Monday, July 26, 2010

I'm a bad blogger

I'm terrible because I haven't updated in two weeks. Part of the tardiness is due to the myriad photos I have to go through to choose, but I also must blame my extreme laziness...I've got to enjoy it while I still can! The new semester starts up on August 11th and I'll be teaching 7th and 8th grade social studies, American and Louisiana history, respectively.

I've also been teaching a brief summer school session to incoming sixth graders. They're great and I love it, but I'm definitely getting spoiled by them - the regular school year certainly won't run so smoothly.

As a sort of "last hurrah" before summer break ends, I'll be spending three nights this week in New Orleans. Good food, hopefully some decent weather, lots of walking around to see my will most definitely be had.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Viva Italia! Rome Part I

June 20th was a day of travel. We woke up to our last morning in Croatia, finished packing our things, and took a cab to the port in Dubrovnik. We took a ferry from there to Bari, Italy. The ferry ride was about seven and half hours long. We amused ourselves by reading, playing Angry Birds on our iPhones, drinking wine, napping, and listening to the crazy, loud Italians that surrounded us. Once to Bari, we took a ride to our hostel and then went to dinner. We had delicious pizza and then went back to hit the sack.

We woke up early and went to the train station. The ride lasted for about four hours, our longest train ride while in Italy, but the views were nice and we got to catch up on some sleep. Once in Rome, we took a cab to our hostel. The hostel, Orsa Maggiore, is located inside the International House of Women (a non-profit organization) and a former convent from the 17th century. The hostel was actually very pleasant and located near Vatican City.

Our first day in Rome

St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City

Part of Bernini's colonnade, each column is topped with a saint

St. Peter's square was designed with crowds in mind, so as many people could hear the Pope speak as possible. These chairs are set out for his weekly appearances.

This Egyptian obelisk is in St. Peter's square. It was originally erected in Alexandria, Egypt by order of Augustus around 29 BC and brought to Rome by Caligula in 37 AD. It was put up in the Vatican in 1586 by Pope Sixtus V.

Mary and I love our Catholic MawMaw. We sent her a postcard from Vatican City, which has its own postal service.

Santa Maria in Vallicella, also called Chiesa Nuova. The first church on the site was built in the 4th century. The church that stands now was built between 1577-1606. There are numerous historical churches such as this in Rome.

Bridge over the Tiber river with the dome from St. Peter's Basilica in the background

In Piazza Navona, La Fontana del Moro, built in 1575

Egyptian obelisk in the center of Bernini's Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (1651), with Sant'Agnese Agone basilica (1652) in the background. In Piazza Navona.

Fountain of Neptune in Piazza Navona

The Pantheon, one of the most magnificent displays of ancient architecture in Rome, was half covered by scaffolding. This, of course, must be the plight of the ancient building. However, it was still magnificent. The Pantheon was originally a temple built for the ancient Roman gods. It was destroyed, and later rebuilt in 126 by Hadrian. In 609 it was consecrated as a Catholic church and now holds historical religious sculptures and paintings, as well as the remains of the artist Raphael.

My camera could not do justice to the interior of the Pantheon, but I will share this one picture of the oculus, a circular opening to the sky.

Trevi Fountain. Legend says that if you throw one coin into the fountain, you are ensured a speedy return to Rome. Two coins into the fountain and you will find love. Three coins into the fountain will lead to a marriage...or a divorce.

A closer look at sculptures within the Trevi Fountain

The Spanish Steps, built in the 1700s. We sat here in the late afternoon to people-watch and write postcards. The orange house to the right is the Keats-Shelley Memorial House, where the English poet John Keats died of tuberculosis in 1821.

We had a good first day in Rome even though we hadn't had much of a plan to begin with. More of Rome will come in later posts, as I have more than 500 pictures of the city to sort through.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Wedding Day

Saturday June 19 - Kristin's and James's wedding day!

The wedding wasn't until four o'clock in the afternoon, so we had a good bit of the day to relax before we needed to start getting ready. We had a lazy morning, and then took a bottle of wine down to the water, lounged around in the sun and dined al fresco for lunch. We headed back to the villa around 2 so we could pretty ourselves up before calling a cab to take us to the site of the wedding.

Since it was our last full day in Croatia, we hand washed some of our clothes and hung them out to dry.

Our view down by the bay of Zaton, across the street from our villa

The green stuff is grapes...yay for homemade wine!

The site of the wedding was the terrace of the Radisson Blu, a very nice resort hotel on the coast.

Mary and I on the terrace

Gorgeous view of the sea from the terrace

There was also a very nice pool, in which all of the wedding party later jumped into

Kristin and her brother-in-law walking up the aisle

It was very hot and the sun was shining directly on us...luckily we were provided with fans!

After the ceremony, we all got on this boat, sailed around and drank champagne

View of the Radisson Blu from the boat

James and Kristin cutting the cake

After the boat ride, we went back to the terrace where toasts were made, dinner was eaten, and the party began. A Croatian jazz band provided the music and the bride and groom, along with their family and friends, drank, danced, and even swam, into the evening.

And they lived happily ever after...

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Friday, June 18

We went to Old Town in Dubrovnik again to browse the many shops and then took a ferry to a nearby island, Lokrum, for some swimming.

Lokrum has a small, super salty lake, known as the "Dead Sea". It's a great little swimming hole!

The island is also home to peacocks galore.

And baby peacocks! We lured them to us with bits of pizza crust.

Rocky cliffs looking over the Adriatic

Former Benedictine monastery, founded in 1023.

Later in the afternoon, we returned to Old Town and watched a World Cup game (USA v. Slovenia) in an Irish pub, then took a cab back to Babilon (our villa) for a group dinner at the restaurant.

Waitress offering us traditional Croatian apƩritifs

I drank the purple one because she said it was "better for women".

The family-style meal began with prust (Croatian prosciutto), cheese, sardines, olives, octopus salad...

The main course of grilled meats, vegetables, and fried potatoes.

Just another lovely day in Croatia.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Elafiti Islands

On Thursday, June 17, we went on a cruise of the Elafiti islands - Kolocep, Lopud, and Sipan. We booked the tour well in advance, so the majority of our party was able to attend. Lunch and wine was included in the price of the tour and we had a few hours at the last island to enjoy the sun and sea.

This dog must have lived somewhere around our villas, because he followed us around during our entire stay, even swimming out into the bay and jumping into Kristin's and James's kayak earlier in the week.

The ship we cruised on, a galleon replica

Ship's shadow

They gave us shots to begin the cruise, a foul variety of grappa

A view from the ship

Pretty island shore

Quaint fishing village on one of the islands

Croatia is very warm and someone had the bright idea of bringing a Saint Bernard into the climate. He had to cool off somehow!

View of the ship offshore

Having a good day!

Lunch on the ship - the fish was good, but the slaw was not

Frousins (friend+cousin)

Swimming in the salty Adriatic sea

You have to be careful in the water because of sea urchins

With Caroline after swimming

Before getting back on the ship, some people decided to do a group jump

After a long day of drinking wine and soaking up the hot sun, we went back to our villas where I had a nice shower and a much needed nap. Then we had another cook out at one of the villas - the owner was a chef and prepared a fabulous meal of grilled fish, prawns, potatoes and greens. Lots of fish was consumed in Croatia, but when it's so yummy, very few people complain. The fish is marinated before being grilled whole, and being so fresh just makes it extra special.