Blog for February 2008

Daily Links

Italy 2008, Days Five, Six, and Seven

Continuing my ongoing series, I have posted more photos from my recent trip to Italy. I’m giving my Flickr Pro account a run for it’s money, and giving more of my friends reasons to be envious :P

These days were our actual working days, but even those were amazingly enjoyable! It was a bright and beautiful walk every morning to the Institute where we had to do our installations and presentations. We were able to cut around and through one of the Universities of Rome to get there, getting a good feel for school life in Italy. And best of all, we got a flavour for life in Rome outside the standard tourist routes.

An inside view of the main entrance to the University of Rome

Our nights were free to ourselves, which we used to do some shopping and/or more touring about the city... or other things :) I spent St Valentine’s night in an Irish pub, having fun with a group of people touring from Spain. And on our last night, we managed to find the best plate of spaghetti in the entire city!

A great place to eat if you’re in Rome!

The next day would be our last in Rome, and we were hopping onto a train to Cinque Terra to do some hiking. But we’d have all morning and most of the afternoon to do some looking around. And we were not going to ditch Rome without having a walk through the Sistine Chapel!

Daily Links

Daily Links

Italy 2008, Day Four

Day four of my trip to Italy, and the last full day to run around before we had to hunker down and get to work. We decided to get up bright and early and take the Metro over to Vatican City, to visit St. Peters Basilica. As in the past posts, I’ve updated my Flickr account with a new photoset.

The early morning line-up to get into St Peters

St Peters Basilica is awe inspiring, even if you do not share the religion. Just the amount of care and work that goes into every little thing is incredible. And the weight of time and history is apparent in every monument, altar, statue, and chapel. Though you can think of it as a single, large building with a single, cavernous room, the Basilica is actually divided into areas, with their own thematic sets of paintings, statues, and memorials.

Gregory XVI

Even early in the morning and even with the size of the Nave, it started to get pretty crowded a couple hours in. And yes, you can easily spend all day in there, going over every inch, and still not see everything. We went in by ourselves, without a guidebook and not part of a tour group, and still we were in there for four hours or so!

After going through, we popped back out and crossed the Piazza. There’s a long, straight street that leads almost from the river directly to the square, and we ran into a nun parade! It was obviously a scheduled event, celebrating some sort of nursing hospital nun order, but we certainly were not expecting it, and made for a nice surprise. I was able to snap a couple pictures and then then sit back and enjoy some cappuccinos as they went by :)

A consesus of visiting Canadian tourists agreed, this here is one cute looking nun :)

After our outing to St Peters, we split up and went touring Rome on our own. I shot across town on the Metro to Circus Maximus, checking out the Pyramid on the way. All that remains of the Circus is a long lush green field, a common place for picnics and joggers. Right beside it, though, are the ruins of the Roman Forums.

Out by the remains of Circus Maximus

I arrived too late to be able to go down into it (most of the major monuments close to the public at about 4:30pm) but I was still able to go up and around, and find some great views. The sun was starting to set, and cast some amazing shadows. Though work would mean I wouldn’t be able to visit these ruins over the next couple days, I promised myself I would make time before I left Rome!

Daily Links

Italy 2008, Day Three

Hello again! This is a continuation of my last posting, detailing my recent trip to Italy! This will cover all the stereotypical tourist things I did and went to see while jogging around Rome. Also, I’ve updated my Flickr account with a related photo set. Enjoy!

So, an early rise as Peter and Aaron and I went out and grabbed some fresh coffee and pastries for breakfast. A fact I was unaware of at the time: there is an extra charge at almost every cafe and restaurant if you decide to sit at a table to consume your purchase. So, if you stand at the counter and enjoy your cappuccino and bagel or whatever, that’s one price, but if you decide to sit at a table for the same meal, that’s usually a higher price. Now you know :)

Breakfast time in Rome

Today was a full out hike all around Rome, hitting as many monuments and historical sites as we could manage. the tourist maps we purchased had the spots clearly indicated, so they weren’t hard to find. But rather than have a detailed, well executed plan, we decided to just go in the general direction and enjoy the city, only consulting the maps every half an hour or so to beeline to a nearby fountain or ruin.

Roman ruins

The very middle of Rome has the Colosseum and National Monument. In and around this area are the ruins of the roman forums, with buildings, walls, and columns all over the place. The roads and currently occupied buildings are literally entrenched with these amazing examples of history and culture! We could even go in and wander about, but we saved that for a later day.

The massive scale of the Pantheon

Wandering about, we hit awesome places like the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain. Even in February, a "slow" tourist season, there were a gaggle of tourists and sightseers crowding around. I cannot imagine the mess Rome would be in August, it’s apparent peak! None-the-less, the scale of these buildings were incredible!

Trevi Fountain from the front

As before, we went looking around after dinner, revisiting all the spots again after dark. Almost every part of the central city is still awake, with cafes and bars open, theaters filling up and emptying, and crowds of tourists and locals wandering about. In the end, called it an early night though... tomorrow, we were going to hit Vatican City!

Daily Links

Italy 2008, Day One and Two

A blurry shot of the Toronto airport, through a plane window

Hello! I am officially back from my trip to Italy! To answer a couple quick questions: yes it was beautiful, yes I took lots of pictures, and yes it is bastard ass cold now that I’m back in Winnipeg (I even got a bit of a cold). I took a day off after arriving, to recover from the jet lag, and am now back to work and in the swing of things.

Over the next couple of days, I hope to post my pics to Flickr, and accompany them with a blog post covering the same time periods. This is the first of those, detailing the first two days... which were, not surprisingly, comprised mostly of a long flight over the Atlantic :)

I took the trip with Aaron, lead developer for CTRNet. The total flight, including layovers, was fifteen hours. That’s including the eight plus hour flight from Toronto to Munich. It’s a long time to be stuck in a seat, I kid you not! Especially when the in-flight movies are crap like The Game Plan. :/

The advice I was given for long flights like these was "sleep going east, stay awake going west", which makes sense. We started the flight at 2PM Friday from Winnipeg and landed 11PM Saturday in Rome. So, if you managed to get some shut-eye on the oversea flight, you’re in business jet lag wise. I, however, did not manage, and was not in business... but some sugar ladened cappuccinos solved that problem! :P

Taking a bus to catch a plane

Oh, and by the way, a one hour layover at any airport is not enough time to catch a connecting flight. Ever. Our flight was twenty minutes late arriving to Munich, so we missed our connecting flight to Rome. Nothing more frustrating than being in an airport you’re not familiar with trying to make yourself understood to people who speak a completely different language. Luckily, we explained the situation to the right representatives in the end, and not only got another flight a couple hours later, but even got a free lunch out of it. Turns out the Lufthansa airline had an airline passenger bill of rights that cover what we were entitled to based on how long we would be stuck. Neat!

Our first hotel, which we stayed only the night, was a block away from the Colosseum, so we obviously started looking around that area. Bought a map and tucked it in my back pocket; Rome is a beautiful city to just get lost and wander around in, but I want to be able to get where I’m going eventually. Luckily, Rome is not very big overall (you can probably walk across it in an hour if you wanted) and has both an excellent Metro and lots of bus service.

A full shot of the Unknown Solider monument

After the sun sets, Rome gets lit up with street lights and floods. All the ruins and monuments are illuminated, making it worth while to visit every spot at least twice. The only thing I recommend is that you get used to negotiating with Roman traffic during the day, as it becomes a live action version of Frogger during the night! There are very few traffic stops, as Italy uses roundabouts and the like instead, so cars rarely stop or slow down. Crossing the street is more like playing chicken with half a dozen little Renaults and motor scooters!

Anyway, not too much in the first day in Rome... we mainly just went around for the sake of actually being there at last, rather than confined to a seat for hours. Early crash at the hotel, as we were going for an all day run around the next day!