We returned home on November 9 th from our big (nearly a month) and, largely,
wonderful trip to Spain, Italy and France to celebrate Frank’s 90 th . We spent two weeks in Spain,
first in Madrid with my goddaughter Gitty Daneshvari and her family where we visited the Prado
and a wonderful modern art gallery, Reina Sofia, for a long look at Picasso’s Guernica.
From Madrid we took a train to Cordoba then rented a car and Frank drove us to
Granada, Ronda (an enchanting white city straddling a huge gash in a mountain carved out by a
river and home to the oldest “active” bull ring in Spain), and Seville. BTW, Ernest Hemmingway
visited Ronda and actor/director Orson Wells is buried there. I’m in love with Spain – the
friendly people, the stunning Moorish architecture in southern Spain and the pace of life. To top
it off, more than 90% of Spaniards eligible to be vaccinated against Covid are! And they wear
My nephew Sean in Houston asked about castles. We saw plenty of them. Most were, at
one time, fortresses in prime locations. We were reminded, more than once, of a time when
Muslims, Christians and Jews lived together peacefully, enriching each other’s culture.
From Seville, we flew to Rome to meet Frank’s family (there were 14 of us) and
celebrate his birthday before boarding a small-ish ship for a coastal cruise that took us to Livoro
(Lucca & Florence), Nice, Marseille and Barcelona. Covid made the trip difficult from start to
finish – lots of tests and documents for each country that couldn’t be completed until 48 hours
prior to arrival. Because my suitcase didn’t make the flight to Rome, I ended up, after weari!!ng
Frank’s underwear for two days, with a new wardrobe : ) After everyone had deemed my
suitcase GONE, it appeared at our Air BnB just before we boarded the ship. I was delighted!
I'm Shirley Melis. You may know me as Shirley M. Nagelschmidt, Shirley M. Bessey and now, Shirley M. Hirsch. Each reflects a particular phase of my life. Banged-Up Heart is a slice of my life's journey and in telling my story, I'm giving voice to my long silent "M" by reclaiming my maiden name, Shirley Melis.