Funny thing happened this morning...
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Funny thing happened this morning...
Wednesday the 2nd of June just happened to be a national holiday here in Rome so when we decided to embark upon a journey to the Colosseum we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We arrived at the Colosseum to find a large crowd consuming the facility. Unable to see the parade occurring below on the lower level, by the Colosseum entrance, we were pretty much dumbfounded by the large crowds and chanting people. Apparently, the dia di Republica is similar to our 4th of July?! They honor all the military, police men/women and firemen(women). Attempting to peep our heads through the crowds and screaming children, we were able to get glimpses of the marching soldiers.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
When I arrived in Rome yesterday afternoon, I was not prepared for the journey ahead. We walked from the train station to our hotel (about 4 blocks down) and found our hotel- the Hotel Canada (don't ask). Sweating and slightly sticky (as it was 77 degrees & humid yesterday in Rome), we plopped ourselves down in the lobby and waited to be checked in. We threw our stuff in our room, grabbed a map and started to venture out into the city. And BOY WHAT AN ADVENTURE! My feet were not prepared for the rough road ahead. Although we were provided a decent map of the city, Italy lacks one of the most important items necessary for travel by foot (or travel period)- they lack street signs. Yeaaaa...not cool. It is quite common here that every so often on the side of a building on the corner there is a street name, however this does not occur on every corner AND the sign is in marble, lightly carved and sometimes hardly visible. Talk about ancient. The second problem with Italy's geographical mapping is that the streets rarely run parallel to each other. They run zig zag, diagonal or into outer space (no not literally). Oh, and the street you're on will often turn into a different street name. So you may start on one street walking straight, and two blocks down it turns into another street. ?!?! Whack.
Monday, May 31, 2010
Today was our last day of the tour and we basically had the day to ourselves, which was rather awesome because we rarely have free time. We spent the day shopping around and found a great lace shop where my mother purchased a handmade tablecloth. And more importantly, we did buy Murano glass! That stuff is like water here. All shapes, sizes and colors. Luckily, for our last day the sun came out and the morning fog cleared for a beautiful afternoon.
This evening we had our farewell dinner with the entire group. I am sad to say that it is over and that the trip has flown by so fast. But, I am happy to say that I had a great time thus far with my family and the new people I’ve met along the way. Our group was sad to say goodbye and spent a long time after dinner conversing, taking pictures and wishing each other well. I have to say the people in this small group will have a distinct memory in my mind as I became fond of each and every one of them.
Tomorrow we are onto Rome. We will take a water taxi to the train station where we hope to board the correct train amongst the crowds of people. From here on out, we are on our own. No guide. No translator, (except for my dad’s broken Italian) BUT- luckily two nurses. Somehow, I believe we will manage out in the wild…
Sunday, May 30, 2010
I often find myself quite pleased with the simple pleasures in life. And today I found I am rather fond of Bacio chocolates. Made my Nestle chocolate, these are the Italian version of Hershey’s kisses! Bacio in Italian means “kiss”. HOWEVER, I believe they are much better than Hershey’s! Covered in a silver aluminum with little blue stars all over the wrapper, these small chocolates hold a piece of paper inside. The paper contains a quote or saying inscribed on it in 5 different languages. It is basically a chocolate fortune cookie! I ate two and mine said: “Doubt thou the stars are fire…But never doubt my love” (W. Shakespeare) and the second said: “Never close your lips to one to whom you have opened your heart” (Anonymous). I soon remembered that these small chocolates are at Monte Carlo in Burbank! Needless to say, I will be purchasing these regularly from now on because they are fun and delicious!
Our last destination before leaving our tour group and flying solo as a family is Venice! We arrived to our Hotel this morning, which is actually the Gritti Palace and like all of our hotels it is gorgeous. Extremely crowded and clustered today due to tour groups and cruise ships, Venice consists of 118 islands and 400 bridges (or so our guide said). No cars are used- only boats or should I say- water taxis! This place is amazing, just as I remember it! Slightly more developed and chaotic, Venice has become even more crazed with tourists and shops. The alley ways are tight and small leaving no personal space whatsoever. My personal bubble was definitely disturbed several times today. Regardless of the crowds we made our way to St. Mark’s Church and Square where there is a disguisting amount of pigeons and pigeon poop. Yet, people stand in stupidly feeding them and waiting for them to land on one of their limbs. It baffles me because people find this fun and entertaining… All I can think of is parasites and bird flu and disease and ughhhh…. GROSS. However, St. Mark’s is absolutely unlike any other church you’ll see in Europe and I can say this with confidence because it has a Middle Eastern look and décor to it. The floor to halfway up the wall is covered in marble and where the marble ceases, gold (true gold) and colored tiny tiles create the ceiling and pictures or designs of all sorts… completely unique and so much gold… DAMN I wish I could have taken pictures (but we weren’t allowed although a grip of people pretended to not understand the signs with a crossed out camera and took pictures anyway- the picture seems universally comprehensive but perhaps they were blind?!). Our tour later included the Palace of the Doges, which of course allowed no pictures… only exteriorly. Before I say anything else, I don’t want you to the Italians restrict pictures like Nazi’s. They have good reason. You see, pictures- paintings frescas especially, are harmed by light (camera flashes) especially being extremely OLD and delicate. The second reason they forbid pictures is the obvious- copyright. If people take pictures, they usually have to pay $ in order to give credit where credit is due (only in designated churches). Those allowed to photograph are writers and they have paid fines while also agree to stating who painted it, when, where and why…the nitty gritty details. The third reason they don’t allow pictures in my opinion is to force you to want a postcard, painting, pictures, etc. from their souvenir shop for $. I know at this point your thinking…a church has a gift shop? The answer is YES. Italians and/or the Catholic church will do anything for $$$ and let’s face it these places draw in people by the thousands…
Im off to bed now, but tomorrow we have a whole day on our own as it is our last day on the tour. Tuesday we are on to Rome.
Oh and Happy Birthday Grandma- la nonna di cumpleanno felice- la manto e l’amore
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
Today we drove to Mantova (as the Italians call it), where we toured the Palazzo Ducale and the Castello San Giorgio which was absolutely huge! This place was a maze and by the time we finished my feet hurt! I definitely got a work out between all the stairs and the 50 rooms we walked through. Love the art though… and the small streets full of shops! ;) We later had lunch at a local ristorante in Mantua where unfortunately, I ruined my appetite by spilling red wine all over my white top! S***! It took me 45 minutes to get the red wine out using white wine (let me tell you the technique works!). By that time though, I had lost all desire to eat, was not in the greatest mood and I reeked of wine from utilizing the white wine to draw out the red stains! Did I mention I couldn’t change my shirt because my suitcase was packed in the bottom of our coach with 30 other people’s suitcases? Yeah…not so cool. I set a new rule for myself…if I’m in white…I drink white (wine). So after boarding the bus while reeking of wine, we continued our trip to Spilamberto, which is famous for traditional balsamic vinegar! We tasted balsamic vinegar that was 12 years old and the second was 25 years old. Yeah. I don’t know how the Italians have the patience to wait 25 years for the good vinegar when they run through stop signs while driving and honk continuously at pedestrians?!
Shortly after our tour of the Museo del Balsamico Tradizionale di Spilamberto (longest name ever), we drove onto Bologna and arrived at our hotel-the Grand Hotel Baglioni. We later ate dinner at the cutest ristorante less than a block from our hotel. The chef became my best friend...in fact I was so special he made me a “surprise” dish (because I couldn’t make up my mind about what I wanted for dinner). It was shrimp with a special sauté… Oh yea…Va Bene! Now that my tummy is full I’m off to bed and I hope tomorrow I can keep my shirt clean…while exploring Bologna…
Oh by the way…GO LAKERS!