August 10, 2011 -- Palm Desert, California. Wow, after 2 days of travel we returned to Palm Desert at around noon on the 9th. We boarded the Alitalia flight at 9:30 a.m. for the first leg of our return on the 8th. As soon as the plane was boarded by all passengers, there was a medical emergency and a doctor was called on-board. The bottom line is that, instead of leaving at 10 a.m. we sat in the plane for 2 hours and finally left at noon. The result of that delay was a missed flight for the second leg of our journey and were forced to stay overnight at Ohare Airport in Chicago. So, making the best of the situation, we chose a hotel across the street from the airport, had a nice dinner and got some sleep.
The rest of our journey went flawlessly, and we arrived at the Palm Springs airport at 12:10 on August 9th. The temperature was 109-degrees F, but it was good to be home after such a long and exciting trip. So, of course, jet-lag is part of the reality of these kinds of trips, so here it is 1:50 a.m. on the 11th. I'm wide awake and ready to get busy. The rest of the "world" is asleep!!
Looking back on our travels for the last month, I think about the many places we've been -- but more importantly, the many people we met. Our stay with Francesco, and his wife Laura, in Tuscany was a highlight. Their hospitality was a wonderful gesture of friendship. Our visit with Carlo in Caserta was just as wonderful, and I'll always remember the lunch his mom made for us. On every day, and every where throughout the trip, we had serendipitous meetings with people from all over. Young people traveling throughout Europe and people of all ages on holiday from every part of the world. We met people from Canada, the U.S., Singapore, Slovakia, Russia, the U.K., the Philippines, Austria, Germany, Australia and New Zealand, China, Iran and Afghanistan. One highlight was meeting Dr. Sajo, a Justice of the European Court of Human Rights
Our favorite city was Florence Italy. The music, culture, food, activity and people there were beyond description. In every corner of the 3 countries we visited -- Italy, Austria and Germany -- we found friendly, engaged and happy people going about their routines of working and living their lives. We had the occasional "language barrier", but in every instance, we were able to make ourselves understood in one way or the other. We did find that Italy is going through it's own "financial crises", but for some reason, the people were engaged in the "moment". I think their "social safety net" helps them cope with these realities. In some way, the Italians seem assured knowing that they live in a society that invests in the "individual" through such programs as universal health-care.
So in closing, I can recommend travel to everyone who can find the time to do so. The benefits of going to different places in the world and meeting the people there are incalculable. As the old TV commercial used to say: "Try It You'll Like It"!!