Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Les' Gig at Etnapolis

This past Saturday Les' band, Killer Tomato, played at a televised event at Etnapolis, a nearby shopping mall. I think it may have been the biggest crowd he's ever played for.  The band did an awesome job, I'm really proud of my hubby! The event was essentially a talent competition, very odd compared to what we are used to in America, but entertaining nonetheless.  Les' band was a guest performance, not part of the competition. I don't have time to write up a big description but I hope you enjoy the photos.

The stage, before the event began

Sound Check

My view of the stage once the show started - yes I was right behind a camera boom...

Odd...very odd - a very hairy bam-bam from Flintstones perhaps?? LOL

This gentleman was playing spoons and a harmonica, he was quite good!

A local band, Sugar Free, They were really good!

More Sugar Free

Commercial break setup for Killer Tomato - Waiting for their cue...

My Hubbie :)

The crowd while Les' band was playing

After they played, a quick chat with the MC, with the help of a translator

A Michael Jackson impersonator, he was young, maybe 17? and he was REALLY good!

Homemade Drum Set - it sounded really good!

A guy in the audience, obnoxious really, but the character & personality in his face really captivated me, typical Sicilian!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Roman Holiday - Day 3

Our final day in Rome covered a lot of ground, much more than I expected actually. We started off around 9am by heading to Piazza Navona. On the way we found a cute little bar and got cappuccini and a couple of pannini for lunch. Once we were in Piazza Navona I was ecstatic to find that the central fountain, which had been under restoration the three other times I'd been there, was finally out from under the scaffolding and working! It was beautiful!

After spending some time in Piazza Navona admiring the architecture and the paintings of local artists we moved on to Campo di Fiori, hoping that the outdoor market would be going on.  On the way I saw this man on his bicycle with the dog in the basket.  It was too cute I couldn't not take a picture.

Unfortunately the market in Camp di Fiori wasn't happening, it was Sunday after all and I knew that it might be possible for it to be closed.  We decided to keep walking and headed toward the Tiber River and the Ponte Sant Angelo.

Although we didn't have time to go into the Castel Sant Angelo we admired the exterior and then moved on toward Piazza San Pietro in Vatican City.  We didn't actually go into the piazza, but enjoyed the grandeur of the basilica from the road that runs the edge of the piazza.

From the piazza we headed toward the Ottaviano metro station.  On the way we looked around in a  handful of souvenir shops and stopped for gelato.  Eventually we came to the metro station and hopped on to head back to the flat where we enjoyed our pannini for lunch, finished packing up, and cleaned up the flat.

Eventually we had to say arrivaderci to Roma.  We headed out via the metro, a train, and then finally a plane back to Sicilia. We had a wonderful trip and made fantastic memories.  To my travel buddy - I will miss you when you leave and I will treasure all of the memories that we've made together over the past three years.  I'm so glad we met and became friends.

Roman Holiday - Day 2

Day two of my girls' getaway to Rome was dedicated to exploring the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum.  We left the flat about 9am and took the metro to the Colosseum stop.  Before we left the station we stopped to grab a couple of sandwiches to have on hand for lunch.  As we walked out of the metro stop my friend was talking and putting her sandwich into her backpack.  I had to tell her to look up.  The Colosseum was right in front of us.  I wish I had gotten a picture of the look on her face!  That structure is so impressive, especially the first time you see it.

We crossed the street and then found our way inside and to the end of the long-long line for tickets.  Luckily the line moved quickly and soon we were inside.  We spent a couple of hours exploring, envisioning the history of the place and bemoaning the haphazard "preservation" efforts that had made in some places.  I truly wish I could have seen the Colosseum before it was made tourist friendly.  There is just way too much concrete now.  Even so, the Colosseum captivates me each time I see it.

After the Colosseum we headed up to Palatine Hill.   Once we were inside the gates we found a shady bench and pulled out our sandwiches for lunch. It felt so good to cool off in the shade and get off our our feet for awhile.

Once we finished our lunch we wandered around Palatine Hill.  It was extremely hot, though and we took in the major points of interest and then moved on to the Forum.  Before we left Palatine Hill we went to the lookout above the Forum.  What a spectacular view!

After enjoying the panoramic view we made our way down the hill and into the Forum.  This area never ceases to amaze me.  The layers upon layers of history fuel my imagination.

This just might end up being my entry for this month's photo club challenge, "doors".  This shot is bracketed and HDR processed to bring out the colors and details.

We left the forum by way of Capitol Hill.  Near the top of the hill there is a water fountain where I stopped to fill my bottle. As I was waiting in line along came a bridal party.  The bride was thirsty and the crowd parted to let her take a drink.

We walked up and over Capitol Hill and then down into the traffic circle below.  We were both exhausted from all of the walking and the heat and decided to take a cab back to the flat for a rest.  We ended up both falling asleep for the rest of the afternoon.  I had a wonderful nap with the doors to my room open and a breeze keeping me cool.  I slept like a rock.  That evening we walked to a nearby Chinese food restaurant for dinner.  It was delicious!  After dinner we went back to the flat and just relaxed.  That concludes day 2 - day 3, the finale, coming soon!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Roman Holiday - Day 1

One of my best friends here in Sicily will be moving back to the states soon, really soon actually.  She has busy during her time here - she traveled to Egypt & Germany, and had 2 babies, but hadn't been to Rome.  The craziest part? She is an archeology major!

I knew that seeing Rome was important to her, but she just had her second child two months ago and traveling with little ones would be difficult.  I offered to have Les & I watch her babies while she and her hubbie made a quick trip up.  She said she'd think about it.  I mentioned to Les that I had offered to watch the kids, not just for a couple of hours but for a couple of days and after the "deer in the headlights" faded from his eyes he suggested that the kids stay home with their dad and that my friend and I go up to Rome for a weekend.  I mentioned the idea to my friend and she jumped on it immediately!

We left very early this past Friday morning to catch our flight out of Catania.  We had to stop for gas on the way....and that is where the trip started to become "memorable".  My friend and I went inside to grab cappuccini to-go and when we came back out to the car my husband told me the car wouldn't start.  My friend and I laughed...this is exactly the kind of thing my husband would say as a joke.  Only after he said it again with a really straight face did I think maybe he was telling the truth.  I actually believed him when he asked me for help steering the car so he could push it out of the way of others who were wanting to fuel up.

We tried in vain to push start the car with no luck and it wasn't going to start by turning the key.  My friend called her husband and asked if he would come get us.  Within 20 minutes he was there, with both kids still in their PJs (he had to get them out of bed to come get us).  He had hurried so fast that he had even forgotten to put on shoes, but he was there!  We piled into their car and I kissed Les goodbye.  He was going to stay and try to figure out what was wrong with the car, get a tow truck if necessary and get the car to our mechanic.

As I was saying my final goodbye to Les my friend closed her door to the car and the next thing we hear is startling "OW, OW, OW!!!  The door had closed, all the way on Les' fingers.  Again, my husband being the joker that he is we thought he was kidding at first!  But no, not kidding.....My friend felt horrible, and I didn't want to leave him hurt.  I jumped out of the car, made sure he was going to be taken care of, others had seen and were getting him ice, and he kissed me goodbye again and told me to go, that he'd be alright.  It was tough but I got back into the car and we raced for the airport.

We made our flight in plenty of time, about 10 minutes before it started boarding.  I finally started to relax once we were on the plane.  It had been in insane morning.  There were still a couple of issues to deal with though.  1. because we ended up being late we didn't stop on base to get money.  Neither my friend nor I had any euro.  2. the one thing I forgot was the phone number to the person who would be meeting us at the apartment we rented.  I'd stayed there before so I knew vaguely where to go, but couldn't remember the exactly street number. I would need to find some way to access my email before we could actually find where we were staying.

Once we landed in Rome we set off in search of an ATM and internet kiosk.  We found an ATM quickly but no internet kiosk.  We decided that we might have to wait until we were actually in Rome Termini Station to find an internet connection. We retrieved our bags, grabbed panini for lunch, and headed to the trains.  Luckily Les got the car working with the help of our mechanic and a new battery so he was able to get on a computer to get the needed info out of my email and texted it to me.  BIG SIGH of relief.  Now we could relax a bit.

Once we made it to our rented apartment we were exhausted.  We took a bit of a rest and then set off to explore.  We took the metro to Piazza del Popolo and then walked to the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, and Pantheon.

Piazza del Popolo

 Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

As we were wandering the narrow, pedestrian only streets of Rome we came across several shops with fun, unique wares.

A Wooden Motorcycle


The Oculus of the Pantheon

Inside the Pantheon



We left the Pantheon via taxi to the Vatican Museum.  They are having extended hours this summer, by reservation only, and were open until 11pm.  Our reservation was at 8pm.  We made it with 20 minutes to spare and grabbed a nice, cold, refreshing gelato before we headed into the museum.

Visiting the Vatican Museum at night was a neat experience. It wasn't nearly as crowded as it normally is during the day, which was nice, but it is not well lit for evening viewing.  It was hard to take in all of the details around me in the dimmer lighting.  It was also incredibly stuffy.  There was no air conditioning except in the tapestry hall.  All I can say is at least we were there in the evening.  I can't imagine being in there during the day with no A/C and the crowds!

St. Peters from the Museum Terrace

Vatican Museum Courtyard with St. Peters in the background

One of the many ornate ceilings of the Vatican Museum

Another ceiling painting

I didn't take all that many photos inside the museum because I've been there twice before.  Check out the photos here and here.  We finished up our museum visit with a visit to the Sistine Chapel.  It was phenomenal, as usual.  All I want to do when I'm there is lay down in the middle of the floor and look up but I doubt the security personnel would let me.  Oh well.

Once we were finished in the museum we found a place to sit down outside for a bit.  I talked to Les on my phone and my friend talked to her hubbie for a bit.  Once our feet were rested we made our way back to our flat.  We popped open a bottle of wine and relaxed for a bit and then hit the sack.  The next day we planned to get up early and get to the Colosseum around the time that it opened.

More pictures and stories to come later.  For now I'm off to base to get some groceries. Ciao!