Monday, July 16, 2012

Pompeii, Rome and Tuscany

So I have to warn you all, this will be a very long post. But, I hope that it will be entertaining!

After I got into Naples last Wednesday, I went to Pompeii and was amazed by the city. It was so much larger and spectacular than I thought it would be. Many of the frescoes were in such great condition (due to the fact that most everything was covered by the debris from the Vesuvius explosion). I was in awe and it was just amazing walking along the roads imagining what it must have been like to live here thousands of years ago.

This was one of the main streets. They were very rocky!

It was a bit creepy to see the plaster casts of the people that had died in the explosion, but it was still very cool. I have been looking forward to seeing Pompeii and this stuff for so so long!

Here I am in the forum part of Pompeii where people would have just walked around and chatted with each other. Mt Vesuvius is in the background. Imagine that before it exploded it was twice its current size.

On my first day in Rome I walked around in the Villa Borghese and loved it. I always try to go to the main parks of all the cities I go to and people watch. :) It was quite beautiful, I took a break and ate a gelato, which was very delicious btw, and looked out at the boulevard. The fountain you see in the background was kinda like a big pool and people were swimming in it. 

The view from the park was amazing. You can see St. Peters Basilica in the background. My first day in Rome I wandered around in general and got lost about 10 times. At the end of the day I got lost again and found myself in the Trastvere at a small art gallery eating beef carpaccio on arugula with the yummiest vinegar sauce sans tourists. It was an amazing experience and something you expect and hope will happen when you travel.

On my second day in Rome I went to the Colosseum and it was so cool! It was quite large although I actually thought it would be larger. Its amazing that the Romans built this so long ago and it is still here today. The original geography of the Colosseum included a lake. When I was hanging out the day before at the Colosseum I talked with an older Italian man who told me about some things I should do in Italy and said I looked Argentinian; that was cool.

Inside the Colosseum you could imagine seeing a gladiator fight. They used to bring in exotic animals and even stage some of the fights. They also had faux naval battles in the arena. It must have been quite a hassle to stage that.

Next on my itinerary was the Vatican! This is a picture of one of the galleries where there are many busts and statues all over the place. The arrangement of the artwork is actually protected by UNESCO. In the 1800s aristocrats from around the world would come to the Vatican and see the galleries arranged in this way.

The Vatican was very crowded and I had a strong urge to shout "mooooo," but somehow I resisted.....

Being inside St Peter's Basilica was amazing, it was so so big. (Yes, that is what she said)

The dome was magnificent and I felt like an ant. It was so incredible to be inside the largest church in the world. It was strange though that it did not have seats. This is because they do not have normal masses for the public although my guide mentioned that they do perform weddings.

Outside the Vatican and the Basilica was amazing! I felt like the Pope should have come out or there should have been thousands of people standing around. We looked up at the balcony and wondered if Scotty from EuroTrip would come out as the new pope....

The next day I went to the Roman Forum! It was so so so cool! Walking around where Julius Ceaser walked and where so much history and development of democracy and government occurred was amazing.


There were many ruins... the family that actually took this photo were from South (or was it North) Carolina and there son was interested in Deloitte Consulting so maybe I will help him with recruiting! Small world!


The sites were amazing.

The Pantheon was pretty cool!

Inside there was a large hole in the middle of the dome and I do not know what it is for...

(I wrote some or your postcards here!)

A view of the Spanish Steps from the street leading up to it. I stopped at a Tea Room from 1893 the day before and had cream tea. I was pretty ecstatic. Keats and Byron used to write their poetry in this area so maybe that's why an English tea room was there.

On my last day in Rome I took a day trip to into Tuscany and Umbria and I have to say that it will be one of the foremost highlights from this trip. It felt so beyond surreal to be there and it was just so picture perfect. I was so happy and amazed to be there. 

One of the many small streets in Cortona where "Under the Tuscan Sun" was filmed. I was in awe.

After Cortona we went to lunch and had some of the most amazing bruschetta. I bought an herb mix that I will make when I get home so you all can try it :)

After lunch we headed to Montepulciano and it was so beautiful as well. We went into the oldest cellar there (it was over 2000 years old) and tried some very good sangiovese wine.

I went into a church there and lit a candle. It was one of those churches where you get that feeling of being somewhere sacred.

On one of my last nights I made yet another wish in the Trevi Fountain. Hopefully it will come true (I wished for it four times!) and I will go back to Rome sometime soon again.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Buongiorno Everyone! 

My time in Sicily was mostly characterized by me chilling in my room and at the B&B with my cast, but I took it off for my last two days in Catania!  I went to one of the beaches there and the water was so so warm, I'm thinking around 75 degrees?? It was like a bath tub. 

On my last day I toughed it out and went to Mt Etna! Granted, I couldn't do most of the excursion but I did get to see the volcano and some caves!  I believe the guide said there were 350 craters where the volcano has blown, but I'm not too sure.  In any case, the volcano was pretty cool.  It was so so large!

Some of the people on the tour took my camera and took some photos for me. I appreciated it and I think they had fun! :D

For the rest of the day I went to the post office and walked around the main street of Catania and got cannoli from the oldest patisserie there (founded in the 1800s) and it was to die for.  I was so looking forward to getting cannoli from Sicily because it originated there and it went beyond my expectations.  Pistachios are very popular in Catania and there were some on the outside of it and chocolate chips in the yummy ricotta cheese, Nom.  I sat by the fountain in a park and ate it while people watching. 

Nom! :O

I then walked a mile back to the B&B and I loved seeing all the Baroque architecture.  Above is the church of St. Agathe I believe and it was very beautiful inside and to the right is the piazza of the Duomo and there is the fountain with the elephant right at the base of the pillar which is a symbol of Catania (don't ask me why, I saw nary an elephant in Catania). 

The Duomo

Anyways, I will post pictures of Pompeii later! Have to go get ready to traverse Roma! 

Thanks for reading, Ciao!

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Hello Everyone!

I have spent the past two days in Naples.  Well, actually I spent all day yesterday travelling from Venice to Naples which was quite a pain in a cast with crutches, but I made it in one piece and that is all that really matters.  I will have arms of steel by the time I am through with this cast!  The Italians have been so nice and have been extremely helpful in helping me get on and off the trains.  (I even got to go in a wheelchair from one train to another at the Rome train station!)   Yesterday when I got off the train four Italians helped me to the taxi which was such a god send.

So update on foot problems, there seems to be no fracture or break but they still put a cast on my foot which I have to wear for 6 days (so only 4 more days!).  It is also cool getting signatures.  Tonight I go to Sicily on a night train which I am very excited to do.  I will be in Catania for 5 days chilling in the city most likely and since my cast will be off the last day perhaps I will go to Syracuse then to see the ancient ruins.  I could also spend some time at the beach before the cast comes off and get a sweet tan line.

The vew from the train going from Venice to Rome.  Oh, and of my cast ;)

The view from one of the balconies in the hostel I stayed at in Naples.  The weather was much nicer here.  Not humid and a nice breeze sometimes rolled through the buidling during the day. 
Someone from the hostel brought me pizza from the pizza shop Julia Roberts went to in "Eat Pray Love" and it was very yummy!  Pizza originated in Naples and so eating the Margherita pizaa from Naples was quite an experience!  I ate the whole thing!

Anyways, that is all for now.  Until I write again in Sicilia!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012



Today is my last day in Venice and I am sad to say that I have spent the majority of it cooped up in my bed at the hostel with my sprained foot elevated and iced throughout the day. Luckily I was able to ride the vaparetto around today though to just see the canal and some sights from the comfort of a chair.

I have attached some pictures of the canal. It was absolutely beautiful and it was amazing to see such grand old mansions who's bottom stories were most likely flooded. Also, a lot of the facades look to be marble and so you think that the rest of the building is too but as the boat pulls away you can see that the building is actually brick; those sneaky Venetians!

It was also cool to watch the final football match in Italy with Spain against them even though Spain won :(

The people at the hostel are very nice to me and have helped me get ice for my foot and yesterday one of the staff made pasta which was very yummy!

Anyways, that's pretty much all I have done in Venice. I plan on chilling in bed again for the rest of the day and hopefully heading off to Naples tomorrow. Until next time, arriverdercci!

Some lovely view from the boat riding along the canal...

Friday, June 29, 2012

Herkese Merhaba! or Hello Everyone! ın Turkish, at least İ hope that is right.  So far I have been to Athens, Istanbul and today we spent the day ın Izmır.  To the rıght you can see Carla and I ın front of the Grand Bazar ın Istanbul! It was so hot that day and was a welcome sıght when we saw shade and aır condıtıonıng. 
 Insıde the Bazar.  There are around 4000 vendors ın there and ıt was quıte overwhelmıng.  So many people ımplorıng you to step ınto theır shops.  I ended up gettıng a sılk scarf and a charm wıth the Turkısh flag symbol. 
 After the Bazar we went to the spıce market whhıch was full of yummy smells and food.  There we trıed some Turkısh Delıght and apple tea.  People drınk a lot of apple tea ın Turkey and ıt ıs very very yummy!  I wıll be brıngıng some home ıf you would lıke to try ıt :) 
Turkısh delıght

 There were a lot of nuts...lıterally.  Some very good pıstachıos. 
I was asked to take a pıcture wıth these guys, they were happy I suppose haha

Outside of the spice market there were also a lot of tasty cheeses!  Here Lucy is holding some real string cheese, it was very yummy!
 The next day we did a full day tour of Istanbul and we crossed a bridge that looked a lot like the Golden Gate bridge in style but not as pretty.  I am on the Asian continent side of Istanbul in this picture and my head is sideways because I had ear drops in for an ear infection! :( sad day

Blue Mosque

Inside the blue mosque.

 To the right is inside the Hagia Sofia which used to be a Christian Church built in the 6th (or 7th?) century.  It was absolutely beautiful. 

I started taking the mosque apart but I didn't get very far...
Behind the paintings in the mosque were beautiful mosaics created for the Christian Church

We went to see some Turkish rugs which were absolutely beautiful and change colors when you turn them different ways.  They did a little "flying carpet" demonstration for us.
Inside of the palace that I don't remember the name of

In Izmir we visited the Agora which was the center of the city in Ancient Roman times.  It was very cool wandering around the ruins.
I tried the Turkish coffee and it was very good!They keep the grounds in the coffee.

This is more inside the agora.  You can see a stray puppy to middle right.  There were many stray dogs and cats around the area. Also inside the agora was a little water way about 6 inches across and it has been flowing there since the agora was built and they still do not know where its source is.  needless to say I dipped my feet in :)
Next on our tour was Patmos and Mykonos, the water was so blue and clear as you can see in many of the following photos. 

View of Mykonos going in to the city from the harbor

Just one of the few streets in Mykonos.  It was very easy to get lost in the town because the inner city was originally created as a maze to protect the inhabitants from attack.  The streets were so beautiful and what you think of when you think of Greece.
Carla and I overlooking the Mykonos Harbor

The sunset at Mykonos was so beautiful and we were very sad to leave the island.  We spent most of the day wandering the island and hanging out at Paradise Beach which was loads of fun.

Mykonos at night.
Next on out cruise was Rhodes.  We spent most of the day on the beach.  The water was so beautiful and a perfect temperature.  As you can see, it was a bit pebbly. 

The old town of Rhodes was so beautiful with fortifications and ramparts from Medieval Times from when the Knights of St. John had been there protecting the city.  It was amazing that they were in such good condition. 
 There were many children around the city playing music asking for money with small puppies at their feet. 

Next on our list and sadly our last stop was Santorini.  The island was lovely to say the least.  Santorini used to be a circular island, but over a thousand years ago the volcano it sits upon erupted leaving a caldera in the middle of the island where the ocean now fills it in.  The buildings sit atop the cliffs and look a bit like bird poop on top of the island but upon closer inspection you can see that they are very beautiful buildings. 

It was magnificent to say the least...

One of the many doors I took a picture with.  

We were able to see the sunset as we left Santorini and it was marvelous.  

Today we saw the Acropolis and wandered around Athens and luckily it wasn't too hot! It was wonderful to finally see some of the sights in Athens.  Tomorrow we are going to see the Archaeological Museum and some more temples and such. 
Until I next post, arrivederci!