Monday, 13 October 2014

On Travel and Other Happenings

It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life. The rich colours of grass and earth were intensified by the mellow light of a sun almost warm enough for spring... -P.D. James, A Taste for Death


Friends,
'
What an interesting couple of months it has been: I came back from my travels with the yearning to head out the door again and see another part of the world. I now have this strange, enlightening feeling of having arrived at a place in my life where everything is possible and everything seems to be illuminated. I have been shaken to the core. I am delighted by the fact that not everyone live to work but rather, it's quite the opposite! I want to take the road less travelled and go on more adventures.

Some places I have been included: Amsterdam, Florence, Tuscany, and Venice. Each carried wonderful memories along the way.

Firenze, Italy

It was Monday afternoon when I got off the bus from the Santa Maria Novella train station. Outside, I was thrilled by the fact that it was warm, the sun was out, and the sky was a riveting blue. I found myself overwhelmed by the people going to and fro around me, all the while catching snippets of Italian here and there, gawking at the way people were dressed- especially the men (some were impeccable), the way the Politzia were patrolling the streets in their smart-looking uniforms and white helmets, the smell of bread wafting through shops, and the thought "Holy mother of God, I can't believe I'm here!!" crossing my mind many, many times.


(Shot this while reaching one of the levels of Giotto's Tower. 
Splendid view.)

I skipped across the crosswalk and aimed for the church of Santa Maria Novella where, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the Duomo. Seeing it in pictures is one thing, but to see it in all its grandeur in person, where it peeked out between the buildings in front of me, had the power to stop me in my tracks. I gazed and gazed at it in wonder, speechless.


Emotions were running  very high as I closed the distance between Santa Maria del Fiore. It was unlike anything I ever felt. I was constantly taking in my surroundings, the feel of the cobblestoned streets underneath me and the sounds of people conversing and laughing. Somewhere, someone is belting out Puccini. 
Luckily I ended up purchasing a Firenze Card which for 72 hours, entitles you admission to a list of all these museums, galleries and churches. Well worth your Euros and you get to hop onto the priority line to save time. 

(Shot this while arriving the halfway mark climbing the 400+ stairs of the Duomo.)

Inside, I was awestruck by the sheer beauty of the cathedral and its architecture. As I walked further in, I glanced at people lighting candles, whispering blessings and prayers. I was drawn towards the warmth of these lighted candles, the murmurs of voices, and the quiet peace one feels within these walls. I was ready to climb the steps to the top!

More travel stories to come!


Books


I found myself enjoying this read! Initially, I wasn't too sold on the plot, but a few chapters in and I was immersed in the world of Estebanico: the first black explorer of America, who travels with the conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez to the coast of what is now the Gulf Coast of the United States- "La Florida", as it was known back then. Great storytelling to the very end: I was torn by the loss which Estebanico had endured as a slave. There were no hold-backs on portraying the very harsh realities many of these individuals suffered through. I would recommend this book.


This was my book club's September pick for Mystery Month and boy, was it a thriller! I previously read Gone Girl (can't wait to watch the film with a girlfriend of mine next week) and between the two, I have to say that Sharp Objects hits the spot. It was one of those reads I had to finish in a couple of sittings. The characters are intriguing and keeps you on edge until the very end. Overall, this book casts a dark glance of the cruelty of the human condition, often disturbing, but very real. Worth a read.



I am currently reading this book. Watched the film, which starred Simon Pegg and Rosamund Pike (it really is her year in films!) and loved it to bits. After my travels in Europe, I found myself widening my perspective on what it means to be truly happy. I cemented my purpose to fulfill what I wanted to do in life: I want to travel more, I want to volunteer with an organization I haven't done before, bake something different every month, take a creative writing course to fuel my writing ambition, spend more time with loved ones, and so much more. I aim to finish the other two books within this series and tell you my thoughts. In the meantime, I found this great summary on the interweb on the Lessons for the Search of Happiness!


Let us forever search for our own happiness. Sometimes, happiness is right in front of your doorstep- you need only to step out into the sunshine.

Until next time!

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