Sunday, August 31, 2014

When in Rome ...

Visiting landmarks is a major part of visiting Rome.  You're remiss if you don't take in these amazing sights.

First up the Coliseum and the Forum...

The Coliseum is an amazing site when you consider how long ago this building was created.  The horrific history can be unsettling and makes you wince and cringe a bit but it's a truly amazing structure.  Time, earthquakes and the stripping of monuments to create the Vatican are almost criminal but it happens all over the world.  When you consider what's it been through it's amazing that it's still standing at all. 
What's left of the interior.
The Arch of Constantine erected to commemorate Constantine's victory over Maxentius.  This arch seemed to excite my son more than the coliseum itself.   There are more images of this than anything there.  We picked up a beautiful marble relief bust of this arch in the gift shop.  It sits pride of place in his room now. 

The Roman Forum is right next to the Coliseum - the previous home of the marketplace surrounded by the ruins of ancient government buildings.  These are the ruins of the oldest structures in Rome  It was also a practice place for the gladiator fights and the spot of the famous Chariot races.  We missed some of the more impressive areas of the site mainly because we didn't do a tour and just kind of wandered in.  I recommend a guide for this one.



An ancient stadium on Palatine Hill.  Believe me you start to realize how much of Rome is built on hills when you walking everywhere. 

At this point I began to notice a bit of a glow on the images taken with my camera.  I had no idea what it was and was worried that the camera was broken.  The images from this day didn't turn out very well so I'm not going to post them.  Instead I'll show others from here
The Arch of Titus commemorating his capture of Jerusalem.
My souvenir was bookends of the Three-columned Temple of Vespasian and Titus

The tower of Santa Francesca Romana.
Purely by accident I found out what was wrong with my camera.  The lenses were filthy.  I cleaned the lenses just before we left for Italy so you can image how filthy Rome is when you consider that my t-shirt was black when cleaned my lenses with it and my white Nike's looked disgusting by the time we left Rome.  A sort of black soot is everywhere.  You really need a good shower afterwards.

Jet lag kicked in big time at the Coliseum and the walk back was really more than I could take.  I found out later that a taxi from one end of Rome proper (inside the old walls of Rome) is only 8 euro's (about $12.00).  Had I known this sooner I would have used them more.  We were really dragging our heels from jet lag while there.
Next up... the Tour...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Conquering Rome ...

Or should I say Rome conquering me. Jet lag - a 9 hour time difference really does affect you - throw in the heat and humidity of Rome (I now understand why Romans shut down in August) and I suffered.  After we survived the drive from the airport to our hotel (it appears that all Rome taxi drivers think they're Mario Andretti) we crashed in our hotel room and after forgetting to place a wakeup call we missed a whole 24 hours and the tour I booked.  Apparently I don't travel as well as I used to.  I rearranged our tour for the next day and we set out to find the Coliseum.  I found that Rome is a strange puzzle.  You're assaulted with contrasts - amazing Roman architecture which I love and the most delicious cooking smells, which don't disappoint (I'm convinced that Roman's are the best cooks in the world - they really know how to eat), and then you're assaulted by the intense smell of urine, beggars and street vendors.  And then there is the pollution.  I tended to take pictures on an upward angle I noticed when I returned.  At least that way I was able to prevent the crowds from walking into my shots and eliminate the negative aspects of Rome.  I was also disappointed to find out that a lot of the monuments in Rome are under repairs.  If you're planning a trip I recommend you go sometime next year when they'll be completed.  This didn't stop me from seeing the details and admiring the beauty of the ancient city.  Still jet lag wiped me out this time more than ever.  I was also dealing with puffiness everywhere after the flight so walking a lot which you do in Rome was a strain.  I will however admit that it was good for me and I found my stride by the time we left.
Typical street in more affluent area of Rome
Just up the street from our hotel was the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

Side entrance - I was struck by the amazing doors in Rome - very heavy and then leading into the inner area which leads from there to the inner apartments.  

I never went in, but this is the interior of this amazing church set in a really beautiful palazzo complete with the prerequisite fountain. 

This was my favourite building in Rome - just across from the church.  The architecture was a real draw for me.  I would love to see behind those shutters.


On our way to the Coliseum - how do those trees grow so high up there? 
Next up - The Coliseum and Forum....

Monday, August 25, 2014

Finding Happiness...

I've recently returned from a hectic trip to Italy to explore and embrace the history and culture.  This is a major trip for my son who has been dreaming of Italy since he became obsessed with Rome and Greek history.  For me it was more about the food and sights, but you know... to each his own.  We combined both.  The food was amazing and since returning (we're still suffering from jet lag), I've found myself totally uninspired by my cooking.  I literally stood (half asleep) in the grocery store aisles and found myself unable to grocery shop.  I didn't feel inspired anymore.  I need to do more of that.  However, this post isn't about my culinary tastes, it's simply about the book I picked up while standing in the book store at the airport looking for some light reading on my trip.  I wanted something light, literally since dragged luggage around during our 3 city tour was not my idea of fun. 
When I spotted this book, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, I remembered a review I'd read a while ago praising it's virtues and since it was part of my plan to begin focusing on myself for the next little while I picked it up.  Couldn't hurt I decided. 
At any rate, I finished it before I returned - lots of wait time in airports and train terminals helped with that.  I was mid-way through when my son and I landed in Florence mid-trip.  A discussion broke out and remembering something I read in the book I decided not to interrupt and simply keeps my thoughts and opinions to myself and let my son get some things off his chest.  This was very difficult as he informed me of things that are hard for a mother to hear.  Apparently, I'm not winning any mother of the year award even with this trip to Italy (paid for entirely by me I might add).  But I listened and while I fumed about his short sightedness and felt unappreciated, I had to admit rather begrudgingly that he had a point.  I've been so focused these last few years on some rather major issues (such as the sudden death of mother, my father's battle with ALS and being the prime caregiver in my home, career stress and other health problems for both him and myself, and the dog for that matter that I really hadn't been thinking about how this was affecting him.   Actually that's not entirely true - the trip to Italy was my attempt at trying to repair the damage and make it up to  him - but I had been so distracted for the last few years... it wasn't easy to hear let's just say that.
At any rate, after this discussion, I decided to start my own Happiness Project and see where it takes me.  While this book is a few years old now (I'm so behind the times) I do recommend it.  Having read the book I'm just beginning my research phase so I'm really not there yet, but I'm starting with this post.  It seems like more of a pledge to myself this way I guess.  I don't have the budget she has or the time to do as much in-depth research, but we'll see where this leads me.
Oh yeah, more on Italy after I sort through the thousands of pictures that I took - I need to remove some things from my computer in order to download them from my camera.  Yeah, I went a bit crazy with the new camera.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I Finally Did It

It's taken me over a year since my dad's passing to finally organize and clean up the house.  The ramp and other large equipment was donated to a firefighter with MS (feels good to know this stuff is needed and appreciated).  The many items we cleared out of my parents home after my mother died has been sorted through and put away or packed and donated to the Cerebral Palsy Association.  I can finally put my car in the garage again.  However, there is still so much to do.  The rugs need to be cleaned or replaced, the garage door was damaged and needs to be replaced, and there are a million other small things to do.  All of which cost money.  However, they can wait.  I'm busying organizing for a trip which I'm really looking forward to but also looking forward to a more relaxed pace after we get back just as much.  Without an extensive to do list whatever will I do with myself?  Begin taking care of myself.  That's the plan - for once my life comes first. 

OK this isn't my panty - I actually don't have room for one.  However, it's my inspiration.  I'm planning a slower second weeding out as I work to simplify my life and keep only what we love, need.... or can't afford to get replace at the moment.
When I search for inspiration, I use the images as a guidepost.  Would whoever owns this wonderful room have this in his/her home?  That sort of thing.  Do I care about this so much that I don't care if they would have it or not because it's ME?  You get the idea.  That's the plan and I have lots of inspiration to work with.  And, I'm taking my time since I now see this as a lifestyle change.  My son won't know what hit him.
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