugh, dance, and wander amongst the street performers and live music wafting from the insides of bars and restaurants, music so rich and textured it seems to hold a physical presence in the space as well.
Bright lights and dark corners, high contrast colors, bricks and stucco, trolleys and mule drawn carriages, trees and bling,
and ornate balconies populated with blow up dolls
conspire to create an environment that is, to me, both fun and foreign.
The second anniversary of my cancer diagnosis is quickly approaching. Of course it has me thinking. A lot. Not all the thoughts are happy thoughts, but that just comes with the territory.
But some of those thoughts are happy thoughts. Warm, fuzzy, happy thoughts. Like the girls I met because I have cancer.
These are women I would have been proud to count among my friends even before diagnosis, but I can’t imagine a scenario in which I would have met any of them outside of cancer.
This weekend a group of us traveled to New Orleans to a conference for young women with breast cancer. We learned about treatment protocols, late effects of treatment, nutrition, dealing with the impact of cancer treatment in the bedroom, and myriad other topics, and we got to spend time with other women whose lives have been similarly impacted.
Good times, good music, good food, good company…
I think the people with whom we surround ourselves have a huge influence on our happiness. Sure, we all have those people around whom we have to tiptoe and walk on eggshells, but we can dilute their influence with so many more amazing people, people who lift us up and love us for who we really are. I’m so blessed to have such amazing friends – that they understand what I’m going through with cancer because they’ve been there too just makes it that much better.
I’m a very lucky woman.
Of course I still worry about how many years I have left, but even more important than the number of trips you make around the sun is your traveling companions along the way.