Adages singing the praises of capitalizing on opportunity are well known, but how often do we act on that knowledge? How often do we not see the opportunities until they are passed?
Setting sail just a few weeks ago with a tentative itinerary and a desire to see the world, we quickly found ourselves at a decision point. As we neared the end of our cruise depositing us in Barcelona, opportunity knocked and in the spirit of travel -- we answered.
Unfolding in a matter of hours, a special offer was released and booked for a 12-night Mediterranean Holy Land Cruise. One morning, a block of staterooms were released and the next day we were signing up.
Sailing from Rome, Italy, on April 29, we will stop at ports in Italy, Greece, Turkey and Israel. With the last-minute discount, the fare was offered at 60 percent off the list price. Recognizing an opportunity too good to pass up we will now visit areas we have only dreamed of seeing.
It is obvious that our travels will bring with them life lessons and valuable experiences, but the truths learned in the fulfillment of a dream delve deeper than proverbial musings. As I write this, I'm now in Rome preparing for Easter and I am reminded of the Latin phrase, carpe diem.
"Seize the day" is, however, more than a phrase, it's a valuable rule of thumb at home or abroad. Don't let life pass you by one day at a time. Opportunities will come and go whether we're ready for them or not; all it takes is a little courage and action on our part to make them happen.
April 16-18, Barcelona, Spain
A hip urban hotspot, Barcelona is a Mecca of culture, art and history as well as home to a burgeoning youth population of both locals and tourists alike.
Maniacally loyal fútbol fans, masterpieces from a native architectural genius and Old World European charm make Barcelona an energetic and lovely city embracing qualities and characteristics from every era.
Along the port coast, cargo ships and luxurious yachts line the docks adjacent to a street littered with bars, restaurants and gelato shops. To the north, Güell Park and other green spaces dot the hillsides overlooking the city. Nestled between the sea and foothills, Barcelona buzzes with activity at all hours.
The center of Barcelona's nocturnal world is Las Ramblas, a lively street lined with trees, vendors, performers, shops and eateries. Restaurants serve local cuisine in outdoor seating, most popularly appetizer-sized dishes known as tapas and the local rice dish paella.
Historical and monumental sites are found throughout the city, including Castle Montjuic presiding over the city with a storied history in which the defensive structure was used against the city in several instances.
Many prominent sites revolve around one man, architect Antoni Gaudí. Commissioned for cathedrals, homes and recreational spaces, Gaudí left his mark on his native Barcelona. Projects often associated with the artist are the residential Casa Batilló and La Pedrera showcasing his work with unique non-linear surfaces, intricate wrought iron and haunting geometric figures. Gaudí also devised innovative functional characteristics into his projects making extraordinary use of natural light and in La Pedrera, an apartment complex, he created a structure requiring no interior load bearing walls.
The pinnacle of Gaudí's work culminates within Sagrada Familia, the unfinished cathedral more than 120 years in the making. Begun in 1882, Sagrada Familia was designed by Gaudí utilizing nature as a blueprint for his masterpiece. Working on the Sagrada Familia until his death, Gaudí laid the foundation for generations to follow. Construction is expected to be complete sometime in the first third of this century.
The colossal size of Sagrada Familia from beyond its walls is somewhat unfathomable, but the manner in which sunlight through stained glass plays upon the stone -- vastly more so. In awestruck wonder, visitors shuffle across the immense marble floor with necks craned and eyes to the sky like turkeys waiting for rain. Showered upon them instead is the monumental ability of man focused in heavenly devotion.
Like the unending construction at Sagrada Familia, so too is the path of life. Our plans may change and our route diverted for a time but we remain focused on the road ahead. Come what may, be it hardships or joy, we should all strive to seize the day and revel in the thought of a completed life well lived.
Matt Shinall is The Daily Tribune News' business reporter.