Sunday, June 10, 2007


Time is running short, and it's getting harder to find the time to write decent entries... I'm going to let the photos do the talking for these... suffice to say, we've been very fortunate to have the company of several friends from Canada in the past few weeks!

Fisher, Me, Chrystal and Rostocki, at the Supperclub

Rostocki, Me, Chrystal and Fisher at Club 11

Fisher and Rostocki on the Nightbus

Dean Tweed (aka Diggles) and Rostocki eating Indonesian food

Karam and Maurice

... and currently Dan Hodgson!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Reflections on Rome (Part 2 - Vatican City)

St. Peter's Square (photo taken from the top of the Cupola)

On Friday (May 18th) we made our way to Vatican City. After waiting several hours to get in, we started our tour in the Vatican Museum, home of the Sistine Chapel. This, for me, was the primary reason I wanted to come to Rome – to see the ceiling painted by Michaelangelo. After winding our way through many exhibits, we arrived in the Chapel. It was a marvelous sight… we stood for a long time examining and admiring the intricate details and compelling figures. Like the Mona Lisa, it is a work of art you must experience… reproductions do not lend it justice. I would have loved to take a few photos, but it wasn't allowed, and photographs would have been pitiful anyways. Countless times on this trip the scope of my camera lens has proved immensely inadequate.

Winding our way through the Vatican Museum

From there we took the long journey (500+ steps) up to the top of the Cupola within St. Peter’s Basilica to see the view of Rome, and also to gaze down into the Basilica. Afterwards, we walked all around the interior of the Basilica, and saw many amazing things, such as the tomb of St. Peter, and La Pieta, the sculpture Michaelangelo carved of Mary with the crucified Christ on her lap – a sculpture he made when he was 25. This was a thrill for me, since I've admired this piece since high school art class.

The Basilica is cavernous and enormous in it’s scale, with statues everywhere. Everything is ornate and much is gilded with gold.

Tomb of the apostle, St. Peter (the First Pope)

View inside St. Peter's from the top of the Cupola

Cupola from outside

Inside St. Peter's, above the altar

The intrepid couple, in St. Peter's Square

Chrystal, mailing a postcard home to Cambridge! from Vatican's own post office

In general, we expected more from the food in Rome, although the pasta was usually fresh… I believe our expectations might have been too high. None of the criteria by which we select a restaurant back home applied: The busy, classy looking restaurants inevitably were overpriced and the food average. Thankfully, on our second last day we took the recommendation from the hostel owner, and ate a local basement-located restaurant – the food was excellent and authentic, and better yet – the least expensive.

Rome wore us out. We feel fortunate to have seen so many wondrous and historical sites, but are happy to be returning home to Amsterdam. Rome seethed with many persistent and irritating peddlers. Occasionally, it was difficult to enjoy the atmosphere while someone thrust junky trinkets at us. Not to be dissuaded, overall, it is a journey I wholeheartedly recommend.

Reflections on Rome (Part 1)

Whew! I am falling so far behind with the blog... we are racking up so many experiences, but it's hard to find time to get writing, resizing photos and uploading them. We are currently in Frankfurt, and enjoying all the city has to offer. We went to the zoo yesterday after a fun night spent at a street festival... Chrystal will be writing more about that later. Today we were at a Botanical garden... I'm just grabbing a moment to post part 1 of Rome while Chrystal gets ready for dinner...

Here it is:

I am typing this on the picturesque, lush train ride from Zurich to Cologne. Chrystal and I just spent a restless night on the overnight trainride from Rome to Zurich, although we met some friendly Swiss folks on the way. We just stocked up on chocolate (!) but were disappointed to discover that all the shops are closed today (Sunday). We had planned to revisit a shop called Olivier’s which has wonderful, original products derived from olives.

We arrived in Rome on Wednesday, quite worn out from running around Paris. I had work to do, so once settled into our hostel, we relaxed and got caught up on sleep and work. Thursday we walked to the Colosseum – what a vast, dramatic structure. We got audio guides, and took a self-guided tour through the interior. We learned that the Colosseum had been mined for rock and gold during the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica. Rome is just PACKED with all sorts of ancient ruins. There seems to be another fountain, statue or ancient building around every corner. We wandered for hours, amazed and overwhelmed by the sights.

The Colosseum and Chrystal, bottom right... not too far right...

Caesar, making a decision with fatal consequences...

A gryphon at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Ruins (Colosseum in background)

Chrystal discovered Rome is purse heaven! Ironically, she couldn't find one she liked...

Our Romantic couple, doing as the Romans do, since all roads lead there... at Trevi fountain.
Tradition requires that you toss a coin back over your shoulder into the fountain to guarantee your return to Rome. Chrystal did the honours.

Part 2 will have photos/reflections on Vatican City!