A taste of Rome

And finally we get to Italy. 

I’m a bit behind in my chronicles as our days are so packed! Lots of photos to help remember and tell the story. As I’m sure most people have found on trips like these, there’s a fine line between taking the photos you want and taking so many you miss the actual experience. I’m not a big selfie taker but I deliberately chose one for the featured image for this post as I wanted to record how happy we are to be here despite my genuine dislike of seeing myself in a photo. (I generally try to take photos where I can get the shot with no people visible at all – not sure that will be particularly easy in such a tourist destination.)

What I am missing is a good camera! Hats off to my iPhone for taking some pretty good shots but I am aware of the opportunities I am not getting.

Our hotel was old and gracious. I felt very underdressed in my jeans and tee shirt but that did seem to be what everyone else was wearing as well so I didn’t dress up to match the decor.


We met the rest of our tour party who would be our companions for the next 12 days. To be honest they were a little older than I had been expecting – we are definitely among the younger people. The first of many caprese salads and pizza for dinner, some great introductory conversations, and then an early night as we had to be up very early the next morning.
We had been fortunate enough to be given access to the Sistine Chapel before it opened to the public. So, feeling a little guilty, we walked past the already waiting crowds and wandered through an empty Vatican Museum before entering the chapel itself. So much beauty in these corridors, every inch of them lavishly decorated.


No photos allowed in the Chapel itself, which is fitting for such a monument to the creativity of man and the glory of God. Like everyone else I was familiar with the iconic image of God reaching out to touch Adam, but that is just a small price of the endless ceiling and walls, every inch overhead and to the side packed with the narrative of the relationship between God and His creation. As there were so few people in the chapel we had plenty of time to sit and focus on individual panels.

Our time was up all too soon and we walked back through corridors of Papal treasures, down the beautiful spiral walkway and back into the modern world of cars, horns and throngs of people. 


We then headed to the Colesseum  (I did say it was a taste of Rome). A bonus was being allowed to enter through the gladiator stage which is an entrance not usually used. Very humbling to hear that the entrance and exit system was so sophisticated that they could clear the 70000 seat auditorium faster than we could empty a similar sized one today. Even with the crowds and the obligatory gift shop selling every possible Colesseum souvenir possible, it was very easy to imagine it in its prime.


We decided to skip the last of the afternoon planned activities and wandered the streets, dipping our hands in the Trevi Fountain, eating prosciutto platters and gelato and engaging in a bit of shopping. Loved the creative parking in the insanely crowded streets!


A quick dinner in a cute street-side cafe was rapidly moved indoors as the skies suddenly erupted with thunder and lightening.The rose sellers instantly becameumbrella sellers! Tried out my fledgling Italian on the waiter but like so manyEuropeans  he spoke perfect English.

What a crazy start to our trip! I still can’t believe I am here. Feeling the weight of thousands of years of art, culture and philosophy is almost too much to take in (hence the shopping break this afternoon!)

Heading to Pompeii and Capri tomorrow – the adventure continues…

Catching our breath in London

Who would have thought that we would use the bustling metrolpolis of London for some downtime! But that’s how we spent the three days between NYC and our upcoming whirlwind tour of Italy. (And it did take us a while to adjust to the more compact skyline after the towering edifices of New York).

Staying in a cute  converted brewery in the financial district, we had a pretty restful few days with some unexpected  highlights.​ It was a beautiful morning to see St Paul’s in all its glory. So remarkable that it survived the Blitz intact.

London was marking the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London and we were staying right amongst all the action. The French troupe Compagnie Carabosse had set up a spectacular fire garden in the grounds of the Tate and the evening was perfect to wander around this spectacular sight, ohh and ahh, and try to work out how on earth they got it past health and safety regulations! I was very glad I wasn’t one of the many people bravely bringing  pre-schoolers, toddlers and dogs.

The next day dawned rainy and grey so we contented ourselves with a visit to the Tate Modern and yet again were inspired and moved by stunning modern art. I have decided there is definitely a limit as to how much I can absorb on one visit.

For our second evening we had bought tickets to A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. Not knowing what to expect, we were treated to a stunning production. Strongly and successfully reliant on a set consisting of interactive screens, clever graphics, and multimedia and remaining very close to the original book, it had us gripped from the minute we sat down in front of the stark and avant grade stage. Highly recommended.

On our last night it was very wet but  we managed to find  a suitable spot, order fish and chips and mushy peas and watch a section of the 7km domino trail that followed the path of the original fire. We had spent all day watching literally hundreds of volunteers painstakingly organize and set this up and I really felt for them as the rain kept the anticipated crowds away. However once the domino fall started there were many enthusiastic chasers running from one spot to another to watch them cascade down.

In hindsight- we didn’t catch our breath that much! Looking forward to our longer stay here at the end of our trip.

Next stop Italy – the big unknown and much anticipated part of this trip. One. More. Sleep.