Thursday, September 30, 2010

November 12th, 2003: Vatican & Rome

As it turned out, this journal entry was written on the day of our 10th wedding anniversary. So there I was in Rome wishing my handsome groom were there with me so that we could celebrate our special day. On the other hand, what better place to find the perfect anniversary gift than Rome? Read on:

Wednesday - 11/12/03
  • Woke up early to get ready for "Papal visit"
  • Breakfast at Hotel Domus Mariae. No "Cafe Americana" only STRONG Italian coffee.
    Gorgeous... no wait, "exquisite" hotel!
  • Taxi to USO for escort to St. Peter's Square. Took photos & waited for Pope John Paul II to arrive
    The USO gave us tickets for the Papal Visit, the experience of a lifetime.

    Traffic in Rome, Italy

    Waiting for Pope in St. Peter's Square

  • "Papal Car" arrived & toured around audience before driving Pope to stage

    There goes the Pope Mobile

    Cruising up to stage

  • Reading after Pope's welcome in which he read from script in Latin. Translations were then read by Cardinals who interpreted in French, English, Spanish & Italian.

    Pope giving welcome address

  • Each Cardinal presented list of groups who attended to greet the Pope.

    Pope & Cardinals

  • Pope gave special blessings to those who attended and requested to receive it.
  • Shopping in St. Peter's Square (Pope items)
  • Lunch at restaurant in Rome (Mom had fruit salad, me soup/bread - BLAND!, Allen steak & egg meal)
  • St. Peter's Basilica - toured & took photos (obelisk & St. Peter's Basilica)

    (on wall inside basilica)

    Pietà by Michelangelo in St. Peter's

    Tombs beneath St. Peter's Basilica

  • Back to USO to pick up items
    Left our shopping finds there instead of schlepping them all over Rome.
  • Shopped at gift shop (gifts for family/friends - rosaries for Jeanne, etc.)
  • Trevi Fountain - threw coins & took photos

    Throwing coins over shoulders

    Fontana di Trevi - beautiful fountain!

  • Byzantine Tower Obelisk - "Column of Marcus Auraleus" - St. Paul on the top

    Column of Marcus Aurelius

  • Walked by Parliament - lots of media & security outside. Later learned a suicide bomber blew up the Italian security (?) office in Iraq!
  • Saw Pantheon & Mom sat at small restaurant (outside) & waited at table while Allen & I toured & took pictures inside the Pantheon.


    Tomb in Pantheon

    Madonna & Child

  • Discovered the jewelry shop down street where purchased anniversary gift (needed brand new battery for final delivery, merchant went out to get one - store closed so he agreed to deliver 11/13 with reduced price.)
    The merchant, Bertini & De Matteis, was actually called an "Orafi e Argentieri". His son did all of the legwork in finding a watch battery by running all over Rome. This kind of customer service was shocking to me - they treated my purchase like it was the most important sale of the week!
  • Walked by the Piazza de Venezia ("Wedding Cake" - white) where we saw the guards outside the "tomb of the unknown soldier"
  • Took Metro to McDonald's (dinner)
  • Back to hotel - shower/sleep
Tomorrow: Vatican Museum & Sistine Chapel

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

November 11th, 2003: Rome

And now my world gets even bigger as we head to none other than ROME, ITALY. Still pinching myself! As before, original journal in text with comments italicized below:
(click photos to view)

Tues, 11/11/03
  • Metro train to Verona
  • Eurostar to Rome

    Ready to board Eurostar

  • In Rome, took wrong turn getting off underground metro (like subway)
  • Allen (Dad) called USO & we found our way after meandering thru city
    The USO was such an incredible resource for us during our visit. Those people are saints.
  • Mom & I were annoyed and felt ridiculous but no one noticed (too many tourists)
    We were clueless but grateful not to be the only ones. You can't look "lost" in a sea of tourists.
  • At hotel - unloaded (I grabbed swch & snacks)

    Standing on hotel steps - swanky!

  • Walked back to main plaza, people watched & window shopped
  • Bus to Piazza Venecia
  • Next bus - Colosseum & Forum
  • Dinner at "Al Gladiatore" in front of Colosseum (Rocco entertained us!)

    Italian wine at Al Gladiatore

    Rocco, my new Italian host friend

    Posing w/Italian waitress

  • Walked around side of Colosseum & by Forum

    Colosseum in darkness

  • Metro back to main plaza
  • Returned to hotel & called hubs before crashing for the night
Coming up: Pope John Paul II and St. Peter's Basilica - a definite doozy.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

November 10th, 2003: Venice

As before, original journal is in regular text, my comments (from today) italicized beneath:
(click photos to view)
  • Metro to Venice - VERY crowded train (something wrong w/previous train causing overload)
    This is when I learned my lesson about "personal space" in Italy. Rule of thumb: there is no such thing. We were all crammed right up against one another. You just deal.

    Peace out, yo.

  • African HOSTILE couple - girl punched Mom & pushed me
    Apparently this was just an ordinary lover's spat.
  • Italian Arline flight attendant talked to us about her experience
  • Train station in Venice - sat for a few minutes on front steps w/Mom

    View from train station steps

  • Met Allen after he purchased water, bus tickets
  • Wrong water bus taken on opposite route (wanted Grand Canal but had a new "adventure")

    Me & my lovely mother

    View from water bus - Venice, Italy

  • Walked to San Marco Square "The Pigeon Place"

    San Marco Square - in front of Basilica

  • Ate in San Marco Square - small restaurant (had veggie/multi-colored pasta - peas!!! yum)

    Campanile, San Marco

    Piazza San Marco

    Piazzetta San Marco

  • Shopping/saw gondola drivers & dock

    Actors in Piazetta San Marco

    Where's my gondolier?

    There he goes...

  • Returned on water bus -> metro
  • Called hubs late after sandwich snack
Next stop: Rome

Monday, September 27, 2010

November 9th, 2003: Castles

So far, my first few journal entries are short and sweet, mostly because we're driving through THE ALPS. (Yeah, try writing in a journal while being tossed around the backseat of a VW bug in the mountains - I dare you!) Anyway, I'm including some links to tourist spots for reference and to make up for my lack of wordiness:
(click images to view)
  • Shopped in street market in Garmish

    Photo taken on our hotel patio

    Front of Clausing Post Hotel

    Street market in Garmisch

  • Lunch in Ober Anmergua at restaurant w/"Magician"

    This guy was too fun! (Read:
    Embarrassed the crap out of me!)

  • Traveled to Linderhof castles

  • Tour of 1st castle

  • Others closed but toured town & took photos (Neuschwanstein & Hohenstein)

    Standing in front of castle

  • Returned home through Austria

    Under Austria Sign
    (too dark, sorry)

  • Ate at ski resort resaurant (ate "Chef Boyardee" penne?!!)
    The German cook poked fun of my mother and me, aka the "Turtleneck Twins", or so it seemed since we aren't fluent in German. And the joke was really on us when we sat down to eat our nice German dinner that tasted exactly like a can of Chef Boyardee.
  • Home
    Back to Italy for repacking.
Next up: Venice!

Friday, September 24, 2010

November 8th, 2003: Italy!

This is the first official journal entry of my very first trip visiting my folks in Italy. As before, I'm posting the original journal text below with italicized comments (from today) beneath it. I actually found original photos that correspond to my journal entry - woohoo!
  • Arrived in Milan airport
  • Mom/Allen/I returned to their house
  • ATM/McDonald's - met Allen's colleague

    Photo of Italian McDonald's, definitely
    unlike any other seen in the USA

  • Home/pack for Germany
  • Returned to McDonald's on the way out to find my waist pack (It was still intact!)
    Yes, my entire lifeline - PASSPORT, MONEY & ALL - found completely untouched when we returned to find it in McDonald's.
  • Left for Austria/Germany

    Winding roads through rain, vine-
    yards and mountainous terrain.

  • Garmisch, Germany stop where we settled into hotel

    Taken from backseat of my folk's
    VW bug.

  • Ate dinner in hotel restaurant (Clausing Post Hotel)
  • Called Hubs & called it a night

    Just wait until morning - this view
    is actually amazing in the daylight!

Tomorrow: We get all GERMAN.