Milan/Linate Airport: When you need to pray…

IMG_1445Today is Sunday, a perfect day for a post about praying.  Most of us know that airports have chapels, but how many of us have actually stopped in one. I confess that when I have been in an airport, even with a long lay over, I have never sought out a chapel. In fact, never even gave it a thought. My main goal was making sure I made my connecting flight.

IMG_1444So, it was a complete surprise to come across the “Cappella Madonna di Loreto,” chapel in the Milan/Linate airport recently.

It was one of those days where YOU KNOW you were meant to stop in the church and pray.  WHY?  Because when I reached the Aer Lingus counter it was closed. The Italian security guard told me that the counter would be opening in an hour. So, what was I to do, but “wait!”

I thought… OK, might as well sit down. As I went to find a seat, I looked to my right and immediately saw the “Virgin Mary” statue and my mind said, “Wow, you’ve found a chapel, but not any chapel, an Italian airport chapel.”

IMG_1443I say this, because my mother was a born and raised in Florence. So, my next thought was that my Italian grandmother who is in Heaven (well, I am sure she is there and not Hell) was drawing me to the chapel, so we could have a sweet moment together. I admit I got a bit teary-eyed, because I miss my grandmother. She didn’t speak English, but when I visited her we got by. I quickly learned Italian and we sure used our hands a lot to communicate.  She was a TREASURE!

As I lit a candle, I saw this Italian prayer.  There is a similar one in English, see this website for candle lighting and its meaning.

I sat for a few peaceful minutes and began to reminisce about my Nonna. She taught me how to knit. Think about that!! There was the language barrier as she tried to instruct me, but I focused, watched and made my first stitch.

IMG_1448My Nonina LOVED to play the game Bingo. She would go every Wednesday night. We always laughed when she came home, because if she had won, she would have either some olive oil or a big roll of salami under her arm.

Food, she made the BEST bolognese sauce, OF COURSE, she was my grandmother. It was a treat when she would fry small artichokes and we always had biscotti at breakfast, dipping it in our coffee.

Oh, when I would arrive, if I went on the balcony, she would proudly brag to her neighbors that her Italian grandchild was visiting from America!  Then the neighbors would say how I looked like my mother. We all smiled.

IMG_1449For once, I was not irritated for the delay with flight check in. My little Guardian Angel had a surprise for me, the message was “slow down,” take a moment to appreciate my Italian heritage, sit, give thanks and send LOVE up to my Nonina! WHICH I DID!

TODAY is Father’s Day!  I wish all Father’s and Grandfather’s a special day!

 

Milan / Linate Airport: Book Fly Zone

IMG_1440For those of you who travel, you know it is hectic and after a long flight ALL we want to do is get our luggage and head to the hotel. When I landed in Milan//Linate Airport I went to Baggage Claim. It seemed like we were waiting forever for luggage to come out. That is when I thought, maybe I should find a place to sit. As I looked over to the bench area I saw what appeared to be a “book shelf.”

IMG_1441Suddenly, I wasn’t in a rush for the luggage, because I was in “exploring mode.” I love books and was pleasantly surprised to see that this airport had a “book sharing” post.

What a “brilliant idea!” I had just finished a book on the plane and was wondering who I could give it to. My plan was to leave it at the hotel, but THIS was even better! I started browsing through the books. Unfortunately, the selection was disappointing. The books were ALL in Italian (of course), but they were high level academia type books, which I found interesting. Not one novel to read or any children’s books.

IMG_1478Sadly, this meant two things. First, the airport has not promoted the “Book Fly Zone” area enough. Second, maybe with most of us being able to read ebooks, people are not traveling with hard cover books anymore, so there is nothing to share or donate (hard to believe). What a shame!  I would have LOVED a book from a different country/author to read while on my trip.

I did add my one book. I hope someone snatched it up.

Let’s make this work. If you travel through Milan/Linate airport, plan to donate a book. I know I will again!

 

Irish Hat Designer: Jennifer Wrynne

image2IMG_1452While exploring Dublin, I came across “Powerscourt Centre,” off of Grafton Street, which was a very charming looking house that had been converted into a shopping center.

You can see an inside view of the building. It appears this must have been a courtyard and they added a window covering above.

Walking up the stairs the first thing I saw was the tall ceiling, staircase, open eating restaurant below AND this beautiful display of hats by Irish Hat Designer, Jennifer Wrynne.

The British and the Irish take their hats seriously. In the U.S. I think we only wear special hats to the Kentucky Derby, maybe I am wrong, but it is not as common for us to wear hats.

As I continued along in this building they had another small cafe on the second floor where we ate. They had wonderful pastries and a view into the courtyard.

Of course, my phone was malfunctioning while I was trying to take more photos with a message, “storage full;” otherwise, I would have had a few more photos for you. I would highly recommend visiting this place. They also had antique shops, a yarn shop, jewelry, flowers, a shop with housewares and wedding dresses too.

Learn more about Powerscourt Centre online.

 

 

Statue in honor of Firemen and Policemen

FullSizeRender 6I was walking in Indiana and came across this statue of a young girl with a Fireman to the left and a Policeman to the right. Apolgies that I could not get a clearer picture of the faces in the statue, but the sun was not cooperating that day.

I was moved by this sweet statue, but I didn’t realize it’s complete importance until I read the two plaques next to the statue. The first one I share with you is the “Fireman’s Prayer.” The second plaque is the “Policeman’s Prayer.”

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Fireman and Policeman do not have an easy job. These prayers I read were a reminder to appreciate their efforts and that they put their lives on the line for us every day. If you have not read these prayers before, I hope you find them moving too.

Beware of a Peacock during mating season…

FullSizeRenderRecently, I went to a zoo. The first animal (bird) I saw was the Peacock. He is allowed to roam freely on the grounds and was toward the entry way. When I first saw him, he was walking back and forth making very loud squawking sounds. Not an attractive sound. If I was his Peacock wife, I would definitely get annoyed!

I was hoping he would open his feathers, but he did not. So, I continued on my viewing journey. Ten minutes later, I heard the Peacock yelling again and banging something. It was really loud. I walked over to see what he was doing.

I found him by the Pepsi Machine. He kept squawking and hitting his beak against the machine. At first, it was funny, it seemed like he was trying to get a soda for himself.  Then someone came by and said it was mating season and he sees his reflection in the Pepsi machine. He thinks it is another rival Peacock, so he gets aggressive in wanting to attack him or rather “himself.”

FullSizeRender 7In second photo, he’s resting his beak and getting ready for a “full on attack” of the machine. He did this for over 15 minutes. His beak must have been sore. You can see he is not happy! It takes a lot of energy to fight “yourself.” (A bit of a pun, but you know what I mean.)

Being curious, I did a Google search and found this article on the UK’s “Daily Mirror,” called, “Peacock causes thousands of pounds of damage to cars and shop windows – by attacking its own reflection,” by Andy Jehring, July 27, 2015.

Good article, gives an insight into a Peacock’s personality. They have BIG egos! Reminds me of a few “human guys” I know.  (Just kidding… well, sort of!)

Students in Sardinia practice English as Tour Guides

IMG_1348The other day, as I was exploring Alghero, I was approached by young students. They were wearing white T-Shirts with their school logo on them. They were carrying a clip board. They were a bit shy, whispering back and forth to each other, but there was one in the group saying in Italian, “Come on, we have to do our assignment. She looks like a foreigner.”

As they approached me, they said in their newly learned English, “Do you know about the Santa Barbara church? Can we show you? Are you English?”

I smiled knowing that how I responded would determine the next 40 minutes of my time. Yes, I said, “I speak English. Are you going to give me a tour of this beautiful church?”

Once I said that the excitement started. The group immediately shuffled me over to the front of the church. I could see on their clipboard that they had memorized different scripts, like tour guides would do. Also, they were determining what order they would speak.

A young girl started telling me about the front of the church. A boy was “reminding her” of everything the teacher had told them to do (make eye contact, point to the objects you are discussing, etc.).

IMG_1317As we entered the church, I was truly amazed. I would NEVER have found this by myself. Incredible the bright colors of the murals all over the walls and ceiling in such a small space.

One of the students was talking about each mural, but was not showing me where they were. Keep in mind, they had memorized everything, so their goal was to make sure they finished their script without mistakes. A boy behind the girl, told her to point to what she was talking about. Soon my head was going from side to side, to the ceiling, everywhere to catch up with how fast they were talking (smiling).

The boy took over, he had a strong voice and was wearing cute round glasses. He looked like a mini professor, which was amusing. I followed him to the alter area and he started to speak about this.

IMG_1318The church was crowded with many groups of students talking to tourists. Before the children let me go, they had been instructed to have me write in a book, my name, where I was from and any comments.

They were very sweet, hanging over my shoulder to see WHERE I was from and WHAT I would write. I joked with them, “Should I tell your teacher you were excellent or terrible?”

It took them a minute to decide what “terrible” meant and then, as true animated Italians, they said in unison, “No, non terrible, excellent!”  I gave them a thumbs up!

As I left, I said, “Don’t you recommend a restaurant?”

They looked at me confused. That was not part of the teacher’s assignment!

SARDINIA: Neptune’s Grotto

IMG_1331We’ve all read or seen a pirate movie, YES?  In the pirate stories they usually hide their loot in a hidden cave. When I heard there was a beautiful cave in Alghero called, “Neptune’s Grotto,” I was curious to see for myself “how it feels to be in a cave” and “what it really looks like.”

Local fisherman discovered the cave in the 18th century. They named the grotto after the Roman God, “Neptune.” There are two ways to get to the grotto. Option 1: Park at the top of the cliff and walk down 654 steps and THEN walk back up 654 steps. Choose Option 1, if you want a good work out. Option 2: (which I felt was the better option) Take a boat ride to the entry of the cave.

The top photo is where the boat let us off in front of the grotto. Getting off the boat was definitely an “adventure!” Imagine, the front of the boat comes in to the grotto, and has a plank that they extend out to the grotto’s entry way. The waves were very rough, so when we started to walk the plank, which was jerking back and forth, we definitely felt like there were pirates behind us and if we didn’t hold on to the plank’s railing and move fast, we would fall into the sea and be eaten by the sharks!  ALL of us tourists were a bit shaken by the disembarkment.

IMG_1328The second photo is what we saw once we got off the boat. This is the entry way into the grotto. To the left are stairs that you start to climb, which bring you inside the grotto. Very beautiful you can see.

My camera was not cooperating “inside” the cave, so I found this next photo thanks to www.pixabay.com. When you are inside it looks like this photo, but it is ALL WHITE, not orange. You need to use a flash to take photo and this is how it turns out.

IMG_1337The tourist books say, “This is a place you want to see once in your lifetime.” There are many wonders to see throughout this world. For me, I have always wanted to see “inside a cave,” so I am happy to have checked this off my “bucket list.”

It was wonderful being on the boat for 2 hours round trip. The sea had the most beautiful blue color. Smelling the salty sea air with the wind blowing in our faces was just fabulous.

On to the next adventure!