Mixed Greens Blog

Mixed Greens Blog
Living Sustainably in the Pacific Northwest


Travel bug bites, volcanic ash stings, we hit the road

Volcanoes blow, plans change, an officious French Air France agent, Marie, pulled strings and somehow we got to Italy and back as planned, with Paris for a few days at the end. You return reflecting about it all, knowing that travel is not an especially sustainable act, and you want to feel that it means something. It’s expensive and thrilling, sometimes uncomfortable. But we’re human and there’s a timeless urge to know what’s around the bend, for seeing and meeting fellow humans who are on the planet with us at this moment in time – like this munchkin soccer player on the piazza in Montepulciano who’d been kicking the ball with his papa and decided to take a little break.

Our usual travels tend to be more of rivers, mountains and seashore. A sailboat, kayaks, bikes and boots. But life moves on, sailboat’s gone, and a husband who had never been to Europe had the urge and I was more than ready to return. A trip back to Italy and France after many years sounded fine, and it was our 23rd wedding anniversary. Plus, my new lens was burning for some photographic action.

little soccer player

Cafe' table with flower

Shutters on a Siennese wall, IT

Home just a few days, I’ve been dreaming of our trip all week long: mazes, narrow streets, arches, mosaics, the stone and gold – they’ve come together as impressions in my sleep, a jumble of the countryside, hill towns, museums and cities. Dizzying, absolutely incredible and at the same time too much. The arrangement of pictures here reflects that, Italy all mixed up with Paris and visa versa.

cafe' table and bicycle, Paris

street bikes, Paris Sidewalk with bikes, Paris

Statues on the lawn, the Louvre

The Seine River at dusk, Paris.

Profoundly different than my four months in Europe thirty years ago. Well, O.K., I’m older. Hordes more people, my sensibilities have matured and now there’s the euro. Language barriers subdue travelers’ bluster. I felt less than myself at times, not quite whole in the face of trying to communicate, which was to not communicate, in another language. The beauty was that I tried and so did they, both Italians and the French (though yes, they were a little less forthcoming in that regard) and we found our way to each other with moments of comprehension, humor and warmth; and with that I felt compassion for immigrants who lose themselves to language for a few months, or years or a lifetime. Language holds our character, our sense of humor, sense of self . . . all of it. It was humbling to lose that edge, even for a small time.

Tuscan sunset

Vegetables, Venice, IT A Tuscan Lunch

The food. One big burp might suffice – that’s considered polite recommendation in some cultures. I ate pasta every single day for three weeks, every dish of it fabulous; along with a bunch of whatever local wine was there; fresh-squeezed blood orange juice nearly every morning, which we often prepared ourselves along with espresso and a croissant or biscotti; cheese and bread for breakfast, num;  locally ripened asparagus, artichokes, tomatoes, locally produced proscuitto, pecorino, parmesan . . . chocolate mousse in Paris that almost killed me. Enough already. I’ve come home with the urge to make crepes – anybody out there know how? – which were made on the street in both Italy and France; to make Montepulciano’s handmade pasta, Pici; and a big bowl of the killer chocolate mousse.  I’ll keep you posted.

Art everywhere in landscapes, architecture, people, museums, galleries, food. As a painter in training I swooned and Paris was almost too much. Serendipity is a sweet thing. Our nephew’s show at a gallery in Rome happened during our four days there. His work and that of his colleagues, followed by our celebratory meal together made our trip to hectic Rome worthwhile. As did the Caravaggio exhibit.

Hey, did you hear about the heist that just happened in Paris? Picasso, Matisse, Modigliani, right out the window? I swear, in every museum we visited the art caper flicks went through my mind – even if we haven’t actually been to the Louvre, we’ve been there in a caper flick. With guards and glass and a rope literally surrounding the Mona Lisa at the Louvre you could hardly see it let alone fathom taking it away. But somebody pulled it off just a couple of days ago at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris. It’ll be a movie.

Cortona, IT Sienna Cathedral

Clothes on the line, Venice, IT

Venetian window sill wooden artists mannequin in a shop window

Ancient loggia, Padua, IT

I snapped pictures from Venice to Rome to southern Tuscany, Florence and Paris. All mixed up here as one big happy photo family, which is what we are, or aspire to be.  an ice cream cone break

More travel pics in the gallery before long.

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9 Responses »

  1. Welcome Home Sally! I’ve missed you and know many stories are spinning in your head…all the makings of a batch of favorite lifetime travel memories. So often it’s not the grandest scenes, but the smallest details that add the “toppers” to our journeys. I see from your photos you’re a believer in this too! Can’t wait to see your gallery so I can return vicariously to some of your destinations…it has been too long since I traveled there myself. Have held you in my mind since your departure, hoping for a fabulous experience and your safe return….appears you had both!!! Lucky You!!!

  2. Your photos are breathtaking… Gives me the travel bug to see such beautiful land and cityscapes. I’m glad you were able to make it there and back 🙂

  3. Loved seeing your pics, reminded me of many happy trips to France and Italy. I too have a husband who’s never been, I need him to get the bug to go!

  4. What lovely photos! We’re heading off to Italy and Austria in a week. It will be a ‘first time’ experience for our 9 and 11 year olds. Can’t wait to see it through their eyes!

  5. Elaine, good point. I have been spinning this past week, especially at night, but feel fortunate to have these new experiences to spin with.
    Christine, I’m glad you enjoyed these photos and I thank you for saying so.
    Pat, a travel bug’s a good thing – I hope it reaches your household!
    Susan, years ago I traveled to Europe with my six-year old daughter, just she and I. She had her own little camera and took photos reflecting an astoundingly different point of view; she also kept a drawing journal which I still have and treasure. She was energetic and curious and a people magnet. It’s universally impossible to resist children. And puppies. Have a great time.

  6. Ok, now I’m really jealous. What beautiful photos of what seemed to be a beautiful trip.

  7. Oh, I love Italy and Paris! Your pictures take me back and I love it! Thank you.

  8. OMG Sally, love the photos; feel like I was there myself; thanks for the ride!!!

  9. Fantastico! Love the colors, feel and juxtaposition of the photos and text. Num is right. Very enviable on many levels. Good to have the officious as ally and carve your trip’s way thru the volcanic ash.

    xoxo Jeana