Like you, there are programs on television that I flip quickly past with my remote. One, for me, is the psychic ghost hunters of ancient English homes. I find them hard to believe. They all take place at night in pitch black with flashlights shinning in the psychicís face for effect. I am not a big believer in ghosts. However, I have had two travel experiences, while not earth shattering, were unusual and took place in daylight.
The first was in the city of Chartres, outside of Paris. There, the largest Cathedral in France, noted for its gargoyles, stands regally. Forty-four magnificent stained-glass windows, including three rose windows, tell the story of the world from Creation to the Day of Judgment. The Cathedral, with its two different sized towers, can be seen from almost any part of town. I arrived by train from Paris and saw the towers in the distance and made my way up the road. I have seen many churches and cathedrals all over Europe, including St. Peters in the Vatican City. Many are remarkable in height, execution and design. Some churches have extraordinary statues by Michelangelo, others with fading but colorful frescoes. However, from the minute I walked through the large front doors of the Cathedral in Chartres, something was different. It was dark except for the minimal light coming through the large stained glass windows. I felt a cold chill, even though it was a warm spring day. The arches and the towering height of the ceiling were imposing. Then it happened. I felt an immense calmness. I knew God lived here and felt serenity. Despite the many tourists, I felt alone. I have never had that feeling again, and I was overwhelmed.
Then, there is Pompeii. I have always loved history and studying about the Roman Empire with its crazy and wild Emperors. As a kid, I thought it would have been fun to live during those times, until I realized as an adult there were many slaves, and being thrown to the lions for bait wasnít much fun. Still, I always wanted to visit Rome and Pompeii. I have been to Rome a few times, but recently visited Pompeii. A short train ride from Sorrento leaves you at the front entrance to the ancient city. The train arrives at what was once the Bay of Naples. You climb the hill and enter the Lost City. Despite having read many books about Pompeii, I was struck by how large and rambling it was.
TWO ROMAN WOMAN
One makes oneís way first to the ruins of the forum. From there many different roads lead in various directions. I wandered down the streets and found shells of old homes, the baths, the amphitheatre, theatrical stages and the gladiator barracks. It was great fun, and I was having a good time exploring. I just couldnít believe this existed. It was not a Disneyland recreation but the actual city. I turned and walked down a road. I donít think I could find it again if I looked. As I walked, I felt a change come over me. I realized it was a block where there had been many apartment buildings. They were in various states of decay. For some reason I walked into one and started wandering through the different rooms. I felt compelled to stop, and suddenly this deep sadness came over me. I went from a joyful smile to almost tears in a few seconds. I walked away from the area. It left goose bumps on my arms. It was a creepy experience. I brought my mind back to the present by wishing I had a movie camera and a flashlight to shine on my face.
Travel always opens my eyes about life. It is full of many experiences. Life is a powerful theatrical play that goes on and we contribute but a verse.