So I returned from the Continent last night... after being awake for 22.5 hours. I thought I'd be out cold until church on Sunday, but to my surprise and consternation, I found myself wide awake at 5:30 a.m. This is attributable to the fact that it was 11:30 in Rome, but I was still frustrated. Yet I also felt a strange acceleration at the prospect of... running errands. Who can explain the mysteries of the heart?
My time in Europe was interesting. Previously, I'd wandered around the piazzas of Rome or the rues of Paris with a wide-eyed wonder that rivaled that of a child in a toy shop in November. But this time, as with Cambridge, there was a casualness in my interest, a flippancy in my explorations that surprised me. My wonder for all that Europe has to offer has mellowed into a warm appreciation. It makes me smile a little- it's like when you first meet someone who will be more than a transient acquaintance. You are taken with them from the start. You find them funny, brilliant, fascinating. But as you get to know them, you appreciate their flaws more and more. You see clearly how they fall short on so many scores. And yes, you become annoyed or chagrined from time to time. But you admiration is more genuine and warm because you can embrace them for their entire person, and not just the tourist facade they put up to trade their wares.
Rome was a pleasant surprise, because it really wasn't to my taste as a city the first time around. It was just a dirty collection of terrific sites. But it proved infinitely more charming and agreeable than I'd remembered, and I realized that I could even picture myself expat-ing there. The rest of the ports were fun too, but honestly, I can't really muster too many rhapsodizations about its beauty and charm, because I was more taken with the experience of being in the space, rather than capturing the place in a bottle to take out later. It was nice to actually relax in these amazing beauty or historic spots.
The cruise aspect was interesting- its rather like a summer camp for adults. Preset meals, activities, and friendly attendants.
All in all, I enjoyed myself but I'm happy to be back on more familiar turf with more enjoyable company. Pictures to come...