Thirteen steps to Europe

Up the stairs we went, settling in for our adventures.

This week, it was Romania from Transylvania to the Black Sea, followed by Zermatt in the Swiss Alps to Lake Geneva. Before that, we took the finest trains from Sofia to Istanbul, Vienna to Trieste, Pisa to Lake Garda, Athens to Thessaloniki, the Black Forest to Hannover and Barcelona to Mallorca. 

Not for real, of course — although Barcelona, Switzerland and Germany are on our wish list for … someday — but the room I once pretended was a portal to sporting events is now our passport to some of Europe’s greatest sites.

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We hardly ever get the ‘full story’

If you ask the average American what they know about South Africa, I’m going to guess the answer will probably be apartheid and Nelson Mandela.

Maybe you’ll get some people who remember then men’s soccer World Cup in 2010, or even those who — especially if the saw the movie “Invictus” or read “Playing the Enemy,” the book upon which it was based (I’ve done both) — are aware of the country’s famed Springboks national rugby team.

But apartheid and Nelson Mandela is probably what you’re going to get, mostly because that’s what we’ve heard about South Africa.

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Never thought much about borders before …

Blink, and you’ll miss it.

Look anywhere but the side of the road, and you’ll miss it.

Try very hard to run the car in front of you off the road because they’re trying to figure out where to turn and you just have to get where you’re going right now, and you’ll miss it.

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Little things that mean a lot when traveling

I once had pancakes in the Shannon Airport.

They weren’t diner-quality, nor what Suzi makes on our griddle at home — even though she doesn’t think hers are very good — but they were perfectly fine.

And since that an early morning flight from Ireland to Boston and the time-zone change it entailed were probably going to wreak havoc on my eating schedule, I can appreciate that they were more filling than whatever I would have otherwise picked up at the coffee shop.

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The name of that place is … what?

I ran to pick up my phone, even though 99 times out of 100, if it’s not Sunday night at 7, it’s a junk call.

It not being Sunday night at 7, it was a junk call.

But the location on the caller ID got my attention.

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Crossing the border

“Discover Beautiful Rhode Island,” the sign said.

Having lived in Massachusetts since early 2003, Rhode Island being beautiful isn’t exactly something we had to “discover,” as it’s less than two hours away and we’ve been there numerous times.

Newport has been a regular Christmas Eve site, and last year, we made sure to get there early so we could enjoy the Cliff Walk.

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We all have our moments

I like to think I’m a good person most of the time: polite, well-mannered, pleasant and respectful of others.

But sometimes, I’m just not having it, where I really just don’t care if you think I’m a good person or horrible.

Standing in a torrential downpour that has soaked all the way through my jeans, shoes and socks is one of those times.

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Getting away … even when you can’t

The mornings and evenings, and even some of the days, are starting to get cooler.

Long-sleeve shirts, jeans, hoodies and sweats are starting to appear again, pulled off shelves and hangers for the first time in months.

It shouldn’t be a surprise, because it’s September, and September’s going to September.

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Waiting to go home

Ten years ago, I went to Canandaigua, New York, to spend a few days in one of our company’s offices as part of a management-training program.

I enjoyed my time there. Everyone was friendly. The work was interesting, and the town was lovely in the evening.

Plus, they took me to lunch at the Wegmans food court, which may well have been life-changing.

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