It took 36 hours in transit to get from Honolulu all the way to Rome, Italy (by way of San Francisco, Newark and Montreal) but I’m finally here! A few mishaps along the way — like leaving my credit card in the United Airlines kiosk when printing out my boarding pass and baggage tickets (and not realizing it until three hours later!) — and stowing my carryon luggage underneath the seat in front of me like I’m supposed to, and retrieving it at the end of the flight soaking wet and greasy, but I am finally here without a single wink of sleep the entire way!
You’ll never guess what piece of music was my ear worm along the way — yup, the Bernstein “Chichester Psalms” played over and over and over in my head — all three movements! You see the last thing I did in Honolulu before leaving was a practice session with Miguel Felipe — and I “practiced” all the hard parts repeatedly in my head. My baggage arrived in Rome safely, and I was found by the group tour agent before found him.
This is the first European trip I’ve taken truly by myself since Carl died — you are probably asking, but what about Germany this past summer? That trip I went with my sister and her husband on the Lutherland trip, and I knew one of the trip organizers for over twenty years through the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians (ALCM) —Michael Krentz.
This time, however, I booked a group tour through Go Ahead Tours called “Rome: The City Experience,” and had no idea of what to expect except from reading their on-line reviews. This is only the first day, but already I know this is going to be a GREAT trip with a GREAT group! The weather is absolutely gorgeous — 68° F. and no chance of rain! There are only 12 people in the group, a couple from Pennsylvania who got married the same year we did (1977), and the rest of them are all teachers and/or their family members from a college in North Carolina — altogether eleven women and only one man. The nine women from North Carolina all know each other, and the Pennsylvania couple and I were picked up by the same agent at the same time, so we got to know each other quickly in the van ride back to the hotel.
We had an orientation session with our tour director, Barbara (you have to pronounce her name with an accent and stress on the first syllable, then roll the Rs) in the hotel where we are staying, then went out to a local restaurant with a brief stop at the Trevi Fountain. We are extremely fortunate that the Trevi Fountain has just opened three days ago after having been closed for restoration. My image of the Trevi Fountain has all been from movies, and of course, I was stunned by the hundreds and hundreds of people there, even on a night in November!
The meal we had at the L’Archetto restaurant was really, really delicious and so unlike the previous time I was in Italy with my husband Carl and son, Stephen, where the food especially in Venice was extremely expensive and not so good as compared with my only other experiences with Italian food which is at Assaggio’s in Ala Moana Center! At dinner we already are acting like old friends who have known each other for years. For at least half the group, this is not only their first time in Italy, this is the first time that they have left the U.S.
Tomorrow we will have an extensive city tour, but as for me right now, I’m hitting the sack!