Sport takes a back seat to journey of a lifetime


I didn’t think it was possible.

For several days I had no idea whether the St. Louis Cardinals won or lost.

After a week or so on our European journey, my wife Robin and I stopped at a restaurant in Athens, Greece. I checked the scores. She, of course, posted on Facebook.

My wife asked me for two weeks to forget about the games and the scores and concentrate on our vacation.

An amazing trip it was.

As I walked down a hall at the Vatican, I saw this sign: To the left, Cappella Sistina.

The Sistine Chapel.

It was amazing in its beauty. That fella they kept mentioning on our various stops in Italy, this guy named Michelangelo, was quite talented with brush and canvas.

I stood in St. Peter’s Square and took as many pictures as I could. This was a place I had seen on television so many times, and I was actually there.

At the Vatican, I learned about star power, even in the Catholic Church. His Holiness, Pope Francis, appears each Sunday at noon and waves to those below. I was told by our guide that as many as 70,000 cram the square, just to get a glimpse of the Holy Father.

Inside St. Peter’s Basilica, I saw just how much Pope John Paul II, recently canonized, touched people worldwide. Dozens lined up to pray at his tomb.

It was in Istanbul where I heard the call to prayers. Muslims dutifully followed their tradition of washing their hands and feet.

We left Istanbul for Ephesus, Turkey. It was a beautiful place. We saw the stadium where the Ephesians preached against Paul.

And, then came the highlight of the trip. We visited the Virgin Mary’s home. Mary, it is said, lived there until her Assumption. Pope Benedict XVI visited in 2006 and left a rosary of diamonds.

We were asked not to take pictures or speak inside the home. Inside it was wonderfully quiet.

In Barcelona, Spain, we were amazed at the beauty of Sagrada Familia. It is designed by Antoni Gaudi, who began work on the basilica in 1882 and continued until his death in 1926. Restoration work continues to this day. It is scheduled for completion in 2026.

Florence and Pisa, the heart of Tuscany, are beautiful. We climbed to the top of the leaning tower of Pisa. Robin had the line of the trip. She called it “the original Stair Master.”

In Rome, I could not believe how crazy the drivers were in all those little hatchback cars. Why all the small cars? Gas is $8 a gallon.

The final stop was incredible. Venice – the most beautiful place I have ever seen.

In France, I was stopped by an LSU fan in Aix-en-Provence.

“Hey Ed, do you know who won the last game of the LSU-Auburn series?”

“I have no idea.”

On the Norwegian Spirit, I saw several LSU hats and shirts. Jane Becnel asked me to take a picture with the ladies from Vacherie and Luling. They chitchatted with Robin.

Meantime, the husbands were talking about something very important: LSU football.

In Rome, we visited the Pantheon. Back home, I can’t wait to get back to the Pantheon of college football.

But, only after the journey of a lifetime.

Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at edaniels@clarionherald.org

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