I’m happy to say that the Ramages are back in the USA and enjoying some needed R&R at grandma and grandpa’s house–a vacation from vacation, as it were. I’m looking forward to resume my theological posts on this blog, but in the meantime I’ll recap the last whirlwind week of our European expedition.
At the recommendation of my students, we flew Ryanair to Krakow and spent a few nights there. What a delight! This is a land of great food (especially its sausage), great saints (JPII, Faustina, Kolbe, Edith Stein, etc.), and important history (for me, especially that concerning JPII and the Nazi and Soviet occupations of Poland). This was one of the experiences we hadn’t planned on having, but it was made by possible by Providence as well as the great exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Polish zloty. I highly recommend traveling to this inexpensive land where most people are Catholic and are proud to say so. Poland has a fairly Western feel, but it gives you a different flavor from countries around the Mediterranean.
Flying back from Poland to Italy, we stayed a night in Bologna and paid homage to the founders of the first university in the world located there. From here we trained back to Florence, spent one last night out on the town, grabbed the rest of our bags from our villa, and flew out to Istanbul the next morning. We had been to Istanbul before the semester began, and now we were back for a couple more days to relax, revisit some favorite sites, find some new ones, and celebrate Thanksgiving. We did not get to eat Turkey for Thanksgiving this year; we just ate in Turkey. Yes, it was kind of weird eating atop of our hotel looking out at the Blue Mosque and eating kebabs, but it was good to do once. On this trip we also took the opportunity to cruise on the Bosphorus between Asia and Europe and see a couple beautiful Byzantine Christian churches–with the exclamation point being a Hagia Sophia adorned with a full rainbow overhead. Finally, we spent a morning negotiating some bargains with the intense merchants of the Grand Bazaar,. I look forward to making use of my new souvenirs from here, in particular playing chess on my new Crusaders and Ottomans set.
Well, there you have it: my last Europe post of the Fall 2012 semester. I hope to be blogging some Benedict XVI soon. Unfortunately, I just found out that the copy of Jesus Vol. 3 I ordered won’t arrive until Christmas or shortly thereafter, so we’ll see what happens..