Monday, September 23, 2013


 Ercolano &

Monday, June 24:

Today we got up, finished packing up, and drove away from Rome. Though I am sad to leave, I will have very happy memories of that ultra fabulous place! We drove to the airport and hoped on the plane. It took a little bit longer than normal to go through customs because of the kiddos’ swords that they got from the Coliseum. The Rome airport had to have permission for them to get on board the private aircraft. A direct quote from one of the workers, “I am sure the kids aren’t planning to hijack the plane, but we have to be safe.” I was cracking up, but I guess I get it...those swords are the real deal! 

We headed to Naples on the plane and the trip took about an hour. I was sad when we got off the plane because Jenny had to go back to Rome because the plane wasn’t allowed to stay in Naples. We jumped in another taxi and took a trip to Ercolano. We could see the massive volcano Mt. Vesuvius (the volcano that destroyed what is now Naples) during our ride there. Ercolano is another place very similar to Pompeii that is way less crowded and much smaller. It was crazy how many things remained in this city. First of all, the ocean extended so far into the city back then. True proof that everyday we lose more and more water each day! They also were amazing decorators and had beautiful fountains and fresnos all over their homes. “Fast food” restaurants were on the corners there and there were drinking water fountains in the city. Their bathrooms were in the same rooms as their kitchens (ew, gross!) because it was the easiest for the water flow. Sewers were similar to the sewers we have today. They were just so stinking smart back then in the 10s. After the the volcano erupted, a tsunami hit. We also got to see the open gates which show civilians’ bones who tried but could not away from the aftermath. It was crazy interesting, but sad too that their lives ended so abruptly. It was hot her too. Another thing, the Italians we have met are not very kind or helpful. Since it’s my job to ask for things, they dislike ME! I don’t think so many people I’ve met have ever been so unfriendly. Smiling is NOT contagious for them!

We headed back to the Naples airport after visiting Ercolano. In order to get to Capri, you can take either a ferry (50 minutes), speed boat (30 minutes) or helicopter (15 minutes). We took a helicopter...which was so much fun because I had never been on one before. I’ve really felt like I’m on the Bachelorette without the dating process ;)! The island view was so gorg! We flew around the island and were able to see some awesome views.

When we landed, we took a 20 minute cab ride to the city. Oh Em Gee cab drivers are crazyyyy! I’m not even kidding. They will take someone out in order to get you to your destination! Somehow or another, they never wreck and the roads are so narrow. I also got my own room here, but it was the furthest room away from their room so getting back and forth was sort of a hike! I couldn’t figure out how to turn the lights on (I later learned that you just stick the key in to do this) so the first day/night was spent in the dark haha. I got to do some shopping on the island while the kiddos and Mr. C hung out at the indoor and outdoor pool. I got some cute bracelets and a few clothes and ran back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.

Our dinner was at a touristy place, but it was still fun atmosphere. We ate under a huge lemon tree plantation (and the dessert buffet was incredible!) The evening had cooled off and the night was wonderful ;) My service rocked at the hotel so I got to talk to Mr. Keev forever and that was fun! I was missing him! Then my head hit the pillow and I don’t think I moved until my wake up call. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013:

The second day in Capri we went on a boat ride around the island. The boat we took was awesome and had the tides not been so high, it probably would have been perfect. The water was beautiful shades of blue. The cliffs were incredible. I wish the water had been more calm so we could have gotten to go to the Grottos. Unfortunately, we could only see the entrance to these places. The sun felt so wonderful and I worked on my tan. Soon it was time for lunch. Our boat was too big to get to the restaurant on the island so we had to transfer to a smaller boat. This was difficult with the raging waters and our tour guide fell getting in the boat. He acted like he was ok, but he fell so hard that I am positive he wanted to cry inside. At the restaurant some of the W friends were relaxing on the “beach.” Capri doesn’t actually have beaches but this area is the closest to beach like. There are rocks, and people lay scattered along the rocks. It pretty much looks like a seal habitat but with humans. We sat down for lunch and I’m not sure I mentioned...I AM CLUMSY! I went to pour some water and the glass bottle slipped right out of my hands, shattering on the concrete ground. Party.foul. I was slightly embarrassed, but the waiter came and swept it up.

Blue Grotto...waters were too rough to go inside but there is a beautiful statue of Mary inside at the top! 

After lunch, we decided to hike back to the hotel instead of taking the boat back in raging waters! The hike was long but beautiful (270 steps that Ms. S counted) and we were happy once we made it to the top. The kids stopped for some lemon ice drinks and we stopped at a couple of shops. Back at the hotel we went for a swim and ate some more lunch since we didn’t have much where we originally ate. Then, we also went in to indoor pool, which had metal seat warmers that were awesome. I need some of these in my life. I ran around outside with the kids for about an hour. We played tag and just relaxed near the pool. 

Lunch Location... (no beaches, so people lay on rocks like seals :) ) 
View from the Hike!

We headed to dinner at a place called Aurora and it was fun atmosphere. Ms. S was getting tired at the table so we went out and walked the shops. We had yet to get our magnets so we went into this shop with LOTS of original ceramics inside. I looked at her and asked her to be very careful because we are both “Bulls in a China shop!” Thank goodness, neither of us broke anything! 

At the hotel, I packed up my stuff and got to talk to my parents and sister and niece via facetime. I was so happy to see their faces and hear their voices. I am always a little family sick if I’m not with my family. Tomorrow, we head to our final stop, Paris France! I finally get to see the Eiffel Tower and hopefully put a lock on the bridge! The next three days will be unforgettable, too. Goodbye, Capri...You're quite lovely! 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

When in ROME, ITALYYYYY {{{Part 3 (the end!)}}}

Sunday, June 23:

Hi All! I have to say, I am sad to be writing about Rome for the last night! I don’t ever want to leave! Today we had such a fun day. We started with a yummy room service breakfast and then took off for...the Coliseum. The Romans started building the Coliseum in 70AD (something) and did not finish until 81AD. Is that not unfathomable!? I have learned these last few days that the Romans were very, very smart and used many of the same things back then that we still use today! There stadium also used to be covered in marble that the Catholic church cut out of the building to preserve. That’s why there are so many huge holes throughout the entire building. I am sure that the church had a specific and logical reason (money most likely) for taking it off, but man oh man I would have loved to have seen the Coliseum in it’s grandeur! After taking a kagillion pictures, we stopped at a little boutique. I picked up an SPQR magnet. SPQR stood for many different things in Rome. Mainly, it stood for belonging. The Roman government used it to show what things belonged to it or soldiers and gladiators had their arms and helmets adorned with it to show they were a part of the city. Pretty cool huh?!   

We were starving when we left the Coliseum so off to lunch we went. We sat down at a local pizza place that we very busy. After playing musical chairs from being so hot outside, we finally decided on a space in an air conditioned room. It was much more bearable and of course, the pizza was delectable!!! Then OF COURSE we headed for Gelato. I was so full from the pizza that I didn’t get any, but I wished I had. All the dessert eaters said it was the best gelato yet...I missed out! Ms. S had it all over her cute little face, as she always does, but it was such dark chocolate that she looked Gothic! It was adorable! We went back to the hotel to swim in the pool for a bit.After chatting it up in the pool, we got ready for the highlight of the kiddos day, Gladiator Training! 

We drove about forty five minutes from the city and visited a “Gladiator Museum.” The Gladiator Lady told us all kinds of random information about Roman soldiers. For example, when fighting the Barbarians, the soldiers lined up in 5 lines and 5 groups. Each row would fight for three minutes until they heard the whistle blow and the second line would come forward and so on. The fifth row of soldiers were the veteran soldiers and by that time, were fighting Barbarians who have been fighting for 12-13 minutes. These veterans finished the fights and that’s why the Romans were such a successful (and kind of scary army). We also learned why they wore about five slivers of metal pieces hanging from their they moved together, towards their targets, the sound of these pieces clanking together was a tactic to play mind tricks with enemies! What an amazing idea! 

We heard some more random Gladiator information, too. Did you know that Gladiators were soldiers that had survived the war? Those who chose to be Gladiators were paid, popular and FAKE FIGHTERS! Just like the WWFs...they were there to put on a show! The information was so fun and then it was time for Ms. S and Mr. E to get their Gladiator lessons. There were about 10 people in the class. The instructor showed the kids how to use their weapons...Right throat swing, left leg swing, left neck swing, and jab towards stomach. They practiced this like crazy and then practiced with a partner. At the end, they all got to fight each other. Mr. E enjoyed it, but he liked the swords the best compared to fighting. Ms. S was into the fighting aspect. The Gladiator Lady told Ms. S she had the spirit of a warrior just after an hour with her! Oh boy, is that true, and it made me smile like a proud nanny! Gladiator Lady also gave the kids certificates of their training and they each got Gladiator names. Mr. E is ..... and Ms. S is....... The training ended and we headed back to the Coliseum to get some swords for the kiddos. Yes, real swords. A little scary to be in their possession, but also pretty darn cool too! I bought so many rosaries for so many special people in my life! I can’t wait to give them a rosary from Rome (hope it was made here and not in China, unlike my Pope bobble head!) I think I bought 20, for real! Most are blessed at different times throughout the day. What a special thing! I just love it here.

We chilled for a bit in the hotel and then went to dinner at a place called PierLuigi. It was delicious and the atmosphere was awesome. PLUS they had a strong wireless signal so I could consistently text Mr. Keev. It was a happy spot for sure! When were returned I packed all the kiddos Capri things in a separate bag from our big suitcases. We are taking a helicopter there and don’t have room for much. Did you read that...a helicopter! Can’t wait to knock another cool thing off of my bucket list! I also got to chat with Mr. Keev for like two minutes before he enjoyed his day! (I’m off to bed and he’s starting his afternoon!) So weird right?! I am not packed and ready for whatever the next few days hold. Many people were in the city today. The Pope gave a special blessing at noon and the city was FULL of people. Also, I saw about 10 different couples getting married. Sunday is not a typical marriage day where I come from. They came to the Coliseum and in the city to take lots of pictures! How incredible, married in Rome! I’d do that too if only ALL of my friends and family could be there! Since tonight is Sunday, it’s the most quiet Rome has been. I can still hear birds, a few people laughing, music, and church towers ringing, but it’s much more quiet than the other two nights. The breeze is PERFECT! I’m going to close my eyes and remember this moment forever! One thing is for sure, I am so proud to be a Catholic! I am so thankful to get to step foot onto such holy grounds and to finally see what I heard about for so many years in Catholic School and history class (If only I had retained it all!) And another grandparents would have just loved visiting here. I can thank them for my strong faith foundation that they passed to my parents, down to me, and what I will pass down to my children. I know that they are looking down on me have gotten to see me enjoy this special moment of my trip and my life. More to come tomorrow....

Sunday, September 15, 2013

When in ROME ITALYYYY, {{Part 2}}

I had read on the itinerary and remember from others speaking in the past about visiting that it is pivotal to cover yourself up in the Vatican. However, with our changes in destinations, so have come changes in the itinerary. I was not for sure where we were going during the day. As soon as we got downstairs, our guide let us know that we would need to be covered for the Vatican Museums in order to see the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. So we picked out some scarves (Jenny got a surong) and were prepared to be covered for the tour. We would have worn clothes that covered us but it was HOT! I don’t think I’ve said that enough!

If you did not already know, Vatican is the smallest country in the world! The capital is Vatican City and it is where the Pope lives. This is one of the largest tourist spots in the world. We drove out of Italy and into the Vatican. I saw the wall that divided the city from Italy. I overflowing with anticipation. I mean like hard to keep it together, but I did ;). We hoped out of the van and suited up to be respectful upon entering the sacred buildings. Before I knew it, “right there where we stood....Was HOLY GROUND” (thank you Taylor Swift!!!) 

 First we saw many beautiful works of art, sculptures missing body parts (hehe), ancient paintings, etc. 

Then, we got to enter a private stairwell! It overlooks the entire city of Rome. WOW! What a view. I just couldn’t believe it. 

Next, we walked through the channels that connect to the Sistine Chapel. I am shocked at how talented the artists were in that time. The ceilings are full of 3D artwork that should have been impossible for people to design. And again, covered in gold like at St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice. 

We saw one more special room which showed Christian Martyrs and their stories where the previous Pope’s visited to pray. I saw past a tree and through the window where Pope Benedict still resides after retiring from being the Pope. All along, Still.anticipating.the.Sistine.Chapel. I must add, the kiddos were getting very cranky and tired at this time because there were a bagillion people around. We were INSANELY LUCKY to get to cut lines and see things quickly (too quickly for me, but enough time for everyone else to take it all in!) And then it was time to go to the Sistine Chapel.

A Stairway to the Sistine Chapel...

As we stepped into the building, the guards were very particular about making sure outfits were respectful. Most people were trying to be quiet, but many kept trying to shush people in the crowd. Photography is not allowed in this room in order to keep it’s ambiance. It is literally astonishing! Michelangelo’s depiction of leaving earth and entering heaven has to be the way so many have imagined, but never been able to document. It took him for years to paint the ceiling. I literally was so mesmerized by the sight of it all. I didn’t think that I would cry, but felt overcome with emotion. What a rich history this place holds. So many of the Popes have been chosen in this room. Hours upon days spent picking the best choice to be the head of the Catholic church! The guide asked us to look at the picture that we saw above us and to close our eyes and to try to remember the ceiling as we had seen it today. At that time, I started to cry and had to pull it together. I strongly felt God’s presence! When we left I promised myself that I will return. I just have to get back there again and take Keevibear!
Upon leaving, we got to stand in front of the deck where the Pope waves after being elected. The space, where black or white smoke emits from the top to show that no Pope has been chosen or that yes, a Pope has been chosen! I can remember the pictures of all of the people standing here when Pope Francis was elected in March of this year! Oh the madness that would have come with being here at that time! I did not want to leave and was super sad when we hoped over the road from the Vatican to Italy. We did not get to do our private tour of St. Peter’s Basilica because the kids were too tired...womp womp...but beggers can’t be choosers! I WILL be back (insert Terminator voice now!)

 Chairs for a blessing that would be held the next day (Sunday!) 

 When someone stands in the center of the circle below, it creates and optical illusion of the building. 
You can not see the 2nd row of columns! 

 The road that separates Vatican City from Italy! 
Ms. S about to cross & Jenny is in two places at once!
Once we were “back in Italy” there was a little stand with Vatican memorabilia! I had to get Mr. Keev a Pope bobble head! Jenny said, “What in the heck are you going to do with that thing?” I said, “I can’t wait to put that sucker in our apartment!” We left and headed back to the hotel. The kids went for a swim in this awesome spa pool that is pretty much just for adults, but why not let the kids enjoy it too? We were there for over an hour, came back to play lots of DOTS (it’s a pretty sweet app if you haven’t played!) and then went to dinner. Mr. C’s a businessman and so we got to have dinner with the owner of a professional football teams' family. In the middle of the main street, right next to where we enjoyed dinner outside was a race sponsored by New Balance. They took off at 10:00 and when we had finished dinner, Little Ms. S and I went to wait for the runners. We knew the male winner would come in around the 30 minute marker (10 kilometers or 6.2 miles!) The winner finished at 33.23 those are 5.30 minute miles! What a rockstar! How much fun to run through the city of Rome at night!!! If I’d have known, I’d have arranged to do it myself. When the winner crossed the finish line, Ms. S was ready to hit the hotel room because she was exhausted! From the room, we could see the runners outside the back window headed downhill. It was awesome! The road back to the hotel was brick road and it was hilly! Not flat!!! Have I told you I’m clumsy? I about bit the dust but caught myself on a wall. Ms. S busted out laughing, but added that catching myself was very graceful!  

As I laid with Ms. S, calming down for the night, she asked me all about my best friends and who would have what roles in my wedding one day. She reminded me we’d all be a few years older when I got married...I giggled and she said, “You know, so you’ll be ready then!” It was pretty special and the best way to end a remarkable day! Kids know the most there is about life, you know!   
I have to add that I am sitting on the rooftop/deck again! Music is booming from the concert series “Rockin’ Roma” that must go on each night. This place really is a happening city!!! Even if I wanted to go to bed, the music is blaring so loudly that I couldn’t. Instead, I’ll continue to soak in the wonderfulness that is my life right now!Jenny is coming with us again tomorrow and we will see the Coliseum and more. I can’t believe it is already our last day here. I don’t think anything can top this part of the trip... but we shall see!