Friday, November 2, 2018

Random Thoughts About Life

It's 2:30 am in Rome (7:30 pm at home) and since I can't sleep I guess it's as good a time as any to start my Rome wrap up post share some random thoughts about life.

This really has been a thought provoking few months. While yesterday (or was it the day before? I've lost track of my days!) I said never again would we fly overnight or fly such a long distance, I already started scheming (that happened at 1 am this morning) of ways to get us back here. Fly Boise to New York. Stay a few days. New York to Reykjavik and stay a few days. Reykjavik to Rome. Hubby wasn't going for it, though. Darn. I think Rome was a one and done for him. This was his trip, his must-see place, but the huge crowds and the walking and the fear of falling and the stamina issues have him quite a bit hesitant of heading out this far again. 

This is a new life for him. He was always confident in his actions, independent, walked fast (well, as fast as someone with cerebral palsy could), and never, ever, considered himself handicapped. But after his kidney failure he never regained all the strength and stamina he had beforehand. And since his kidneys are only at 60% capacity and will never get better, we are learning to live life differently. I've taken more of a caretaker role lately. I'm okay with that, but it's unfortunate that at 58 he sometimes seems like he's 78. I'm guessing if not for his camaraderie with crew members we probably wouldn't be cruising anymore. He loves the workers on the ship. Absolutely adores them. As a former high school teacher, I think being on the ship makes him feel young again with all the conversations and fun he has with the young crew members.

Each time we head out on a new trip we send a photo from our location to the group of crew we've come to know so well. We sent out our Rome picture a couple hours ago and so far we had Mariana from Mexico City tell us she just got a job at the JW Marriott and thanked us for our support and the letter of recommendation we wrote for her. We had Jelena from Serbia tell us how much she loves us and if she and her boyfriend decide to stay in China that we will have to come see her. Mou and Neville from India sent us a picture of themselves in Sydney and said they hope their next contract is in the US so we can come to see them on the ship. Clary has a picture of all the Kit Kats we sent to him on his ship in Japan and told us about his friend who works on the Crown. Niranjan said he can't wait until we (he calls us his mom and dad) get to the Grand next month to see him and told us about his best friend on the Crown. We heard from Sainor from Honduras who found out he might be getting a promotion and Sheila from Nicaragua who just finished her contract and got to go home to her little girl. Sandesh said he is now working night room service on the Crown so we've made plans to eat late a lot these next couple weeks. Sundar just joined the Sea Princess this week. Marcelino and Joffrey are still working together in the bar on the Grand. Sid is off in Saudi Arabia working at the hotel so he can make enough money to get married. Rushi is still recovering from his terrible bike accident. Renjith's baby is growing so big and he sent us his family's formal pictures - with his baby boy wearing the outfit we bought him. 

That's why we cruise. Not for the ports, not for the ship life, not to be treated to unlimited food. It's for the crew. And that's why hubby gets himself up out of bed everyday and makes the most of the day the best way he can. Some days are good days and some days aren't. Some days his frustration is at its peak and some days he is more able to just go with the flow. 

Like I've said before, each trip makes me wonder if this is the last. I think we're getting there. My role has evolved over the course of our lifetime. I've always been the planner, thinker, organizer. The one who makes sure we get where we need to go. But now I've added in making sure he is set and comfortable. Like with the hop-on, hop-off bus for example. I would have picked a different bus company with several routes, and probably made my way onto each route, but I knew how much energy he had in him. So we chose the one closest to the hotel with the fewest stops. I helped him climb the step onto the bus and found him a seat downstairs. I opened up the headphone packet, uncoiled the headphones for him, plugged it into the headphone jack, got it to the English channel, and made sure he had a safe spot for his cane before I headed upstairs. I don't mention all of that for any reason other than to document where we are at this point in our lives. We now walk slow, stay close, and keep things simple. I'm okay with that, but I'm not certain he is. I'm sure he's struggling with having to come to grips with the fact that he might actually be handicapped

But he puts one foot in front of the other (actually, one foot drags - it's called foot drop and that's what the doctor says is causing the falls) and gets up and dressed. We've seen things we never could have imagined we'd ever get to see. We've done things we never could have imagine we'd ever get to do.

It's been a great run. And if this is it, so be it. I'm so very grateful for this life we've been given. Life is flippin' amazing, isn't it?

A Full Day in Rome on the Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus

Boy, what a day. A good night's sleep prepared us for a full, information-filled, photo-filled day. We decided the best way to tackle the city was to do a hop-on, hop-off tour. We use hop-on, hop-offs quite a bit in other cities. They are easy for hubby since he can sit downstairs and listen to the narration while I can head upstairs and take the pictures. We typically do the entire loop first without getting off, then do a second loop where we do the hopping off. That was the plan for the day as well. But with us, like usual, plans change. And that's okay.

There are several bus companies that run throughout Rome. We chose the one requiring the least amount of walking to get to - the one that has their stop across the street from our hotel.
Right out our hotel window
We rode the entire route. There was so much to see and learn. 

Some is busy here. Not just dozens of people or hundreds of people congregating in the touristy areas/sights but what looked like thousands of people. When hubby saw the lines inside and around the Colosseum he decided there would be no hopping off the bus today. It was difficult to get any photo without tons of people in them. Lots of cropping had to happen on these pictures!
Even a bird had to get into the picture.
Streets are wide in some areas and buses and taxi and motorbike drivers are moving in and around each other. And the roundabouts? Whew. Glad I wasn't doing the driving. Other streets are super narrow and I still can't figure out how they all shared the road.
Motorbike anyone?
There are sights we couldn't see from the bus that would require walking but hubby wasn't up to it so we skipped those. But we were surprised how close some of the sights were to the main roadway.  
Amazing that this is where chariot racing used to occur
We saw several bookstores set up along the streets. Our daughter would be in love.
Can you tell what that is in straight in front of us?
That's the Colosseum. The bus drives so close you can't get the entire thing in the picture.

Unless you're paying a pretty penny for a tour specifically for the disabled, much of Rome is off limits for the mobility challenged. Just looking at the steps made us a bit sad and made us realize we should have come here when we were younger.
We had expected the weather to be colder. We had no rain today (yay!) and didn't really even need much of a jacket. Leaves are changing and fall is here, though.

Like Vickie from Vickie and Bernie Travel mentioned, there is a large security presence. Vickie and Bernie are also in Rome right now and are pretty darn adventurous. Check out her blog here to find out about their activities.

When we saw these vehicles we thought our bus was parking for a stop. Nope. We were waiting our turn to get through the area. They are there to keep vehicles from plowing through the area. So stop at the planters, veer left, pull forward. Veer right to get around the first vehicle. Stop. Veer left to get around the second vehicle. Veer right to then carry on.
We encountered it elsewhere, too.

After doing one loop on the bus we got off to go the restroom back at our hotel room. We planned on getting back on the bus so I could get more photos but gee whiz, I had plenty. We decided to get a better feel for things in the area around our hotel. We stopped in a couple shops by didn't buy anything.
Look at the fun pastas.
We should have investigated restaurants a bit more. Trying to limit the cobblestones and uneven ground left us with few options. While we thought tucking down a side alley would lead us to a tasty adventure, it didn't. Left food on our plate even.
Probably should have gone down this way instead.
After an afternoon nap we decided to check out the terminal again. When we came in yesterday it was pouring rain, the place was crammed with thousands of people, I was dragging luggage, and the hawkers and panhandlers were bothersome. It left us with a not-so-stellar impression. Today we found there was an entrance/exit on the same street as our hotel. Dang! It would have saved us some time and energy if we knew about it yesterday. Oh, well.
It's a big station with lots of people. 
And again lots of panhandlers/beggars. Usually you can wave them off or tell them no and they move on. Not here. Stand in line to pay for anything and they don't leave your side. 
Yep, gelato twice today. Might as well when in Rome, right?
We were surprised the terminal didn't have any seating anywhere. Couldn't even find a bench out and about around our hotel either. Hubby usually has to take break when we're walking and he didn't get the chance today. He was a trouper though and made it through. Two and a half miles for the day between cobblestones, uneven sidewalks, and solid ground. Good job to him.

Back at our hotel, I spied out the window something that just might be the Vatican?

Tomorrow we're off to meet up with the Crown Princess. Our hotel is one of the hotels Princess uses for cruise passengers so we considered booking the Princess bus to the port. But when we spoke to the rep today she suggested a private transfer. For about $10 more we could get a car for just the two of us that will drop us off in the port area. After the struggles hubby has had these last couple days getting on and off buses with the airport to Rome bus and the hop-on hop-off bus, he's glad he's not climbing up and down those bus steps again. Between our last go-round in Florida with his falls, the flight issues we had on our way here, and then the struggles getting around Rome, this has been an eye-opening last few months. And not in a good way. But we're still plugging along and thankful to be able to do what we can!