Saturday, September 25, 2010

Italy Trip

On Saturday September 18, 2010 Eric and I set out on an adventure to visit Italy. Well, I was visiting. He was going there to present a paper at the Annual SPE Convention. We traveled all day and night Saturday and finally arrived in Rome Italy at 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning. It was at this point we learned very quickly about public transportation. We had to take a train from the Rome Airport to the train terminal in order to catch a train to Florence. Once in Florence, we took our lives into our own hands and got into a taxi. Let me just add here...Italians are great drivers...they have to be because there is no rhyme nor reason to the traffic patterns in Italy. Do not get in the way of a taxi or a bus driver. They obey the traffic lights well, but as far as we could tell the other traffic signs were suggestions they didn't really care to heed. Our next lesson came when we checked into our hotel and we couldn't figure out how to turn on the lights. We were flipping all the switches but nothing would happen. We finally asked the front desk what the trick was and they said we had to put our room key in a reader that was by the door. If the key was in the reader then the light switches worked. The next lesson we learned was that the city buses were a much better way to get from our hotel to downtown than walking. We did walk from our hotel. It took us an hour. We had sore feet! Also the place to buy bus tickets closes at 7:00 pm. Buy your tickets before then. That is why we had to also walk back to our hotel. We got smart and bought tickets from the hotel front desk from then on. Eric had SPE obligations on Monday. I was booked on a City walking tour. I met a nice lady from Colorado whose husband was also at the SPE convention. We ended up spending they day together exploring and shopping the open markets. On Tueday, I was booked on a tour to see the Medici chuch and palace. Very interesting. Eric skipped out of the conference on Tuesday afternoon so I took him on the walking tour that I had been on the day before. This was good. I got to spend more time looking at things I didn't get to see the previous day. We spent a lot of time looking at the sculptures at the plazzio Vecchio (1299) and the Loggia dei Lanzi. On Wednesday morning Eric went to the conference again and I went to the Galleria dell' Accademia. This is the museum where the original David is located. There were also 6 other unfinished sculpures by Michelangelo. The David is amazing. The details that Michelangelo put into the statue are unbelievable. The stories of how it was protected during the war were interesting. There are replicas all over the city, but none compare to the real thing. Wednesday afternoon after the conference wrapped up, we took the train back to Rome. We were staying at a Hilton near the airport and boy was there a difference in hotels! The hilton was much better thant the Golden Tulip. We bought our train tickets for Thursday for our tours. Thurday we took a walking tour of the Colosseo (Coliseum) and the Roman Palatino. Then in the afternoon we were booked on an open air bus tour. This is the way to tour a city! We got on at the Colosseo and rode around until we saw something we wanted to get off and explore. We got off at Vatican City and the Trevi Fountain. Then we stayed on the bus for another loop around just to make sure we didn't miss anything. Thursday touring ended with a train ride back to the airport to our hotel. We watched people running to catch trains and decided that we are glad we can drive to our destinations. One poor fellow in an Armani suit and Italian shoes was running full speed to catch a train, but he missed it by 10 seconds. We wonder what people do when there are no more trains for the evening. My favorite part of the trip was getting to experience the culture and see the sites. My least favorite part of Europe was everyone smokes! One could never escape the cigarette smoke. Below are some pictures of some of the sites we saw.

Here we go! Idaho Falls airport 6:45 a.m. This is the last time my hair would look decent. Europe has only 120 V and my straightener takes more than that. We did take an adapter, but one with enough power for a curling iron cost to much.

This is the Golden Tulip Hotel where we stayed in Florence. We had to ask the front desk how to turn on the lights. The bed was hard and it was two twins pushed together so there was a nice lump in the middle.

On our first day in Florence we set out to get our bearings. We found that it is a long walk from our hotel to the downtown area. We walked it twice then we got smart and got bus tickets.

These are cyprus trees at the Santa Maria Novella in Florence. They are a symbol of ressurection.

This is the Santa Maria Novella in Florence. It is the church where Michelangelo apprenticed.

The Door of Paradise
Lorenzo Ghiberti
(1425- 1450)
This door is found at the Basilica of San Lorenzo on the entrace of the Baptistry.

The structure on the right is the Baptistery of San Giovanni (1128). Moving to the left is the Cathedral S. Maria de Fiore (1296 -1436) and the dome in the back of the Cathedral is The dome of Brunelleschi. It is the first free standing dome ever engineered. The Cathedral is the 5th largest in the world. The facade is white, green and red marble. There is also a bell tower on this site. It is blocked in this picture by the baptistery. This was an awe inspiring site.

This is the Basilica of San Lorenzo, the Chapel of the Medici. The small dome (Sacristy) was a work of Michelangelo. Inside is a room he did which houses the sculputures Day and Night and Dawn and Dusk. The Sacristy is the home to the Medici tombs.

Statue of Brunelleschi looking up to the dome.

The Cathedral of S. Maria del Fiore in Florence.
Michelangelo (1504)
Actually this is not the original. The original has been moved inside the Galleria dell' Accademia. However, this is the site where David stood for hundreds of years. Let me just add that I did see the real David and it truly is a magnificent work of art. The details which Michelangelo put into the sculpure are amazing. I could see the veins in his arms. Hard to imagine carving such detail into solid marble. This replica stands at Repulic Square. David is a symbol of liberty to the Florentines just as the Statue of Liberty is to Americans.

These are locks placed on a sidewalk railing. The story I was told was that couples would come and place a lock on the rail and they would proclaim their everlasing love to each other then they would throw the key into the Arno.

Real Italian Pizza - Contrary to popular belief we didn't have much food with a tomato sauce base. We ate some really good food.

B. Cellini (1554)
This is an original bronze that stands at the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence.
Perseo slew Medusa

This is an original marble sculpture. It also stands at the Loggia dei Lanzi.
Rape (better translated as kidnapping) of the Sabine Women

This is the Arno River in Florence. Very beautiful scene. This is how I always imagined Italy to look.

Street artist. There are many people trying to earn a euro any way they can. This is a pastel chalk drawing. You can stop and watch him work and he hopes you will put euros in his bowls.

This is a beggar. I think she must have fallen asleep while in the position of prayer.

This is as close to Cartier Jewelery as I will ever get. Rome

Marie in front of the Colosseo. I wish the picture did it justice.

Not everyday that you see a Roman Soldier buying a cuppiccino and a pastry.

View out of our Hotel window in Rome.

This was taken from a train window. This is what the countryside of Italy looks like between Florence and Rome.

We learned a lot about Gladiators on our tour of the Colosseo. There were many kinds of Gladiators and they were all trained to fight in differenent ways.

This is what remains of the Palatino (Palace) in Rome. The ruins of Rome were very interesting. It surely made the history we were taught in High School come alive.

This is one of the wings/courtyards of the Palatino. As you can tell if you look closely the Romans covered all of the columns, walls and floors with marble (look at the bottom of the columns). This was the emperors palace. To get an idea of how large this Palace was we are guessing that it would  have taken up at least 20 acres.

Basilica St. Pietro (St. Peter's Basilica at Vatican City) According to our Coloseum tour guide the pillars and marble at this Cathedral and many others were stolen from the Roman Palatino. This was a lovely place, but I have to say I did not get the same feelings here that I get when I walk on Temple grounds! The Sistene Chapel is here. We didn't go in because it was a 2 hour wait in a line.

This is one of the only remaining sturctures among the ruins from ancient Rome. It is still in use as a church. There are no stairs going up to the door. This is the back side of the church.

Original marble seats in the colliseum. This is the level where the "middle class" would have sat.

Part of the ruins of the Roman Palatino. There are columns and pieces of marble laying around. There were many archeologist still excavating on the site.

This is the site where Cesar's body was burned. Many people still pay tribute by placing flowers and letters on the site.

This is another view of the Fountain Trevi. It is famous because it has been in many movies. Very beautiful. It is not on the beaten path. If we had not been on a tour, we would have missed it.

This is the Trevi Fountain in Rome. It was beautiful and there were thousands of people crowded around it.

This is the Swiss Guard. We were very far away when we took the picture so we had to zoom in a lot. That is why it looks so grainy. These guards were doing their job at the S. Pietro.

This is the monuement to Vittorio Emmanuele in Rome. He was the person that united Italy and made Rome the capital in 1870. If we had been foreign dignitaries, we could have gone inside to do our business.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Off to Italy

Eric and I leave for Italy in the morning. We fly out of Idaho Falls and have a short layover in Salt Lake then we fly to Atlanta and then on to Rome. We will arrive in Rome on Sunday morning. This is the first time either one of us has been to Europe. After this trip Eric will only need to go to Australia, Antarctica and Africa in order to have visited all seven continents. I need to quit blogging and start packing. It is nice to veg a minute....writing lesson plans for a day is a pain, but a whole week is a nightmare! We will post some pictures from our adventure as soon as we start it. 

AND... go look at our last blog. We added a picture of the COMPLETED barn.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Barn is done!

Preparing for the cement truck to come and pour the foundation.
The walls are up! Next step, build the roof tresses.
Almost done...
Done at last!!  The wood pieces in front are leftovers from the shelves Eric put in for storing our bee stuff.
So just a little background...Last spring Eric decided that he wanted to become a backyard beekeeper. So that set in motion the need for a place (besides the already overcrowed garage) for bee supplies to be stored. We went to town and picked out a book with plans. Eric ordered the blueprints and ordered the materials then the weather turned bad. We had a heck of a time getting the "barn" built before the bees arrived. In fact, we didn't have it completed until just today. Eric finished hanging the shelves in there today. Now he has all of his bee stuff neatly put on the shelves and we can also park the lawn mower, four wheeler, grass sweeper, and rototiller in there. It is so nice not to have them piled up outside the garage. The barn also has a loft so we can store things (mostly camping) up there. Our carpenter skills are not great, but at least we have a barn and if you don't look too close it looks pretty darn good!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Testing this thing out

Just started this thing.  Let's see how it goes.  We will post more things as we get used to how the blogosphere works.