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Europe


Time can get away from all of us… That is especially true for this blog.  It was not on purpose, just a pause to accommodate life’s busy time.

Traditional Italian noodle from scratch

 

I was cooking earlier today and it was Italian of course.  Maybe two days ago I had come across a video online about how to make traditional spaghetti from scratch using all-purpose flour, salt, and an egg.  That’s it!  So simple yet versatile.  Every culture has a variation of the noodle because it’s the backbone of comfort food with a bit of fun.  No matter how many years pass us by, you have to admit that slurping up a noodle from your plate brings a smile to your face.  I think the noodle is a bit like an archway… Stay with me.  A noodle can support just about every meal you pair it with!  I’ve even had a cinnamon noodle dessert and it worked perfectly!  An arch can support so much weight while allowing things to pass under.

Arc de Triophe

Many countries pay homage with an arch.  the infamous Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the Forum arch of Titus in Rome, and many more.  Just like the noodle there are a variation of arches that can be used for a multitude of purposes with some built as a monument, some for bridges and other cut throughs.  Life has offered me a few practical metaphors and the arch is definitely one of them.  Whenever I look at architecture, I compare it to the human body.  Arches represent a strong pair of shoulders to me.     Whether you think of yourself as a monument to a tough life or you’re here to help others through to the other side or you’re here to support someone else, just remember it’s always important to have a strong base.  That for me is the love of my life, family and God.  Without a strong base the arch and its purpose will fall.

Full view of The Forum

Arch di Tito

The Colosseum

Entrance to Colosseum

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Vatican City is extremely conducive to studying one’s senses.  While walking past the crumbling walls of Vatican City, I reached the cobblestone plaza in front of St. Peter’s Basilica.  As the noise of traffic decreased, I felt like the bustling city was pulled away and my senses  honed in on the immaculate structure before me.  My vision jumped from one statue to another statue adorning the top of the cathedral- I was struck by  the endless labyrinth of detail.  My eyes remained transfixed upon the bleached stone on the horizon of my vision and above.  All the while, my feet readjusted with each step because of the deteriorating, centuries old cobblestone.  My senses were overloaded and each body part responded to my environment.  A breath from the wind was filled with rose scented incense, nuns from every part of the world cried in jubilation, and each person remained solemn in expression out of respect.  Although the Catholic Church has long fought tragedy and adversity down through the centuries, one could not help but be awe struck by the dedication to this magnificent structure.

The full circle in front of the Vatican was a massive expanse that seemed out of place in a crowded metropolis such as Rome.  As I began to walk up to the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica, the structure grew larger with each step.  The sounds of conversation began to diminish and I prepared myself for another long day inside a dimly lit “museum” of sorts.  As I entered the first hall, I was overcome by the magnitude of it’s interior.  It felt as if the ceilings were unreachable even by ladder and the length of the halls were longer than my entire apartment building.  The cleanliness astounded me.  With the amount of visitors St. Peter’s receives

each day, I saw barely a speck of dirt on the floor nor grease spots on the pillars.  The reverence of all the people inside this massive church was either out of respect for their God or out of respect for the builders of this magnificent structure.  I tried wrapping my head around how St Peter’s Basilica was originally built by hand prior to expansion.  The human ability to create something of this magnitude was astounding.  I guess the builders wanted the visitor to think about how God has given us the innate ability to create.  Around the outside of the structure are  glass cases of popes that have been embalmed and are on display.  The altar is about the size of a small cabin;  a miniature building inside of a monstrosity.  A friend of mine decided to buy us tickets to the top of the Basilica for a view.  For a few Euros, you can climb countless stairs to the top for a view of Rome.  The souvenirs are a bit odd, like an ashtray with Jesus, the Pope, or Mary.  If the souvenirs do not interest you can then head towards the edge of the building for a 360 landscape view of the ancient city of Rome.

As we walked down the steps back into the main part of the basilica  once again, I could only think of how much food, clothing, or health care could have come from the amount of money that goes into maintaining this structure.  I try not to focus on the past and look towards what the Church has done for people around the world in the present.  I hope that the amount of time and money spent in the past on this creation is willingly transferred to those in need today.


My brother and I embarked on many journeys together throughout our lives.  We’ve been all across

My brother, Jason

Europe as well as up/down the east coast of the United States.  I can say without hesitation that each trip has been filled with copious amounts of laughter, inside jokes, and even a few moments of serious discussion.  Maybe we had a few misunderstandings or disagreements along the way, but they were all insignificant since I can not recall any argument.  If you are reading this and thinking about embarking on a journey of your own for any extended period of time, it is important to choose your traveling companion wisely.  I was lucky enough to be the youngest brother of four males in our family.  I have a special relationship with each of them and traveling with any brother would most definitely be dissimilar from the other along each journey.

One trip I love to recall in particular was a journey through the Swiss Alps with my brother, Jason.  The

Driving through the Alps in Switzerland

landscape, from a distance, is as if you are staring directly into a snowy mountain masterpiece painted by none other than Bob Ross.  Driving through the winding mountain roads with cyclist, motorcycles, and other automobiles, I could spot lone trees speckling the white and silver Alps.  A few times along the way my brother would roll down his window and let out the loudest yodel/catcall with motorists turning their heads.  For those not familiar with the “southern catcall”, it is a bloodcurdling yell that you would hear at concerts such as, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Toby Keith, and ZZ Top.  Moving on…  I, of course, lifted my “Guide through the Swiss Alps” book to cover my face as a I slouched down a bit in my chair.  I could just imagine one of the cyclist taking a turn over the side of a mountain face after his ear was blasted by my brother’s southern rendition of the Ricola commercial. E.g. Ricola Commercial YouTube.

Once we crossed the pinnacle of the mountain we were driving, we began a lazy drive down into the town which was situated in a luscious green valley that wrapped around the perimeter of the valley.  I looked across the steep ridges and cliffs trying to focus all my senseson the magnitude of my

The valley in which our hotel was situated

surroundings.  I heard a soft, deep pitched ringing off in the distance.  As I walked down a steep road, my senses fixed upon the object that was producing that sound.  It was a large cow grazing in the distance with a large cowbell dangling underneath it’schin.  Cold air from the flowing streams could be felt within each of my breaths.  My eyes were bouncing from each vivid color as if I only had a limited time to process it all.  My brother and I reached the bottom of the hill on foot and a lincoln log type structure donned the name of our hotel.  As Jason checked us into our room using his impressive German vocabulary, I wandered the lobby and flipped through each brochure.  My legs ached from such a long drive and I was more than ready to stretch out for a few minutes before heading to dinner. Jason waved his hand and I grabbed my bags as we headed up the creaking

BUNKS?!

wooden stairs to our room.  He had a grin that crept on his face ever since he had taken the keys from the receptionist.  It looked like he wanted to laugh, but since he was always in a good mood I did not dwell on it.  He unlocked our door and started dying laughing.  My brother has a contagious laugh and I was laughing along with him before I even knew what he saw.  As I entered our Swiss hotel, I saw that our room contained bunk beds.  All I could do was turn to him and say, “BUNKS?!”  He was laughing

so hard that I think a few weary travelers poked their heads from their rooms to see what was happening.

Memories like these are what have made me the person I am today.  All my brothers have impacted me in ways that have changed and shaped my character for the rest of my life.  Jason gave me the opportunity to visit him and be his traveling companion throughout Europe 7 different times!  I learned three important lessons along the way.  Jason taught me to always look for a bright side to things.  As

Descending into the cavern in Switzerland

simple as that sounds, it changed my entire thought process and has opened up doors of opportunity beyond anything I could have imagined.  Look for the good because the bad will always pop it’shead up, so there is no need to make that list.  The second thing was that there is always something better out there.  I was astounded by the tunnels we drove through to get to our destination.  Jason would

say, “If you think these cliffs and tunnels are incredible wait until we reach the other side.”  Finally, Jason taught me what a man should strive to be.  My brother exudes kindness, self-control, and optimism.  Family are not just people you are raised among.  Family is deep.  Family is love.  Family is about learning who you are and what you can become.

“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.”

-Richard Bach

Holding on for dear life!