Tuesday, 24 September 2013


Its hard to believe that it is the second night that I've been in Venice.  We only had today to walk around, basically looking at all the sights we could see, and do some shopping.  I definitely have to get a new camera, as I know that I took about 4 or 5 shots that are not there (serves me right for not double checking how they turned out)... I did get some classic shots though.  I wish my photos of other parts of Venice you usually don't see turned out.... like the cargo boats, and how they offload product for stores... they manage to cart around about 1/3 of a pallet of food up and down stairs, through crowds, with comparative ease... it was quite amazing to see that.

Anyway, here are almost all of the pictures that I took in Venice...

A view of the Grand Canal

One of the many small canals

I wish I would have got a different angle of this street light. It was a dragon like creature holding two umbrellas that formed a globe around the lamp.  

And my favorite picture, which is not scenery at all....
When you visit Italy, you have to have coin on you as there is a charge to use a public washroom... between $0.50 EU and $1.00 EU.  You can use a restaurant bathroom if you are a patron, for free.
This image greeted me when I lifted the lid at one restaurant we visited in Venice :-)  It definitely made me smile :-)

I did like visiting Venice, and there are parts that I enjoyed seeing more... the off the beaten track places the locals go to.  The classic tourist attractions like St. Mark's Square are much to busy. Even when we got there at 8:30am in the morning, before all the shop keepers (aka street vendors) set up, it was starting to fill up, and the lineup to go into the basilica was over 1 hr. long.  No, I didn't wait in line.  We preferred to spend the day wandering the streets, and getting lost without too much care, just seeing what we could see, and appreciating some of the fine details in the homes that were built so many centuries ago!  There was one more modern building (a bank, I believe), and it looked so out of place with the other buildings around it.  I think I would come back, but only if I could stay and relax far away from the crowds, and visit some of the outlying islands in the region.  Although, after saying that, if you could park yourself in the corner of a plaza, it would be a great place to people watch.

Monday, 23 September 2013


What an amazing place to see.  Books, and even documentaries do not do it justice... just to understand that the city covers 5 square miles, and that only 80% of it is uncovered to date.  One of the main streets was about one mile long! (That is according to my memory of what was said... wish I would have recorded everything)
We had a guided tour with Vincencio (Vincent), who had been guiding for 40 years.  He helped us understand the history of Pompeii through the examples of mortaring bricks, and even the way the roads were still in the state of being repaired by the Romans from a previous earthquake before Mt. Vesuvius erupted. 

We saw the style of roads, and "cross walks" which were like stepping stones that people could use to cross a flooding road, while horses and wagons or carts could till pass. The repaired roads showed no signs of wagon/cart tracks, and were fairly level... the earthquake damaged roads were quite rough and showed earthquake damage (wavy).

Here are some pictures of the public forum, which really was just the center of the municipal government. With its "soap box" where people would speak.  He explained how they learned so much about the city, by its "graffiti" which really means inscribed in the walls, not like today, painted on the walls... 

There was one area of the city where there was an equivalent of today's graffiti... a politician's name, probably painted on during the night when the house owner was not able to stop the painting.

We walked along areas of where merchants lived and worked... the storefronts on the lower level, and their living quarters were the second story. The second stories of the buildings collapsed with the weight of over 27 feet of pumice ash. The storefronts were only about 12 - 15 feet square, small compared to what we are used to, but not a lot smaller than some of the shops even in the older areas of the cities we visited in Italy so far. Here is a picture of one of the many restaurant/food stands we saw:

We saw the public bath(s) - one for males, one for females, and a unisex one. The picture below is a steam bath... the cubby holes along the walls are like lockers to put your clothes in.

Some of the ceilings were decorated spectacularly!

Here is a closer view of one ceiling decorated like the one above:

Below you can see the grooves in the ceiling of a steam room, that would reduce the condensation.

Vincencio also explained about the two plaster cast bodies from the site. It was erie remembering what happened to this city that housed 20,000 people (not including visitors or sailors who where there at the time)

Also the brothel, where he described the reasons why there were such explicit frescos above the doors to the various rooms.... kinda the same reason we have menu signs at restaurants.... easier to choose what you want.

Onto the largest house in the excavation... With its entrance which is quite formidable, and its winter and summer living areas.  In the foyer, there was a central "catch basin" which the skylight on the roof drained into... the catch basin emptied into a cistern, and supplied water for the house.  Other houses did not have internal water, but relied on the public water fountains for their water, supplied by the river 20 miles away, and gravity fed.
In the picture below you can see the catch basin, and the front door of the house.  In the corner was a stairwell for the servants quarters, and to the left were doors to bedrooms. The people in the corner are looking at the area that the household would have their favorite god/goddess displayed. Behind me was one of the largest dining rooms of the area. 

I was kind of annoyed with myself... I did not charge my camera before going to Pompeii, and my battery died half way through... not a happy camper.  I did get more pictures on my iphone, but did not get the ones I thought I did get on my camera before it died.  At least by describing them I will remember them :-)  Below is the summer time area of the house mentioned above. Around the garden are different alcoves with frescos and beautiful lapis adorned walls.  Some are quite faded now though.  Its amazing to think that all of this was built during Christ's time on earth. I think that was what impressed my mind the most when visiting this site.

We finished our trek through the site at the Theatre

It holds over 2000 people, and has even been used modernly for events.  They haven't in recent years due to lack of funds, but if I knew about an event that was going to be there when I was nearby, I would be sorely tempted to attend - just even to experience the accoustics of the arena.
Just outside the theatre, there is a gymnastics area, where it ended up being like an intermission / entertainment area between long acts at the Theatre. You can just see the Theatre in the background.

As we finished our visit to Pompeii, we walked outside the city walls... this is a picture of it, and its dry moat.

In the moat area, there was a memorial cemetary, but not in the usual way we think of it.... Romans cremated the deceased, and did not intern the ashes in the memorial, the memorials where more like a memory wall.  See them on the middle to bottom left of the picture below?

We were so glad that we decided to go early (the gates open up at 8:30am, and we were one of the first groups inside).  Over 6000 people visit DAILY.... and I can just imagine how crowded it could be in the heat of the day... not pleasant at all IMHO.  It is worth getting a guide, who can provide all sorts of ancedotes that you may miss about certain areas.  Pompeii is so huge, that we would not have been able to cover it ourselves in our short time period that we had allowed ourselves to see it.  I would say that if you are in the area, it is a must see.

Enjoying Positano and a trip to Castellammare di Stabia

My other traveling partners had already rented scooters, and I finally broke down and rented one too.  It was a $55 EU plurge for a one day rental.  Here is my ride:

I only wish my scooter had this speedometer.... the top end of 140 km/hr!

We all went on a ride before dinner up to Nocele, which gives a great overview of the area. Its hard to believe the tops of the cliffes/mountains the area is built against are over 1000 meters high!

The town had a good soccer field... and you can see the area behind it is terraced... really, all the hills are terraced, but not all in cultivation.

What a breathtaking view, eh?  Makes me wish I would have had a better camera... next time!

Sunday morning I took the scooter on a 29 km journey back towards Napoli, to the town of Castellammare di Stabia, to the branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints there.  Here is what the name looks like in Italian.

I was really worried that I would not know anyone or understand anything, but there was a branch member named Fausto sat beside me throughout Sunday School and sacrament and translated for me!  He used his smart phone for the scriptures, and was looking at what programs I was using on my ipad to follow along with the lessons :-)  It was so neat to feel so welcome by everyone there, even though they did not speak english.  Next time I come here I vow that I will speak more!

I didn't stop to take many pictures, as I was retracing the way we came to Positano from Napoli... but here are a few pictures that I will update later on what they are about..... right now I'm getting ready to catch the ride to Venice..... more later!

I'm updating this, but not noting it on the blog post page.... its really only the way for me to remember what I did :-)

Below is a picture of the wake of one of the many ferry or excursion boats that operate out of Positano.  I took the picture as the water turned such a beautiful emerald blue\green right near the shore.

This is one of the traditional sandwiches the local delis made... sliced tomatoes topped with some fresh basil, a little bit (minute) of chopped lettuce.... salt and peppered, then drizzled with olive oil and a bit of balsamic vinegar, then topped with thick slices of fresh mozzarella cheese (not at all like any mozzarella cheese we have at home.... softer and much lighter tastiing) Below is 1/2 of the sandwich I bought for $5 EU. Its about the size of an average hamburger .... so that was a lot of sandwich for the money.  

Our last dinner at Positano was at il Fornillo restaurante, just down the road from where we stayed.

I had Spaghetti with cherry tomatoes (and fresh basil). It had a great olive oil in the sauce as well.  I'm starting to enjoy the el dente texture\flavor of pasta now too.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

From Rome to Positano

What a full day! We left our apartment in Rome at 8am, and took a taxi to Statione Termini. We were much to early, but better early than late! I have been so worried about costs on this trip, and am so glad that I am traveling with such seasoned travelers who are guiding this journey :-)

Here is a picture of the train we took as it was pulling into the station.  I wish I would have taken pictures of the monitor that was showing our progress, and ads for the train... we were traveling at almost 300 km/hr!  It took us just under 1 hour to get from Rome to Naples.  The trip cost about $45 EU ea.

At Napoli, we arranged to be picked up by a driver from Joe Banana ($130 EU for the 5 of us with luggage).  There is definite advantages with hiring drivers to take you places (the first time at least).  Our driver, Paolo, had what my brother in law would call "personality plus".  He filled us in with such great information of what we were seeing as we traveled between Naples and Positano. We stopped three times along the way for picture taking, and were treated out to a couple of samples of lemon ice (granata?). We were so impressed at the service that we have already arranged to travel with them back from Positano to the airport at Napoli (That will be in another post coming up, as it will include a stop at Pompeii!!!)

Our first view of Positano:

We arrived in Positano and checked in at around 2pm.  Here are some views from our walk in the afternoon.  It will be hard for me to put on a short list which pictures to show you on the blog of what I've seen so far here... this morning I took an hour walk and took over 30 pictures... Last night I must have taken at least another 20 or so..... lets see, we have 2 more days here. Trust me, its very hard to choose!
We had lunch at a small roadside cafe... I had Seafood Salad with had mussels, clams, squid, scallops (?) drizzled with olive oil and lemon on the side. I'm not sure that I would have had it if I knew there were squid in it, but when in Italy, enjoy what you may not usually eat!

The three pictures below are all focusing in on the main public beach.

Above and below, view of the church: Santa Maria Assunta

View from Marina Grande

I've taken some pictures this morning, and have already walked to the other beach today, scoping out where to possibly have dinner when we are here.  

Here is the view towards Spiaggia di Fornillo (Fornillo Beach):

I want to explore here, where I am told there is another restaurant!  (you can see it on the point in the picture above... ) Torre di Clavel

One thing I will say is that the fashion I've seen in the shops is wonderful - even though I might have to stay here a few weeks to thin myself down to fit into some of them (its a real work out going up and down the stairs --- but a very enjoyable one... you can tell a local by the ease they traverse the steps)  I'll try to remember to take some more pictures of the fashion and things available to buy when I go shopping for dinner tonight!

Oh yes! I forgot to show you where we are staying:

And the view from the road towards it.

Hope you are enjoying my adventure ... Until the next post, when hopefully my cold is much better (I slept 12 hrs last night trying to get rid of it!)

Friday, 20 September 2013

Another Hard Day of Walking in Rome (Part 2)

The Roman Temple, the Forum & Capital Hill

I finally found myself down in the final part of my walk... the Roman Forum. Its a large area that has temples and speaking areas even. I could almost imagine the hustle and bustle millennia ago.

The highlight for me in visiting this temple was the painting in the skylight.  I really wish that I would have taken latin to be able to decipher some of the inscriptions.

Once I get back to my regular computer, I will update the photos on the blog that have writing on them so you can zoom in and read the information on them too!  Lots of history written on them.

I wish I would have seen an information sign on this building, it was quite spectacular.

Finally, in sight of the Forum!

This was at the base of the first set of columns... if you look on the previous picture, you can clearly see where it is (7pm from the center of the picture)

And looking to the right towards Capital Hill

I just realize that the description I made in my previous post of where I wanted to end up was incorrect... I did end up at Capital Hill!!!!

Some insights as to what was in the Forum area.  

And where people spoke:

Looking back over the Forum area.

And in front of the Capital Building, a picture that I hope to sketch and color:

That was my walking adventure... I was relieved to get back to the apartment, and get off my feet (two blisters starting on my pinky toes :-(  )

I hope you caught my previous post that covers the beginning of our walk!

Will be back with more pictures soon!