Continued Tribute to Jane Spillman|
Posting Number 3433 Date: 08/07/20 Return to Posting List
Adventures and Misadventures with Jane
by Louise Bush
Jane! Did you hear that? WHAT was that loud noise?
We looked at each other in dismay & and trepidation. Soon we noticed we were tilting at a slope on the deck of the cruise ship, as furniture and barware began crashing around us. Yes, the ship (the Sea Diamond) was at a steep angle on one side. Was it going to sink? Chaos ensued, as all the passengers tried to figure out what to do, how to get life preservers, and where to go. Thus began the first of several traveling disasters that Jane and I experienced over many trips we took together over a period of 10 years. Before these trips, my husband and I had enjoyed many of the trips that Jane led for The Corning Museum of Glass. As some of you may know, these were exceptional trips, because Jane knew a number of curators and glass collectors in many European countries from her years as Curator of American Glass. England/Scotland, Bavaria and Bohemia in Germany and the Czech Republic, Venice and Rome, Spain, Scandinavia, and Russia were some of the destinations.
She had many loyal followers, because we knew we would not only visit the must-see sights, but we would be treated to some wonderful experiences with museum curators, special guided tours at historical sites, and private visits with glass collectors in their homes. Everywhere we went we were treated royally, with special receptions and tours at factories. The Corning Museum of Glass has a strong reputation everywhere, and the curators and other staff are held in high regard. Who can forget holding the beautifully engraved goblet belonging to Catherine the Great in the storage basement of the Hermitage Museum? (Jane was understandably nervous about all of us handling it, so she finally took it from the curator and passed it around in her own hands.) Or the days in Barcelona, seeing a fascinating private collection and then experiencing a street festival with dancing, a chess competition, children in costume, and a parade of enormous paper maché figures on stilts? Or viewing the recently restored Sistine Chapel in a private tour with a Vatican guide. She remarked as she came in, You must be a very important group to have been able to arrange a private tour with us. It was truly an inspiring and unforgettable visit. We have many great memories of these trips!
But back to the misadventures: The ship did not sink at first as it was resting sidewise on a rocky shoal, and almost everyone was rescued in time (there were two deaths, however, due to fast rising water on the lowest levels). We were off the coast of Santorini, but we never did see much of that beautiful island! We were not allowed to go down to our cabins to get anything out, even the life jackets stored there; the crew finally got them to us. Thus, after a brief time in Athens, we started out on our two week journey around Greece, with just what we had on our backs. Jane and I had our cameras, money and jackets, fortunately, but others lost valuables, medications, and laptops. Our passports were rescued by the crew and distributed the next day in Athens. Along the way we were able to buy a few necessities. It was quite an experience traveling with just a little plastic bag with a toothbrush&no luggage! All over Greece people knew of the disaster, and we were treated very well, including an elegant free wine-and-dinner by the Greek Bureau of Tourism.
Our next mishap occurred in southern Turkey in 2010, and it had more serious consequences. The van we were riding in slid on the wet highway and overturned. All of us fell out the broken windows, some falling on top of each other. We were far from any town, so sitting in the rain by the roadside waiting for what seemed like hours for rescue was miserable. Two people were seriously injured. We were all taken to several different hospitals, where we stayed various lengths of time. Gratefully, Jane was just bruised from head to toe, and I had some small pieces of glass stuck into the flesh of my arm, some of which were removed there and some at home later. Others had broken bones. The two badly injured people were flown to a university hospital for a stay and then flown home. The rest of us, battered, splinted, and bandaged, decided to continue the tour as best we could. We all wanted to see the great Roman site Ephesus. Later, after visiting that site, we learned that we couldnt fly home for at least a week, due to the volcanic ash situation. Hmm, does it seem like a pattern now?
In 2011, Jane and I decided to go back to Egypt for a second time. This tour would include Alexandria and a trip on the Red Sea. But when we landed in Cairo, we learned that it was the first day of Arab Spring! We traveled to Alexandria, where we were put in a hotel and told not to leave, under any circumstance. They would try to fly us home as soon as possible. We had to wait over a week in the hotel before that happened. From our windows, we could see the streets were full of riotous crowds, military tanks, and burning fires. Meanwhile we were the only people there, as most of the staff had retreated to the streets or left to be with families. At first there was plenty of good food, but by the end of the week& well. It was sad to have the whole trip aborted, but the excitement of the many citizens in the streets seeking freedom and political change was very moving. As we watched out the windows, they would wave to us and encourage us to join their marches to the government buildings. It went on for several days.
By now, most of Corning knew about our unlucky travels. They would ask us where we were going next, then tell us they would be sure and not go there!
I cherish my trips with Jane and fondly remember our adventures. We are no longer traveling; I miss her indomitable spirit and energy, whether it be crawling into an Egyptian pyramid chamber just big enough for a child, or riding camels, or swinging on a high line over the jungle in Costa Rica, or racing to another antiquity in the evening after a full day of sightseeing. She was a force to be with on trips and Im grateful we could do so many of them together. Now I am in my 80s, and can only relive our fun adventures and not-so-fun misadventures in some great memories!
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