Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Address update

It's the first morning of our first day of the next chapter in our lives. Over the course of last week, spent lots of time with family and eating all our fave -only -in -Cali food, packed all our nonsense into a not so itty bitty space, watched it get hauled away, stuffed our car with furry and scaley creatures and drove 25 hours to get here. It's official, we've moved. It pains me to type this but this always been a so cal girl no longer lives in sunny so cal. Blasphemis I know.

If you had told me 6 months ago I'd be here now and did all we did in the last 6 months I'd turn to you in a cheesy new yorker accent and say "get outta heeeeer". But, it all did happen, in a blink of an eye sadly. It's cruel that one can experience two moves and a ten- trips-infused -into -one adventure within a blink of an eye but I have a feeling when I am 80 looking back, that'll be the cruelest blink of an eye. But oh what a wonderful blink it will be and for this past one, was.

And halting the mid morning glow of philosophical pondering, I have to say i am very excited. Excited to be somewhere new. Excited to try new things. Slightly not excited about the area (while lovely, I did leave southern California and currently experiencing what it's like to be in my own personal grossly sweaty sauna). Excited to be experiencing it all with my husband. And most importantly, excited for barbecue.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Rome to home


Way way ridiculously late but here's the last of it.

So 3 priests are walking down the street in Rome... And thats all we got. This was a frequent sight while we were in Rome but we could never finish the joke out of "3 priests walk into a gelateria" or "3 priests walk into a pizzeria".

We were back in Rome for 2 nights so the first night we walked from our place near the Vatican to st angelos, over the bridge, to largo Argentina to see the cats (this time the place was crawling with cats)

And then to the campidoglio to see if we could find the lupus statue.

We saw a whole bunch of people walking around and taking pictures so we thought they were tourists and might lead us to the lupus statue. We followed them into a museum to the top floor but quickly realized we were in the midst of a wedding reception. We took a couple shots of the amazing view and quickly hurried out of there. However, Not before a couple of guards realized and hustled us outta there with apparent disapproval. Oh well, they didn't notice us going in and all signs were in Italian. Oops.

Finally found the statue hidden behind a building and about one foot high. Underwhelming right?

Bonus discovery: view of the back portion of the forum that we didn't have time to walk to before.

Revisited Spanish steps. Eyed an illegal LV bag.

The next morning we hustled with the mobs to st peters sq for the papal audience. It was very neat to watch and equally fun to experience with the huddled mass.

We left a bit early to beat the crowd to the Vatican museums. We literally ran down the street to beat a huge crowd.

Famous spiral staircase.

5 hours later we left and headed home. Went out for a final Italian meal around the block and then packed all our crap up after.

The next morning we had arranged for a shuttle to take us to the airport like before. The vehicle that came was pretty late and not the same car so we were concerned the whole ride it might be a scam or maybe we were just nervous from him going 220 kms down the highway. I guess it made up for him being late and We did need to get there early as everyone advises. But The place was absolutely empty and we had a good hour before the check in counter even opened.

We had a connection in Dublin which was a nice break.

Hello Ireland. Bye Ireland. I promise not to judge you on your airport food.

Even though it was a long long flight, because we flew aerlingus, it was awesome - private tvs, in flight meal, free snacks, blankets, pillows (so use to american air so this was such a luxury)

Finally inNY. We appreciated being in America so much after being gone for so long.

Grand central

Our flight got us into the city by 7 so by the time we got to our manhattan apt we just passed out so really no jet lag for us. By the next morning we were ready for our one full day in the big apple.

Started the day checking out battery park with a distant view of the statue of liberty, then to wall street, ground zero, up to central park, fao schwartz, down 5th avenue, Rockefeller ctr, times square with adventures in the subway inbetween. After riding many of the worlds most used subway/metro stations, NY has the worst.

That night

Empire state building. Slightly bummed we didn't go to the top.

Times square.

And that was it! There was definitely more we couldve done but we Had to stop or we wouldve dropped from exhaustion and probably dehydration.

Noon flight home on American air the next day. They suck. No amenities like aerlingus and we had to pay for our bags. Only redeeming thing for the whole turbulent flight. Chuck!

Made it home safe and sound. It was so great to be back home with my family and our puppy.

Our first meal? Mexican food please!

Yay! Home with the Jenk! We loved traveling and exploring new places but I definitely missed by girl.

Athens to Rome by B

We hopped on a plane from Leo da v airport to Athens. This was the place that I wanted to go to the most so I was really excited when we landed. We took the metro from the airport to our hotel right by the acropolis, when we got to the place I couldn't believe our view! We stared right out of our hotel balcony right onto the acropolis hill. Just down our street was the arc of Hadrian and right across from that the temple to Zeus, and right around the corner Socrates jail cell! Athens is an amazing city just think, almost all of our modern ideas inventions and art have in some way there roots in Athens, can't do much without Pythagoras and all of his formulas. The first thing we needed to do was eat some food not just any food, gyros pitas. We sat down at a place right down the way from the Parthenon in the plaka, and the food and prices did not dissapoint. That night we walked around the plaka and I had ouzo for the first and last time. We also went to the famed mars hill to watch the sunset I didn't realize where we were till the next day when I was asking everyone where the apostle Paul Preached the gospel to the athenians, and they told me right there. I translated the plaque there the next day and it was Pauls actual address and call to worship the true and living God. " men of Athens I noticed on the way here that you are very religous people and while I was walking I saw a statue ' to the unknown god' him I declare to you today". What an incredible place to watch the sunset!!! On the hill we took a bunch of shots of the modern city of Athens which in some ways reminded me of Mexico city. The buildings seemed right on top of each other it was crazy looking, on one side you could see the famous port of Piraeus and on the other the parthenon it was easy to imagine yourself in the golden age of Greece sporting a toga and theorizing with the others. The next day we visited 2 museums. First we went to the national archaeological museum it was very interesting, they had many artifacts from all over Macedonia and even some from Egypt. I was amazed at all the liitle bronze statues of all the deities of the time they had what seems like a god for everything. We all know the main gods but they had other ones and some they took from other cultures like Egypt. Gods, gods and more gods I had to laugh looking at one such bronze goddess Aphrodite the goddess of beauty, because well the time had not been kind to this goddess she looked like some kind of monster. The coolest things in this museum for me were the more lifesize statues that they had like Zeus poised to throw a lightning bolt or Poseidon with a triton in hand. Next we went to the Parthenon museum which was just recently built it houses some of the original pieces of the Parthenon and areas around the Parthenon. The orig caryatids that were on the temple to Apollo are there they are quite impressive especially for being 2500 years old. There was parts of this museum that had a clear floor so you could see some of the excavations going on underneath awesome (Jess had a difficult time with this because some were very high up and it was a little weird and Erie being on a glass floor). Next we headed over to the Agora which was the social place of ancient Greece there were tons of ruins here so many that there ruins on ruins crazy this must be an archaeologists dream city. We walked down and went to the temple of Hephaestus the god of ingenuity, this is the most preserved ancient temple anywhere it is amazing! While we were strolling around the temple we noticed tortoises walking around in the grass, I love turtles and I have never seen them in the wild like this it was great I was taking tons of pics and video and then I realized we still have to go to the acropolis. We walked up there and it was pretty awe inspiring I can imagine the ancient peoples as they saw this place they must have thought truly that's where a god would live. It wasn't too crowded up there and we got to stay till they started locking the place up which was very cool. Over all Athens is quite a city I would deffinately go back there is so much to explore and experience.

The next day we hopped on a bus and headed over to nafplio which is on the Grecian peloponnesus. The bus ride out was beautiful we got to see the greek coastline and country side also we went through Corinth, which is just a small town compared to it's former glory. I thought about Paul writing to the Corinthians about love in 1 Corinthians 13 amazing that this is that city! We got to nafplio it was a gorgeous sleepy little beach town, perfect for some r&r away from the big cities. We instantly went off to the beach and it did not dissapoint, the waters were green and blue very tropical looking. I instantly wanted to rent some snorkel equipment so I ran into town and combed the place for goggles and possibly a snorkel but not one store had them it was extremely frusterating! That night Jess an I searched some more and found out goggles are called yaya yabano which def helped our search. We finally found some goggles so I bought them immediatly and took off for the beach too bad they filled up with water constantly oh well they were better than nothing. We ate tons of gyros pitas and Greek yogurt and relaxed a ton it was a really great time.

We headed back to Rome for one day so we could rap up our tour de Rome and Europe this time we caught the Vatican museums where I took a lot of pics of early Christian tombs and writings they were pretty incredible! I have to study the pics when we get home because thanks to school of ministry I could make out some of the words in the writings. We also caught the popes papal audience which was pretty incredible to be there as he was adressing the people. The cistine chapel though had to be the highlight just thinking about how michelangelo painted all of this monstrosity is quite amazing. St peters was humongous, the biggest church I've ever seen. We also went back over to the forum area and accidently crashed a wedding reception, although it was quite beautiful. Our time in Europe had come to an end but it was an incredible adventure and I couldn't have done it without or with anyone other than my amazing wife who has the patience of a saint when it comes to my directions and planning or lack there of. Thanks, my girl! I love you

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Pisa and Rome


Today is my birthday!

We had a nice breakfast at grazias, said goodbye to the pets, threw on our backpacks and caught a train to Pisa to break up our long train to Rome. Plus come on we had to see the tower that leaned.

We had about a 2 hour period to drop our bags, catch a bus, shoot the "picture", and back. Ah easier said than done. The bus signs threw us off and about 30 mins later we were on our way.

We were surprised by just how much it leaned. It was pretty severe.

The tower is located on the field of miracles which also has a less photographed baptistry and church.

Hustled back to the station just in time for a long 4+ train ride to Rome. This train sadly was the loudest and hottest train we'd be in to date. Bs allergies were also raging so we were sweaty sneezy messes.

Finally at Termini station in Rome. The station was huge and surprisingly not dirty as I'd read. We searched for the longest time for information so we could by Roma passes. They seriously have to update their signs. We made our way to the metro to go to our b&b. A note on romes metro: amazing graffiti under there and on the trains. Also out of all the metros we've been on (and we've been on alot now!) it was packed all the time. Not just at peak times but always!
Our b&b was a short walk from the metro in a quieter area. Our host was exceptionally friendly with a gorgeous home.
It was too late by the time we were all checked in to go anywhere so we went for dinner around the corner. Had the best brushetta! They didn't have cake so apple strudel was my birthday cake :).

The next morning we had our scavi tour under Vatican city. Walking into st peters square was definitely a reality check. It was a Tuesday so they were setting up for the papal audience tomorrow.

Our tickets said to talk to the swiss guard so while everyone was snapping pics of them, we cautiously went around the gate and B went to talk to them while I lingered behind Just in cases. We were too early so we went and took pictures. When it was time, we repeated going around the gate and the guard gave us the go ahead to pass into Vatican city (so cool!). This was worth doing the tour alone. We also saw the spot where the obelisk use to be before it was moved to the square. After we checked in, our small group of maybe 15 was led under ground. The hoards of people leaving the basilica were so confused at what we were doing - some tried to follow. The area under is temperature regulated for preservation so we had to wait a bit to enter. The tour was an hour and a half and was wonderfully guided. It was very cool to see the layers of st peters. At some points we could look up through ceiling grates and see the dome of st peters.

After the tour, we sent some postcards and walked towards Castel st Angelo, over the bridge, and to piazza navona.

Then to the panthenon.

And to the Trevino fountain. Stumbled upon an interesting building on the way.

And street artists.


All the people doing the same thing we were.

We came back to our place and grabbed some laundry to do. We dropped it off and went exploring. We saw the equilino park nearby so we headed for that.

In the park, we rounded a corner and saw the coliseum. It was a big surprise because we thought we were too far up in the park.

We grabbed some salads, balsamic, and bread from the supermarket and had dinner on the terrace of our place. So nice. Then some gelato from the oldest gelateria in Italy (just around the corner) and called it a night. THIS day was my birthday because I decided my birthday was on California time and well it was just way more fun and exciting and involved no traveling via train from hell.

The next morning we hit palantine hill, the roman forum and the colosseum before our 3 pm reservation at the Borghese Gallery. We were a little rushed but we had an amazing time. Saw everything we wanted and from some great angles.

Took the metro to Borghese Park and had a little time to kill so we had lunch in the park.

The borghese gallery was a very nice museum. I knew that it was mostly a sculpture museum and that you had to have a reservation to go. Thankfully our host called for us the day before to make us a reservation. The gallery was like a villa built a few hundred years ago. Each room had amazing ceiling decorations and paintings that looked 3D. It also housed some of Berninis best work and my favorite, Apollo and Daphne. We finished a little before our 2 hour allowance and strolled back through the park.

That night we took the metro to the Spanish steps and hung out with the masses while the sunset. The top of the steps and the steps to the church on the hill had some amazing views of Rome and to people watch.

After sunset, we walked to the Trevi fountain to see the night lights on it but they werent on yet so we just walked around. We stumbled upon the campioglino (I think) which was perhaps the most chaotic piazza traffic wise in Rome.

We admit it. We were sick of pizza and pasta at this point so when we stumbled upon a cute semi busy Chinese restaurant with great outdoor seating - it just seemed right. We feasted on fried rice, wontons, orange chicken, sweet and dour chickens, and some other good stuff. It hit the spot.

Back to the trevi. More beautiful at night.

I think the crowd there is always the same size.

Back late to pack up for our early flight. Yay another travel day.

Rome was my favorite big city we visited. It seemed the people there were proud of their city and what stood their and still stands there thousands of years ago. I don't agree with articles I've read that Rome is extremely filthy. For being Rome, I thought it wasn't bad and well preserved. I also found Rome to be really friendly, well actually Italians as a whole over some of the other places we've visited this trip. Glad we are coming back.