Thursday, July 30, 2009

Short but Sweet

I have no time for a long entry today but I do have time to share a "Moment of Inspiration"

Opening Up to Beauty
If you open your eyes to beauty,
you'll see it blossoming brightly
in flowers and trees.
If you open your ears to beauty,
you'll hear it singing its song
in a brook, in a breeze.
If you open your heart to beauty,
you'll find it smiling
in all the nice things people do.
If you open your life to beauty,
you'll show it,
And others will find it reflected in you.

(picture taken by Andy King, on our wedding day at the ceremony site)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Italian Honeymoon-Part "Venice"

From Florence our little Panda Fiat took us to Venezia...we arrived mid morning and checked into a "camp ground," the 1st of 3 camp grounds we stayed at in Italy. I know you are thinking "camping?!?!" but it is not what you think. Their campgrounds had places for tents and RV's but they also had little mobile home type "cabins" which were complete with beds, mini-fridges and bathrooms. So we checked in and then headed off to Venezia. We arrived by the local bus again and headed into this virtual Disneyland of scenery, history and maze like streets. By far, this is the MOST picturesque place I have ever been. It was everything and more I had ever imagined or envisioned and every corner I turned I wanted to take a picture. I just wish I had a better camera!!!

We walked all over Venice the sights such as, St. Marks square, not to many pigeons out that day, disappointing :(, the Grand Canal and lots of gondolas. I schooled Jeremiah on Venice through the trusty Rick Steve's books but also through my extensive research of Renaissance times from period films :). Very academic!!! We had a delicious lunch at a little restaurant that we never found again because we got lost in the maze but we will always remember the Frito Misto and the Raviolis with a truffle sauce, mmmmm it was so good. We walked along endless canals and enjoyed a peaceful day on the little islands of Venice. It was a great day!!!

Daily Moment of Inspiration:
Follow Your Dream
Follow your dream...
take one step at a time
And don't settle for less,
just continue to climb.
Follow our dream...
if you stumble don't stop
And lose sight of your goal,
press on to the top.
For only on top
can we see the whole view,
Can we see what we've done
and what we can do,
Can we then have the vision
to seek something new.
Press on and follow your dream.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Daily Moment of Inspiration

Memories are Treasures of the Heart
All the treasures of the kings
and all the gold on earth
Could not begin to equal
what our memories are worth.
Remembering together-times
can warm a lonely day,
And thoughts of summer afternoons
take winter's chill away.
Lovely memories linger on
of moments left behind,
And rain will seldom come to those
with rainbows on their mind.
And when life seems to get us down,
the thing that sees us through
Is thinking of the ones we love
and those who love us, too.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Italian Honeymoon-Part "Florence"

I am back to blogging the honeymoon...I thought people may have been getting bored of reading about it but I guess I was wrong.

Lets start with the "Moment of Inspiration" for the day:

Take Time for the Little Things
Take time for the little things-
The common pleasures each day brings,
The glory of the springtime flowers,
The beauty of the morning hours,
The wealth of nature's bright array,
The quiet time that ends each day.
Yes, take time for the little things
And for the pleasure each one brings,
And in those little things you'll see
How wonderful each day can be.

Where to after our night with the little old lady we set off to move our car and find regular accommodations. Rick Steve's again led us int he right direction, we found an inexpensive upscale hostel type room and board. However, we didn't have to share a room and we had our own private bathroom. It was more like a hotel than a hostel but with a hostel look and feel, it was great. The building was owned by a company called "Christian Hotels International" which is run by the Protestant church. They are all over Italy in the major cities and allow people to stay in the city, on the coast or in the mountains for fairly decent rates. Our hotel was named Casa di Gould and was a 17th century Florentine palace in the middle of Florence. It was a very beautiful setting to stay in. Ok, so up to this point we have been lucky, right? Well minutes after checking in we had to move our car to a non-tow zone. (side note: Florence does not allow cars in their city limits unless you have a permit which is very hard for the residents to get and every time you enter random streets with cameras they take a picture and ticket you)

So off we go to move the car, looking carefully for these "traffico limitado" signs and cameras...we couldn't see any so we moved the car. All of a sudden we are in and out of tiny one way streets trying to find a way out of the maze, Jeremiah yelling to look for the signs so we don't get ticketed and them BAM!!! I passed through one!!! Miah yelling, me yelling back that there was no where else for me to go, I had to enter, it was a trick to ticket people and then BAM!!! I go through another!!! I must have passed through 4 or 5 "Traffico Limitado" cameras before I made it out of the city center :(. 50 euro per ticket sent to the rental car company who then charges your credit card with an additional 30 euro per ticket. Whoops, my bad :). Needless to say Miah was not happy and we still have not received that bill yet. However, I will say that Jeremiah did his best to not obsess over the tickets for the rest of the day. He slipped a few times and ranted but for the most part he tried to make the best of it and not make me feel to bad.

After the ticket and car issues, we started to explore Florence. We saw their Duomo, HUGE, the super fun San Lorenzo market where I bargained my a into 2 Italian leather purses for the price of 1. I was very excited, I would say a low price and the man would come back higher and I would say no and walk away to let him think. Then I would come back and he would say "ok, this is the price, that's the lowest I can go" then I would walk away until I finally got him to my price :). I got a deep red leather purse and a dark purple leather purse, gorgeous! Much better then the plastic piece from Rome! Also, while in the market we were offered tickets by a woman from Connecticut to go see The David. She was late getting back to her tour bus so she offered them to Jeremiah and I and we immediately ran over to the Academia to see the famous sculpture. He was HUGE!!! But again no pictures were allowed and of course I got yelled at trying :).

After seeing the David we went back to our room for the evening and planned on going to dinner but Miah fell asleep at 7pm and never woke back up till the next day (the time change was hard for him to get used to). The next day we explored more of Venice, sat in the squares, visited more markets, window shopped, ate gelato and waffles off the street and enjoyed leisurely strolls. Oh,
one of my favorite pictures from Florence is this one where Jeremiah is looking at metal figurines of army men and chess boards and there is a little boy standing next to him doing the same thing. They both have a look of fascination on their faces and the little boy doesn't even realize that his gelato is melting and running down his hand; I snapped the picture before they realized I was watching them. To funny :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

3rd of 3 journal entry-Leaving Rome

June 10, 2009 17:15
We are done with Rome and off to Florence. Sitting on the Leonardo Express on our way back to the airport to pickup our rental car I am reminded of how poignant the European body odor is. It must be 95 degrees in the train right now as we sit waiting to leave and there is no A/C. However, its been a few moments and I think my nose is getting used to it because the smell is fading. Well, we had a n interesting time in Rome (I know you are thinking "Interesting Good? or Interesting Bad?". Neither, just interesting). We did all the "touristy" things while we were here, The Colosseum, The Palantine, Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and The Vatican with a few piazzas in between. All of them were great but Miah and I have decided that the tourist scene is not for us. We are looking forward to renting a car and exploring Italy on the off beaten path on our own. One of the things that I did find very interesting and that I was fascinated with was the everyday life outside of the city center. Our hotel was about a 45 minute bus and Metro ride from the center and because of that got to experience a lot of "everyday" life. We would ride the bus through a few ghettos every morning, afternoon and night and saw working people and students in the mornings, Grandmas and Grandpas in the afternoons going to the local market and young people, mostly teenagers, in the night time. The older people would literally get on the bus at one stop and immediately get off at the very next stop, sometimes no more than 100 yards away but I guess at that age and with the heat it is necessary. Each time I would see this I would imagine the little Nana or Tata going down the street to visit an old friend for the afternoon or going to the market to buy some fresh veggies for dinner.

Our Rome hotel was in a residential neighborhood, so each day our bus would ride through endless apartment buildings, one after another and another. I never saw a single house in all 3 days on the bus, just apartments. Every building was almost the same, laundry hanging out the windows with store fronts on the bottom floor and all covered in graffiti. Oh, and tons of satellite dishes on the roofs or hanging out the window. It was all VERY REAL! By day 3 the ride got hard and long, probably from the heat and the excitement of this new place wearing off but it was still very interesting to see.

As far as the actual city of Rome goes, it is amazing. There are so many ruins and so much history right in the middle of a huge city. (Even in the residential areas they are excavating ruins under demolished buildings, makes me wonder what is under all those apartment buildings!) All the ruins and history makes my mind wander thinking about all the amazing and historical events that took place in this amazing city.

Now we are riding on the train back to the airport on the outskirts of town and as I look back to see the city in the distance with the fields in the forefront I imagine what it looked like 2000 years ago when it was ruled by Ceasars and was the greatest empire in the world. Then I start to think about the all the ruins again and the buried cities and realize that they may never be found with so much built on top of them. All in all Rome was beautifully chaotic and amazingly historical. It was truly wonderful to stand in a place where so much has happened and where the soil has been tread by not only famous painters and sculptors, but Peter and Paul.

It makes the US seem like a baby in comparison!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Italian Honeymoon Part 5

Okay day 3 in Rome was not to eventful, we went into the city center, had lunch (pizza), and rented a car. Then it was off to Florence!!! We did not have a place to stay in Florence but the trusty Rick Steve's book told us that there was a little old lady in the heart of Florence that rented rooms in her house out to travelers and we decided, "FUN!" Off to Florence we went to find this nice old lady. By the time we arrived in Florence it was late and we had to park on the outskirts of town because cars are not allowed in Florence's city center and had to walk in. It was a far walk and by the time we arrived at the front door of that nights cozy accommodations, it was 11:30 and we were tired. Then we had to ring the bell and when it was finally answered we were scolded by the nice old lady for being late. She showed us to our room and we went to bed.

However, it was a real treat to stay there because it was a true Italian home. Our room had a crochet blank, starched sheets and a china cabinet filled with china from over the years. Plus each surface was covered with a doily and a vase with a fake flower. Very cute :).

Ok that is all for today...more of Florence tomorrow.

Side Note:
Found a book today called "Moments of Inspiration" by Amanda Bradley and in addition to this never ending honeymoon journal I have decided to give a moment of inspiration from this book everyday starting at page 1.

"Wishing you moments
that glow in your heart
like light from stars above.

Wishing you moments
of glad inspiration,
of hope and joy and love."

Monday, July 13, 2009

Italian Honeymoon Part 4

Sorry for the break...I took the weekend off from blogging because I had a wedding on Saturday and the work leading up to it and the work day of left me exhausted.

So day 2 in Rome...
Well after a very warm 1st day in Rome we awoke very early, dressed a little cooler and took our 705 bus and metro into the city center. The 1st thing that we did was find a market to gather some snacks for the day. The local grocery store near our hotel was closed because of the early hour so we decided to just head to the city and find one there. We gathered some, chips, bread, salami, prosciutto, cheese, fruit and water to load Jeremiahs backpack with so that we wouldn't go hungry. Then we stopped at a cafe for some espresso and a croissant. Then off to the Vatican...p.s. it was very humid that day. The 1st thing we did after we got off the train near the Vatican was decide to head toward the Vatican Museum and then do St. Peters after. Off we went with the thousands of others headed in that direction. Despite what everyone had said, the line was quite short and we got right in. A quick stop at the Vatican post office to send out a few postcards, a quick snack lunch and we were off to explore 4 miles of art. Let me just say, WOW, that was ALOT of Freakin ART!!! We saw mosaics, oils, tapestries, sculptures, fresco's, you name it, we saw it. There were jaw dropping rooms with fresco's from floor to ceiling where past popes had entertained their guests over the centuries. My favorite were floors with mosaics that had been part of other Roman buildings but over the years brought to the Vatican (more like stolen and brought, but that is another story). The collection was simple amazing but overwhelming all at the same time. All along the way we kept seeing signs leading to the Sistine Chapel and I kept waiting and waiting to get there but the art kept going and going. Then finally we turn a corner and we are in a very dim room packed wall to wall with people standing shoulder to shoulder looking all around and up. I thought to myself "what is everyone looking at and why are there so many people in here?" I looked up and saw the amazing ceiling and immediately started taking pictures yet still I did not know where I was. Then I hear..."No pictures No pictures" and I see a guard pointing and yelling at me. I said "oh no flash?" his response "NO, NO pictures AT ALL!!!" (rude). So I stop taking pictures and ask Jeremiah why no pictures and he says "Cause this is the Sistine Chapel." Ohhh, okay this all makes sense now...maybe I was tired or maybe I'm just dumb but I had no idea that we were in the Sistine Chapel...duhhhh. BUT, the picture I took of the ceiling, it turned out it was the famous fresco by Michelangelo of God reaching out for Adam! Yep, I got it and I didn't even know what I was aiming my camera at, I just held my camera up and got a perfect shot!After a few minutes of relaxing in the chapel we decided to head over to St. Peters Basilica so off we went. Along the way I got conned into buying a "real" Prada, all leather purse that I was convinced I had to have and begged Jeremiah to buy for me. I was so convinced that it was real and so excited to have it and then 3 seconds after it was mine and we had walked away from the purse hustlers, I hated it and realized it was plastic. But it seemed like such a deal at the time, he started at $65 and I got him to $30, I was saving half right? No, later in that day Jeremiah saw the exact same purse (sans Prada symbol, which fell off on day 3 of Rome) for $15!!! So mad but what can you do. Anyway we walked over to St. Peters square took a rest and then headed into the Basilica. There is one word for the basilica...GRAND! maybe 2 words...HUGE! It was the biggest thing I have ever seen and being inside made everyone seem so small. We walked around the inside, saw the famous Michelangelo sculpture of Mary holding Jesus, we saw the dead popes in their glass coffins and we saw more amazing works of art. Oh and I got yelled at in there too for taking pictures.

The rest of our day was slow, we did some more walking around Rome, used the internet cafe and then went back to our hotel for some much needed R & R. Rome was kicking our booties!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Italian Honeymoon-Part 3 (Roma)

Day 1-Rome
So it's Monday morning and we are excited to explore Rome. Sally being Sally (thats me) decided that we should blend in as Romans and NOT tourists so I suggest to Miah that we were our nice jeans and dark shirts. BIG MISTAKE!!! I ended up putting on my True Religion jeans which are very thick and a black 3/4 length sleeve shirt and I was raosting the whole day. It must have been between 85-90 degrees that day and we were WALKING all over Rome.

1st we went to the front desk to see how we could get into the city (our hotel was 8 miles from city center) and they suggested their shuttle or the city bus which would take us to the Fermi Metro station so that we could take the train into Rome. We decided to go with the bus option and thus started our adventure. For the next 3 days we would ride the 705 bus from the hotel to the Fermi Train station and ride the train/subway into city center Rome. I can still hear the automated lady on the over head speakers calling out the station names, "arriving Basilica San Paolo, next stop Garbatella, next stop Garbatella." Her voice lingers.

On our 1st day we wanted to see the Coloseum and the ruins so we got off at Colosseo and walked out of the train station to be greated by the spectacular view of the Colloseum less than 100 yards in front of us. We were in ROME! We crossed the street and very bombarded with tour guides trying to sell us a tour but instead with you trusty Rick Steves Italy 2008 book in hand we denyed the tour guides and went in armed only with the knowledge of Rick Steves. It was magnificent, still standing after 2000 years it was mind blowing to think of all the history, change, violence and love that went on in this place. To think of all the people that had passed through the halls and witnessed a time that is legendary. It was truely a sight to see.

After the Coloseum we headed over to the Roman ruins where all the Ceasers and rulers built thier palaces and empires on top of each other and where they are now un digging lost cities and roads. Again amazing to see a place that is so old and full of so many stories. By this time it was very hot and we were getting hungry so we headed to the streets of Rome to find a restaurant. Along the way we ended up finding the Trevi Fountain but my camera was dead :( so I never got a picture of it. We ate lunch, sat in a park for a little rest and then headed back to our hotel for a reat before coming back into the city for dinner. Well, we ended up going back to the hotel to take our nap but the nap lasted till the next day!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Italian Honeymoon part 2

So where was I...oh yes, we were boarding the plane. Here is journal entry 2 of 3:

June 7, 2009 7PM
We made it on the 1st portion of our travels, 10 1/2 hours on Lufthansa flight 453 and I have to say it wasn't that bad at all. It seems like we only flew for 4 or 5 hours because the flight was so pleasant. Each seat had a monitor for watching TV, movies, music or flight info. I watched "Confessions of a Shopaholic" and an episode of "How I met Your Mother." They fed us dinner and breakfast and it was all you can DRINK (so not American). After dinner they had all the passengers close their windows and turned off all the lights so that everyone could sleep. After 2 glasses of wine I was feeling very cozy and nodded off for 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep. I never even woke up with an aching back or neck. It was a very pleasant flight indeed. Now we are sitting in the "Italian Airlines" section of the Munich airport awaiting out next flight into Rome. We got our passports stamped when we changed terminals so mow my passport reads...07.06.09 96 Flughafen Munchen. Can't wait to get my Italian stamp. So exciting!!! We are officially WORLD TRAVELERS!!! :):):) (end entry)

Funny thing is, I was so excited about that Munich stamp and so excited to get my Italian stamp but Italy never made us go through Passport Authority and so we never got an Italian passport stamp :(. Actually to be honest there really seemed to be a lack of security at the Rome airport, not like the US or Germany at all. The guys that were supposed to monitor the x-ray bag machines were chatting and never looked at our bags as they passed through.

We ended up arriving in Rome around 9PM after a short plane trip on Air Italia from Munich. Our little snack box contained prosciutto and a really good roll with hot tea served by the stewardesses. Upon our Roman arrival we took a cab to our hotel, checked in and then walked to dinner at a local restaurant around the corner. The food was delicious, I had raviolis with a creme sauce that contained truffles (my favorite) and Jeremiah wanted scallops in a wine sauce but when he asked for them the waitress thought he said scallopini which is veal in a wine sauce. Not what he wanted but still very delicious. Then it was off to the hotel for bed so that we could begin our Italian Honeymoon.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Italian Honeymoon part 1

I just realized that I haven't blogged our honeymoon!!!! This will probably take a few days...actually I think it will take between 10-15 days to blog everything and make sure you get the real deal of our Italian Honeymoon.

Hmm lets start at the beginning. We left San Diego on Saturday June 6th in the late afternoon to head up to LA. My childhood friend Dominique lives very close to LA so we drove to her house to park Miah's car for the next 2 weeks. Then with the luggage in Dominiques car we headed off to LAX. It was quite exciting to arrive and know that we were hours away from being half way around the world in Italy and I was keeping my fingers crossed that we would be bumped to 1st class since we were such luck :). Regardless we checked in at the Lufthansa ticket counter and were off to our terminal. Here is a little journal entry I wrote while waiting for our plane (don't get to excited, I only wrote in my journal 3 of the 16 days we were gone).

June 6, 2009
After a rough start on our drive from SD to LAX we are sitting at gate 103 of LAX waiting to board our Lufthansa plane. We are surrounded by all sorts of Europeans speaking German, French, Italian, Dutch and other languages that I am not at all familiar with. I feel almost intimidated or scared, not scared in a bad way, scared that I will get on the plane and I won't know whats going on, scared that I will get to Europe and be completely lost! What if I get on the plane and they speak all German and I have to say "Excuse me?" "I don't speak German", and then I will feel dumb. Oh wait, just this minute they made an announcement in English! Yeah!!! I guess I am just feeling self conscience since I have never been anywhere that the people didn't speak English or Spanish (now I feel so un-cool and plain). Miah is sitting next to me and seems to be unaffected by this sudden fear of mine. He is really excited and keeps talking and showing me our Italian travel books that people leant us. Right now he is telling me about thieves in Rome and what to look out for. He actually doesn't even notice that I am writing, he is so excited and so cute :). I am getting excited too but I am just taking everything in and surprised that I am so insecure right now. I am curious and anxious now and ready to get on our plane and start this adventure. In 12 hours we will be somewhere I have always dreamed of going and it seems unreal. So much history to see, people to meet, things to observe and living to do in the next 16 days! (end entry)

It's funny to look back at that journal entry now that the trip is all over because what was I afraid of? We got there and got all over Italy just fine, we learned a little Italian to get us through and everything was fine.

More will start on the 3 entry...the arrival to Rome!