Tuesday, July 26, 2016


It has been a few days ( whoa, could be a week!) now since my last post, and I really need to get this (maybe) last Italy post done.  I have a lot of stuff going on here and I have things BACKING up in my brain.  So I need to finish Italy....

The Pantheon!

The problem with Rome, and the reason that I have not jumped in with a post or two, is that we were there for 3 days and frankly, it has all now blurred together.  And it was the end of the trip and we were TIRED!!  And hot.  Hot and tired and almost an hour from our hotel. Which was beautiful, but we were never there.  Lol.  Did I mention tired??  oh yes, I did. And then there is the photo editing factor- it is quite time consuming to go through that many photos.

Parts of the crowd at the Vatican
Rome was a whole different animal than the rest of the trip.  It was HOT, it was crowded, it was sort of dirty- there was graffiti everywhere.... But WOW, there was a lot of old and amazing sights to be seen.  I really liked being there, but I preferred the north of Italy.  Regardless of that fact, I wouldn't have traded the time for anything.  

Some of the old and "new" (rebuilt) parts of the Coliseum 
We spent a lot of time on crowded roads, watching some crazy driving and some super crazy parking jobs.  We began the first day at the Vatican- it was insane how many people were there- turns out the pope made this a Jubilee year (The Vatican guide said he sort of sprung it on them) and there are these 4 doors through out the city that are only open during those special years- on of them being at St. Peter's.  We went through 2 of them during our trip, there at the Basilica and then the last day at St. Pauls-Outside-the-Walls.....  EVERYTHING in Rome is gorgeous, so let's get that out of the way.  The architecture was outstanding....

Ok, to simplify this all these were the official things that we did as a group:
  • Vatican City
  • Coliseum 
  • Roman Forum
  • Trevi Fountain
  • Spanish Steps
  • Walking tour at night
  • Catacombs
  • Walking tour of Travestere
  • Appian Way
  • Basilica of St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls
  • Ostia Antica
  • plus we shopped and then went to the Pantheon as a little group.
Marcus Aurelius equestrian statue on the Capitoline Hill at the Piazza del Campidoglio. From approximately 176 A.D.!!

We also lost a third of our group on the 10th day as they did not opt in for the 2 day extension, though, why they did that escapes me.  I mean, if you are going to be there, why not go all in??  Oh well, it was fine and actually, really nice, as there were so many fewer people to wait for and a LOT more room on the bus. 14 of the group departed on day10.   By the time Roma rolled around, some of those people were getting annoying.  HA!  But nothing too horrible, and nothing I care to discuss here, it really isn't that important.

Ostia Antica- those umbrella pines, tho!!

What was nice is having a place to stay for 3 days, no moving around of the luggages!!  :)  We had breakfast at the hotel and the first day we had supper there (with wine- YAY) but after that we ate out in Roma.  This hotel was just huge and you could tell the in the day it was a fancy one, but it was a little past its prime.  I have to say, I have never seen a hotel that had hallways as huge as this one- it was like you could fit a swimming pool in the center of it.  It was odd, but fine.

St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls: Outside the Walls of the city of ancient Rome

I was feeling up all the columns I could get my hands on- marble is amazing stuff

So, back to Rome- I probably drove my dear sister crazy, as I was constantly saying- omg- ROSE- all this stuff is REALLY OLD!!!  OLD!!!  Like BC old.  It was mind blowing.  I touched ALL THE THINGS  too, because I am like that and I like the thought of feeling the marble columns that were from 89 BC....  AND there were columns everywhere.  Mmmm, such a sensual experience.... This is the time I really started feeling the shackles of being on an educational tour- we were always on the move.  I was wanting to be in some of these places longer than a quick look and continue.  It was frustrating....  At one point in the Forum, we walked right on past several things that I wish I would have had time to photograph properly instead of drive-bys.  Sigh.  But, that is the way this tour was, and it was good but that was a flaw as far as I am concerned.

Ok, quick hit impressions:

Vatican City- WOW was this beautiful. The buildings were spectacular, the interiors were breathtaking....  the amount of money that the church has in those places is disturbing, actually.  I did love seeing the Sistine chapel, the colors of the the painting on the ceiling were superb, it was beyond words to see it in person.  I also saw Michelangelo's Pieta in St. Peter's Basilica and that was beautiful.  Interesting how the artist's work brings out the crazies- that sculpture, like the David, was attacked by a person with a heavy object (hammer in this case) and so they are tucked up out of the way and of course have their own security systems. The art at the Vatican is quite amazing, and it would have been nice to be able to get to some of it to really look....

Interior of the Basilica of St. Peters

Michelangelo's Pieta

Coliseum- The coliseum is a tourist attraction for good reason.  It is an interesting place, with lots of the inner workings of it showing under the floor.  I wish I could remember more of what the tour director said, as it was quite fascinating.  It was really cool to walk through there after the tour and look at things up close (touch them, too, hehehe) (I still wish I could have touched the David)

What was below the floors of the coliseum 

Roman Forum- I SERIOUSLY am disappointed in the tour of the Forum- we were so exhausted and hot that this just was too fast and too disjointed for my taste.  Or maybe I was just so tired I didn't comprehend like I wanted to....  The ruins were so interesting- I just loved this part of it.  And would have loved it more.  Columns and architecture galore.

One of the Arches of Triumph in the Roman Forum
Part of ancient Rome

I believe this was a place where there was a shop in the ancient city
The Walking tour we took, included a "stroll" around the inner city, including seeing the Spanish Steps at the end- and I have virtually no memory of what that was all about, and the Trevi Fountain. THAT was quite the fountain!  In fact Roma was full of cool fountains, and most of them you could refill your water bottle in - at least the stuff that comes fresh from the well underground. You know, before it hits the pools under the sculpture and all that. That first day of Rome, was a long one- we walked about 10 miles that day....  we were tired when we got back.

Trevi Fountain
Fontana del Moro  A fountain from the 16th C., the central figure was by Bernini.

Trevi fountain

Catacombs- I have no pix of the catacombs, or very few, as none were allowed underground.  We were UNDER the ground- it was a burial place along the Appian way-  This kicked my claustrophobia into high gear, had to do a little slow breathing in some of the more squishy spots.  Fortunately the guide relayed the information that there are ways out every so often, so you are never more than 30 seconds or so from the surface.  whew. I have issues.  Lol The appian way was a road, a really little road that led from the Sea to Roma I believe...
Part of the entrance to the catacombs....  and some of the artifacts

Walking tour of Travestere- This is a section of Roma that is very popular.  Our guide Daniele assures us that he would love to have a house in that part of Rome.  It is very lovely and picturesque-  I think this we did the second day of Roma in the morning and then we went to the Ostia Antica.
The Tempietto 

Part of the site of the ancient harbor town of Ostia Antica
Clouds, ruins, trees- amazing
Ostia Antica is a ruins outside of Rome, I believe we went there after St. Paul-Outside-the-Wall, which I know we did in the morning.  Ostia Antica was a bit like Pompeii- a ruins of an ancient city that was uncovered, but it was not covered by lava!  The tour was really good here, you could see the places where there was shops, there were places that had some mosaic left on the floors, baths, etc, etc.  Very cool.
Arches and relics

St. Paul-Outside-the-Wall is one of many MANY churches that we saw... in fact after reviewing the photos, it is hard to tell them all apart sometimes.  If one is sleepy and unresponsive to visual clues.... The was the last one, though, and because it had some rocking cool columns, I do remember this one pretty well.  But oy, the churches and more churches and their bossy clothing rules...

Corinthian columns!
Inside the church of St. Paul

AND the very last day in Roma, we were able to have the whole afternoon to ourselves, and we chose to go see the Pantheon- after we did a little shopping of course.  I was wishing that I would have picked up the olive oil I wanted to get earlier, as I had to do some hunting to find what I wanted.  But there is that whole thing about dragging this stuff around in your suitcase!

Dome of St. Peters, Vatican City
It seems I have some negative talk in this post, I think it is the difference between the start and the finish of the trip. I have to reiterate, I loved being in Roma.  I do think the appropriate thing to do is after a marathon session in the north of Italy, you really need a day to just lay on a beach. or by a pool... with your passport safely locked in a hotel room somewhere and no where to go except into the water.  And then back onto the sand or the lounge chair...  And then go hit Rome up with fresh legs and fresh eyes.
Roman Forum
St. Pauls

Sounds like a plan, no?

Our trip ended with a wake up call at 2:30 in the am- we had to board the bus at 3 to get to the airport EARLY so we could get on board to leave about 6:30 am....  We made our flight with no problems, flew Dutch airlines, got to Amsterdam and made it to our connecting flight with a little time to spare. This girl got no sleep whatsoever on the trip back to the States.  But boy did I sleep when I got back here.

Changing of the Swiss Guard, Vatican City

Trevi Fountain

I have a feeling, now that I have gotten this post sketched out that there could be a few random Italy posts as I remember some of it.  And I have to clear the way for some additional things I have rolling around in my mind.
Inside St. Peter's


**It has occurred to me that no one has mentioned to me that they received my post cards.  I sent out several, finally got to buy stamps in Assisi, and then gave the cards to the hotel guy in Sorento.... I wonder if he just threw them away or something.  :(  Well, many of you know that I was sending you a post card and a person or two might have been surprised none ever came.  I sent them, but no sign of them.  Bummer.  But who knows- maybe they are on the slow boat, eh?

Exterior shot in Vatican City

Roman Forum

Part of the Bernini Fountain

I think that the 30 plus photos here are enough for one post, so it seems like I probably have an additional at least picture post still coming.... but I have a kayak trip and a Bayfield trip coming down the pipe here, so I guess patience is the best thing for all of us here!
The Romans call this the Wedding Cake - it makes a great landmark!

I can't believe it has been a month now since I have returned.  This was a time I will treasure in my memory and I HAVE to get myself back there some day soon.

Until then, the joys will be found in Wisconsin! :)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Capri- and things that life throws you...

The island of Capri- wow, what a view!!  It was such a beautiful place and I got to go on three boat-rides.......

 and CUT!

Looking up

Life likes to veer off in annoying and unexpected ways and that certainly happened.  Nothing earth shaking for anyone except for me-  

I had phone issues, which is to say it fell in water, and if you can't figure out how that happened, then you can just message me or ask someone how that might have happened....  doesn't matter anyway.  I haven't written an Italy blog post for a couple days because I have several pictures on my phone that I want to use (notice- happily- that I use the word HAVE - present tense, not past!)   Anyway, this all happened on the day that there was a horrendous storm up in northern Wisconsin, farther north than I am.  And basically there isn't, right at this moment, a path to Bayfield that takes less than 4 hours.  I am thinking that should be remedied quickly, but you know what I mean.  Since the Mad-English Teacher and Mad-Science teacher and I were planning a trip up there next Monday, well..... that was just sad and depressing.  And it seems there are no open roads....  But like I said, that could be remedied quickly.

Oh yeah, so the phone, I have a new one and impressively, in just barely over 24 hours, I have a different phone and I have it set up and for the most part back to normal.  Sort of normal. There are some weird things, but that is fine I guess.  Sort of.  I've been told not to whine about the glitches.... haha, especially when I live  up here in the Tundra and I have a replacement phone without driving anywhere.... perspective.

Looking back towards Sorrento

ANYWAY- Capri!!


I have to say that Capri (pronounced CAP ree by the locals), also known as the Mama Mia Island, was just gorgeous.  I also have to say, this was a little out of my comfort zone because of the heights involved.  From the lovely balcony in Sorrento to the high over look before we got to Sorrento to the SUPER high lookout at the top of Capri- well it made me a little squeamish.  I LOVED the boat rides involved though!!  My sister, who has no height issues, LOVED the views.  Lol- she's adorable.

Legend has it if you kiss your true love when you go under it - Idk, you will live forever or something.  haha- I couldn't quickly find the legend, so you can probably get the gist of this.  

I don't know if I mentioned the hotel in Sorrento at all, but we were up on the 6th floor and we had a fantastic view of the Mediterranean.  The reception area for the hotel was on the 5th floor- weirdly.  And the elevator was big enough for 2 people with a small bag- claustrophobia, much?  Actually we dragged our bags upstairs when we got there, so we did get our cardio in.

One of the caves

After piling into the bus in the morning, we headed over to the docks where we got on a BIG ferry (except no cars on that boat) and headed on over to the Island. Breathtaking views!  And we were a little squished- everything on Capri is squished and crowded.

A Roman "doorway" 

The Faraglioni

We got off that boat, met our really great local guide and headed over to a different dock to get on a tour boat for a fun little float around part of the Island. That was my favorite part- you know what they say about the blue waters of the Mediterranean?  Being so incredibly blue?? Its true. Apparently it has something to do with the limestone of the cliffs there- it was spectacular. We saw several caves, some tunnels carved into the cliffs from Roman times, and these massive stones that emerge from the sea on the south east side of the Island.  There was all sorts of cool things, but this is one of those times I was enjoying the view more than taking pictures.  And it was pretty humid, and therefore, hazy.

I took no photos of the hour we stood in line (read- massive crowd of people) to get on the cable car to the top the island.  That was sort of a miserable adventure.  Mostly it was hot- and a little smelly- but the crowds did not bother me that much.  It was nice to get to the top and see the beauty from above. There is lots of expensive stuff up at the top of that place!  But it was worth the trek up and down the hill to see the views.  Down at the bottom, we treated ourselves to some cute little bells  jewelry that are a symbol of the island, plus we found a nice place to people watch while eating their spectacular lemon granitas!!  We were happy to sit down by that point, as it was hot.   Note- it is REALLY hot from here on out on this trip. Second note- I want another lemon granita.

THIS was so beautiful- 

We had a nice little time on the island, but as I felt everywhere, it was not long enough.  We met up with Daniela and headed to a BIGGER ferry then and met up with our bus over in Naples.  Once we hit Naples, there is a change in the way that Italy looks.  Much more graffiti, more litter.... etc.  It was not bad, but definitely different.

Our boat trip from the Island to Naples was almost an hour long- we all almost fell asleep.....  ok, most people did fall asleep, and I in my usual way, did NOT- it was close though.  It was a very soothing ride, the ferry was so big that it was rhythmic and relaxing.

Naples and Mount Vesuvius!  Not as pretty.  lol  Vesuvius- EVERY one of our guides in that area said- Mt. Vesuvius is going to erupt again.  VERY SOON!! Not today or this week, but soon.  That made me smile.
We departed Naples to head for Rome- the outskirts of Rome, that is.  We stayed in this next hotel for 3 nights, which was nice to have a little continuity, but since the hotel was in Palestrina, a good 45 min drive, and that is in good traffic, once we left we did not get back there again until after supper.  We had supper there that night and had a little time to ourselves, that could have involved wine!   A lot of it too. Haha.

Anyway, Daniele knew what sort of day we were going to have the following day, so we got to be in bed early. Which never happened, but we at least had some down time. A long day in Rome is coming and we needed the rest.

The houses are sort of stacks one on top of the other

Lovely sunset as seen from the Hotel La Meridienne!  

And then over an hour to the hotel and some supper and rest...  And now hang on- we are headed to Roma and traffic and crowds and bustle and a totally different and seriously cool experience.  I did like Rome.  A lot.

But that is for the next couple posts.... and that will be a joy.

ETA!  There IS a detour around the massive HWY 13 washout now and Bayfield is more easily in our grips.  :)  YAY