After seven very adventurous days on the Viking Sea, we waved goodbye to the ship in Barcelona. Now we have a couple of days to explore on our own including the Sagrada Di Familia as well as walking and biking through this beautiful and historic city.
We saw multitudes of ruins on both sides of the Mediterranean
which left us impressed by how far and influential the Roman Empire was.
I think everyone of us, as we move through life, has notions of how things that we haven’t seen are, or at least should be.
Sometimes those notions are dead wrong.
The Aurora Borealis while striking was very different than we have seen in books and on TV. More like bright smoke rather than neon colors that makes Times Square look like a couple of strands of Christmas lights.
Not all cruise ships have itineraries built around drinking and milking the last dollar out of you. Kudos to Viking. Although the whole pace was slower and we both wondered if perhaps we were getting old as this style greatly appealed to us. There were many quiet places on the ship and most of the on board activities were geared towards learning more about the ports we were getting ready to visit.
The people in Algiers were incredibly friendly. We had great apprehension about both of our North African destinations, Algiers and Tunis. Perhaps we were skewed by the media and the rampant anti-Islamic feelings. Perhaps it was the idea that we were traveling to a place where there is a very different standard for safety and regulation. Any OSHA inspector would have curled ups in the fetal position, paralyzed by the breadth of violations that are OK there.
Many of the notions or prejudices about Algeria were soon dispelled as we were welcomed onto our bus by Fady, our guide and self appointed Algerian ambassador. He was at once funny and passionate and LOVED his country. We went to the park there where I was struck by how many dads were there with their children. Seventy five percent of the population in Algeria is under the age of 35. Meaning tons of young families. It seemed they were all in the park that day.
Every one of them had a quick smile for us and easily a dozen times someone said to me “Welcome to Algeria”. The teenagers wanted pictures with us and never once was there a sense of hostility or even uncomfortableness. Fady went on to explain how terrorists are practicing the opposite of Islam. They are enemies to Islam just like to us. It was very eyeopening.
Finally the last misconception that was blown up for me was in Barcelona. As someone who deals in the decorative arts for a living, the term Gaudy has always been synonymous with kitsch, with ugly, overdone for me. We got a chance to walk through the house renovated by Antonio Gaudi ( whom the style was named after) for senior Batllo. Gaudi’s very religious upbringing instilled in him the idea that the only thing that was perfect was God and things made by God.
Consequently virtually all of his creations were reflections of things he saw in nature, no straight lines, organic themes, natural lighting and on and on. He was never content as he was constantly striving for perfection. Most of his creations were tweaked and fiddled with all the way through the end. Constantly changing becoming ever more complex.
He was trying to point us all toward God, not fill every imaginable space with something for the sake of busyness as it seems in the artwork that shares his name.
As I reflect on this trip, my take away is that the best way to learn something about someone or some place, is you have to spend time with them or in it.
There is a very low hanging Christian application here that I am going to trust you will be able to apply on your own.
Thanks for coming along on this first leg of the RTW with us and sharing the adventure, praying for many more to come.
The Batllo House by Gaudi