My conspicuous absence of late - WoWInterface
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06-29-09, 09:30 PM   #1
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My conspicuous absence of late

Some background info to start:
  • My daughter is studying to become a Cultural Archaeologist. Her undergrad (Bachelor's) degree is a major in Classics with a minor in History. Her Master's and Doctorate will be in Archaeology. Well, unless she moves to a country that has an undergrad degree in Archaeology itself, unlike Canada.
Last summer she volunteered for a couple weeks on a dig along the NE coast of England (almost to the Scottish border, little town called South Shields.) This summer she participated for a couple weeks on a "rescue dig" in Italia (Italy), along the Tuscany coast, NW of Roma (Rome.) They're trying to save as much of an old Roman Villa and the even older Etruscan village that the villa is built on top of as they can before they both disappear completely. She goes on these digs through a group called Earthwatch. Earthwatch is an international non-profit scientific organization that works toward environmental and cultural preservation. She volunteers on the digs, and pays her own way for transportation to and from the digs, accommodations (outside the dig dates themselves), insurance, meals (for the duration, including the dates of the dig), etc.

She headed over to Italia on 5 June. Her participation in the dig went from 7 June until 19 June.
  • I can't remember the last time I've had a vacation. I may have had one week some time since we started the sites back in 2002. I think. Maybe. I'm not sure, it's been that long. (BlizzCon does NOT count. While it's fun, it is anything but a vacation, at least for me.)
I've never been anywhere outside Canada and the US of A.
Well, we talked about it with each other – she really wanted me to meet her after her dig so she'd have company for the week (plus a couple days) of playing tourist. She had wanted me to do the same last year when she went to England and Scotland, but we just couldn't afford it. So, we talked about it for a while, trying to see if there was any possible way we could swing it, then we included my parents in the conversation as well, a number of months ago. We checked into flights and hotels and stuff. We were able to find a really good price on airline tickets and we also looked at what it would cost us if we split the hotel bill three ways. It worked out such that, with a lot of scrimping and saving up over a number of months, my Mom and I were able to go over to join my daughter after her dig was done.

So, I got to go to Italia for just under 2 weeks!!!! Squeeeee!!!!!!!

My Mom and I flew out from Canada late in the evening on Sunday, 14 June and arrived in Roma, Italia (Rome, Italy) about mid-afternoon on Monday, 15 June (yay for time zone changes .) Flight wasn't bad, only a few bumps here and there. Mostly on time. Meal was … less than spectacular, but that's to be expected. Found our way to the hotel, then out to get our bearings in the immediate surrounding area. Snagged a quick bite for dinner, then crashed out since neither of us had slept on the flight (we were too excited to sleep, plus I'd only had 3 hours of sleep on the Saturday night, getting packed and the house tidy enough to leave, etc.) Crashed hard. Didn't wake up until almost 11am (Roma time.)

Tuesday, 16 June - our first full day in Roma. Walked over to the train station (Stazione Centrale-Roma Termini, in short called Termini) to figure out where to start. Termini is a wonderful hub to get around from. All the national and international trains stop there (if going to Roma.) The intracity public transit (buses, metro {subway} and cable cars) go there. As well, that's where all the tour buses stop. So if you want to get around, other than walking, it's the place to start. Our hotel was only one block over and three blocks down from it, and they are short blocks. So we were very nicely placed to get around.

Started our day off with a light brunch (fresh fruit and a roll), then time to go find a tour bus to start getting an over-view of the city, help us decide what we want to see when my daughter arrives at the end of her dig, the best ways to get to the various places, etc. We ended up taking a couple different tours around, since while they mostly went to the same places, there were some differences between them. Spent most of the day doing that, just to get our bearings. Found a very nice restaurant for dinner. Just snagged a Caesar salad, I was still trying to adjust to the differences in climate and time zone, so wanted to eat light. One thing about the restaurants in Roma: the majority of them are set up along the sidewalks. With that glorious weather, is it any wonder? Everyone wants to eat outside! Also did some walking around in the immediate area of our hotel and Termini, just checking out the little shops, restaurants, etc. Back to the hotel, send a quick email out to everyone back at home (forgot to mention, our hotel had a couple computers {and internet access} for their guests to use) plus a quick check of my sites to make sure that there wasn't anything absolutely urgent that I needed to deal with or to pass off to one of my staff that couldn't wait until I got home. Did that every evening after we got back to the hotel for about ˝ hr before going to sleep for the night. Other than that, though, stayed strictly away from computers, since this was my first vacation in, like, forever, and my family would have killed me if I'd spent it on-line.

Wednesday, 17 June – our second full day. Only slept in until 10am this time. Up to Termini, grab some more fresh fruit to get us started. Figure we'll take this opportunity to get our various train tickets for the end of the trip now, so that it's taken care of and we can then just not worry about it for the rest of the time we're there. With that taken care of, we snag a one-day transit pass and head our way out to Via Appia Antica (the 'ancient road, Appia', the oldest Roman road), known to the Romans as the regina viarum (queen of roads), where we hop off to go find the catacombs. Well, we hopped off in the wrong place or something. We get … hmmm, I guess the proper term here would be … LOST! We walked for, literally, hours back and forth across various roads, trying to figure out where the hell we are. We somehow ended up on this huge long road out in the middle of (what seemed like) nowhere. And we walked. And we walked. And then we walked some more. Finally, we get to the other end of this road and find a little roadside café. We stop in, get something to drink (did I mention that we'd forgot to grab our water bottles that morning?) and ask the nice lady behind the counter, "Where the hell are we, and how do we get to the catacombs?" She very kindly didn't laugh and/or roll her eyes at the 'stupid tourists', pointed out the door and up the hill where the road splits into two and says, "10 minutes, that way." So, we sit for a while longer, panting trying to get our breath back and guzzling liquids, then head out again. Sure enough, up this hill, down the other side and, "duh, there they are!" It's now a lot later in the day than we planned on being, by multiple hours, so we manage to get in on like the very last tour of the day at this one particular set of catacombs, the Catacombs di San Sebastiano. They were the ones we particularly wanted to see, though, so that was okay. They aren't the "biggest" set there (the largest, busiest and most famous are the Catacombs di San Callista), but they are the oldest. Going through them, you can see the multiple levels for the different centuries in which they were in use, and the different religions that they served. Lots of frescoes, stucco work, epigraphs and three perfectly preserved mausoleums were there to be seen. The Basilica di San Sebastiano is built directly above the catacombs and was a beautiful basilica to walk through. (Basilica means 'church' in most cases, although in ancient Roma it meant a 'hall of justice and public meeting place'. The Basilica di San Sebastiano is a church.) After we finished the tour we wandered further along Via Appia Antica, past the Circo di Masenzio (one of Rome's ancient racetracks, where you can actually still make out the starting stalls used for the chariot races!), past the Tomba di Romolo and along until we came to an unusual cylindrical mausoleum, the Mausoleo di Cecilia Metella. Then we wandered back down the road until we found a bus stop and headed back into the city proper.

Went back to the restaurant we'd found on the Tuesday night, since the food had been good and the staff super friendly. Since we were now starting to be acclimatized (and ravenously hungry after all that walking!), decided it was time to have something a little more solid than just fruit and salad. Mom ordered a lasagna and I got a spaghetti carbonara. Oh. My. God! I am not sure if I will ever again be able to enjoy a carbonara here. It was SO good, it was to die for! I took one bite and was groaning with enjoyment. Apparently Mom's lasagna was excellent too. I have no doubt that the next time I have "Italian" here at home, I'm going to be shaking my head and going, "This isn't Italian, it doesn't even come close to what it tasted like in Roma!"

Took a nice long leisurely time enjoying our dinner, then wandered around poking in the various 'tourist' shops, then back to the hotel for the night. Sent out emails, checked the sites, then off for sleep.

Thursday, 18 June - Definitely getting our schedules switched around to more what they should be for over here. Woke up by 9am. Snagged some fruit and roll for breakfast again, then worked our way slowly along down to the nearest Basilica, the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. Wandered around in there for a while, just enjoying the beauty of it, both architecturally and artistically. Some gorgeous mosaics, wonderfully carved tombs, etc. Simply beautiful.

Kind of a quiet day for us, didn't do a lot since we were trying to keep the majority of our 'tourist' activities until my daughter joined us on Friday. Mostly just kind of wandered around the general vicinity of our hotel and Termini. Didn't really matter though, since it seemed you couldn't turn a corner or look anywhere (up, down, this side, that side) and not find a wonderfully carved column or surprise fountain or old statue or pretty little park. I was pleasantly surprised with just how 'green' Roma was. I'm not sure why, but I didn't think there would be as many parks and trees and flowerbeds, etc. in the city as there are, so that was nice. Tried a fettuccini alfredo for dinner tonight. For all that it's 'just a basic, plain white-sauce', the alfredo there was as equally wonderful as the carbonara I'd had the night before. A lot more flavourful than what I'm used to here. Headed back to the hotel rather earlier since we were going to be hopping a train early in the morning to go meet my daughter.

Friday, 19 June - UGH! OMG it's early! It's o-dark-hundred! Do I have to get up now? Oh, right, going to get my kiddo! Okay, I'm up! 5am wake up call so we get awake and get to Termini in time to catch our 6am train. Did I mention that our hotel is close to the station? Well, good thing it is. Get there and discover that we forgot the train tickets back in the hotel room. Dash back down there, snag them, then back to the station. (Remember that for most of this we're walking, unless I specifically note otherwise.) Made it in time. Got on the train and had a three hour trip up to meet her. Got to see some of the countryside along the way. If we'd been thinking better yesterday, we would have gotten our tickets such that we could pick her up along the way and then take the train further along its route, up to Pisa (so we could see the leaning tower, etc.) Not sure why we didn't, but we didn't. Oh well. Met her at the station and then took another train back to Roma. Got her stuff dumped into our room in the hotel and got her registered at the front desk, then off to take her on a couple different bus tours around the city, to show her the various things we've been considering viewing when she joined us. Looked further into the idea of trying to go down to Pompei and Mt. Vesuvius for a day but just don't see any way that we can see both in a single day, plus the cost is prohibitive (for us at least, since we're trying to do this whole trip on a shoe-string budget. Probably not really that expensive otherwise, but meh, what can ya do?) Got dinner then back to the hotel to firm up our plans some more, check over our maps and stuff.

Saturday, 20 June - We went to the Citta del Vaticano (Vatican City) today.




We started the day bright and early, snagged breakfast fast and hopped on a bus to get there. The first thing you see as you get off the bus and walk up to the front is Piazza San Pietro (St. Peter's Square). Quoting from one of our tour books (Italy, publisher Lonely Planet. I highly recommend their books if you want quality info for travelling):
Looked at from above, the square resembles a giant keyhole: two semicircular colonnades, each of which is made up of four rows of Doric columns, bound a giant oval that straightens out towards the basilica. On the square there are two points from where you can see all the columns perfectly aligned. Look for the iron paving disks either side of the central obelisk. The ancient Egyptian obelisk was brought to Rome by Caligula from Heliopolis.
Decided we wanted to start the day by climbing up to the top of Michelangelo's dome, while we were still fresh. Good decision. If we'd done it later in the day, we likely wouldn't have made it. The dome is the cupola/bell tower on the top of Basilica di San Pietro (St. Peter's Basilica). Even with taking the elevator ˝ way up, we still had to climb another 320 steps to get to the top. That doesn't sound like all that much, right? Wrong! Those 320 steps were all at about a 70° to 80° angle, or more. At one point, you are walking bent to the side because you are going right along the inside of the curve of the dome. The final forty-ish steps are so steep that there is actually a rope hanging there for you to hold on to and all but pull yourself straight up. Thank goodness we decided to "wimp out" and take the elevator ˝ way up.

And then you go out the door onto the balcony. And you look out. And out. And out. The view from the top is breathtaking (not to mention that you haven't got any breath back from the climb yet .) You just walk around looking out over the city, and boy can you ever see a long way from there, as well as look at the decorations by Michelangelo. The reliefs depict the Reliquie Maggiori (Major Relics).

So, we spend some time just taking in the view, then it's back down we go. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to anyone that got held up behind me. I have vertigo. Not a phobia, but the actual medical definition (I'm not 'afraid' of 'falling', nor do I have a fear of heights at all.) I can fall up stairs (and do, on a not-irregular basis.) I tried my best, but I know that I was slower going down than I was going up. I made my daughter go ahead of me and I waited until she was out of site around a bend of the stairs before I started, simply because if I went, I didn't want to take her (and others) out with me. Apparently my mom was behind me prepared to grab my shirt if I started to tumble. I had no idea, I was concentrating so hard on making sure of each foot hold as I went down. Got back down to the halfway point where we'd be taking the elevator the rest of the way down (and also another lovely terrace where you can look out over the city, walk around a bit, go into the souvenir store) and just stood there for a while with my legs shaking from the strain. Got my legs and nerves back under control and then we hopped on the elevator to take the rest of the trip back down to ground level.

Walk through the doorway at the bottom, start to turn to say something to Mom and just … stop. Jaw drops open. Eyes go wide. Just … stop. See, we thought that when we got to the bottom, we'd be back outside in the square again, to get into another line to go into Basilica di San Pietro (St. Peter's Basilica) proper. We were wrong. When you reach the bottom, you aren't in a line outside again, you walk through a side door into the basilica. Stunned. Positively, wordlessly, stunned. I'm not sure how long it was until any of us actually said anything to each other again. I know we stood there for at least two solid minutes just turning in this slow slow circle, completely awestruck, not making a single noise. I finally know what people mean when they say "words can't describe it, pictures don't do it justice, you just can't understand unless you've been there." (about anywhere, not just Basilica di San Pietro.)

Almost a whisper, stated with just this most awe inspired, heartfelt, humbled, amazed … something …. :

"Oh ……………… My ……………… God"

Then turn around again. Look down. Look up. Look left. Look down on the left. Look up on the left. Look right. Look down. Look up. Make another nth of a turn. Look. Just. Wow. Take a half step. Hear daughter say "where do I start?" And just …. Oh. My. God.

You don't have to be religious to be bowled over by it. You just have to appreciate beauty and artistry and the wonder of what man is capable of creating. It's … I honestly, truly can not come up with the words for it. We have pictures. I can use every expression ever used by anyone in their attempts to convey it. It's not possible. It is simply not possible. You really honestly truly have to experience it yourself. Nothing can even come close to trying to explain how it makes you feel. No pictures. No words. No song or poem or ….

It's …


Just … wow.

So. We stood there completely thunderstruck. Then we moved a little. Then my daughter managed to figure out where to start with her camera. I don't know how she figured it out. There is not a single piece of anything that isn't decorated, that isn't perfect. Even the simplest piece of marble, or tile, or wood is absolutely completely 'right'. I am still trying to figure out how to move on from telling you about it, when I realize that I haven't even really said anything, to figure out how to move to the next thing, and … wow.

I have no idea how long we spent in there. I know there was so much I didn't see, simply because there was so much to see. No matter where you looked, there was something new, something beautiful, something amazing. Eventually we somehow managed to work our way out. Still completely stunned. Finally we managed to gather our wits and walked part way down the Square and headed around the outside to go to the Musei Vaticani (Vatican Museums.)

Right from the first staircase it is again a case of look in every direction and don't expect to get far fast unless you have made the mistake of going with one of the tour groups - they will sure run you through in a hurry. We decided on three of the museum sections we wanted to see and planned to end with the Capella Sistina (Sistine Chapel.) Well we did go through what we wanted and we did see a portion of them but there is no way we could see all of even that small amount of the museum area. There is just too much and it is just too impressive. You are walking on solid marble floors, priceless mosaic floors, parts of floors inlayed with bronze, etc. Every ceiling is decorated, painted, tiled, or something. The walls have paintings, statues, tapestries, frescos, mosaics, and more. The buildings that house the Musei Vaticani, known collectively as the Palazzo Apostolico Vaticano cover an area of 5.5 hectares!

We went through the Quattro Cancelli (which is the starting area for the museum complex), the Pinacoteca, the Museo Gregoriano Egizio (Egyptian Museum), the Gallerie delle Carte Geografiche (Map Gallery), the Museo Chiaramonti (Chiaramonti Museum, housing many Roman statues and Roman copies of Greek statues), the Pigna Courtyard, the Galleria degli Arazzi (Tapestry Gallery), the Museo Pio-Clementino, the Cortile Ottagono (the Octagonal Court, also known as the Belvedere Courtyard), the Room of the Animals, the Gallery of Statues, the Gallery of Busts, the Sala delle Muse (Hall of Muses), the Round room, and of course:

The end of our wanderings – the Capella Sistina – again, just like with the Basilica di San Pietro – "Oh. My. God." Once more, there just aren't words. It was stunning. Simply stunning. After we were in there for at least ˝ hr or more, just finding more and more and more every where we looked in there, we finally headed out of the museums (since at this point we were an hour past closing and the museum staff were politely herding people out.)

After we got out, we started to head back toward the metro to go back for dinner and off to the hotel. As we were walking along, we noticed a nice long line at a little gelateria across the street. Looking at it, we noticed that the majority of the line was locals, not tourists. Taking that as a good sign, and since my daughter and I both had very firm intentions of finding a good gelateria while we were there (Mom has never had gelato before), we cut across the street and joined the line. Oh, did we ever make a good choice. We tried out a couple other places over the next few days, but this one was by far the best and we actually went out of our way to go back to it four times through the week, before we came home. This was a little hole in the wall place, with people who were obviously all one or two families working there, with an interconnecting doorway to a crepe place next door. We were able to stand there and watch the gelaterie artigianale (makers of handmade gelato) making it fresh on-site and refilling the tubs as they emptied! It was …. /swoon. The fragola (strawberry) I had – you would have sworn you were eating fresh strawberries, that had just been chilled some. You couldn't even tell that there had been anything done to them (proper fruit-based gelato is made with the fruit ground up with some water and maybe a touch of sugar added, then frozen. Some of the other non-fruit-based are made with fresh cream and whatever the ingredient that determines its flavour – you could see the fresh cacao seeds they were grinding up for the chocolate flavour, etc.) Oooooooh, it was GOOD! Another evening, we went back to get more, and decided that we'd try out the crepes first. On that evening we ended up not having dinner, we made a meal of the crepes and gelato! Trust line-ups of locals, they know where the best places are!

Anyway, yeah, okay, stop thinking about the gelato Cairenn and get back to telling about your trip. Oh, and don't forget to wipe the drool off your chin!

So, found our way back to Termini, snagged some dinner (dinner for us was always about 8:30 pm or so, the same as the locals do – too hot to enjoy your meal much before then), then back to the hotel for the night.

Sunday, 21 June - Today we had the only 'bad' weather of our trip. It rained periodically throughout the day. We still managed to get out and about though, to see some more stuff. We started the day off by going to Piazza di Spagna and the Scalinata della Trinita dei Monti (the famous 'Spanish Steps'), then along to Fontana di Trevi (the Trevi Fountain), where we made sure to toss in our coins (the legend is that when you toss your coin in over your shoulder and make a wish, not only will your wish come true, but you'll also come back to Roma and the fountain) and then further along to the Pantheon. In some ways the Pantheon is as impressive as the Basilica di San Pietro. It doesn't have the artwork to the same degree, but it is just so massive and has stood for so long. It's quite the architectural feat. It is the largest masonry vault ever built. The perfect semisphere has a diameter equal to the interior height of 43.3 meters! Light is provided inside by the oculus – a 9 meter opening in the center of the top of the dome! There are 16 full sized Corinthian columns inside (each a single block of stone), supporting a triangular pediment. As well, we made a stop in our walking to look at the Egyptian obelisk in Piazza del Popolo.

Back toward Termini, food and sleep. A long day under our belt and another planned for tomorrow. Have I mentioned yet that we've done a lot of walking? And that there have been a ton of stairs? We've walked and walked and climbed stairs then climbed some more stairs, then walked for a bunch, then went down some stairs, then up a hill, then walked some more, then up some stairs, then walked, then …. I can tell you, if I lived in Roma for any length of time, my butt and thighs would be in fantastic shape!

Monday, 22 June - Today we went to a place known by many different names over the years. It has been called the Amphitheatrum Caesareum, the Flavian Amphitheater, the Amphitheatrum-Colyseus. It housed the Colosso di Nerone and was extended in the name regio colisei to include the entire valley. It is most commonly known world-wide as the Colosseum. The name Colosseum wasn't due to its size, contrary to frequent belief, but in reference to the Colosso di Nerone, a giant bronze statue of Nero (which also changed 'names' throughout history) that stood nearby. We spent well over 2-3 hrs wandering around looking at it. A fair portion of it has been restored/maintained, but you can see sections of it that are in serious disrepair, with damage due to time, climate, earthquakes, fires, etc. A number of areas you can't go into, they have them roped off, doing work on it, etc. Definitely worth spending a few hours though.

After we wandered around in there for a while, we headed back outside, got a closer view of the famous Arco di Costantino (gorgeous gorgeous highly detailed arch, built to honour Constantine following one of his victories) and up to Palentine Hill, which was one of the three main hills of ancient Roma. Lots and lots of marble pillars, gardens, stone walls, frescos, tunnels, fountains, and on and on. Of course most of it is ruins now, but still amazing. The Palatine is where Romulus killed his brother Remus and founded Roma. Overlooking the Roman Forums, the Palantine was ancient Roma's 'poshest' nieghbourhood.

During this wandering around in the immediate area of the Colosseum and Palentine hill, we've been going around the outside edge of the Roman Forums. In ancient Roma, a forum was a shopping mall, civic centre and religious complex all rolled into one.

Took the metro back to the Citta del Vaticano area and tried the crepes (as discussed early). Did a bit of shopping around that area, managed to get off the beaten path (aka tourist trap stores) and found some cute tops for each of us at more reasonable prices. Wandered around for a while then took the metro back to Termini. Grabbed a light dinner then back to the hotel for the night.

Tuesday, 23 June
- We went to the Musei Capitolini (Capitoline Museums). They are the oldest national and archaeological museums in the world. Once more, the artwork to be seen was simply amazing. Statues, frescoes, mosaics, paintings, sculptures, all from different ages, it went on and on and on. There were actually four inter-connected buildings but we were only able to get through two of them before we had to stop for the day. One section was climate controlled, trying to prevent any further decay of a bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius. There was also a few remaining pieces of a couple 'colossal' statues. One of the pieces was the head from one of the statues, it was taller than I am!

Walked back down the Capitoline hill toward the metro so we could go back to Termini and discovered a little problem. There were cop cars and buses and paddy wagons and … allllll over the place, and the metro wasn't running. There were announcements being made over the PA system in the metro station, but of course we couldn't understand them since they were all in Italian. Decided that we'd walk along to the next metro stop, checking out shops and stuff along the way. Got to the next one and not only was it not running, but the entrance was actually locked up and there was another fairly large police presence. Never did find out what that was all about. (Edit: Ah, courtesy Iriel, I know now what caused it. Thanks for finding that article for me Iriel!)

Since we were about ˝ way back to Termini from where we'd started, at that point, and after looking at how completely packed the buses were (honestly, I don't think you could put a single piece of paper between people, they were so jammed in), we decided we'd walk the rest of the way back. Took our time, wandering through various stores along the way, etc. Found a nice new purse (can't go to Italia and not buy something made of Italian leather!), even though I had actually stopped looking. Dropped everything back in the room at the hotel, then snagged a quick dinner, then hopped the other metro line from Termini back to Citta del Vaticano to get another gelato and stay until the lights came on around Piazza San Pietro and in Basilica di San Pietro. It looks quite a bit different at night, but still impressive.

Eventually hopped on the metro to go back to the hotel for sleep.

Wednesday, 24 June - Another absolutely wonderful day. Decided it was time to get out of the city so we went to Ostia Antica today. Ostia (referring to the mouth {or ostium} of the Tiber river) was a great port for Roma and later a strategic centre for defence and trade. The main thoroughfare, the Decumanus Maximus, runs over 1km from the Porta Romana (the city's entrance) to the Porta Marina (the docks which originally led to the sea.) Going through it, you can clearly see the ruins of restaurants, laundries, shops, houses, public meeting places, baths, storage buildings, temples, etc. There's an amphitheater large enough to seat 3000 that is still in amazingly good shape (although there has obviously been some maintenance done on it.) You turn a corner and see the remnants of a fresco, climb a staircase and see a wonderful mosaic, glance to the side and see a fountain. It goes on for miles. We spent the entire day there before heading back into the city. Have I mentioned before how much walking we did while we were in Italia? Went back to our favourite little café for dinner then back to the hotel and sleep.

Thursday, 25 June - Our last day in Italia. Took this as our day to go out to the beach and dabble our toes in Mediterranean waters . Took the train out of the city to Lido di Ostia, one of the beaches closest to Roma. Beautiful turquoise water and fine sand as far as the eye can see. Spent a couple hours there, mostly just dozing in the sun, going into the water a bit (it was chilly though, never got in very far, mostly just waded a bit.) Were you aware that I'm a cat? I like nothing more than curling up in the sun soaking up the heat. However, we discovered on the way back to the city that we hadn't refreshed our sunscreen enough. I was, ummm, lemme see here … burned. Yeah, that might describe it. Burned. I looked like a lobster fresh out of the pot. RED was my skin. Ditto my daughter. For some reason, though, my mom didn't burn. Lucky her. It was Ouchie! Went back to the hotel for part of the afternoon, getting things packed up, checking on what souvenirs we still needed to pick up, etc. One more trip on the metro out to the gelateria, a little bit of shopping to get the last few things, then back to the hotel to get an early night's sleep since we needed to be up and out the door bright and early for our flight.

Friday, 26 June - Up at 8 am to do a final check of everything, make sure we haven't forgotten anything in the hotel room, snag a quick breakfast, then over to Termini to catch the train out to the airport. Get to the airport and check in by 11am for our flight at 2pm. Try to come up with something to do at the airport for a couple hours before we need to go to our boarding gate. The flight was an hour late leaving, but we must have had a good tail wind, since it only took us about nine hours flying time to get back (supposed to be a 10+ hr flight). Again, pretty smooth flight, food was a bit better this time. Was really odd to be in the air for 9 hours and have it only be 4 hrs later arriving than we were leaving. Flight left Roma, Italia at 3pm local time and arrived in Toronto, Ontario, Canada at 7pm local time. Yay time zone changes again. Met up with my dad, then the drive back home, another 5 hrs (we flew out of and into Toronto instead of Ottawa because it was much cheaper flights and was direct flights instead of stupid crazy layovers anywhere.) Finally get home between midnight and 1am local time, but body is positive that it's more like 6-7am. Drop a quick note to various people to let them know we're home safe and sound and fall into bed for a few hours.

Now it's three days later and I'm almost back on schedule well enough that I can finally get this typed up. I've come home with a sunburn, and blisters on the bottoms of my feet (literally) and it was worth every bit of it. I guess one of the things I learned the most from this trip is that opportunities to do something amazing like this don't come along all the time, so when they do, take advantage of them. Quoting again from the travel book:
So, do as the Romans do - seize the day by throwing yourself wholeheartedly into the life of the city. Walk the cobbled streets and teeming boulevards, drink too much coffee and wine, eat a surfeit of pasta and gelato, and shop the streets around the Piazza di Spagna till you drop. After all, that's what la dolce vita is all about.
Carpe diem, meus amicitia, carpe diem! Seize the day, my friends, seize the day.

[Edit]: Yes, pictures will be coming, neither my mom nor my daughter have had an opportunity to get them downloaded from their cameras yet. Between them, they have something like 2k photos.

[Edit again]: Starting to get some pictures in place, anything underlined is a link. I'm frequently linking a single picture for any one place, but clicking on the link for the day will give you the full listing of all the pictures taken on that day in the various locations.

Last edited by Cairenn : 07-09-09 at 09:27 PM.
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06-29-09, 09:52 PM   #2
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06-29-09, 09:57 PM   #3
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Sounds like you had a lot of fun, I can't wait to see all the pictures. Congratz on being able to do such an awesome trip!
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06-29-09, 10:20 PM   #4
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Okay, when I went to Rome. I was there 3 days and it was amazing.

The End.

Hehe, I remember my first trip to the US Appalachian mountains via I-40 and some side roads. Being my first trip not taken with parents (or anyone else), I had a similar experience of awe that you describe (natural waterfalls and snow were new to this southern Florida boy). I won't describe it though, because I don't want to hurt from the wrath of Cairenn .

Very glad to see you had a great time, I missed the catacombs and Vatican, but made to Mt V and a few of the isles (the seafood there is indescribable... oh my GOD). I also look for where the locals are when choosing a place to eat. Glad you're back though, things were falling apart at the seams .

/cheer for your vacation!
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06-29-09, 10:45 PM   #5
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pics or it didn't happen!
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06-29-09, 10:50 PM   #6
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Glad you enjoyed your trip!
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06-29-09, 10:51 PM   #7
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Welcome back! Glad you had a blast!
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06-29-09, 10:56 PM   #8
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06-29-09, 10:56 PM   #9
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Bah, now you've made me want to ring the extended family in Italy and take a trip! *shakes fist* Of course, my Italian is terrible these days, so they would probably laugh at me

Sounds like you enjoyed the trip and it was a well-deserved break
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06-30-09, 01:50 AM   #10
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Grats on going to Italy!! That's one of my must-visit-before-I-die places. Thank you for sharing that, and welcome home!!

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06-30-09, 02:18 AM   #11
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I am glad you enjoyed your little trip to Roma. I have never to been to Rome (the airport that looks likes a shopping mall about to go out of business does not count). Funny enough, all of the flights I have ever caught out of Rome have been late. Must be an Italian thing.

Its extremely easy to get lost in any Italian (except Torino), however its also generally an excellent idea to get lost as least one day as you will stumble across the most amazing little gems (like the geletaria that Cairenn discovered). Looking for the little restaurants which are crowded with locals is the best bet for excellent food (this I have discovered in many cities).

Regarding the food, yah most of the stuff they call "Italian" food in the US is a ghost of what you will find here (Italy). Not only that, Italy is home to some excellent regional goodies that will never find it's way to the US. However I still miss my chilies (New Mexican to my very core here!).

I am glad to see that you did not attempt to take on the local drivers on their own turf! They all drive like they were competing in the Italian Gran Prix while the motorcyclists all want to be Valentino Rossi (complete with the number 46 decal on their Vespa or Ape).

If you ever come back and come up to Northern Italy, let me know! I will be happy to show you around Torino
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07-11-09, 09:58 PM   #12
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Okay, well, it has taken a while and I'm actually still working on them, but I finally have all (2230!) of the pictures uploaded. Currently I have them sorted by day and (where applicable) by location/site. I'm combing all the pictures taken by two different cameras, though, so they aren't all necessarily "in order" within any given section, and they all still need to be captioned with what/where yet, but they are there. You can see them all here.

As I get them further sorted, I'll get them linked to the appropriate places in the main post.
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Last edited by Cairenn : 07-12-09 at 01:42 PM.
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WoWInterface » General Discussion » Chit-Chat » My conspicuous absence of late

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