Sunday, September 30, 2012

When in Rome...

It was 4th grade when my fascination with Italy took hold.   A country that resembles a boot?  Get out!   Well here we are on what I would describe as the shin of Italy - the western coastline - Roma!   It's beautiful here!   And what Shawn and I lack in knowledge of renaissance European history and art - we make up for in our appreciation of the history, the loyalty, the devotion of what our ancestors endured in their steadfast allegiance to their beliefs, to their religion.  Shawn totally dug the architecture - and had immense awe for the bricklayers and other slave laborers. We wept on the square of St. Peter's today - as we considered those who went before us and those who were following after.   We said a prayer for you - and many a lighted candle flickers in Roma for you tonight!   Geez, did we see the churches today! Raphael's tomb, Piazzo de Popola, Piazzo Navona, and the magnifique Pantheon! We shed another tear on the tomb of St. Catherine of Siena - as we reflected on our blessing, Kate, - and I remembered 7th grade All Saints Day when Kate pronounced her patron saint and it was my job to figure out a costume (pre-Google). It's safe to say we conquered it! And as a shout-out to my work walking buddies - 23,332 steps today!   We did our usual vacation Mass - the kids know about this - in before the Gospel and out after Communion - and saw so many beautiful churches and works of art all day long.     The Holy Father was on summer break but we received his blessing via jumbo-tron, which is legit, according to the young seminarian from Massachusetts, Jack Schrader, who vowed to pray for our 8 children and my parents.   The Romans, by and large, are happy, helpful, and proud.  We also bonded with two couples from Seattle - Mike and Cheryl and newly weds Victoria and Brian.   We enjoyed our dinner so much with you and the great Maximus!   Here's to step-parenting (and Chianti)!  Tomorrow:  Vatican City and then onto Siena.   Ciao!

Saturday, September 29, 2012


Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Colosseum, Victor Emmanuel monument, Peroni and pizza...not a bad Saturday night in Roma! People are very friendly, dressed well, instead of pastry shops everywhere like Athens...there are shoes for sale, everywhere! Sitting outside with SJ - we cannot understand anyone around us but the music is playing and everyone, it seems, is in love with life! Dolce Vita!

Say your prayers that we catch the pope's blessing tomorrow!

xoxo from Roma

PS - see the Trevi pic: the coin I threw in the fountain was for YOU!

Goodbye Greece

Although my anticipation for all-things-Itally is building, saying goodbye to Greece is not easy. The "live and let live" attitude is so pleasant. It is safe and no one seems too interested in our visit. The young adults are so beautiful in appearance. Lacking from the landscape: tattoos and mobile devices. Locals have cell phones - and the Greek ringtones make me smile every time - but smart phones and texting are not ubiquitous. With the shuttered windows wide open last night, the distant sounds of Greek music from the tavernas below lulled us to sleep. We met some traveling Texans last night who had many stories about their many trips and, most importantly, affirmed our itinerary and desire to carve out lots of discretionary time for impromptu adventures. The food here is fabulous...the tomatoes and olives are personal faves as well as the authentic Greek feta. I'm including pics of a typical sidewalk because I am caught up in the marble. Goodbye from Greece!

Friday, September 28, 2012


We rode a KTEL bus today - Greek national bus system - to Nafplio - 2.5 hours SW of Athens. This is a Peloponnessian port town that mimics the feel of a Greek isle, and is the first capital of Greece. It's a small coastal town with three castles. We probably looked a bit lost when getting off the bus and made friends with some Brits who retired here and were on the bus, returning on holiday from Indonesia because they like good dance performances. They showed us where they live and also to our hotel...that's the kindness of strangers! We climbed to the top of the Palamidi Fortress (almost 1,000 stone steps!) - it was built in the early 1700's and was a Venetian it just offers a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean. The pace here is slow. Stopped for a Kaiser bier (beers in Greece typically are served with potato chips, no complaining here). We "took a swim" as they say, in the Mediterranean - the water so unbelievably clean and warm. There are lime trees everywhere (limes the size of apples) and also orange, lemon, nut and olive trees. The Greeks all use their hands when talking, definitely decent but not as happy as you would think, living in such a beautiful area of the world. I think some resent our lives. We lit a candle for our loved ones at a beautiful Greek Orthodox church and said a prayer at the Catholic church. I think their financial crisis makes ours look like kindergarten. We are extremely safe here...our windows overlook the sea and they will remain open tonight! We are staying at a "pension" aka hotel built on the side of a huge cliff overlooking the sea. The sidewalks here, like Athens, are all made of marble because marble quarries are everywhere. I need to get ready for my Friday night date...of course we will have seafood. This is a place I could return to - quiet and relaxed and breathtaking Nafplio! We fly to Rome tomorrow. Life is good! With love, antio!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Walk like an Athenian...

We have had a great day today on Matt's birthday and hope to toast him with Ouzo tonight! We started with the hotel's complimentary breakfast (not exactly the powdered donuts-type of complimentary hotel breakfast we have back home)! Then we caught our 1/2 day tour and saw many ancient relics and sites as well as the Olympic stadium built in 1895 (a newer structure by Greek standards).
We spent a lot of time walking around the Acropolis - seeing the 4 remaining temples, including the Parthenon. We saw the place where St. Paul preached Christianity and we thought about the gospel readings, as in a Letter from the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians (Corinth is only 2 hours from here and we will stop there tomorrow). We also saw "the Assembly" - that place where Democracy began! We toured the new Acropolis Museum - built on pillars over some ancient ruins, and all the floors were made of glass so you could look down and see the ruins below your feet - excavation is underway. After the tour, we traipsed around the Temple of Zeus and also the Agora, where a few cool guys used to ponder human destiny, free will, etc: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Pericles...we did that, too, and decided that if we didn't love all those special people I mentioned a couple days ago, we might choose to stay here! Oh - and there are no protests today! All the streets are very narrow, the vespas own the road, the sidewalks are made of marble. Lots of smokers. Going shopping and out for Spanakopita and Gyros tonight! Democracy, literature, philosophy, medicine, politics, astronomy, art, and so much more! It gives me chills to think it all started here! Love from Athenia!