Third try was indeed the charm.
After twice having a dream vacation canceled by the coronavirus nightmare, my better-half, who is half-Italian, and I finally made it to the land where her family roots reach deep into the fertile soil. Specifically, we sailed fully around the thigh-high boot setting out at Venice, through the narrow Strait of Messina at the toe, up the western coast and over to Barcelona with nine port stops en route.
The starting and ending bookends proved to be our favorites, although perhaps this was partly because we spent extra nights in both and were thus able to explore them a little more fully than the daytime destinations.
A cruise, in my view, is sort of like speed dating in that you learn who (or where) you want to get to know better. In this case, we didn’t ask Croatia and Albania for their phone numbers. Don’t get me wrong, the former’s Old Town Dubrovnik — with white marble streets and forts of stone so magnificent “Game of Thrones” filmed myriad scenes there — was memorable, yet an afternoon inside these historic walls was plenty. Similarly, a few hours sufficed at the ancient sites of the Olympics in Olympia, Greece, and the Pompeii ruins near Naples, Italy.
Our two ports in France — Villefranche-sur-Mer and Toulon — are both gorgeous coastal locales, but to be honest we much prefer Ventura’s similar charms so feel no strong gravitational pull to return. Rome and Florence, however, like Venice and Barcelona, already beckon us back for longer sojourns.
In the coming weeks, I will share here some snapshots-in-words of my favorite experiences from our two-week trip: from memorable people and meals to the canals of Venice to the Colosseum in Rome to the breathtaking La Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona, and more.
Speaking of snapshots, my cell phone camera kept freezing with the command: “Out of Storage. Free Up Space.” Just my luck…
…good luck, that is.
In these old lands I was forced to go old school. Instead of mindlessly snap-snap-snapping endless digital photos, I was forced to point-and-shoot judiciously. It was like going back in time and using a camera with film that comes in 12, 24 or 36 exposures. Instead of paying to have prints made, I had to spend time deleting files.
So it was I found myself taking in the sites, and sights, in their full grandeur through naked eyes instead of miniaturized on a pixel screen. Thus, I found myself absorbing the scenes and memorizing the moments before selectively choosing the very best ones to photograph.
In this reframed frame of mind, it saddened me to see so many others touring these goosebump-inducing historic places, even a museum filled with Picasso artwork, while largely squinting at their tiny cameras. They seemed more concerned with reliving these experiences in the future rather than living them in the present. One romantic couple we encountered seemed to be experiencing their entire gondola ride through the canals of Venice digitally instead of actually.
Conversely, instead of hundreds of photos, so many as to be overwhelming, I came home with only a few “rolls” of selectively snapped images to be developed at Fotomat, so to speak. This was a silver lining, as mentioned, for it seems to me that too many pictures is like not being able to see the forest for the trees. Indeed, the graceful stone columns in La Sagrada Familia are meant to invoke towering trees, a forest of them, something one might miss if looking through a camera lens.
To be continued next week…
Woody Woodburn writes a weekly column for The Star and can be contacted at WoodyWriter@gmail.com. His books are available at www.WoodyWoodburn.com.
This article originally appeared on Ventura County Star: Woodburn: Vacation photos — less can be more