After Kanehūnāmoku was installed, my husband and I took our first transatlantic cruise from New York to Europe. I enjoyed exploring each new country and we walked for hours until it was time to return to the ship. We passed on the guided tours and instead debarked at each port and walked about to get a taste of the city and its people. We explored places that were completely new to us, some where one or the other had been before, and others that were well known and loved such as Mālaga and Barcelona where we first met over 20 years ago.
One of the highlights of the trip was getting to see Florence and Pisa. The hometown of Michelangelo, it was wonderful to spend time in the Basilica de San Lorenzo which had amazing art and was the first Renaissance church. There was a fresco on the ceiling that showed the stars at July 4th the year that chapel was opened in gorgeous lapis lazuli. I wondered at how similar we are compared to today and 500, 1000 or 10,000 years ago. We look up at the stars and count time and seasons by it. We admire the beauty of colored stones and carved forms.
We saw all the must-see tourist sites of course, such as the tower of Pisa and in Rome, the Colosseum, but when travelling, I like to walk a city and find the hidden sites that are no less important, just not known or appreciated. We found such a place in Rome, the site of the excavations that Michelangelo wrote about and was so enthusiastic in his day of the discovery of the ancient Greek and Roman palaces including Neroʻs palace. It is fenced off, and it is mostly a site for staging parking of the campers and buses but if you stop to read the little signs, you realise how big the area is.
This was the one stop we paid for a tour and our guide was quite knowledgeable while allowing us some time on our own to explore. Anders had been here many times for work so he knew the city pretty well and suggested I spend some time here and then we walked the route of the Medici private walkways across to the other side of the city. What a vibrant exciting city it must have been then. Donatello walked these streets, as well as many others I would have loved to meet. The cruise was leisurely onboard but with all the walking, there wasnʻt much time to sketch and paint, mostly just in my 5×7 sketchbook, which I nearly filled.
After leaving Rome, we travelled on home to Sweden where we stayed for the summer. I spent a total of 3.5 months in Europe this year and felt full and rested ready to return to Hawaiʻi. We visited the Pilane open air sculpture museum and the Nordic Watercolor Museum on Tjörn, the fortress and museum at Varberg Fortress, the open air cultural museum of Jönköping and the World Culture Museum in Gothenberg. In between, the other cathedrals of Sweden are out in nature, the parks, lakes, archipelago and forests all present just as serene and holy a place to meet God as San Lorenzo. There was so much to see and absorb, I literally felt full as you do after Thanksgiving.