Ready for a Mediterranean Cruise?    

It’s summer, so why not take a little trip?  Here’s the catch – you’ll be traveling with me (also husband, but mostly me, okay?).  You see, I’ve penned a little travel narrative about the Mediterranean Cruise we took in the summer of 2013 to celebrate our, gulp, 35th wedding anniversary.  Yep!  35 years together, and let me tell you, it happened in the blink of an eye!  But as you’ll see if you continue reading (please do – I promise to make it worth your time!), our celebration continues to this day as I share the stories from my heart and a few photos from that momentous cruise.
But before we jump on board the ship, it’s my duty as your cruise director to give a little explanation about the journey ahead.  You see it’s going to be told over the next couple of months via these infrequent blog posts that I’ve (lovingly) entitled,16 Stories from 18 Days OR How I Spent My Summer Vacation of 2013

That’s right, I’ve taken each day of that great big Mediterranean cruise adventure and had a little fun finding a storyline that I hope you’ll enjoy reading.  My wish is that you’ll stay with us to the end, and as always, I only post a couple times per month so it should be easy for you to stay on board and travel along with us.  My only request is that if you enjoy this journey you’ll consider sharing it with others by reposting, tweeting, liking and all that other good social media stuff that will encourage new subscribers because that’s just how we share the love in the world of cyberspace, right?
Oh, and one final note.  Sorry, but this is NOT that hot summer romance you are looking to take to the beach with you.   HOWEVER, it technically is a love story. . .one that began in this photo (below) taken July 1, 1978.
Okay now, passports in hand – everybody ready?Bon Voyage, Lombardo style!

                     PREQUEL:  “35 Years Later, and Off We Go!”   

As the saying goes, the older we are the faster the world spins around us.  Never was that more true for me than when I realized this would be the year husband and I would celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary.  How could that have happened when I just gave birth to at least one of my kids. . . yesterday?

“They’re both well into their 20’s now, dear.  Face it.  We’re getting old.”

As that news flash from my husband sunk in I had an epiphany. “Wait, what did you just say?” (Pause while contemplating many things, none the least is that I guess I can’t proclaim this excess baggage I carry around on my ‘petite’ frame is due to baby weight anymore.  Shocking!)  

And thus went the thought process for many, many days starting back at Christmas of 2012 when my husband surprised me with the presentation of this trip-of-a-lifetime that we would be taking six months henceforth.  A Mediterranean cruise, the very one we had dreamed and talked about taking “when we’re older and can afford it.” Or, “after we’re both retired and have the time and money.”

So picture the bubble cloud outside my head holding the following conversation with my alter ego, aka ‘the sensible one’ when hubby sprang the surprise:
  “Well at this point we are neither retired nor any more wealthy than we were when last discussing ‘the dream trip’ (but, I swear we’ll start saving one day.  No really!).  However, we are most decidedly older (ahem), and since we’re both self-employed, I guess in the grand scheme of things we really can afford to block out some time to do this, right?” 

We interrupt this bubble discussion to bring you the following clincher statement from husband:  “Honey, I want to do this while we can still dance.”  Sigh.  Yeah, he’s a keeper.  At least for another 35 years.

Let the trip countdown begin!

Fast forward to June 2013, and guess what?  There just wasn’t enough time in the last six months of preparation to get it all done, and ladies, you know what I’m talking about, right?  The subconscious list is endless and expands daily in both size and prominence.  It contains all of the following and much more:

  • Start searching for the perfect wardrobe (I’m sure Mediterranean cruisers do NOT wear anything that’s already in my closet!)
  • Let’s think about our luggage, as in what we have, what shape it’s in, and what pieces we’ll each need to take
  • Did someone mention hair?  Oh gosh, yes, let’s begin the discussions about the best cut/color/style for cruising (with Ziba, my lifetime hair stylist to which I regularly pay homage) and plan ahead to time it all correctly (it’s a girl thing)
  • Purses, travel bags, and carry-ons, oh my!
  • Travel size everything.  (Oh wait, haven’t I been traveling all my life already?  By now, don’t I possess all these items in sufficient size and quantity?  Well, maybe I just need a couple more of this. . . and that. . .)

And so it goes to the point where you get the picture, right?  But of course the big megillah in this six month time frame of preparation was (drum roll, please) the weight loss.  There, I said it.  Although I was quite certain that no one on the French nor even the Italian Riviera would be remotely interested in seeing my body in a bathing suit, I still knew what had to be done.  Painful as it was to admit, with or without a big cruise up ahead, the truth was I needed to lose about 20 pounds.  Okay, maybe 25. Full disclosure:  40 tops. 

YIKES!  Did I just say 40?  While my alter ego would love to return to my wedding weight, let’s get real here!  I decided to work on 25 and go from there.

And, 15 it was. 

Yep.  That’s right.  Fifteen lousy pounds was all I could shave off in six months, and if you don’t think I was very dedicated to that project well, maybe you’re right.  But in the process I did discover several important things:  1) I do have it in me to stick with a good daily exercise routine, and 2) that I should never have let this much weight attach itself to my small-framed body to begin with. (A few other things, too, like even that 15 pounds wasn’t enough to make me look like ‘the other person I wanted to look like’ -whoever that be- in those memorable travel photos we had so much fun taking during the trip; and also that it is next to impossible for me to refrain from a cocktail or two when in the company of my cocktail drinking friends- you know who you are).  So anyway, I did manage to lose 15 pounds which meant I dropped at least one dress size, although since my wardrobe already contains clothing spanning several sizes acquired over the years of the ups and downs of my weight fluctuations, that 15 pound weight loss really didn’t require me to go shopping in a dramatically different category of numbers.  But, it did allow me some breathing room to be able to wear the clothes in my closet that had ‘shrunk a little’ and for those all-important eating splurges that you know are inevitable whilst on a cruise.  Just sayin’. 

And what was my husband doing during his six months of preparation?  Weight loss and maybe a day or two of actual wardrobe planning, and even that came only one week prior to departure.  Sigh.  It’s what men do, right?  (To be fair, I’m sure he had a few more things on his ‘to do’ agenda, but well, this is about me so he can pen his own story.)

I should also mention that during the period of said weight loss for both of us we also reconfirmed that we are, indeed getting older.  This realization came as we both experienced problems in certain body joints after embarking on the necessary physical activities (biking/walking/running) that used to be so easy to do (grrrr), to the point that husband even had to make an orthopedic visit to have his knee checked where he was told, “Take these pain pills for now and come back after your trip when we can talk about a replacement joint”. 

As an aside, during this same time frame I also discovered that I would be needing a dental implant (Gulp! Isn’t that for old people??), so I received the same advice from my orthodontist as husband had received from his orthopedist.  Oh well, the truth hurts.

So, somehow our aching but slightly lighter-weight bodies made it through the six months of planning, and then all of a sudden it was time.  Laundry, packing, dry cleaning, housecleaning, refrigerator emptying, yard prep, dog boarding, mail/newspaper/neighbor notifications, etc.  For anyone that travels, you know the drill and good intentions or not, most of these chores are left to the end.  Let’s just say it was a very busy final seven days, highlighted by not one but two ‘final’ haircuts for me. (Hey, a gal can change her mind once in a while, right?)

Oh yes, and one more thing to mention before we actually get to the embarkation point of these stories.  The fact of the matter is that my husband and I are both pretty well traveled.  Further, for the better part of my professional life, I’ve voyaged for a living.  I say this not to brag but to put my journaling into a different perspective for you.  After reading thus far, you may have imagined that I’m a novice at travel preparation, but it’s actually quite the opposite.  Up until and including this trip, I’ve done a pretty fine job of organizing the chaos in which we all exist so that while I’m on the road I can travel with fewer worries and concentrate on the journey at hand instead of fretting about what was left behind.

 But this was a journey of a different nature.  It was a celebration of what had preceded it by 35 years, and also a glimpse, if you will, of some of the possibilities of the highway ahead for us as a couple.  Aging, body changes, alterations in our relationship as well as our work lives – all these things and more were silently present as we wrapped our minds and arms around the exciting possibilities of the expedition we were about to jump into.

“I haven’t been everywhere yet, but it’s on my list.” [Susan Sontag]

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Just your average middle age gal trying to deal with career/life/family changes and issues while studying people and places, one lobby bar at a time.

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