Tag Archives: older

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!!

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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

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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!!

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Breaking News – Cherrabah Homestead on the Granite Belt, Qld Australia

8th December 2012

My work social club function was held last weekend and I thought I’d write about that for something different. We are a small group in the social club and we usually go somewhere reasonably close  to home for a weekend away. This year we made our way to Cherrabah Homestead Resort situated about 30km outside Warwick, a small town in southern Queensland Australia. The area is known as the Granite Belt because of the prevalence of large granite outcrops and massive rocks. The resort has operated for many years and has undergone quite a few changes of ownership with varying degrees of success. The current management team have only been in place for about 2 months and are trying hard to turn the downward spiral around. If our visit was anything to go by they’re well on their way.

The sign says "closed for servicing"!!

The sign says “closed for servicing”!!

The resort is part of a 5,000 acre property with a great variety of activities suited for all tastes. Some of the facilities have seen better days, like the four little spa huts dotted around the accommodation blocks. One was completely trashed, another looked like it needed some TLC but the other two seemed fine so hopefully with the new management things like that will gradually be attended to. Even though the accommodation is only about a 3 star experience these days there was nothing actually wrong with it, just a tad tired in some areas. The main “homestead” building has a lovely big open fireplace in the main bar area which looks out over the pool and surrounding mountains. I can just imagine sitting there in winter curled up in one of the oversize armchairs with a good book and glass of red wine – heaven.

Barrel Pony

Barrel Pony

We had a barbecue lunch on Saturday followed by the “Cherrabah Challenge” held in the indoor bull riding arena!! They have often held bull riding competitions there apparently. We didn’t have any bulls, just a couple of barrel ponies we had to lasso and saddle as part of the challenge. We were divided into teams and competed against each other in a round robin type of thing until there was only one team left who then competed against the Cherrabah team.

First leg of the relay had to run the length of the arena, light a fire then run back. Someone who shall remain nameless ran so fast her body went faster than her legs and she landed flat out on the ground. But up I got, ran to the end, lit my fire and ran back again all before the boss’s wife had even lit her fire. Yay me!!!!  The following legs of the relay had to don a Driza-Bone coat and crack a stock whip, lasso the barrel pony, saddle and mount the  barrel pony after which you had to throw your hat in the air and yell “yahoo”. I might add my team was the grand champion team of the day although I should also admit I sat out the last couple of rounds and used a younger substitute. We had an absolutely wonderful afternoon and of course headed back to the bar for a blow-by-blow debrief and a few drinks to quench our hard-earned thirst.

Dinner was a scrumptious traditional roast meal after which we headed down the paddock for a bonfire and marshmallow toasting with a few more drinks thrown in for good measure. By the time we returned to the bar the karaoke machine was well and truly on fire so the rest of the night passed rather happily.

The resort has horses and quad bikes available for guided tours around the property so those of us who didn’t have to rush home for children stayed and went for a couple of hours horse-ride. I haven’t ridden much and not at all for years but it was fantastic. We made fun of each other, developed sore butts, had trouble getting on and off the horses and assorted other laugh worthy woes but it was THE BEST fun I’ve had for months. We rode for an hour each way through unspoiled true Australian bush and were only two and a half hours from Brisbane.

We always have fun on our social club weekends because we just make it fun no matter where we are or what we do but this weekend was exceptional I think in part because Cherrabah is such a wonderful place and the staff are committed to its success.

Bushland Cherrabah Homsestead Resort

Bushland Cherrabah Homsestead Resort

Granite boulders at the rest stop on the horse ride Cherrabah Homestead Resort

Granite boulders at the rest stop on the horse ride Cherrabah Homestead Resort

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