Friday, June 29, 2007

Roma Parte Due

DAY FOUR:
As I said at the end of my last blog Loving Husband was out working, so I decided to get myself out and about to do some Italian shopping! I hopped in a cab, since most of our other traveling had been done on the weekend I wasn't prepared for the MASSIVE traffic that Tuesday would throw at me (as Monday is often a lighter travel day even still since everything is closed most often) the cab ride took twice as long as the previous time we had gone to the Piazza di Spanga and of course twice as expensive, but I arrived and was not stolen by any gypsies, whew!

Piazza di Spanga:

I walked around looking at the steps and the shops. The shops there are quite small or they are built UP, some of them it is hard to imagine how they would be able to manage to make rent every month, but then you walk into them and see that there is nothing below 100 euro and then you understand. I didn't buy too much at any of those stores. What I really wanted to find was a bookstore. I walked a few blocks up and over and then I headed up a street toward Piazza del Popolo.

Piazza del Popolo:
Up at the end of the street there was an amazing courtyard area with a fountain and twin churches that looked interesting so I headed toward them. The area was called Piazza del Popolo which is a vast cobbled oval standing at the apex of the triangle of rads known as the Trident. There are twin churches Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto which were built15th century one of the churches is actually narrower than the other because of the area they were both build on and so the one on the right actually has an circular dome the other one has an oval one and thus the size of the supporting drums that face the piazza are identical. NEATO! The obelisk in the center is over 3000 years old and was brought to Rome by Augustus to adorn the Circus Maximus after the conquest of Egypt.

After I finished at that area I headed down another street back toward the Spanish Steps. I found a side street with a little cafe. They spoke no English there, so I decided to sit down and enjoy a few hours of vino, lunch and reading. It was really nice. I read some Harry Potter ;-) and then I headed back toward the heart of the Spanish Steps area. I headed back to the hotel so that Loving Husband wouldn't worry and so that I could end up with some room service. Loving Husband had to go to out for work, so I ordered the in-room entertainment and watched a couple of movies and ordered a burger and fries (they got the fries right.... burger... not so much).

DAY FIVE:
An excellent day! I did NOTHING. Yup that's right never even left the hotel. I woke up at the same time I had been, enjoyed breakfast with Loving Husband (not the greatest in this hotel, but ah well it's FREE!) and then I came back to the hotel, I enjoyed reading and doing some myspacing, gmail, reading the news. I then went down to meet Loving Husband for lunch! More free food! Excellente! After that I scheduled myself a massage and read for a while. I ordered a bottle of red wine and enjoyed some before my massage. I went down and had an hour massage at the spa here and then from there went over to the pool to lay out and read some Harry Potter. I did that for a couple of hours and then came back, drank some more vino, watched another movie... and then I fell asleep at 8:00pm... I woke up when Loving Husband got home at 11:15pm, I hadn't eaten dinner ordered Lasagna via room service and then went back to sleep.



DAY SIX:

Woke up again around 7 and grabbed breakfast again and came back and got ready for the day. Loving Husband had a short day for working on Thursday, so I bided my time for him to finish, showered got ready to go out. We decided to start at the Monumento a Garibaldi, so we hopped in a cab after we ate lunch for FREE again! I love Company-paid for food. :-)

Monumento a Garibaldi:
This monument is in an area called the Janiculum which has an amazing view over the city. This park area has a lighthouse which was built in 1911 (which we only took pictures of from afar there was a hill I didn't want to deal with) and the statutes of Garibaldi which was our point of the destination. Apparently every day at noon a cannon is fired which we missed since we arrived around 1. Ah well. The monument of Garibaldi has an inscription on the base of it that says "Rome or Death" and was quite pretty. The monument stands for the heroic events witnessed on the Janiculum when the French army attacked the city in 1949, Garibaldi's Republicans fended off the French for weeks. The monument was erected in 1895, the small sculptures around the base are battle scenes from that time. We next headed to Fontana dell' Acqua Paola.

Fontana dell' Acqua Paola:
The walk from the monument was very pretty, it was through a park area, where they have a row of busts outlining the park. Dating back into the 1800s. We arrived at the fountain which was very pretty and in a very nice overlook of the city as well. The fountain was placed there to commemorate the reopening in 1612 of an aqueduct originally built by Emporor Trajan in 109 AD. We sat around there for a while and then headed out to see another fountain. Which was far less impressive and actually not fully functional... but we crossed the river and headed into more of the city from there. We continued walking north toward the PIazza Navona, which was very pretty. We passed the Pantheon again and then we attempted to head toward the Trevi Fountain, but ended back up at the Spanish Steps. We stopped there and ate some gellato and enjoyed that area again, picked up a few things we had seen before there and then we headed back out.

Fountana di Trevi:
We finally arrived at the Trevi fountain, where a vendor handed me a rose... Loving Husband of course had to pay him to get him to leave... but it didn't cost us much. ;-) The Trevi fountain was amazing. The fountain was completed in 1762. The central figures are Neptune, flanked by two Tritons. These two symbolize the two contrasting moods of the sea. It was very pretty. Loving Husband and I took so pictures around there and tossed some coins into the fountain. Legend is if you throw coins in the fountain, you'll come back to Rome. So we did, we like it here. ;-) From there we walked down toward the Forum.

Trajan's Market:
We sat at a recommended restaurant to enjoy some dinner, vino and dessert. We sat there for nearly three hours and watched the sun set over the view we had which was Trajan's Market. We saw a bride and groom getting pictures taken from up in the ruins from where we sat... and Loving Husband called me the Cat Whisperer because there we kitties down in the ruins that were looking up at me meowing... but not at anyone else (made me miss my kitties!) It was a beautiful view.

Night Time:
After dessert we headed out to walk around the area and take some pictures at night! It was gorgeous. We then headed back to our hotel, uploaded some pictures and then went to sleep.

DAY SEVEN:

Today, I have awoken after sleeping in, drafted this blog and Loving Husband and I located some food and the head to the pool to relax, after Loving Husband frying we headed back for some reading and relaxing. .

We'll go out again this evening and have some dinner with some Company folks. Loving Husband's done working, so much of what remains is packing and hiding our goods so we don't have to pay taxes on any of them! ;-) It has been an amazing trip, and I"m off to enjoy the remaining day of it! Ciao!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Roma Parte Uno

DAY ONE:
Our first day awake in Roma, and thus the count of our trip really begins. After sleeping like the dead on what had to be the hardest mattress I have ever slept on (or attempted to sleep on) we woke around 6am, maybe due to a little jet lag, but I felt rested enough and so we showered and got ready to begin our day. We had breakfast at the hotel (same place we had eaten dinner the night before) It was very nice and relaxing eating out on the patio. We then gathered our things and set out walking. Our goal was simply to find a taxi stop that was described to us as "down two blocks and take a left one block" ... Well that didn't happen. We walked ALL over the city, saw a bit of everything, but our first real sighting of anything spectacular was the Temple of the Forum Boarium, the Santa Maria Church and the Fontana dei Tritoni... all very nice! We continued our walk, we walked for about 90 minutes throughout the city and finally we arrived upon the Vatican.

The Vatican:
We arrived and shortly got in line to get into the Vatican, when we did we got in another line to go to the top of the Cupola. For 7 euros we could use a lift and skip over 200 stairs, but for 4 euros (each of course) we could just walk up all 510+ stairs... so for whatever reason... we went cheap! The first 250 stairs were managable, and that led us to a walkway around the dome so that we could see the ceiling up close as well as the floor of St. Peter's very nicely. (See pictures in the pics section)... We then continued up MORE stairs that just when I thought the space couldn't get smaller... oooh man they did - I had a mild panic attack because of the small space... which considering the size of space we were in and my claustrophobia, I thought that was pretty good. We reached the top and I managed to get some excellent photos of Roma! Very pretty all over. We headed down from the dome and stopped at the half way point at the gift shop, where we sent postcards from the Vatican post office (they have their own mail system) to our parents... and then into St. Peter's where the art work is just breath taking, the pictures just don't do the details justice. We saw the famous sculpture Pieta which was finished in 1499 by Michelangelo (he was only 25 when he did it!) Loving Husband stole some holy water in a little container he purchased in the gift shop... and then were were off to a resturant for lunch. While walking around the wall of the Vatican there were many vendors selling knock off goods... we read that it is a $10,000 euro fine to PURCHASE such goods, so the cost of selling them... can't be good... there were about 10 vendors lined up with sunglasses, handbags, etc... and the Policia drove down the street and literally they all grabbed their stuff and did a Vendor Dash into the side streets... quite amusing. After that we headed back into the Vatican to go into the Grottos and saw where all the popes are buried. Interesting history for sure.







Castel Sant' Angelo:
We headed over to the Castle after we finished up at the Vatican and walked around there for an hour or two. It was very nice, more amazing art work and an interesting history. It came into existance in 139AD and has been used for many things since including the residence for the pope during political unrest and a prison (interesting combo!)

After we finished at the Castle around 6:30, we went back to the hotel and took a nap until about 9pm, since it was Saturday the resturant at our hotel was closed, so we walked a few blocks into more city life and had some dinner a small place. Loving Husband had the best soup he's ever had (I didn't taste any of it) and I had some tastey pasta and Vino! Always room for Vino! We finished off the evening watching Law and Order: SVU in Italian. And went into another deep sleep!


DAY TWO:
Our second day we woke around 7am and packed all our things, enjoyed another tasty breakfast at the hotel and then checked out. We hopped in a cab and headed across town to the Crown Plaza where we would remain for the remainder of the trip. We got all checked in and then hopped in another taxi to the Vatican Museums. We stood in line for an hour and forty-five minutes. The line literally wrapped 1/3rd around the country... It's funnier when you put it that way. Since it was the last Sunday of the month it was FREE!! to get in. Yay! Excellent timing for this trip, I'd say.

Vatican Museums:
We went in and went straight into the courtyard holding the Cortile della Pigna which is a huge bronze pine cone which is a part of an ancient Roman founntain, which used to be in the old square of St. Peter's. We then continued into the Room of Busts, which is a very loooong room, filled with, well... busts!

We enjoyed some Egyptian art that was extremely OLD, it was so amazing at how well it had all be preserved. There was a floor mosaic we walked over from the Baths of Otricoli in Umbria that was sooo amazing in the Chiaramonti Museum which date from the 3rd Century AD. The Sistine Chapel was breath-taking... as was the walk to it... every ceiling on the way in was covered in an amazing mural. There are sculputures everywhere in this museum, even down by the bathrooms, which I did find amusing... enjoyed some pizza in the cafeteria and continued to look at the beautiful art work, and finished out the museum of course by the Spiral Ramp which was designed by Giueppe Momo in 1932... yah sadly I didn't know who that was either. We then hopped in a taxi (paid 2 euro to make a U-Turn, hehe) and headed back to the hotel, because my knee was starting to kill me... hard to walk even a little bit. So we put some ice on it for an hour or two, Loving Husband got to get on the internet and do some work stuff... and then we headed back out.


Spanish Steps:
We took another taxi (yes, we've taken them everywhere!) especially since my knee was at this point falling apart, to the Spanish Steps... GORGEOUS! Loving Husband went all the way to the top and took some pictures for me, and we wandered around the streets there for a while. My knee couldn't take much more so we ended up cutting that portion of the trip short and headed back to the hotel. We met up with some Company people and had dinner and then came back and I crashed!

DAY THREE:
We awoke after sleeping on a very comfy bed and got ourselves ready to go, but my knee was still really bothering me and we were going to the Colusseum and the Forum, it wasn't looking good for walking around... we headed to the front desk to ask about a pharmacia! They said one was just a 5 minute walk from the hotel, so we took a jaunt down the road... found a knee brace and some bandaids for my toes and then headed back - stopped in and bought a pair of italian sandles and headed back to the hotel.

The Forum:
We arrived at the forum and just took it all it - it is so vast and amazing at what they did soooo many years ago. The awe of it was detracted mildly by the two workers weed-wacking around the ancient ruins, but I guess it has to be done, eh?

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier:
We then continued to walk to see this big white building that can been seen just about anywher in Roma... but we didn't have a clue what it was! It is for The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier... let's just say THIS out does the U.S. tenfold. Wow.... it's beyond vast. More stairs later we were up... I took a seat, Loving Husband took some more stairs and got more pictures of the area around it. It was just amazing.

The Colosseum:
We walked down the road from the Forum and went to the Colosseum. The Colosseum is looking pretty good, considering it opened in 80 AD and suffered an earthquake in 1400s (leaving it in the state that it resides in now with the section missing). It has 80 arched entrances and could seat 55,000 people back in the day. We signed up for a tour and learned all sorts of neat stuff. Including (as my picture states) the reason there are all the holes all over the place... which is because people pilfered the iron out of the stone to trade it in for cash. Very interesting history and AGAIN amazing at how detailed everything is, the guide said there were over 100 elevators from the two level underground area to the stage floor. After our tour ended we headed to lunch with a view of the Colosseum, lovely!


Palentine Hill:
We went to Palentine after lunch for the second portion of our tour where we were told the legend of Romulus and Remus, dating from the 9th Century BC and how that is where they were found on Palentine Hill. Back in the day it was apparently the Beverly Hills of real estate. We walked all around the area and it was gorgeous... and then Loving Husband sat me down (knee still in pain) and he wandered around looking at the underground stuff as well as some of the more far reaching things. The most interesting thing I found was the Christian church build above the ruins... that had the door which at one time was ground level VERY high up off the ground now that everything has been excavated.

Pantheon:
Our final stop for the day was the Pantheon, which in the middle ages was the Roman temple of "all the gods" became a church in 609. The hole in the center of the church provides the only light into the building. This building has been around since 125AD. The walls of this building are 19ft THICK! The doors are massive as well. It was awesome - we grabbed some gilato and McDonald's french fries (had to say I had some in Italia! Not as good btw) and just looked around the area for an hour.

We then headed back to the hotel to put a close on the third day of touring Roma! We rested up and took showers... after yesterday I was extremly sunburned, my knee is still bugging me - but I'm in Roma! I'll survive. We ordered room service around 10pm and then I read some and fell asleep!

DAY FOUR:
Loving Husband has to work today, in fact he's downstairs right now shmoozing away... I am getting ready to catch a taxi and head to the Spanish Steps for some shopping and vino! (It's only 10:30, so maybe some cappuccino first) More to come!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Travel to Roma

Rome is lovely! We flew all day and arrived in Rome around 12pm, Roma time. We took a long nap and then got up and ate a tastey 4 course meal over 3 hour time span... then we walked around our hotel for a bit and then came back to check in with everyone via the www to let everyone know that we're not dead! It being late and us being exhuasted we decided that it would be an excellent way to relax in our hotel room.

Travel:
The flights were actually extremely managable. I only got claustrophobic once because I used the "small" bathroom - otherwise I used the "larger" one and I was fine. We were served meals in backwards order (or so it seemed) dinner, lunch and then breakfast. It never got dark outside because we were flying into Friday all the way there... that was kind of weird. I watched two movies of my choice (I love tvs in the back of the seat in front of you!) and I read some excellent Harry Potter. Went through customs and security AGAIN in Amsterdam which was silly, but we had plenty of time... and then I zonked out once we were seated on that plane. Woke up as we were landing... when we landed we walked out onto the tarmac and immediately hopped onto a bus... european style... barely room for myself let alone the bag I was carrying (more claustrophobia)... I sat down while Loving Husband waited for our luggage (see pictures) Yay it all arrived! We then walked outside caught a cab and headed into Roma.

The Drive:
Our first experience riding around the city was very similar to as everyone expected, terrifying and crazy. The roads are very small as are the cars... but they put 4 across a two lane road and more than happily will run over people on Vespas... No one died and there were no crashes so we just enjoyed the scenary as we drove.

The Ride:
The ride was very nice - a lot of graffiti, almost Berdo-ish in parts... we drove past St. Pauls church on the way in and look forward to walking around that more later on our trip... we saw some lovely architecture throughout the area... and then we went down streets that in the states aren't large enough to constitute an alley.

The Hotel:
The hotel is very nice... our room is small, but not tiny enough to prevent me from breathing... and we have french doors that open up to a really nice patio outside with a nice set of table and chairs. They speak english here, which is nice - and so far (I know we've only been here 12 hours) we've had no language issues. We're at this hotel: Hotel Villa San Pio until Sunday and then we'll be moving into the Company paid for one (not sure which one that is, but Loving Husband does - so not my problem!)

Italian Food:
Loving Husband and I ate at the resturant down here at the hotel, we had appetizers, a first course (of angel hair pasta and basil tomato sauce), second course was a filet with herb potatoes (the best I probably ever have had!), and tastey dessert... it was delicious... and of course VINO!

Tomorrow:
We're off to the Vatican! I'm sure that will take all day... I'll try to post a few more pictures and blogs along the way!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Home!

This past weekend I was able to go home for the first time in a year. And it was just what I needed. Although I love my Northwest life, there is still something about surrounding yourself with people that have known you your life... and that is just what home is. Now my home town is nothing to get excited about or even somewhere to visit, but nonetheless it's home.

I KNEW I was home when my mom and I were almost to our house, and off in the distance there was a helicopter with it's high beam chasing a vehicle/person down the road. Laughable... but truly part of home. Yes, of COURSE I grew up in the ghetto.

I got to see family and friends and see one of my closest friends married off to the love of his life on Saturday. It was a beautiful wedding! (Pictures posted) It was a wonderful time to spend with people I haven't seen in a long time.

It was a great weekend... and in less than 48 hours I am headed to Rome!!!!!!!!!!!!!