31 Days of Travel {5 & 6}: Bahamas

Yesterday we went apple picking and last night I was too tired to write. C’est la vie. So as Hurricane Matthew wreaks havoc in the Bahamas, I’ll write about two visits to a Bahama island, and ask you to say a prayer with me for those affected by this storm. 

1) Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos: December 2007

Beach-pool-Margaritaville. Basically, my favorite place. (Except Rome. But you know, for vacation 😉  The first time I visited on a cruise, with my parents and sister. We did off shore snorkeling in the clear, warm water. Since we took a boat to a reef in the far side of the island, we were able to see how big the cruise ship is compared to the island. The ship rises far above the low island, and dominates the little jetty. 

After snorkeling we had Margaritas at Margaritaville (of course). The bartender told me, “I like to make them strong so the young ladies get tipsy!” Well I wasn’t exactly tipsy, but I fell fast asleep on the beach until it was time to go! 

2) Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos: February 2015

I went to Grand Turk again on my third cruise, but this time with parents, husband and two daughters (3 and 7 months then). Very different, but still awesome! This time, we played in the beach by the jetty and swam in the crystal clear water that is impossibly blue. Grace loved the large chess set on the beach, as well as the hammocks hung between the trees. 

We didn’t have drinks but we played in the Margaritaville pool, then this time, my girls fell asleep on the beach. Grace still asks when we will go on the “big boat” again. 

31 Days of Travel {4}: Assisi

Today is the feast of St. Francis, so naturally I will write about Assisi, Italy. 

Assisi

I spent four days in Assisi, mostly on silent retreat. So I walked the cobblestone streets and visited all the holy sights in silent contemplation. Assisi is a medieval town. Built on a hill, with narrow streets and old stone buildings. At every corner there are spots from the lives of Francis, Clare and other Franciscans. 

Steep, narrow, conblestone streets! Positively Medieval!

The old church in the town contains the famous Life of St. Francis frescoes by Giotto, while the huge “newer” church in the valley contains the original chapel, the Porziuncola, of St. Francis. 

Basilica of St. Francis

Then there are the numerous other chapels and churches, like the convent of the Poor Clare’s and San Damiano. 

San Damiano


One of my favorite memories of my time in Assisi was during dinner at our hotel. There were 29 college students all eating in silence, and we took turns reading from the book “Little Flowers of St. Francis.” Now St. Francis was incredibly holy, but he was eccentric, and some of the stories about him are downright hilarious. So sometimes we would all laugh out loud, then get quiet again. The other diners would give us really strange looks!

Sunset from our hotel.

Assisi was a lot of uphill and downhill walking, but the views from above were amazing. 

Umbria. The whiteness is cloud in the valley.

So happy feast of St. Francis. 

One last picture. All photos were taken 11 years ago by me.

31 Days of Travel {3}: Prince Edward Island

When I was 17, our family drove north (from New York), up through Maine, to Prince Edward Island. I have always loved the Anne of Green Gables books, and this trip was very special. 

We stayed on the north shore, in Cavendish, where the Anne and Lucy Maud Montgomery sites are located. We camped near the shore, although even in July the water was too cold for much swimming! Somewhere during the trip, I heard the island described as a place like jewels, emeralds, sapphires, rubies. And it is. Brilliant green hills, deep red sand ringing the shore, blue water glistening all around. On Prince Edwsrd Island, you’re never far from the sea. 

I remember visiting Green Gables and the Avonlea village recreation, where the books are recreated. We also visited the Lucy Maud Montgomery home. And in Charlottesville, we saw the Anne musical. I still have the soundtrack I bought then, and it was great fun. 

This trip I also experienced the biggest accident in all my travels. While running down a sandbank I tripped and twisted my ankle. So, the rest of the trip I hobbled around with crutches! 

But my enduring memory of Prince Edward Island is the beauty. The hills, the sea, the little farms and villages, unmarried by huge sprawling cities. A brilliant blue sky and dull red cliffs, that’s what has stayed with me. I understood why Anne and Montgomery loved this place. One day, I hope to return. 

31 Days of Travel {2}: Virginia Beach

I have vacationed in Virginia Beach since I was about six years old. But now, it’s the one beach we have most frequently been to with our girls, owing to very hospitable friends who have a beach house in Sandbridge. 


When I was younger, the book meant books, body surfing and building sand castles. Now, it means watching little girls play in the sand, endlessly running back and forth in the surf, and rare moments in the waves. Reading only happens if the kids nap. 

This summer, Sandbridge was the first beach we brought Cecilia to. She mostly slept. 

Another fun activity these days is exploring the channel behind our friends house, in their boat. This channel makes the area a sort of barrier island, and doesn’t flow into the ocean until North Carolina. Of course, we don’t go very far, but we all enjoy the boat rides!

We’re hoping to get to the beach one more time this fall. It won’t be hot, but the waves will still be soothing in their murmur and the breezes blowing fresh and salty. If ever I could live by the sea, this is where I’d choose. 

31 Days of Travel {1}: Lisieux

A few years ago, before I had a blog, I remember reading about the 31 Days challenge.  Well, this year I’m going to try again! Link ups and writing challenges are my friends as I attempt to blog for pleasure and relaxation. So I’m writing on a topic of interest probably mostly to myself: travel!

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Each day, I plan to briefly share the story of a place I have visited. In honor of St. Therese’s feast day, I’ll start off with Lisieux, France, which I visited in August 2005. I was traveling in France for two weeks with two girlfriends, just before our semester abroad.

I remember climbing the hilly, narrow cobblestone streets to get to our hostel. I remember the African ladies in vibrantly printed dresses who ran the hostel and were very sweet. I recall the thrill of walking through the Martin home, seeing their relics and recreated possessions. The roses blooming in Therese’s own front garden were a special sight.

Then there was the little chapel in the Carmel were St. Therese lived and died, with a chapel containing her tomb and filled with flowers. I recall searching for a flower seller, that we too might leave roses at her tomb. What joy to celebrate Mass is that blessed place!


Then there was the museum, with some of Therese’s clothes and possessions, and her hair. Her long, curly hair, cut off at her first profession, was saved by the nuns and on display. It makes one realize what a sacrifice of female vanity it is to cut off all ones beautiful hair and cover your head forever!

Finally, we visited the grand, new basilica, built to house all the pilgrims. But it was not so special as the Carmel, and all I remember is mosaics in too bright colors and the glasses reliquary containing her arm bone.

St. Therese took particular care of me that autumn a spent in Europe, and has always been one of my favorite saints. She has continued to bless me, and now I even have my own little Theresa Rose!