Monday, October 15, 2007


Well - What can we say - Rome was great. In the way that only a week of walking your feet off and stuffing yourself with biscotti, pasta and pizza will do. My Aunt Liz went with us and I think we wore her out. Traveling with a family can be different if you are not used to it. Not to mention going to Rome which has so much to see and through which you do a lot of walking - on stones/concrete no less. We did all the touristy things: the Roman Baths, Forum, Colliseum, Spanish Steps (too many people on a bunch of stairs - we lasted about 3 minutes once we walked down the stairs), Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, a couple of museums, several cathedrals, the Vatican/view from the top of St. Peters Basilica, Borghese gardens, a day trip to Pompeii - very cool, a day trip to Florence (the Duomo and Ponte Vecchio) and then a day to relax and do a bit of shopping - our one really rainy day and thus not much shopping got done. Whew!!! I'm sure I missed something but it was a trip full of activity.

We will be glad to go to Hawaii in Dec. and throw ourselves at the mercy of the beach and ocean. Although Bart is already talking about what we could 'do' there that we haven't already done - volcanoes and such. Maybe I am just getting lazy - I could probably spend a whole day somewhere I have never been and by simple process of having a leisurely breakfast (I like cappucino and a pastry), strolling to a nice little restaurant for lunch (which could last 2 hours if there is people watching available on the menu) doing a little window shopping (I can be happy without spending any $$$ contrary to what Bart might say) and then having a nice long dinner (again with people watching) - I would say I had a great time and enjoyed the place. OK, I am lazy and have a thing about eating - I don't have as much downtime as one might think. Forgot to add a 'read a book' somewhere in that day.

I am actually very lucky to have a husband who likes to "go and see and do" and children who have been fairly well trained at this point to go along with all of it. We did however encounter several "why don't we ever get to pick what we are going to do? 's" on this trip. Mainly because we did have an agenda this trip and they did get dragged along - like it or not. For the most part, they really liked it. Especially the day trip to Pompeii when they met the only other children on the bus - 2 girls just their ages (Canadian/Brazilian) who are living in Qatar - also at Int'l school. They were best friends by the end of the day. So we heard a lot of "when do we get to get back on the bus and see our friends" all the while looking at the ruins of Pompeii. Funny!

Rome is a city built around its ruins. And Italy is a beautiful place but with constant reminders of old mixed with the new - there is still much poverty mixed with new wealth. Like several other large cities (NY, London, Paris for example), it can be dirty (exhaust & litter) and you may find yourself showering at night as well as morning. But it is very alive and vibrant and interesting and so you find yourself not minding some of the inconveniences that might otherwise bother you (and if you find a clean bathroom, you urge all of your family to go - NOW). The dirt and litter in Copenhagen and London bothered me more than Rome did - somehow it all seemed part of it. And we still really liked it. And besides the pasta being wonderful (and I am looking the part of an Italian momma right now - stuffed!), the pastries as well were quite good (as good as France! - maybe better to my taste buds) and the gelati which was eaten every day by the girls at least was fantastic as well. And the Chianti as well - never had better than in Italy.

What else - I'm sure more will come to mind and there will be a few more pictures/stories added this week. It was a lot to absorb in 7 days. Much of it looking/standing in places that were 2,000 plus years old. And thinking about Nero watching Rome burn from Palatine hill, about Paul in prison here and writing to Timothy and the churches, about gladiators and churches built on ancient pagan sites (many pagan temples were actually given to the church because the rulers knew they would take care of the buildings and artifacts - clear back in the early AD years!). It was interesting and should I go back, well, I've seen the sites so I can do some shopping!!!! Ha Ha!!! Here we are at the Roman Baths - it was estimated that at one time 6,000 to 7,000 persons came to these public baths daily. Early AD.

Oh - I forgot to take a pic of the painting causing this amusing reaction Rachel is playing up! Well, you must understand that much of the artwork in the museums can be pretty graphic and this face she is making is her reaction to a battle scene where a horse is crushing someone below and ...... I don't wish my readers to have their Puritan sensibilities disturbed... so I will skip the rest of the detail. Enough that we all looked and said "Gross, look at that, that's disgusting" and then the girls started to laugh. Better than given them nightmares I guess. And we of course have the discussions on why there are so many "unclothed" persons in the pictures and statues, etc... It's so fun to travel with 7 & 9 year olds who never ask any of these questions in "indoor" voices - Hah! (And I'm not so much a Puritan in my choice of words here as I am careful to not use words that may be Googled and draw unwanted attention to this blog - however carefully I try to keep it protected)
There is even artwork on the Metro trains here! Rachel wondered why they don't clean it up and the Police don't take care of it. We explained that they have other problems to deal with here in Italy and graffiti on the trains was not one of the issues they spent a lot of time on. I did catch a girl start to swing her hand into my Aunt's purse one night on the street - all it took was a look and she was gone. You always assume you will be stolen from when traveling in certain places - keeps you from wearing/carrying valuables and on your guard - always keep your bags closed, in front of you if possible and wallets in a safe place (Bart chooses the front jean pocket - a back pocket is an invitation to the pick pockets here).
Kendra throwing her coin backward at the Trevi Fountain - It's said if you do this, you will for sure return to Rome. She liked it (Rome) and said she wants to go back.

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