Travels with Britta and Barney
Last week, Muri and I traveled to Florida to spend the week on Siesta Key with our good friends, Britta and Barney. Let me say at this point that Britta has no use for social media, not even high class literary social media like Older Eyes- Bud’s Blog. Hence, in the interest of preserving a very long friendship, Britta is a pseudonym, as is Barney. They had rented a small cottage near the beach and invited us to join them and their two dogs, Keppah and Kishka. Also pseudonyms. Kishka isn’t fond of social media either. Because Britta and Barney live on the East Coast (in an undisclosed location), we see them only occasionally.
Monday night, we went to a violin concert, performed on violins recovered after the Holocaust and restored by Violins of Hope. It was a lovely performance during which the history of the violins used in each piece was presented before selections by Beethoven, Bach and Brahms. Fittingly, the performance ended with the Theme from Schindler’s List. Tuesday we attended a Chagall exhibit at the Botanical Gardens. There were actually only three paintings in the exhibit, his gorgeous 1937 painting, The Lovers, and two smaller paintings from a private collection that had never been shown in public. There were also reproductions of some of his stained glass scattered about the property. The botanical gardens were worth the visit even without the art, especially the orchids exhibit. We had dinner at a Columbia, the well-known Cuban restaurant in Sarasota. Paella all around, delicious. On Thursday, we rented a pontoon boat for a trip down the Inter-Coastal Waterway with their friends Harry and Clementine, docking at Turtles restaurant for lunch overlooking Little Sarasota Bay. They even let Older Eyes drive for a while, for which they were rewarded with a soaking from the wake of a larger boat that passed too close. The rest of the time was spent talking about everything imaginable, and of course, laughing. The best thing about old friends like Britta and Barney is that no matter how long it’s been since we’ve been together, it’s as if we’ve never been apart.
It was a much needed, relaxing week, which is a good thing because the air travel was … well … interesting. Our luggage took over an hour to be delivered to baggage claim on the way in, leading one angry passenger to get into a war of words with the baggage crew … who called a heavily armed security guard. It was an over-reaction that genuinely offended me … I reported it to American Airlines. Our connection Friday to Orange County was cancelled because of the storm in Socal, forcing us to reschedule for Saturday. Given the large scale disruptions of flights on Friday, our only option was a very early morning flight with a very tight connection in Phoenix. We stayed at the Marriott hotel in the Tampa airport Friday night and made our connection with a whole ten minutes to spare. Perhaps the most curious mix-up came when we tried to get to our car at John Wayne Airport. We usually park our car at the Fairmont Hotel near the airport because it provides indoor parking and prompt shuttle service. As usual, we called once we had our luggage and waited in the transportation center. For forty-five minutes, hotel shuttles picked up passengers while we waited for ours. When we finally called again, we found out that the hotel had changed names from the Fairmont to The Duke Hotel while we were gone. The Duke’s van had been around several times and showed up quickly … with apologies … after we called. Then it was home to Anaheim Hills for a quick lunch and an afternoon nap.
Back in my regular posting days, Monday was a day for Monday Smiles, upbeat posts about the good things about growing older. Last weeks vacation definitely qualifies as that. The best of friends get better with age. Thanks Britta and Barney.