Sorprendente!

Amazing (in Italian!).  That is how we felt about Italy.   Italy was a place that Annalea and I were very excited to go!  We couldn’t wait to take some pasta making classes….and eat some of course :)

The kids and I flew into Rome and had a week to discover its treasures before heading up towards Florence to meet up with Carl.  We chose not to get a car here for a few different reasons.  The biggest one was that parking was terrible and it was suggested to us to utilize public transportation as much as possible.  Upon seeing the parking outside our tiny studio apartment, we were glad we didn’t have to deal with it!  We became very fond of the Metro!

IMG_5828It’s crazy for me to talk and talk and talk about Rome…I’m just going to bombard you with the photos.  I’ll tell you where they were, but there are SO many it’s hard to only pick a few to put on the blog.  We really packed it in while in Rome :)

Our trip to the Vatican was on a tour.  I’m glad we paid to bypass the crazy long line, but felt like we were rushed.  However, no matter which way you twist it, young kids and museums never mix well….at least we saw the important stuff!

IMG_5837This boy….he played with the buttons on the tour box more than he listened :)

IMG_5843Sfera con Sfera, translated as Sphere within a Sphere, is a bronze statue that appears golden as the sun shines down on it.

IMG_5848Here is the statue of Apollo.

IMG_5853A shot of one of the many ceiling murals in the museum.

IMG_5865Sadly, this is the only photo of the Sistine Chapel.  They are very strict about noise, photos, and videos.  None of any are allowed!  But it was absolutely mind boggling to stand inside the Chapel and look up at the beauty that Michelangelo created.  It took him FOUR years to complete it!

IMG_5869These next few are of the inside of St. Peters Basilica.

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IMG_5904After we headed out of the Basilica we made our way to the Colosseum.

IMG_5931And of course the kids (mainly Sy) had to get their pictures taken with the Roman guards!

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And here is a picture of The Arch of Constantine:

IMG_5935Here we area at a street side cafe enjoying a well deserved break of water and PIZZA!!!  Oh how we love the pizza….

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Off we go again….it’s like driving cattle, gotta go go go!  This a statue of Marcus Aurelius, standing in the open air of the Piazza del Campidoglio.  It’s a replica that was made in 1981 when the original was taken down for restoration and is now on display inside the Capitoline Museums.

IMG_5952This is from our walk through the Roman Forum.  It was like walking through  a history book!

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Piazza Navona houses the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, or The Fountain of the Four Rivers.  It symbolizes the Nile, Danube, Ganges, and Rio de la Plata.

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This is the Pantheon, also known as Santa Maria Rontonda located in the Piazza de la Rotonda.

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The last stop on our many days of heat and culture was the Spanish Steps.  Grace recognized them from the movies :)  By this time the kids were so hot and tired…

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They totally deserved some gelato!

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Posts you might have missed

Some time ago I guest posted a few things on Opinionated Mans blog. I must warn you, however, that his blog is his blog. He posts eye opening, jaw dropping, can’t-believe-he-said-that posts about everything and anything under the sun. If you still decide to click the link, go ahead and read what I wrote, then sneak around a bit and read his stuff. You might be surprised at the honesty you find there. It’s quite refreshing….and the comments are almost always entertaining!

Heurika!

That translates to Eureka!  It was originally said by Archimedes while he was taking a bath.  NO!  Not for that reason you dirty minded folks!  He realized that weight could be measured by water displacement and was reputed to have run through the streets naked shouting Heurika!

So does anyone know, with the above reference, where this post is talking about?

Athens, Greece.  This was our next stop in the Schengen Area and we spent a crazy week trying to jam as much as we could into a very short amount of time.

We based ourselves in Athens instead of trying to cram in a few days on one of the many islands in the area and I’m glad that we did it that way.  We’ll have to come back to Greece as there are just too many sights to take in during a short weeks stay.  I think that the island of Santorini deserves it’s own month!

Really though, in Athens alone there is just so much to see that we had a hard time figuring out how to approach it!  We found ourselves in a lovely Airbnb rental that included pickup/dropoff from the airport, and excellent proximity to transport as well as coffee shops and supermarkets.  The coffee shops were a necessity as we still had to do school and needed wifi for that :)

This is a photo of the kids on our first day out.  It was smokin hot as we climbed all around the Theater of Dionysus on the Acropolis.  Grace saw this piece of random stone and decided it would be cool to keep it….and then rethought that and said ‘Let’s just all touch it and take a picture!”.

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We went to see the Temple of Olympian Zeus as well.  It’s staggering to think that this amazing sight once had 104 of these huge pillars and took a total of 7 CENTURIES to complete!

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Of course we had to go to the Parthenon …

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While we were there we were also able to see the Erechtheion, which was once a temple dedicated to Athena.

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During one of the days we were just wandering around, we ended up at Syntagma Square right as they were performing the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  It was impressive to watch the two guards perform their steps in unison.IMG_5725

I want to remind you all that it was incredibly hot in Athens during our week there.  We drank our weight in water every day that we went out and dealt with the younger ones complaints of death by sweating!   But we made it….our days out were interspersed with touristy sights and walking through neighborhoods.  We encountered the National Gardens  which offered a lovely shady respite during one extraordinarily hot afternoon.  And on our days spent doing school we searched out all the wonderful local foods we could find.  My favorite was anything bourek.  Bourek is a type of pastry made from phyllo dough and filled with anything from cheese and minced meat to veggies.  The ones from the local coffee shop were filled with feta and I could have eaten them for a month.  Plus they were cheap and filling :)

It was a full week in Athens and there was so much that we didn’t see.  But we are beginning to realize that we could travel the world for our whole lives and never see it all.

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Romania? Why yes, I’ll have some more!

So I’ll try to make this my last post on Romania.  I wasn’t kidding when I told you we really loved our jam packed week there.

Let’s start with the Transfagarasan, or the DN7C.  It is considered to be one of the best roads to drive in the world!  It is a spectacular winding road where you encounter quick descents and hairpin turns every time you blink (so don’t blink!).   The long slow S curves make this road an amazing and hair raising drive, if you can be there when it’s open!  The road is typically closed from October to June because of the snow and poor driving conditions.  We managed to be there when it was open, but couldn’t seem to catch a break with the cloud cover!  We were running out of time so we decided to just go for it and even with the fog it was worth the time and effort.  However, I don’t think I’ve ever wished more for my love the bumps-offroading junkie-fit this road like a glove husband.  The driving really stressed me out!  I handled it just fine but whoa was I tense!  We made it to the top but didn’t bother to get out, it was cold and snowy!  We don’t have cold weather gear and the fog was so thick we really couldn’t see much.  Hence the not so great photos…but at least we got a small view of part of the road for you!

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Plus there was some lovely little waterfalls along the way!

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After that morning drive we decided to go see Brasov.  We had wanted to stay in this town originally but we weren’t able to find a place to rent there.  (which is ok we really liked the place we found!)  We made a day of it and spent the majority of our time in the town square, which was very picturesque.  Brasov is the home of the Black Church, which is Gothic in origin, and it overseas all the happenings in the square.  The main square is called Piata Sfatului which means Council Square.  Historically this was the place where the markets, pillory, council house and church were located.  Now, it’s a grand area full of pedestrian only pathways for everyone to shop, eat, and view the beautiful architecture.

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Sylar and Annalea saw these little bikes for rent and they enjoyed some time peddling around and scaring all the pigeons!

IMG_5595Of course we shopped and stopped for lunch and coffee :)  And  of course another photo opp with all the kids!

IMG_5647Oh, do you remember the mime that Sylar met on the last post?  Well, we found him again!

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More of Romania

I know, you’re sitting there wondering how in the world I’m going to come up with more about Romania.  Trust me…I could go on for days!

The base of operations for a week was near a town called Sibiu.  That’s where we made our friends Geta and Ducu.  They were supposed to be our landlords but ended up treating us like out of town friends :)  We really believe that they are part of the reason we think so highly of Romania in general!

Dinner with Geta and Ducu (which was made with things from their garden!)
Dinner with Geta and Ducu (which was made with things from their garden!)

On our first day there, Geta made sure we had some food in the fridge and then she and Ducu took us out to the town square and showed us the festival they were having.  They left us to have a good time after they took our picture on The Liars Bridge!  They say if you’re a liar and you cross the bridge it will collapse!!  I guess we’re okay then :)

on Liars Bridge
on Liars Bridge

We also encountered a mime while we were walking around…..Sylar got caught up in his act!

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Geta also suggested that we drive up to Sighisoara while we were there.  It’s supposed to be the birthplace of Dracula and being that we had just gone to see the castle we knew it wasn’t something we could pass up.

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We also had to have dinner at Casa Dracul!

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We ordered dinner for two and it was enough to feed all of us. It was quite tasty and after stuffing ourselves we headed out to the square to walk it off.

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We decided to head up the Clock Tower, a local landmark, and take in the view of the city.  It was gorgeous.  We were unable to take pictures while in the tower but got a few of the sights from the top.  I really enjoyed that they had plates with distances to various cities all over the top!

IMG_5311IMG_5325Then we spent the rest of the afternoon walking around and taking in the beautiful buildings and street scenes.  We took a ton of pictures because the old wooden doorways and stone walls were just too good to pass up.

IMG_5335IMG_5444IMG_5445We also got to take a look at the grounds near the Gothic Church. To get there you have to walk up the Schoolboy Stairs which date back to the 1600’s.  There are 175 steps up to the church and the old schoolhouse.  There was a nice young man from the local school there offering explanations while accruing extra credit!

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That town really sucked us in.  I don’t think we ended up getting home until 9pm.  It was one of those places we wished we had more time to explore :)

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