Posts Tagged ‘barcelona’

Pictures From Colombia Part II

June 5th, 2011

Part two of some Colombia pictures. Click on a thumbnail to scroll through.

Colombia 2011

June 5th, 2011

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a sentimental person, or if it’s cause I watched the Real World finale today (yes, I watch that crap), or if it’s cause I have ovaries, but today I am missing Colombia. It’s the morning after I returned home {at the time of writing} and, yes, I have the post vacation blues. I get this often when I come back from a trip as I remember the fun times, the people I was with, and all of the little minute memories that my detailed brain recalls.

I was in Colombia for a week. I traveled down there with Joey and we were joined from the US by Scott, Christina, Alejandro and Amalia. And once down there, we were surrounded by Juan and Lala’s friends and family. Tons of them. All of them special.

The driving was crazy, as a two way street would quickly turn into a one way street, as cars would decide when and what they wanted to do. Two lane streets, would quickly become 4 lane streets, and cars would be swerving to avoid other cars and potholes.

Apparently I am much more fluent in Spanish when I have been drinking. Good to know.

I ate odd food such as pig intestines, pork belly, and crazy looking fruits. I was also sick to my stomach for a few days. I am not saying those last two sentences are related, because I did love the food.

Nearly everyone has a maid. It was awesome to come down the stairs and be offered breakfast, and to go back up the stairs and our beds were made, sheets were changed, and everything tidy and in the closets. I could get use to that sort of lifestyle.

I will take with me a lot of memories from this trip. But the most memorable will be all of the great people I was able to see, hang out with, visit with, catch up with, spend time with and especially laugh with. Laughter was omnipresent.

I have had a Colombian flag hanging in my apartment for the last few years. It always held meaning for me, in that it reminded me of my friendship with Juan. But now it holds more meaning, as my heart has further attached itself to the beautiful country it represents

Some recollections… {editor’s note: I probably should have broken this up into individual posts, but when I started, I didn’t think I was going to do nearly a day to day journal. Its even TLDR for me.}

Arrival

According to Joey, Supermodels work in customs in Bogota. Unfortunately for me, I got the guy that didn’t understand English. Eventually after calling his coworker over, he figured out that I was there for pleasure, and not business. Upon exiting the airport, there were droves of people, crowding, and holding signs and shouting for their loved ones arrivals. I felt like I was on the red carpet, as they were crowding the barrier. Our plane had arrived early, but fortunately we saw Juan nearly immediately.

Bogota Beer Company (Wednesday May 25, 2011)

Bogota Beer CompanyWe left the airport in Mauro’s car, waded thru traffic, picked up Alejandro and walked to the Bogota Beer Company. It was odd entering the bar, having to raise our arms, and be metal wanded. Though, I felt safer because they did. We enjoyed some really delicious appetizers and beer and it was a good welcome to South America.

Gaira Café (Thursday May 26, 2011)

Grammy winner Carlos Vives owns a restaurant, that is located within his mother’s old house. It is a place of live music, and good food and we had reservations. Our driver was late, and therefore we were late to the restaurant. Upon calling the restaurant, they said that if we were there one minute past our reservation, then they would give our table away. We pulled up 15 minutes late, and there was a crowd outside trying to get in. Fortunately we were still able to get in.

FritangaOnce in we ordered a crazy platter of appetizer type samplers (fritanga), and a few bottles of rum. The restaurant was in eating mode. But an hour later, it became theater mode as the workers acted out some sort of story. Shortly after it became concert mode, as a band was on stage playing live music. Shortly after that, it became dance hall, as more musicians were on stage, and everyone was dancing on and around the tables.

I tried all of the different food items, the chicharron, the empanadas, the chunchullo, and everything else on the fritanga platter. Apparently I got liquored up (I do like rum), and didn’t want to leave when it was time to leave. I kept asking for “10 more minutes.” Which became a running joke for the trip as people would not stop giving me crap about it. Of course, I merely laughed it off.

Museums (Friday May 27, 2011)

ArtifactWe visited two museums as well as drove around the city. Driving here is crazy, as I already mentioned. We went to the museum of gold and the Fernando Botero museum. The gold museum was basically a history of Colombia, with all of its old artifacts and descriptions.

The Botero museum holds a collection of Botero’s own paintings, as well as some of his private collection of pieces that included Monet and Picasso. Botero had a unique style that looked almost cartoon like. Most characters were quite large, quite nude, and often there was either a reflection or a little detail poking its way into the background.

LechonaAfter the museums, we had a delicious lunch at Habemus Papa. Ceviche, Empanaditas del pacifico, wine, and with a main dish of lechona.

A quick stroll down the street led us to Conosur, a cone eatery. Everything is served in cones, from ice cream, to crab.

And an odd story to cap this day. I had some night terrors, which in-turn, terrorized Joey who was in the same room. In my sleep, apparently I was shouting “Help Me, Get Away, Help me.” A little bit later, I thought I saw something in the room (I was half asleep), and I started panicking, scrambling, and shouting “Help Me!” again. This time, I shook Joey’s leg and had him turn on a light. It was really odd. I used a night light the rest of the night, cause I’m a little boy.

Wedding (Saturday May 28, 2011)

MatrimonioI expected an evening that ran as late as 4, 5 or even 6am. So I was surprised that this party concluded, and I was back home by 11pm. Although I was exhausted like it was 6am.

We were scheduled to leave with the bride from the house around 10am, so we couldn’t be late. She looked stunning as she came down the stairs in her dress. She rolled to the wedding in style, in an old Bentley. All of the American gringos rode in a separate car, through the rain, and through traffic for an hour and forty-five minutes. Upon arrival to the club, the church was packed, and it was standing room only outside under a tarp. The wedding started shortly thereafter.

After the wedding, the reception was just down the sidewalk at the main building of the club. There were two floors. When you walked in the top floor, everyone was looking over the balcony. You’d have figured that below were the bride and groom. But nope, it was the location of the television screen showing the Barcelona vs. Manchester United Champions League final game (Barca won 3-1).

cupcakeThe reception was a lot of fun. There was a mariacchi band that Juan had surprised Lala with, and there were multiple other bands. All sorts of latin music that was fun to try and dance to. At one time I had to try to resort to my small swing dancing knowledge to try and blend in. Pero, soy torpe. Good food, fun fellowship, and of course the flowing drinks – as they would come around with glasses of scotch and vodka all night.

Juan kept buying extra hour upon extra hour of the band, eventually the party was over. There were promises of an after after after party, but they didn’t occur for us.

I received a ride home from Juan Sr. (Juan’s dad), along with Juan’s step-mom, and his uncle. She made me laugh the whole way home.

Andrés Carne de Res (Sunday May 29, 2011)

No GunsWe headed out around 1pm for a lunch at Andrés Carne de Res. This place is 4? stories of chaos and sensory overload. But worth every ounce of it. Wow! Sadly, I was feeling a little sick from the night before, and couldn’t handle much of the delicious food. However, that did not stop me from trying it.

The restaurant is divided into multiple levels, with names like heaven, purgatory, earth and hell. There is even a children’s romper room area. Think TGIF’s but to the 100th degree. Clowns and musicians and many waiters mull around. If an American restaurant added these devious clowns (think cirque style, not balloon animal style), then clowns could make a comeback.

Arepa De ChocoloI had my new favorite Colombian dish here: Arepas de Chocolo. It was a crepe/pancake like texture filled with gooey yummy cheese. What is not to like? We also tried fried plantain with cheese (almost like a pizza), great steaks, lulo with spearmint, and an agua aromatica – a bowl of fruit, mint and hot water that acts like a fruit infused tea.

Later that night, we also ordered some pizza. Odd I know, but it was nice to try a different countries version of the Italian/American favorite.

Btw, everything delivers, not just pizza, in Bogota. Kinda like New York. At one time we ordered 3 cases of beer and had that delivered.

Nada (Monday May 30, 2011)

Coffee BagsWe did practically zero, zilch… Juan had some school work to get done, and since we didn’t feel really safe to just go wandering on our own, we stayed around the house most of the day. After feeling nauseous the day before, I didn’t entirely mind. We did make one trek out, about a block away to a mercado/flea market type place. Bought some souvenir gifts and returned home. At night, Juan went out to a birthday sushi dinner for his sister-in-law, and since I was still feeling a little bit sick, Joey and I stayed home. Juan’s sister, Ana, came over to hang out.

Oh, we also went down the street to the grocery store, and loaded up on coffee bags to bring home.When the attendant asked if we needed help out, I don’t think he expected to push our grocery cart up 6 blocks of cobblestone.

Send Off Day, Final Encounters (Tuesday May 31, 2011)

Colombian BreakfastIt was a day of eating, and having final reunions. We started with breakfast at Juan’s mother and sister’s house. Fresh arepa, pineapple, hot chocolate, empanadas, and calentao. Im a mother lover. I love Juan’s mother’s and they seem to love me too. They are sweet, energetic, funny, and always make me laugh and smile. This breakfast was no different. And in regards to energy, Ana ranks up there as well. She is quick witted, and opinionated (I mean this in a positive way). She likes to challenge, she likes to debate, she likes to engage.

Sadly, I could only eat about half of my food, as I was still feeling queasy. They had me take a pill for “tummy pain” this morning and the last night. I’m not sure if that is helping or making things worse. It is a shame to have so many new food options to try, yet feeling unsure about how my body will react.

We had to leave breakfast after a short while, because we had a lunch engagement. Today is going to be a meal to meal schedule.

Juan Valdez CafeAfter a brief stop at a Juan Valdez cafe, we made our way to Juan Sr. and Martica’s house. However, the ruler of the house is their yellow lab, Nala. We hung out there for about an hour, and then made our way to lunch with a few more of Juan’s friends. Still feeling sick and queasy, I had a bowl of chicken broth. Boring I know. But there were big dinner plans that I needed to get right for.

In between lunch and dinner, Joey, Pablo, Angela, Lala and I walked up the street where surprisingly, there was a mall. If we had known, on our nada day, we’d probably have come up here. We bought a host gift, and the rest of them had an ice cream. Pablo was calling his doctor friends, and then running down the escalator. He came back with yet another drug for me to try for my stomach. I took the pill graciously. When I got back home, I looked up the drug, saw it wasn’t approved in the US, and saw that a side effects were the squirts. Uh oh, this might be a long night (since I don’t want you thinking of me, and that, i’ll let you know, it didn’t have that effect on me).

We headed to dinner where we were joined by Esteban, Marcella, Pablo, Angela, Diego, Mauro, Jenny, Juliana and Lala’s parents. El Filetto was the restaurant, and omg, nom nom nom. Still struggling with my stomach, I couldn’t eat a ton. But the wine and the appetizers were delicious. I ordered Juan’s favorite cut of steak – Punta de anca. Wow. It was so good, juicy, tasty. I was sad to have to give half of it away, but was glad that such a great piece of meat did not get wasted.

We went back home where we were joined by Lala’s sister and cousin, who came by to say goodbye to us. We have an early morning coming (4am!!!). I was sad to be leaving, and was thinking I might just stay awake all night. But instead I turned in around midnight.

Leave (Wednesday June 1, 2011)

Arose at 3:45 am, and made our way to the airport. Because Juan was bringing 5 bags, we needed two vehicles to take the 4 of us to the airport. Juan Sr. drove one car, and Lala’s parents were in the other.

Crepes & WafflesAirport checking was both confusing and easy. We now had some time before our flight, and before we went thru security, so we had breakfast with Lala’s parents at the airport Crepes & Waffles. After breakfast, we made our way thru security, the final duty-free shops, and to our gates. Ciao Colombia, I came away more impressed than I expected.

At our layover in Houston, Joey and I went into the Continental President’s club. There was only snack food, and Skinny J wanted a “meal” so we were about to leave. But decided to have one beer first. When we were told the beer was free, our 5 minutes became 90 and we enjoyed a few drinks.

Food and People

I think, when recollecting this trip, what I will remember most is the crazy and tasty food, and the crazy and amazing people. There is a lot of love in this country, and lot of beauty, and a lot of heart. Colombians have a lot of pride in their country, and as it continues to transition itself, it is this pride that shines through. When I first booked this trip, I thought this might be my only trip ever to Colombia. But after enjoying the people, places, sights, and fun, I am looking forward to a return visit.

Tourists In Ecstasy

May 27th, 2009

May 27

When we awoke this morning for our last full day here, we headed over to meet up with JeanE and Kathie.  Their place is really cool one bedroom, living room, mini kitchen studio-like place right near the Campo di Fiori.  This square in the morning hours, hosts a great swap meet meets farmers market.  It is filled with fresh vegetables, flowers, pastas, spices and of course the soccer shirts and scarves – which have turned into the most popular souvenir to buy in our group.

While my dad was away, my mother sneakily bought a tool that would turn carrots into curly-q designs.  She swore she would use it (**its been almost a year now and she has used it once?).

At 11 am we all hopped on a double decker bus tour again.  We have stops today that we want to hop on and hop off and see more of the city.  It is fun being all together.  Our first stop that we exit on is at Piazza del Popolo.  The old entrance into Rome held a couple of twin churches in which one of them was home to a Carvaggio painting that I love and wanted to share with everyone.  Spoiler alert:  this square and these churches play a role in Dan Brown’s movie and book, Angels and Demons.

In one corner of the church Cerasi Chapel of Santa Maria del Popolo is the pice called The Crucifixion of St. Peter. Across the chapel is a second Caravaggio work depicting  The Conversion of Saint Paul on the Road to Damascus.  I love the way that Caravaggio paints and utilizes light in his works.

From that church we made our way down the street till we reached the Spanish Steps.  Let the crazy begin.  It is appropriate that all the Barcelona futbol fans would meet up at these steps for tonight’s game.  Everyone is in red and blue singing and dancing.  It is quite a scene, and JeanE is taking it all in stride.  If she could, she would change her citizenship and become a naturalized Catalonian.  She is taking pictures with fans, borrowing clothes from fans, and just enjoying the great spirits.

We continued walking down the streets, till we reached the Trevi Fountain.  If the Spanish Steps was the meeting place, this place was the party.  Fan upon fan chanting and singing and dancing.  What an experience.  I am so happy that I am here during this time.  Although extremely crowded, I can’t get enough of the revelry.  I have a little video, however do note that video and pictures only capture about 1/10th of a story.  And indeed, my video is not as loud or as chant full as the experience was.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcKXQDVDEP8

We found a bus stop and waited for the next bus.  We were going to take it near Termini and then stop for lunch.  Although the bus stop says that our tour bus comes every 10 minutes, we wait here for about 40 minutes.  We even have Lisa call the number on the board.  The bus arrives and eventually we find our way to a bad and crowded cafe for lunch.

This big game is in town, and the town –without warning– decides that no alcohol will be sold today anywhere.  So there will be no wine with lunch today.  This is probably a good thing.  But imagine the Super Bowl, or a tailgate party, at the last minute decided that no alcohol could be bought.

After our lunch, we walked over to Santa Maria della Vittoria, so that we could see St. Teresa in Ecstasy, a fascinating piece of art by Bernini.  The church was still closed and would be opening soon.  So while a few of us sat on the steps and rested, the others went on a gelato run.  Thirty minutes later we were all swooning.  This marvelous sculpture represents Teresa in ecstasy after she was pierced by an angel with an arrow of God.  It is a work of genius and is considered one of the masterpieces of the High Roman Baroque.  Debbie and JeanE playfully demonstrated their own versions of ecstasy in a really fun moment for me on the trip.  It will always be one of my favorite memories of the trip.  The best part about visiting art, museums, and churches of old, is when you can find a way to interact with it and make it more meaningful.  I am so grateful for the people on this trip, in the way they want to make, what some may consider boring museum outings, into a fun laughing and most importantly meaningful experience.  Whether it is pretending to be in ecstasy, making jokes about fig leaves on statues, or playfully imitating statues (see Lisa boxing in previous snide), I am blessed by the spirits of each person on this trip.

We got on the bus again and headed towards the Colosseum.  We mainly stayed on the bus for this stop, as I have found the inside of this place to not be worth the wait or the money.  However at this place, they were having a festival for tonights game.  So a stop or two later, Dad, me and Lisa got off the bus and started walking back to see what they had going on.  I did get about 10 feet away from the Champions League trophy that they had under case and guard.  The festival was not as cool as I had hoped, but it was really fun to be there.

We started heading home, and on the way, checked the Internet one last time for tickets.  We wrote down some numbers and made some phone calls.

We met up with Debbie, Kathie and JeanE at their place.  It was time to decide.  We had found some tickets, but they were going to be expensive and the game started really soon.

After way too much debate, we decided to go for it.  When else would I have this amazing chance?  Little did we know the headache that would then occur.

We borrowed my parents Italian cell phone, and made some calls.  The tickets were going to come to our place, so we had to start running.  Lisa and I took off running to our place.  All the while waiting for a phone call confirmation from India that the tickets were ours, and they were on their way.

Then the buyer needed a copy of our passports.  It is 7pm at night, the game starts shortly, how would we accomplish this?  We fortunately found a Mail Boxes ETC and got a copy and faxed it off.  But now our cell phone died.  We tried to find a pay phone to make a call.  We found one, and then phones were going in and out.  They had already taken our money and the tickets were ours, but now we had to meet them at the game, find the gate, and get through traffic to get there in time, all without a cell phone that worked.

Spending that much money to only get there by halftime, and maybe not at all was not worth it.  So we cancelled the order at the very last minute.  We were so close.  If only I was more decisive earlier in the week, and bought some then.

Our View For The Game, Outside In Campo Di Fiori

We walked dejected back to my parents and Kathie and JeanE.  We decide to watch this great game at the bar–the Drunken Ship–near their place.  When we arrived there,  the place was packed, so we stood outside a little window, and watched the game on the TV on the far wall.

What a thrilling game.  At one point, we turned around and people stretched about 50 yards back.  So exciting, though, so tiring standing there holding our spots.  At halftime, we figured we had enjoyed the spirit, and decided to go back and watch the 2nd half on their little tv.  The best club team in the world this year, won the game deservedly.  Barcelona swept all the trophies and played like magnificent champs.

httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFZfSFtT0YY

We walked home, through Piazza Navona one last time, and packed up.  Tomorrow morning will be sad.  I hate when great trips end.

The Lonely Roman Soldier

The Worst Part Of Being A Tourist

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Even My Sweat Is Sweating

May 25th, 2009

May 25

ronaldhinohat_smWe decided to take the double decker bus tour today since we were denied that yesterday.  Once again it is a really hot day.  We sat on the top deck so that we could enjoy the breeze.  However, each stop was rather long, and everytime we stopped we absolutely were baking.

Part way through, to get out of the sun, we went down to the lower level thinking it would be cooler there from the air conditioning and we wouldn’t continue to bake.  We soon found out that there was no air conditioning downstairs and it was even hotter.

I feel like even my sweat is sweating.

When we reached the Termini Station stop, there was a 15 minute turnaround before the next bus was scheduled to leave, so Lisa quickly went over to the souvenir vendor and bought whatever hat they had to sell.  She ended up with a cowboy hat that said “Ronaldinho” on it.

pineapple_smWe now went back upstairs and rode the bus till we reached our beginning stop, near Piazza Navona.  It was lunch time so we decided to go have lunch near Campo De Fiori so that we could familiarize ourselves with the area that JeanE and Kathie were going to stay when they arrived, as well as scout out their apartment location so that we knew where we were going to meet them later that evening.

We ate at this little resteraunt where the owner/waiter kept teasing Lisa because she would have one bite of each item she ordered.  Our meal was finished with a pineapple cut in half-one half for each of us.  It was very juicy.

We started to walk back to our place, but stopped by the internet cafe so that we could look for soccer tickets.  Its a pipe dream, but one worth exploring.  Not often in life will I find myself in the european city where a “super bowl” is going on between 2 of the best teams in the world, with 2 of the best players in the world.  Both Barcelona and Manchester United had won their respective leagues this season, and with Messi and Ronaldo playing, it was sure to be an entertaining game.

We emailed a few different sellers and would check back later.  It was a few hours now till we were to meet up with my parents.  So we decided it was time to hit the Thai Massage again.

After yesterday’s massage, we had the clever idea that we could utilize the massage for a clean refreshing shower.  Our shower and bathroom at our place is rather disgusting and a massage followed by a private shower seemed like the perfect recipe for comfort in this hot and mucky town.  So we first went back to our apartment and grabbed a change of clothing and toiletries, and then walked back to the massage place.

They were much more crowded today, but were able to fit us in.  Lisa opted for the foot massage today, and I went with the oil massage, since I knew that one automatically came with a shower.  Lisa was given the sweet cotton outfit that I described yesterday, and I was given, um, this strange cotton/plastic underwear thing.

thaiunderwear2_smIt was tiny and there was a bigger side and a smaller side.  I wasn’t sure which side to put in the front.  The smaller side didn’t really cover much, so I went big in the front, which left it tiny and crammed in the back.  It was a nice massage, but I think if I do it again, I will go back to the traditional thai massage.  The traditional felt much more beneficial to my body with muscles being stretched and kinks worked out.  The oil massage felt too meager.  However, the nice comfortable hot shower afterwards felt fantastic.

Our massage ran a little long, and we were 30 minutes late in meeting my parents.  We had setup a meeting time at 6 at their apartment, and that if they were not there by 7 we’d meet them at Piazza Navona at 8.  We were thirty minutes late now so I wondered if they would still be there waiting, or would have moved on to the backup meeting point.

We got there, and my dad was waiting, for 30 minutes, outside their place for us.  Their place was really nice, especially considering that we booked this only a few days earlier.

fountainfishes_smWe grabbed their bags, and took the 4 of them back to our apartment to show them, and drop off the bags.  We then went into Piazza Navona and found a resteraunt there and enjoyed a nice meal and some wine together.  It was a great and fun reunion.

We meandered around the square for what seemed like hours, looking at Bernini’s great fountain, and all of the artists selling their stuff and doing chariactures of people.  We walked Kathie and JeanE back home, and then made our own way to bed, not without one more shower to wash all the sweat off.

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Jack Talk Thai Real Good

May 24th, 2009

May 24

bridge of angelsWe have been moving so fast, seeing so much, tiring ourselves out for almost 2 weeks now that I think the lack of sleep is catching up to us.  We rested late, but kept worrying if we were gonna over sleep the pope.  It is Sunday and I want to see the Pope give his blessing at noon from the Vatican.  I figure, I am in Rome, its a Sunday, there aren’t too many of these opportunities in life.

It was super hot again today.  We had a 20 minute walk to St. Peter’s Cathederal.  It was actually really pretty weather and we took many pictures along the way, along the Tiber River.  I love the Bridge of Angels and the way Bernini depicted them.  Its a beautiful walk.

We arrived at the cathederal around 11:30 and there was a LONG line of people wrapping around the square to get in for the Sunday Mass.  We huddled under the symmetric collonade so that we could be in the shade.  Noon arrived, and we went out into the square so that we could peer up to the window where he makes his blessing.

httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46az6tXTcg0

However, today he was out of town, and was giving his blessing via CTV, the pope television video boards that now are in strategic locations around the square.  We watch for about 20 minutes and then decide its time to get out of the scorching heat and go eat some lunch.

We walked thru Vatican city and found our way to an italian restraunt-go figure.  A pizza, ravioli and frizzante lunch hit the spot.  The air-conditioning felt good.  At one moment during lunch, a family came in with about 10 people, including what must have been their priest.  It was cute to see them taking their priest to lunch.  I felt badly that he had to wear all black in this heat.

We walked back towards our neck of town, and stopped at the internet cafe.  I was feeling really grossed out about our apartment, and really worried about it serving the needs of my parents when they arrived.  So we spent about 90 minutes searching the internet for an alternative place to stay.  JeanE and Kathie are coming to town and they reserved a place so they could be nearby us.  We couldn’t book a place now the other side of town.  But did I feel comfortable staying in our place one more night?  Did I feel comfortable hosting my parents with that disgusting bathroom?  We researched many different possibilities.  We looked into renting a room(s) at a hotel that was nearby, and renting rooms for all, somewhere else.  But there was barely any vacancy anywhere.

champheini_smWe are in Rome the week of a large, Super Bowl type event.  It is the UEFA Champions League Finale on the 27th and rooms are all booked as people have come to Rome to cheer on either Barcelona or Manchester United.

When it came down to it, I decided that we were “stuck” in our situation and we just needed to grit our teeth and get thru it.

We left the internet cafe and started walking up the street, when across the street we saw a storefront window that read “Traditional Thai Massage.”  We decided to give it a shot.  I have a hard time turning down any massage as I find them very beneficial and relaxing.

So we walked in, and there is a crew of Thai women sitting around.  We try to talk to them in English, but their language is Italian and Thai.  We finally get them to realize that we want a massage, we don’t have an appointment and we are wondering if there is availability.

There were four types of massage on the menu:  Traditional, Oil, Foot, and Cellulite.  I decided to go for the Traditional–which I was told was stronger, and Lisa ordered the Oil massage–which we were told is more relaxing.

We were led back to our rooms, and the rooms had showers in them.  The lady left these weird clothing items on the bed and then left.  I sat there wondering, “Am I supposed to take a shower first?,”

I decided to just put on the clothing they left out.  It was these thin, light,  white cotton shirt and short combo.  It was kind of like a mini scrubs, but a much thinner, more see-thru (without being see-thru) version.  It was very comfortable.  I lied down on the bed, unsure if I had done the right thing by not showering, if I was supposed to lie down yet and all other questions that occur when its your first time visiting a new masseuse.

The traditional Thai Massage was an interesting massage.  It was less of a massage, and more of a stretching, contortion sort of exercise.  The lady would bend me and pull me in random directions.  At one time, she was up on the table with me, locking my legs in a weird position with her hands arms and her own leg, and then using one of her feet to push against my butt to pull and stretch my legs.  As odd as it all was, I found it very beneficial.  I felt my muscles stretched, my circulation improved and much more limber.  Since they had not used any oil on me, and was merely yoga type exercises, the shower must have just been for show, or for the other types.  Lisa wrote about it as well.

We then went and tried the hop-on hop-off bus tour.  We were told that the best way was to just buy a ticket on the bus.  There was a stop for the Green bus company right across from where we were, so we stood in line.  They are supposed to come every 10 minutes.  About 45 minutes later, we decide to skip it, since it hadn’t arrived.  We had seen many of the Red bus company drive by, so we tried to go find a Red stop.  We found one not too far away.  We waited there for about 15 minutes, and it finally came.

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I hate Rome ATM's!

We got on board, and the bus started moving.  Went to pay, but they were cash only, and we didn’t have the proper amount.  Darn.  Since the bus already started, we had to wait till the next stop, St. Peters, to get off.  We exited the bus, and got some cash out of the third ATM we saw (stupid Rome ATM’s that don’t work), and then went to the bus stop to get on and take the tour, and enjoy the breeze in the strong heat and humidity.

However, it was too late in the day.  The bus was halfway through its final leg, and would not be making it back to the stop near our place.  And now we are a long 25 minute walk away from our place, its scorching hot, and we are tuckered out and frustrated.

Rome has been very frustrating.  We are towards the end of our trip, and we are tired, emotional, and just need something easy.  But Rome has been extremely crowded, extremely hot and kind of a drag.  Don’t get me wrong, I love this city.  I love the art, the architecture, the food, and the people.  It is just this particular time, this part of the trip, just nothing seems to be going perfect.

We got back to the general area of our hotel and decide to try and eat dinner at this rooftop restraunt that we had passed by the day before.  Finding it again, would be tricky.  Like most nights out, as previously mentioned, finding our dinner restraunt can be fun, yet sometimes gets frustrating and lost.  This was no exception.  We wandered trying to retrace steps and find it.  Finally after some direction asking (Dove Il…)we found it.  However it was reserved and booked full for the night.  So we kept walking.

restrauntrome_sm

We found this charming restraunt, that was really quaint and pretty.  Each table faced the alley way, and was covered with yellow table cloths and had vases of fresh cut flowers and lit candles.  It was really romantic.

We had a cheese appetizer that had a cheese that had pistachios in it.  It was tasty.

After heading back to our apartment for a short break, we decide to go look for a cookie, so we headed out to Piazza Navona.  I love this square.  It’s so pretty.  We enjoyed the nightlife there, but alas, could not find a cookie.

httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAUMvBzCleg

Went back to the apartment, I took a shower to wash off the heat, and then fell asleep.

Oh What A Finish – Barkero

January 26th, 2009

FC Barcelona vs Numancia

Check out the bend on this shot.  When they show the replay of the keeper angle, he can’t even see the ball till its practically in the net.

Golasso De Leo Messi – Nov. 29, 2008

December 1st, 2008

Lionel Messi, if he isn’t already, is one of the best and most exciting soccer players in the world.  Enjoy this goal.

This Week I'm Thinking About: Greg Crisci