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City Views, Europe

Travel Photo Thursday

November 3, 2016 • By

Inside The Vatican

Flashback to our first trip to The Vatican City in March 2003. It was so intimidating to walk these hallowed halls that we had only heard about on the news. I will never forget how resplendent our surroundings were and how fortunate we were to witness it.

Europe, Reviews, Travel Advice

The 8 Things that Surprised Me During My Trip to Rome, Italy

June 25, 2013 • By


The Beauty of Rome

Rome, Italy was my second sojourn into Europe. Having visited Paris the year prior, I thought myself very fortunate to be going back so quickly. I had been intrigued with Rome for awhile, mostly through the lens of a movie camera.

There were so many great films like “Three Coins in the fountain” and “Roman Holiday” that set the tone for my romanticized (pun intended) and lofty expectations.

As wonderful as the city is, when I finally got the chance to visit this beautiful country, some things were were not as I expected.  Not everything one envisions matches the fantasy, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t have a fantastic time anyway.READ MORE

City Views, Europe, Travel Advice

Travel Photo Thursday – Beware Of The Romans

March 3, 2011 • By

Beware of  ROMANS bearing gifts

I choose this week’s photo because it reminded me of an unpleasant experience that I had at the Coliseum in Rome.  My daughter and I were walking past and noticed men dressed in all of the Roman regalia and decided to take a pic or two.  Within no time flat, one of them came up to us smiling ever so broadly and started to put his arm around my daughter asking me to take a picture of the two of them.  Ok, I didn’t see that coming, but it was a non-sexual, drape around her shoulder position and she seemed unconcerned about it and thought it would be a great souvenir, so I did.

Imagine our surprise when he held his hand out after I took the shot.  At first I thought he had taken leave of his senses, but he was serious and insistent.  He expected me to pay him for using my camera, SD card and batteries to photograph him.   I told him good luck with that and walked away.  At least, allow me the opportunity to offer you a tip before demanding one.  I decided to delete that picture anyway because it left a sour taste in my mouth.  So, word of caution….they are not dressed that way for nothing.  They expect to be recompensed.  Perhaps, it was my naivete, but it took me a little by surprise.  Be sure to take any and all pics from a distance and keep walking.

Please note that this post was not meant to disparage Rome, but only to relay my own personal experience.

For more Travel Photo Thursday pics check out: Budget Traveler’s Sandbox

Europe, Travel Advice

Why Its Just Plain Wrong To See a McDonalds Restaurant Across From The Roman Pantheon

January 30, 2011 • By

Roman Pantheon

I have a bias that doubles nicely as a pet peeve. I detest McDonald’s. My campaign to destroy the golden arches began the day that I almost up-chucked the hotcakes and sausage combo on the flight from Los Angeles to back home. This was strange. I’d feasted on those flapjacks and pig parts a few times in my eating career and up to that moment, never had any ill effects. Trust me when I say, it is beyond embarrassing when the flight attendant has to hook you up to the oxygen mask so that I won’t deposit the contents of the last meal on my neighbor who I was sure would gladly end my suffering if I did.

Always a glutton for punishment, I told myself that it was an isolated incident; that the meal simply didn’t agree with me that day. I proceeded to illustrate that I was a prime candidate for a Darwin award by purchasing the same breakfast and (whaddayaknow) got the same result. Lesson learned. Never will I darken the doorway of that god forsaken place again. I don’t care that they sell their cappuccino for only a dollar, I’m not going. Fast forward two years into the future. I am in the beautiful city of Rome. I’ve just visited the Roman Pantheon and right across the courtyard is….a freaking McDonald’s restaurant. After, dunking my head in the nearest fountain to put out the flames coming from my eyes and ears, I refocused and confirmed that I wasn’t seeing a mirage. There was a freaking McDonald’s restaurant a stone’s throw away from a treasured landmark. That was at least three kinds of crazy!  I knew it was time to lodge a complaint at the American Embassy.

Ok, perhaps, I am being inconsiderate to deny my Italian brethren the pleasures of American fast food, but if I wanted to see that abomination, I could have stayed home and literally threw stones at it. And please don’t think that my disdain is reserved for the arches. I hate seeing anything that will remind me of home when I’m in a foreign land. When I book a room in Paris, trust me, it won’t be at a chain hotel that’s headquartered in the states. I enjoy immersing myself in the beauty of little known chalets, B & Bs, mom and pop hotels when I travel. There’s something special about experiencing a bit of culture outside of the one that I am used to. The only thing that I want to remotely remind me of home is finding someone who can speak the English language.  I’m not hating on America, motherhood and apple pie. I’m just saying if I went through the trouble of crossing an ocean……..

I guess there is a light at the end of this tunnel. So far, I’ve seen no evidence of a Church’s Chicken cackling on foreign soil. If god forbid, you do come across this restaurant, you would have a more enjoyable experience (and the same result of) being hooked up to an IV filled with bacon fat. No one should have to wring out grease so that they can digest a piece of chicken.  No one.  But I know my campaign is futile.  I will have live with the fact that these chains will be everywhere before you know it.  At some point, you’ve got to realize when you’re outgunned.  So, I’ve finally reached the last stage of grief: acceptance.

City Views, Europe

Pictures of Rome, Capri and Sorrento, Italy

March 14, 2010 • By

Rome | The Eternal City

What can you say about the Eternal City? It was all that we had dreamed and hoped for and more! I can’t help but compare our great country to others whenever I visit abroad. It seems that we do not value history as much as others do. We tend to want to tear down rather than lift up old buildings once they’ve reached their ‘prime’. I appreciate their propensity to value what’s been passed down along to them.

We got to visit so many places in Rome…..the Piazza Navona….a shopper’s haven, the Vatican (where we enjoyed the historic Scavi Tour), St. Peter’s Square, The tomb of the unknown soldier, the Coliseum, & the Trevi fountain, among others. We decided to take a day trip to Naples, Capri and Sorrento. We only got to pass through Naples on the way to Capri via motorboat to see the world famous Blue Grotto. Capri and Sorrento (known for its delicately in-laid furniture) were spectacular. I had never seen water so blue, so crystal clear in all of my life. I could definitely get used to living there.READ MORE

Europe, Travel Advice, Trip Reports

Exploring the Excavations of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican

August 25, 2009 • By

The Scavi Tour

If you are planning a trip to Rome, the usual must-sees are the Trevi fountain, the Pantheon, the Coliseum, Spanish Steps and the Vatican.

But did you know that there exists a necropolis beneath the Vatican that you can tour during your visit there?  This historical archaeological burial site houses and preserves the original grave of St. Peter and is located below St. Peter’s Basilica.

It was rediscovered in 1939 by workers digging a burial tomb for the deceased Pope Pius XI.  This is a tomb in the truest sense of the word with uneven footing, dim lighting and tight spaces being the hallmark of the venue.


Me, standing pretty much dead center of St. Peter’s Square