Retro-Trip: Italy 1983


Rome - Vatican City - Venice - Florence

In order to save a few bucks, JoBeth and I decided that taking an overnight train from Vienna to Rome was the way to go. 

Not so much.

Sound asleep when our train came to a screeching halt, we had just crossed the Austrian/Italian border.

In a flurry of activity, arm-waving and unintelligible loud directives by Italian train personnel, we were thrown off our comfortable Austrian sleeper-car and sent to wait for another train to Rome. 

Our cattle car train arrived several hours later. 

Boarding the train, dense with cigarette smoke, we were careful not to step on the people seated on the floor as we meandered our way to the 'spot' that we would occupy for the next 10 hours to Rome. No seat assignments.

I was less than impressed.

Beginning our journey through the Italian countryside, we made our way to the first open window. Within two hours, we had polished off the equivalent of a full pack of cigarettes - via second-hand smoke - so finding it was welcome relief. It was then, that I recall Jobeth all wide-eyed, hair whipping in the wind with a broad smile exuberantly saying..."Don't you just love Italy?!!"

Maybe it wasn't cigarette smoke that we were being exposed to.
Trevi Fountain - Rome
Soon after our arrival, we found a cheap three-story-walk-up to stay in. Choosing against sleeping in the scary-looking twin concave beds, JoBeth and slept with our heads laid on a tabletop... "When in Rome".
JoBeth at The Coliseum
The Coliseum
Rome is so culturally full that we decided to find an American Express Travel Agency and book a bus tour of all the spots we didn't want to miss. It worked out well for us.
The (alleged) spot where Brutus assassinated Julius Caesar
A key stop on our 1983 tour of Italy was Vatican City. We had to be there on a Wednesday as that was the day The Pope would be having his Public Audience.

We had no idea how many people would be there...
Or that tickets were required to get in...
Or that the Public arena was heavily guarded...
I was OK with not seeing The Pope. 

JoBeth? Not so much. 
Dejected, she took it upon herself to gently nudge me into a gaggle of Argentinian Nuns as they entered the gates.
Argentinian Nuns: (foreground) Dark Blue Habits
Done. Our new best friends.
Pope John Paul
Vatican City Postage Stamp
St. Peters Cathedral
Michelangelo's painting on the ceiling of The Sistine Chapel
Our first three days in Rome were spent at The Vatican. 

Day One: Public Audience with The Pope
Day Two: Vatican Holy Day - spotted the Pope in a procession
Day Three: We happened upon a Mass being delivered by Pope John Paul in St. Peters Cathedral.

Was it a 'sign'?  I think not.

Venice was next ... 
It was everything and more than I had imagined. I loved it.

And finally, Florence. The last stop on our Tour of Italy. 

Strangely, I can't seem to find any pics from Florence. 
It probably had something to do with running out of film - it was 1983.

Next, we were off to Switzerland

A Tribute to Nurses...


Only a nurse (or fireman) will identify the intrinsic problem with this picture...
We were so proud to bake her a cake for her birthday.

I am the first to admit that I was far from being 'a natural' nurse. After graduating from Nursing School, I cried more days than not. Crying took up the first five years of my career.

And then, I got it.
Some nurses really liked their jobs. Who knew?

So, I watched them, listened to them and followed their lead.

This was how I really learned to be a nurse.

I wish I could remember all of their names - it's been a long career - but I do remember their actions.

  • Phyllis, RN - Sparks Regional Medical Center, Fort Smith , Arkansas: I was having trouble learning to start IV's. My confidence had taken a hit. I didn't want to try any more. I embraced the fact that I was a crummy nurse. When Phyllis whipped her own arm out and said "start an IV on me." I was floored by her bravery. It was then that I learned of my intrinsic IV starting technique flaw. Best to release the tourniquet before administering the fluid. Ahem.

  • Karen Bufton RN, Baylor University Medical Center: Petrified of emergency situations, I would watch Karen, a CCU nurse, manage a "code" - as I would hide in the shadows. Karen would prepare all of the necessary emergency drugs way before the physician would order them. When the doc would say "Lidocaine 100mg IV Stat!" Karen would casually pass the drug as if she was wondering when he would (yawn) get to it . It was a beautiful sight to see. I remember commenting, "When I grow up, I want to be just like her".

  • Kim Davies RN, Parkland Memorial Hospital, Dallas Texas: As a big city ER nurse, I watched Kim give two itinerant farm workers a couple of dollars from her own pocket so that they could buy something to eat while they waited for a ride to their next job. She didn't know that I saw her. I will never forget her doing it. She remains a dear friend and role model to this day.

  • The Baylor Medical Center ER night shift nurses and techs and docs; who 'sucked it up' when two young boys and their mother were brought in with multiple stab wounds. The boys died soon after arrival. Chaos abounded that night, what with the onslaught of police, family members arriving and all that could be expected following such a nightmare scenario. The staff? They continued to compassionately and skillfully care for those patients with headaches, back pain and runny noses. No complaints.

  • Sarah RN, A nurse that I had developed a rapport with during her care of my best friend, Rob - while he in her care in the ICU. Sarah was a busy mother of two small children who worked 12 hour night-shifts, from 7 pm until 7 am. On the day that life support was removed from my sweet friend, Sarah came into the ICU - on her day off - to bathe and care for Rob, after his death. I tearfully thanked her. Sarah's response? "It was just the right thing to do".

These nurses are not exceptional. You can find nurses like them in every hospital, clinic or school. They are just a few of the incredible nurses that have helped me grow as a nurse and as a human being. I only wish I could list every one of them.

Yes, we all know that nurses have to do gross shit but what you don't hear a lot about... is the awesome life experiences that we get to have.

Abby's 1st Birthday


Abigail Grace
It  was a Lady-bug themed/Cinco de Mayo  Birthday Party!

Abby greeted us earlier than planned last year but despite challenges along the way, this lovely little girl continues to grow and blossom.

A sweet spirit, she loves her monkey and big sister, Annslee - not necessarily in that order.
Favorite pastimes include cuddling and eating.

I've got a feeling that Abby is going to surprise us all 
~ and I look forward to what she has in store.

Annslee, Abby, Daddy & Mommy

Retro-Trip: Austria 1983


Salzburg & Vienna


Where our 1983 European Adventure truly kicked off.

Eurail pass in hand and without hotel reservations, our youthful optimism guided us in knowing that finding a place to stay was only a matter of time. Soon after arriving, we met a woman at the train station who offered us accommodations in her "pension" (pronounced "pen-see-own").
The view from our Salzburg pension
Truth be told, the 'pension' was a room in her house and was located a little outside of Salzburg but it was comfortable and nothing that a bus ride couldn't fix to get into town. It was also my first experience sleeping on a feather-bed with a duvet. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Eurail Pass 2013: You have to purchase them before you leave - outside of Europe. We purchased our train passes for Spain from Rail Europe two years ago and found the company was great to work with. No snags. 

There are several different types of Eurail passes. The "Global" Eurail pass offers unlimited travel on the national rail networks of: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland (includes Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland), Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey. 
  • The continuous pass is available for 15 days, 21 days, 1 month, 2 months or 3 months.
  • The flexipass is available for 10 or 15 days of travel within a 2 month period. 
Prices are depending on the type of pass you want and for how long you want to use it but they are a great value.

Back to Salzburg: The Salzach river divides Salzburg. One side is contemporary and modern, the other side, Old Town (or Altstadt), is a World Heritage site, preserving the 17th century (!) Baroque architecture.

The Salzburg Wine Festival just happened to follow Oktoberfest.
Who knew?
Drinking with new friends at The Salzburg Wine Festival
Salzburg - divided by the Salzach River
Baroque Architecture of "Old Town"
Chalk drawing on the street - before it was cool.
"Sound of Music" castle

I have always thought of Vienna as "the most romantic place in the world". Cobblestone streets, lit up at night with gas lanterns - outdoor dining on the sidewalk. Imagine, Medieval and Baroque architecture, classical music, opera, The Danube and The Waltz. You just can't get any more romantic.

The Danube
One day, Mr. Something and I will travel to Vienna. 
I just know he will love it as much as I did.
Cafe Terrace at Night ~ Vincent Van Gogh
For some reason, when I think of Vienna, I think of this painting. 
A Parisienne scene, it always brings me back to Vienna.

Next Stop...Italy

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