Sunday, October 28, 2007

Saturday Shopping

Emily and I went for an outing on Saturday, taking the kids.
We went to lunch, then to T.J. Maxx.

After that we went to Target, where Ethan and I enjoyed looking at the Halloween decorations.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Emily Moves

So, Emily did not want me to post pictures of their house with all of the moving boxes in it, but think of these as the "before" stage of a gorgeous house!

Check out the view from Emily's balcony!

October Snowfall

It snowed on the 20th and then overnight, and on the 21st I woke up to find a soft blanket of snow everywhere!
It melted off pretty quickly wherever there was sun, but when I came home from church at noon, my house front still looked like this.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Trastevere and Culture Shock

When we first arrived in Trastevere, Dad was Extremely Dubious.
There was graffiti everywhere, even on the door of the apartment complex where we were staying.
I could see it written on his face: he had half a mind to turn back to the rental van and ask to be taken somewhere else with no graffiti.
There IS no such place in Rome.
Graffiti is EVERYWHERE... on the outside of buildings, at least.

Despite my reassurances, it took a couple of days for the graffiti reality to sink in and for Dad to realize that the presence of graffiti did not mean that we were in a Bad Neighborhood.
It was all over the subway, even.

In fact we were in a very pleasant neighborhood, just 100 meters away from the Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere.

This is our street, the Via del Moro, at dusk.
Tons of families out and walking about, window shopping and having a good time.
We went out a couple of evenings ourselves, to listen to street music and get pizza takeout.
It was great!

Italian Food!

Gelato is the best, and gelato at Giolitti's is even better!

We got takeout pizza in Trastevere and brought it back to our apartment.

Most of our meals, though, were home-cooked. We made bread pudding (in the picture) with the great Roman bread we got in the bakery, and lots of pasta dishes: marinara, puttanesca, and alfredo... all with fresh local ingredients. YUM!

Dad really enjoyed shopping at the open-air market. We got some amazing grapes there, and delectable basil, and scrumptious apples!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Eternal City

St. Peter's is always amazing.

And though the crowds were huge, the Raphael rooms and the Sistine chapel were also fabulous. (Mom cried with joy.)

We all liked the Forum and the Arch of Constantine, though Dad heartily disliked the Colosseum on moral grounds.

We didn't have a great deal of time in the Vatican, but Mom and I were thrilled to spend some time in the sculpture gallery. Dad was intrigued by "all those Roman guys."

A City with Views

In Florence, Dad and I hiked up 463 steep stairs to the cupola of the cathedral.

What a view!

The best view of Florence, however, is to be found on the other side of the Arno, at the Piazzale Michelangelo or higher up at San Miniato al Monte.

The streets of Florence are charming, especially when you can get away from the crowds a bit.

Greek countryside

All over the Greek countryside, the roads were dotted with little shrines (that looked a bit like mailboxes) and contained ikons and various votive offerings.
This one is near Delphi.

On our way to Delphi we also saw olive groves and mountains and cotton fields.

This is the valley overlook from Delphi. The countryside here reminded me quite a bit of Little Cottonwood Canyon, though with different vegetation.

Gorgeous Olympia

This was the BEST site in Greece.
It helped that we got there early, before the tourist crowds really began to pile in, but it was huge and it was cool and it was situated in beautiful countryside and it had some really interesting temple ruins.

You can see how big the ruins are- two drums of the (mostly fallen) columns are almost as tall as Mom and Dad!

The Parthenon: Splendid but Crowded

The Acropolis is SOOO crowded, even in the "off season."
And you can't go directly up to the Parthenon, nor even get within spitting distance of it.
The site is full of guards with whistles who blow it shrilly every time a person gets too close or touches the sacred marble.

Getting a picture of oneself or one's group in front of the Parthenon without fifteen thousand other tourists is likewise impossible.
And the interior is ALL cluttered up with scaffolding.

Though the Parthenon was (despite all these handicaps) very impressive, I found I preferred the Erechtheion, also on the Acropolis.

The famous porch of the Maidens was particularly lovely, though again you couldn't get at all close.

Greek Food

A lot of our dinners were takeout from Savvas, a very delicious and cheap restaurant that is a whizz at souvlaki and gyros. We'd take it back to our hotel and picnic there.

We did go out to a couple of restaurants, and the best was at ancient Olympia.
We went to a taverna where we started with eggplant dip and giant beans (sort of like limas in shape but tasting more like great northerns).

Our main dishes were lamb- one with lemon/egg sauce, dill and artichoke hearts, one with a savory sauce and rice, both delicious-- and a mouthwatering vegetarian dish of zucchini, eggplant, onions, tomatoes, potatoes.

Baklava was not as easy to find as you might think, but some stores carried an astonishing array.

Scenes from Athens

In Athens we did laundry in the shadow of the Parthenon...

... visited museums chock full of amazing antique art...

... stayed in spartan quarters...

... shopped for souvenirs on streets full of sea sponges, jewelry, T-shirts, and every kind of tourist gimcrackery you can imagine.