Monthly Archives: December 2012

I’m off to see the islands, the wonderful islands of Greece!!

23rd June 2012

I said good-bye to Italy today, hopefully not for good but just for a while and started another leg of my journey, to Athens this time. I got myself to the airport, through check-in and immigration and boarded the plane without any dramas. There were just a few butterflies worrying whether I would know where to go and what to do but it was quite easy really.

Can you tell I'm in Greece?

Can you tell I’m in Greece?

I had originally planned to leave Rome a couple of days ago but changed my plans so had contacted the travel company and changed the day of my airport to city transfer in Athens to today. As luck would have it my daughter, Sarah, arrived at the airport about 40 minutes before me and not knowing I had changed plans she convinced the driver he was only collecting one person not two as he thought- so she took my car!!!

I must have spent 20 minutes reading  and re-reading the transfer drivers signs hoping to find the one with my name, it didn’t matter how many times I looked none of them magically changed. I still had the Italian sim in my phone so couldn’t use that and couldn’t find anywhere to buy a Greek one either. I found a place to make phone calls but the travel company didn’t answer and neither did Sarah. They really were minor problems but I was wandering around the airport like a lost sheep for a while. Eventually common sense kicked in and I just caught a cab. Luckily I had the name and address of the hotel written down so could just show the driver, he didn’t have much English and my Greek is non-existent. That’s the second time now I’ve unexpectedly had to find my from an airport to hotel, something to think about in future I feel.

Don't judge a book by it's cover?

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover?

I was a bit worried when he pulled up, I couldn’t see the hotel sign,  there were rubbish bags piled on the street corners and it all looked a bit dodgie but the cabbie kept pointing just over the road and nodding so I figured I’d better get out before he kicked me out. Anyhow the hotel was just diagonally across the road and Sarah happened to be in the foyer when I walked in so yay me again – I got from Rome to Athens!! Sometimes I think we’d be better off without mobiles, maybe we’d  think things through instead of just having a knee-jerk reaction and reaching  for the phone to yell for help whenever things don’t go exactly to plan. Then again, my phone does give me a sense of security so maybe I just need to  think instead of hitting the panic button. Yeah, that’d probably be a better plan.


Filed under Greece, Mid-life travel, Travel

My last day in Rome

22nd June 2012

I cannot believe I agreed to go on a walking tour today – I am usually the last person to want to walk anywhere and I must have walked a hundred kilometres in Rome already – about 5 of them this morning!! I traipsed all the way up to the Piazza della Republica to the post office, bought a posting box, walked back to the hotel, packed what I wanted to send home, carried it back to the post office – 12 bloody kilos, and walked back to the hotel, again!!

Note to self – never, ever again buy so many presents for everyone when I go overseas.

Spanish Steps, Rome

Spanish Steps, Rome

The walking tour guide was a lovely gentleman by the name of Romano, he was a great guide, full of little tidbits about places and buildings that I hadn’t heard or read before. Even though I’d seen a few of the sights earlier, this time I was seeing them with Romano’s stories as well so it was a totally different experience.

Piazza Navona, Roma

Piazza Navona, Roma

Piazza Navona and the Spanish Steps were a couple of the places I saw for the first time today. I’m ashamed to say I have walked past the Spanish Steps other days without taking any notice of them. Come to think of it I still don’t know too much about them or why they are so famous, I didn’t think to ask while we were there – oh well, I’ll find out some time I guess!

Fontana Dei Quattro Fiumi

Fontana Dei Quattro Fiumi

There are cafe’s all around Piazza Navona and it’s absolutely full of artists, or at least people selling paintings. I’m not completely convinced they all paint the scenes they sell but it sure makes for an interesting bit of outdoor “window” shopping. I think I liked the fountain in the centre of the piazza, Fontana Dei Quattro Fiumi, best. It’s quite ornate and was created by Bernini in the early 1650s. They say it  was so expensive that the bread tax had to be raised to cover the cost – that’s pretty amazing isn’t it?

It was a full day again today, we did a bit of shopping after the walking tour. Of course I had to buy a couple of things, as I’d sent all those kilos home this morning I had a wee bit of room to cram some more into, hehehe. Sadly I said goodbye to the pocket rockets from Sydney again this arvo, had an early dinner and headed back to the hotel to pack my bags for Athens and the Greek Islands!!


Filed under Greece, Italy, Mid-life travel, Travel

Rome on my 5th day

21st June 2012

via Condotti, Rome

Looking towards the Spanish Steps from via Condotti, Rome

Today was a nothing day really – pretending to be locals, sitting around drinking coffee and eating took up a big chunk of time, but I really did need a day off. It was great to catch up with my mates and we weren’t completely lazy, we meandered  from my patch of turf to the more luxurious shopping areas around the Spanish Steps. Via Condotti was just for window shopping, although interesting to see the big name brands there wasn’t anything I lusted after. Some of the streets around and off via del Corso were little havens of quiet and shade which was a nice change from the hustle and bustle. I saw plenty of unique and interesting pieces there  but kept thinking of the ten or so kilos of presents I already have to post tomorrow so “just looking” was the motto for the day!

Interior Basillica di San Vitale

Interior Basilica di San Vitale

There is a lovely little church just across the road from my hotel that I’ve been meaning to write about so as I’m having a slow news day here we go. It’s called, wait for it because it is a mouthful – Basilica of Sts. Vitalis, Valeris, Gervase and Protase or more commonly Basilica di San Vitale. I have intentionally not visited the Vatican this trip and when I found this little gem I knew I wouldn’t regret that decision. It’s a peaceful little oasis in the middle of Rome, I’d much rather sit and contemplate life for a while here than fight the crowds at the Vatican this time round. Probably next visit I’ll go there and wonder why I didn’t go earlier.

Looking up to street level from  San Vitale church

Looking up to street level from San Vitale church

The little church is about 20 or 30 steps below the current street level with awesome intricately carved wooden doors and has wonderful paintings on the walls and ceiling. Some of the wall frescos seem almost like trompe l’oeil in places. It’s hard to believe it was built in 400 AD – although it’s been restored a number of times, there’s still a whole lot of antiquity in this building. Coincidence is a strange thing isn’t it? This little place was extensively rebuilt in 1475 under the direction of Pope Sixtus IV, the same pope who donated the statues that began the foundation of the Musei Capitolini – a fact I had no idea about until yesterday.

What started out as a relaxing day actually became quite tiring in the end as we sat and talked and laughed for hours after dinner, not that I’m complaining, it’s just what I needed after my little teary last night. So once again it’s off to bed tired but so thankful to be here and happy to have spent the day with friends

Leave a comment

Filed under Italy, Mid-life travel, Travel

Oh oh, meltdown in Rome!!

20th June 2012

Had a bit of a meltdown last night, missing everyone dreadfully and feeling lonely, but this morning I got a fantastic text from saying they’ll be here for a few days, so I’m feeling better now and looking forward to their arrival.

Courtyard of Musei Capitoline, Rome Italy

Courtyard of Musei Capitoline, Rome Italy

Today I visited the Musei Capitolini, what a marvellous place to spend the day – utterly captivating. I was told I should make sure to spend a few hours for a good look around but I was there all day and could have stayed longer. The special exhibition was Lux in Arcana, The Vatican Secret Archives. It doesn’t matter where I turn in Rome I run into all things religious – still with mixed feelings about it too, but in saying that I was utterly engrossed with the history. The beginnings of the  museum reach back to when Pope Sixtus IV donated a number of bronze statues to the Roman people in 1471. Apparently there were many donations to the museum made by popes over the next few centuries but it wasn’t open to the public until the seventeen hundreds.

Roman Forum from the Tabularium, Rome, Italy

Roman Forum from the Tabularium, Rome, Italy

There is just so much to take in when you visit a place like that, the paintings, the statues, the coins, the Epigraphic gallery, it was all incredible. I was blown away when I walked out on the verandah of the Tabularium and realized I was looking over the ruins of the Roman Forum. Those are the times I appreciate being on my own to just stay as long as I want doing nothing but soak it up (and take a hundred photos), but at the same time I wish I had someone to turn to and just know they were thinking the same thing – we’re so fortunate to have this experience. I also loved the courtyard where the pieces of the  giant statue of Constantine are placed along with slabs of reliefs and other statues. There was just something about that courtyard that gave me a good feeling, it might have been the colour of the walls or the way the sun was falling on the statues but it felt peaceful.

I had a lovely lunch at the cafeteria looking over the rooftops of Rome and at the end of the day I wandered around the forum for a little look before heading back to the hotel totally footsore and tired but oh so happy. I still can’t believe this is me having all these great experiences but don’t pinch me, I’m not ready to wake up yet!!


Filed under Italy, Mid-life travel, Travel