Thursday, October 14, 2010

Finally home.

There are a number of reasons I know we're home; I can understand most of what people are saying, there are fewer scooters, and we went to Costco today.

It was a great trip. Lots of people to see, mostly Australians, and lots of sights and smells. Some good, some bad. The best part? Traveling with Belinda's Aunt Alice. I never had to go shopping while she was with us. And then Thomas showed up and it was even better. I think they will be our new traveling partners. I can just hear Thomas " Oh Gawd ! " I have posted some pictures at:  

This blog is a little different than the last one. Maybe a little more serious. Not sure why but maybe it's because we were not on a tour and my opportunites for picking on someone was much more limited. And it was a little frustrating trying to find an internet access point. By the time I did, much of my memory had faded. Right now, I'm still lying awake at night trying to figure out what train to take tomorrow or if it's a "down day". As I mentioned, my definition of "down day" and Belinda's definition are a little different. It turned out she merely meant fewer steps to walk down (AND UP !). I just wish she had said this was a "hill town tour." When she retired Belinda said she wanted to take the more strenuous trips first and so we started with the Machu Picchu trip, then Egypt. I think the "hill town trip" should have been first. Much more climbing than Machu Picchu. . . or is it that I'm getting older? Nah. Am I?

On one of our "down days" (I need to put quotes around these words because it's Belinda's phrase, not mine) we got caught in the middle of a service workers strike in Nice, France. But this was one of the days where we actually were taking it a little easy. Even so, Belinda still found steps to go down (and up).

Our last night was in Milan. A very big city with one of the most impressive duomos.

And we climbed to the roof. Well, actually we paid 8€ to take the elevator. Is that cheating? There were still some stairs left to climb. Eight or ten anyway. Then we jumped on one of the streetcars and rode it to the end. Then we took a bus and subway back to our hotel and went to bed.

Our flights home were uneventful. Tried to sleep as much as we could and now our clock is a little off. Still trying to organize our pictures and will be doing so over the next few weeks. I may post a few more and will note that on this blog.

One thing that really struck me was something right here in the U.S. As I mentioned, we had a 13 hour layover in Newark so we took the train into Penn Station in New York and visited the Brooklyn Tabernacle and Ground Zero. We especially wanted to see what the deal was with the proposed Muslim center, a few blocks from Ground Zero. (See above).  First of all, this isn't a just a Mosque, it's a Cultural Center. Something we've seen in other cities around the world. But even if it was a Mosque, don't they have a right to build where they want? Isn't that one of the main reasons we declared our independence from England - freedom of religion? What kind of message do we want to send to the world?  How we handle this issue really is "a test of our commitment to American values" as Michael Bloomberg has said.  In all our travels, it is so apparent that most wars, conflicts, killings, etc. are in the name of someone's religion. In Mostar, Bosnia, it was the Muslims against the Serbs (Orthodox Christians). God (Supreme Being, Allah, whatever) didn't create the U.S. above all other countries. He created all of us to be like him, in his image, to love one another. Do we have to go to our religious corners every time there is an issue? Those who flew into the World Trade Center buildings were radicals, as was Timothy McVeigh. We can not lump all Muslims together because of the WTC any more than we can the Catholics because of McVeigh or any of the other radical religious groups who kill doctors and blow up abortion clinics. These people don't represent the vast majority of their religious order. They are all radicals! And yet we continue to kill one another over our different beliefs. What possible difference does it make to someone what somebody else believes? It is obvious that killing someone with different beliefs has accomplished nothing. As one bumper sticker says "We are creating terrorists faster than we can kill them!" Someone has to say "Enough!" If you can't love your neighbor, at least tolerate them.

Stepping off my soapbox now. . . . and ending this blog. I hope you enjoyed it. . . or at least tolerated it.