This is the place to keep up with all the happenings here at any given moment. This where I can keep everyone updated & informed of all that is new and news with the family. There is the random stuff generated by various sources that have appealed to me, amusing bits, and thing that sometimes tick me off. It depends on the day – it runs the gamut in content. Be prepared for a surprise everyday. Thanks for joining me on the journey.
I went out last night with Roz and a few others to help her celebrate her birthday. We went down to the Tobacco Company. The music wasn't bad, but I did have an interesting conversation with Jay Hardwick (head coach of the VT Golf team). Very interesting. The team is here in Richmond for a tournament. You never know who you'll meet.
Contrary to popular belief, I have not fallen off the face of the earth, nor did I stay in Italy. Although...I have a few tickets for the Lotteria Italiana - it's a chance to win 93 million Euros. Hmm...could be fun.
I've been spending the week getting back into the groove of things. I do believe it took about five days to quit yawning at lunch time and finally get back on Eastern time.
There is so much on the schedule for the last full day in Italy, I'll leave it to the brochure to say what we'll be doing. "Today we'll visit the birthplace of two great pillars of Western civilization -- the Roman Empire and Christianity. With our expert local guide we'll tour the Vatican Museums, a treasure trove of ancient Greek sculptures, medieval tapestries and Renaissance paintings. Our visit culminates in the Sistine Chapel, the room where the Pope is elected. We enter in total silence, not wanting to disturb Michelangelo's famed frescoes depicting the 'End of Times'. You'll be fascinated by which of Michelangelo's contemporaries he assigned to heaven, and which to hell!
Next we visit St. Peter's Basilica, by far the largest church in Christendom. We'll see Michelangelo's Pieta, sculpted when he was just 24, as well as Bernini's 7-story bronze canopy located above the main altar.
After a break for lunch, we board our coach for a panoramic tour of Imperial Rome including Castel St. Angelo, the Roman Forum, Largo Argentina (where Caesar was stabbed by Brutus), the Jewish Ghetto and the Circus Maximus. Then we'll enter the Colosseum, reliving the brutal entertainment of the gladiators and the lions, refereed by the Emperor himself.
We leave Naples this morning for Rome, via Pompeii. We'll be touring the ruins there.
This evening we will be attending a Gala Party at the Brancaccio Palace -- an extravagant dinner with flowing wines and dancing to the music of their own orchestra. I hope the dance lessons kick in...it has been a while since I have attended any classes.
We're crossing the Bay of Naples today to the Isle of Capri. This is little island was the vacation spot for Roman emperors and movie stars of today. It promises to be an exciting day. I'm planning on taking a tour of the island and the Blue Grotto. What a fantastic day to spend my birthday.
We'll be driving to Naples through the rolling hills, scenic vineyards and dreamy olive groves of Tuscany, Umbria, Lazio and Campania. I hope that I'll be able to get some photos out of the windows, perhaps we'll even have opportunity to stop somewhere for a few photos. The route that we are to take passes the medieval villages of Orvieto and Orte and travels through the beautiful Tiber River Valley. At the end our our journey, the sapphire seas of the Gulf of Napoli and Vesuvius will appear on the horizon. Once in Naples, we nestle in for dinner at our hotel.
Our tour takes us to the Academy of Fine Arts where Michelangelo's "David" stands. On to see the majestic Duomo built in 1296, Giotto's Bell Tower and the Baptistery with its renowned "Gates of Paradise" doors. We're going to the Piazza della Signoria and then the Santa Croce Church. It looks like it will be a busy morning, followed by more shopping this afternoon.
A full day excursion along Venice's winding Grand Canal. We'll be taking a guided tour of St. Mark's Square, the Doge's Palace, the Basilica, and the unusually named Bridge of Sighs, we'll enjoy a great Venetian style lunch with wines of the Veneto region. Then there is the opportunity to do some shopping. Of course, I'll be taking the opportunity to have a gondola ride while here. Afterwards back on the train to Florence.
I was up early and on the roof of our hotel in Rome, trying to get a nice sunrise. No such luck - the skies were overcast. I was able to get a few shots of the city wall. I was thinking that Walter would appreciate seeing it.
A quick stop at the ladies room before we left gave me a big chuckle. The images on the door were just...there were nudes on the doors with just a wisp of a fig leaf strategically placed. I do have photos.
We made into Florence around 12:45 p.m. We are staying at the Grand Hotel Adriatico. Cute room, much nicer that yesterday. I even have a full size shower. No small phone booth to shower in.
We are headed into the heart of Florence shortly for lunch and sightseeing - followed by shopping. We'll be seeing the Ocagna's Loggia, Church of S. Croce, plus a few other things. Sunday we will be going to the Uffizi Gallery.
Lunch was outstanding although lunch was on our own today, virtually the entire group gathered together at the same restaurant. The pizza was nothing like home. It will makes Papa John's pale by comparison. Following lunch we explore the gold jewlers just outside of the piazzao. I found an equisite braclet that goes with my ring. Leaving the gold shop, the first thing that I saw was a sign for a surgeon dentist.
We went to the Straw Market, where were took the obligatory rub of the bull and had photos taken. Rubbing the bull is said to bring good luck. I rambled through the market for prospective treats to return home with.
I took some photos of some wonderful chalk drawings on the street near the market, with just a little bit of "tweaking" the perspective will be correct. The disadvantages of being vertically challenged is that I have to make the corrections.
The clouds began rolling in to the piazzo around 4:30 p.m., so we began our trek back to the bus. (Bushes are limited to operating in only select areas of Firenze [Florence] and even then permits to do so cost 300 Euros per day. We passed the National Library just before boarding our bus, As we pulled away from the curb the heavens opened up and the downpour began. It continued raining and even picked up as we arrived at the hotel There was even hail!
Following a short rest in our rooms, we regathered for dinner in the hote. After I make this post I am heading to bed. Our wake up call in the morning will be early, as we need to on the bus to leave for the train station at 7:30 a.m. to catch the train for Venice. If there is no rain the gondola ride will be wonderful. If there is rain, no problems - that's what umbrellas ar for. We will be back at the same hotel tomorrow evening.
I arrived in Rome this morning around 8:30 a.m. (Rome time). Our flight to Rome got off a little late from Atlant, due to some seating issues. But once underway hings progressed nicely. At around 10:29 p.m. (EST) we were flying over the Altlantic Ocean at 32,00 ft traveling at about 582 mph and the temperature outside the plane was delightful -5-degrees. From the map that they were showing we were off the coast of Ireland and Lisben, Spain was showing up on the map.
I was abe to nap on and off throughout the first par of the trip. My seatmate, however, never spoke a wordand had his head coveredwith a blanket for the majority of the time during the flight. The couple in the seat behind me chattered the entire flight. The woman had a very cutting voice, which even over rode the classical music that I was listening to in the headset.
As we arrived in Rome, when I first saw the Italian landscape, it brought tears to my eyes. I am not sure of what came over me, the thrill of finally getting here or some other primal pull.
Having my passport stamped turned out to be a real non-event. They did not ask any questions or even check the luggage. Who knows what the trip back will hold? I do know that customs will be involved them however.
The drive to the Hotel Victoria Rome, was harrowing. There were hundreds of motorcycles-scooters whizing around. That in of itself was not a bad thing, but...they drive with what appears to be not regard for other traffic, pedestrians, or the traffic signals. It reminded me of the movie, Under the Tuscan Sun, which stated that red lights were, "just a suggestion". I had heard that driving here was a blood sport...Now, I truly believe it.
My room is quite adequate. The window actually opens! Once I was settled I climbed into the shower, that was the about the size of a telephone booth, to bring myself back to life. After a short rest I headed out for a walk to the Spanish Steps. Interesting trip, I walked down the metro line which was entirely underground. (pictures to come of the Spanish Steps). On the way back I stopped into a grocery store and successfully found a nice salad for lunch.
This evening the entire group got together for a welcome drink and dinner. I was able to sign up for for several additional side tours this evening, the gondola ride in Venice; either a trip to Pisa or tour of the museum in Florence; then the tour of Capri; and the tour of the fountains & piazzas of Rome. I had a fabulous time at dinner. I have met two couples from New Jersey and and another group from Richmond as well. Dinner was fantastic as well as the conversation!
We have a wake up call for 6:30 a.m. and will be leaving the hotel for Florence at 8:00 a.m. Hopefully I will be able to check back in tomorrow evening from the new hotel. Until then....Having a great time in Rome!
It is late and we are leaving from the hotel in the morning at 8:00 a.m. following breakfast to head for Florence.
By the time you are reading this post, I should have arrived in Rome.
Once I get myself settled into the hotel I may wander around the area a bit or even see if I can get myself booked on a tour of the fountains and piazzas of Roma. Around sunset I'll be out looking for a great sunset to get a few photos of.
I didn't get to bed until very late (intentionally) and have started the day pretty much as normal. The trip to the airport is in just over 3 hours away and then....It will be time for me to sit back and relax for the rest of the day. I've got a book to read on the plane and I may pack a second one for good measure.
It was a very busy day today. The finalizing of things before I leave. I've just about got things settled now for when I leave.
This evening I headed out to Mom & Dad's for a visit. It was good getting to seeing them. It had been a few weeks since I'd been out. Nice visit.
More packing this evening after I got back homel Decisions, decisions. Did I pack the right stuff? Did I forget anything? Oh well, one more run through on thee contents of the suitcase Tuesday evening or early Wednesday mornng and that will be it.
Time to seriously get started on the packing. I have a number of things already gathered together or at least put on the list of what to take. I'm going to try to have just about everything pack by this afternoon. Except, of course, for those daily essentials that will just have to wait for the last minute.
Walter & I headed out this morning to do a few errands. We started off hitting Office Max - they had the proper converter for me to use in Italy. Then we were off to Best Buy for a return; next to the used bookstore in Midlothian. Walter found a few books for his reading enjoyment. I'm sure that he'll be back out there during the next few weeks to see if he can find several more in the series, by W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear, that we have started to read.
I'm hoping to finish up reading, Sarum, by Edward Rutherfurd this evening. I'm even going to break out the suitcases this evening and start packing up for the trip.
Email & Newsletter Gleanings:
Thought For The Day: “In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate - look to his character...” — Noah Webster
The day was going along as normal, or should I say as normal as possible since we're working to finish up several big projects before Monday evening.
Roz came back and got me from my office, I thought there was some sort of computer crisis. But turned out that there had been a delivery for me, flower! That was a BIG SURPRISE! Dr. & Mrs Bartlett, from Ft. Lauderdale, had sent them. The wish was for a happy birthday in Italy and special thanks for all I had done for them. Very unexpected.
The flowers have been brightening up the office since, and the aroma has been filtering throughout the whole office. They smell fantastic.
I got out of the office this afternoon for a quick run by the bank. I had ordered some Euros for the trip. Euros are sure different looking from our US currency. The bills get increasingly larger in size with the increase in denomination, as well as being a variety of colors.
Here we are a midweek already. The work week has thus far been extremely busy and almost overwhelming. There is so much to do and get accomplished before I'm picked up for my trip to the airport on next Wednesday.