5 Months old… Where has the time gone?

You know, when Eve was first born I had this brilliant idea that I was going to blog all the time and that I was going to document her first year of life and it was going to be great. Well, as you may have noticed that hasn’t happened.

There are a few reasons for this and its not for lack of trying. The main reason is we are having so much fun living our lives and not writing about it. I believe blogging is much like photography. I love photography but there is a time when you need to take it in and experience it and not worry about capturing it.

As I sit back this morning with the dog at my feet, the cat on my left and a nice cup of coffee on my right I am overwhelmed. It’s quiet in the house. The baby had a rough night and my angel of a wife was up with her for all of it. The second I got out of bed she was handed to me and she then went to sleep.

So much has changed. Eve is starting to eat food; well, at least that’s what some call it. She’s doing the rice cereal, then oats and now we are starting her on real food. Yesterday I started making her food. The first two things she’s going to be exposed to is Avocado and peas.

We started the avocado this morning and as much as she wasn’t real excited, she didn’t scowl like she did with the rice cereal.

The other thing we’ve learned over the past month is that she isn’t keen on men. LOL! A father’s dream. She only has eyes for daddy, haha! 3 times over the past couple weeks men (including her God Father) have tried to engage her and she wanted nothing to do with them.

And the silence has just been broken. The hopes of an hour nap this morning are over. The monitor is ringing loudly and she is awake. 20 minutes isn’t long enough, so here’s to me being able to rock her back to sleep for another hour.

Happy 5th month my little angel

A very blessed day indeed

There is so much to say and I don’t know where to begin. I guess I’ll start by saying this, when I moved to Florence in October of 2011 I had a much different experience then what I am having now. With in two weeks of me moving there tourist season ended. I moved back to Canada in April 2012 tourist season had not yet begun. Italy is a very different place off-season. I am not a fan of people. I mean, I love people but not groups of hundred’s. I like it low key. That’s all I’m saying🙂

We have been having such a great time here this visit. We feel that we had previously covered a lot Rome and didn’t feel the pressure to be everywhere at all times. We really have been feeling like we can relax and truly take it all in this time.

On Monday we were able to meet up with our friend Ivey who came in from Australia for the events. We enjoyed an afternoon of coffee, catching up and some non Italian food at the Trinity College Pub. It was nice to have a friend there to chat with, and to able to bounce our experiences  off of from the Canonization, good and bad.

I’d like to think that we did a lot yesterday but we really didn’t. The one thing (I can now mention out loud) I’m learning is that when you are pregnant it takes a lot out of you and Sue can’t really push herself as much as she had before. I think that’s been a major adjustment for her, and me. The canonization took a lot out of us physically and emotionally and so we really tried to take it easy and rest Monday.

This morning we got up after not really sleeping very well. We had a wicked storm blow through Rome last night and one of the cracks of thunder hit so loud the windows in the house shook. It scared the crap out of me and I jumped. We thought the gardens in the front had been hit by lightning. The one thing I’ll never get used to is the fact that the glass/windows in the places we have stayed in Italy aren’t like ours at home in Canada. They are single panes of glass, nothing to them.

We had a very special afternoon planned but nothing in the morning. We got out of the house around 10am and decided, it’s time to find breakfast. Now, it’s a fact that Italians don’t know what a good breakfast is. We finally ended up back at one of my favorite places, All Brothers restaurant and they had an “American Breakfast” which we took full advantage of. We sat, and enjoyed our food then decided to just walk. Hoping that some of the crowds would have dissipated. We walked down to Comandini’s again and it was just as busy as before. We got out of there quickly and headed back to St. Peter’s. On our way we jumped in and out of various little shops picking up things for friends and family back home.

We grabbed some gelato and parked ourselves in St. Peter’s square for some good ole fashion people watching. We had a great spot. We sat, and chatted and enjoyed each other’s company for almost and hour, then it happened. A whole troop came in from Poland wearing traditional dress and where did they end up? Yup, right in front of us. There must have been 30 or 40 of them. Well, that ended our quiet time and we made our way to the security gate.

I had organized a tour of the Scavi. I was so excited. This was my third attempt to get onto this tour and I wasn’t messing it up. The Scavi tour is something you need to apply for. You don’t just show up and go in. You apply, you tell the Vatican office when you will be there and THEY issue you a time and date for you to visit. We met the swiss guard who pointed us in the direction of the office in Vatican city. We spent the next hour and a half walking through the depths of St. Peter’s Basilica. It was amazing. To see the tombs, and the crypts and to finally see the tomb of St. Peter, encased in marble. Truly being the rock of our church, the rock on which St. Peter’s is built on. It was such a special place to see and experience.

After the tour they allowed us into the basilica, which we hadn’t visited yet and didn’t plan on due to the high volume of people trying to get in. I love the Basilica. There is something about sitting in that place. Knowing in your heart that this is the center of your faith. I went over to the confessionals, closed my eyes and was immediately taken away. I became very moved and truly knew that I was standing on holy ground.

After walking around a little more we decided to leave. Made a quick pit stop on the way out and went to find lunch. We finally found our Kebab! Yay! We enjoyed a nice lunch and headed back to the apartment. Sue was tired and needed some rest and I just wanted to kick back.

Tonight we are going to go strolling around but tomorrow will be busy. We are heading to Tivoli, meeting back up with Ivey and God willing be joining another friend, Brother Matthew for mass and a quick visit.

As I read this over there were other things that happened as well. Some negatives, and part of me wants to write about everything and part of me wants to just think of the good things. So, yeah… The only thing I’ll say is, Polish…🙂

Ciao Ciao

The big day has arrived. St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII

So, we’ve missed a day in our travels but nothing much went on yesterday. We went and visited the protestant cemetary which was gorgeous and the most important thing, we did laundry. We also had dinner with Sue’s friend Bianca and she ran us around Trastevere for a bit.

Well, there’s on for the ole bucket list. Attend the canonization of one of the greatest pope’s the catholic church has seen.

Reading the reports and hearing the murmerings of the locals we made up a new game plan for attending the canonization. We figured we would outsmart everyone else and get up at 4am and be at St. Peter’s square by 4:30am. We made it out of the house by about twenty after four and raced through the train station (Under pass) and meet a gaggle of nuns. We laughed at first and thought, “Wow, they are getting an early start too”. Then we turned onto Via di Porta Cavalleggeri and were shocked to see hundred’s of people racing in the same direction we were.

As we were walking we met 2 very nice english speaking people, one was irish and the other Canadian and they both lived in Edinborough, Scotland. We walked with them until we reached Via San Pio X. This is when the morning got interesting. We crashed into thousands of people, AT 4:40AM!!! I truly was taken back. Now, I will say right up front that I won’t be speaking about any of the negatives.

As we all started to walk together the group, for lack of a better term, became one. There was no where to go but forward once you were caught in this. Slowly and steadily the group made it onto Via della Conciliazione which ends up at St. Peter’s. The hope of many was that we would end up there because of the fact we got up so early but as we turned the corner and stopped it became very clear we weren’t going to be in the square for the mass.

We stood until 9:00am when the screens all started turning on and they were playing videos of JPII and John XXIII. Really interesting videos of their travels and meetings, etc… The great thing about where we ended up was that it was right in front of an LCD screen and speakers.

At 9:30am there were some annoucements that came on, I couldn’t tell you what they said because they were all in Italian. Then the litanany of the saints began. It was beautifully chanted as all the bishops and cardinals process into the square. It really felt like the whos who of the Catholic world was there. I don’t know the final count for the pilgrams but there were 61 delegations representing 54 countries, 19 heads of State, 24 premiers and 23 ministers. I’m not sure how many Cardinals, Bishops or Clergy where there, my best guess…. LOTS

As Pope Francis came out and the crowds roared and the mass began. It was a beautiful ceremony, all in Italian, which didn’t surprise me but also disappointed me a little bit. Pope Francis spoke about St. John XXIII and called him a servant leader while when he spoke of St. JP II he called him the Pope of the family.

The mass was very moving. It started out with Pope Francis declaring our two new saints of the church and then there was a very interesting ceremony, which involved what Sue and I believe are relics of the two saints. They were placed in beautiful, I assume crystal vases and surrounded by candles. It was done quite nicely.

Something else I thought was irritating at first was that the video and the audio wasn’t in sync. What ended up being really cool musically was the fact that the chanting sounded like it was going in waves. They obviously didn’t have the signals equalized properly because it was fine at the front and every set of speakers if would loose 2 seconds. So, by the time the chant was over you could still hear them chanted behind us. I thought it was neat but I’m a nerd that way.

We stood by some young Italians who offered us fresh baked goods from their hometown before mass started. They were very sweet and to the other side of us were a Filipino lady and her husband who really looked out for us. He and I were the biggest guys in our general vicinity, which made me feel good.

There really isn’t too much more to say. We are both exhausted and Sue is napping as I write this. We ended up back at the apartment at a little after 1pm.

The energy in Rome right now is electric. Everyone is excited. Everyone is happy. They are happy about both Popes but I believe St. JP II really has a special place in everyone’s hearts here.

It was wonderful to see Pope Emeritus Benedict attend the canonization this morning as well. His features have softened as he has gotten older. He reminds me of my grandfather now. From what people where saying he is doing well and is in good health for 86 years young.

As we were walking back to the apartment Sue and I discussed if we would ever do something like this again. I hate to say it but the answer would be no. It was a very blessed day and yes Sue, and I and even our little bundle of joy that we are expecting on November 9th can say that we were at the canonization of St. JP II but there were some negatives, which really don’t need to spoil this awesome day.

Time for a quick nap, then off to meet our friend Ivey for dinner and get her perspective on the day.

 

Ciao Ciao

A time to relax

As much as this vacation has a definite purpose I am also trying to keep it as low key as I can. I’m having a hard time shaking the loss of my camera and I have a feeling that I won’t be getting as much from the insurance as I hope. I have nothing to base that on other than a feeling, but we’ll see. Trying not to dwell on the loss we started our day.

            We’ve been getting up every morning at 8am. I think 8am is reasonable. We really have nowhere to be and we can take our time. Sunday is going to be crazy and we figure the alarm is going off at 6am to be at St. Peter’s for 7am.

            So, this morning started off slowly. We haven’t been sleeping well so I got up, puttered around and got Sue up a short time later. We got our stuff together and headed out. The first stop we made was in St. Peter’s square. We scoped out the madness and decided that we weren’t going to try and get close to the alter, the driveway or any of that. We were going to play it smart and perch at the columns in the back of the square. There are TVs all over the place and we won’t have a problem seeing.           

            Then we made our way to Chiesa Nuova and sat and admired the church. It along with most churches in Italy are very beautiful. By this time it was 11:30 and we were getting hungry. We stopped at a little place called Zip Ciro Ristorante. They had a great deal on for €10, drinks, pizza and bruschetta. We ordered Diavolo pizzas which were amazing and the owner was hilarious and kept coming over and cracking jokes. I think he kept calling me fat hahahahaha…. 

            Then we tried to get into Santa Maria della Pace and it was closed. So we ended up in the Chiostro del Bramante which is pretty much the same building. When we walked upstairs we found a cute little café that sat around the perimeter of this really pretty courtyard. It’s too bad we had eaten because the food and the atmosphere were awesome. They also had a quant little bookstore you could go into and see into the church to see Raphael’s paintings of the Sibyls.

            We were on our way to Cheisa San Agostino but made a wrong turn and ended up at Chiesa di San Salvatore in Lauro. This church houses Padre Pio’s relics and we spent some time there. When we finally made it to Cheisa San Agostino – Tomb of St. Monica, it was closed. We started feeling a little defeated so we went to our favorite place for coffee in Rome, Sant’Eustachio il caffé. Thanks to Fr. Mike Winn the last time we were in Rome, he directed us to this caffé which has the BEST coffee.

            Once we had our coffee we headed over to Sant Ivo Alla Sapienza and once again we were met with a closed sign. 3 strikes and your out! It was now 3:30pm and our feet were mad at us so we headed back toward the apartment. The sun really takes a lot out of you when you aren’t used to it. 

            On our way back we stopped at a store called Comandinis and almost witnessed a Nun Brawl. Wow, fiesty ladies. This store is known for its religious articles and they had to have a bouncer at the door because so many people wanted in. 

            Once again, we made our way through St. Peter’s. I’m in awe of the amount of people that are here. This is my 5th time being here in 3 years. Each visit staying various amounts of time. Anywhere from 2 nights to 2 weeks. This is by far the craziest I’ve ever seen a city. Susanne was here for World Youth Day 2000 and says that the numbers will double tomorrow and double again on Sunday. I don’t like crowds to begin with and that sounds like an awful lot of people to me.       

            We made it back to the apartment which was supposed to be just for a little siesta and ended up falling asleep. When we got up we started planning out tomorrow, searching for laundry and finding dinner. We found the laundry 4 blocks away and then ended up at Ristorante Cinese Il Dragone d’Oro and yes, that’s a Chinese food restaurant. You can only have pasta and pizza so much. The food was amazing. Made to order and very fresh. Afterward I had my arm twisted and Sue took me out to Captain Cono for Gelato. I’m a sucker for Gelato

            Well, tomorrow is a new day and I can’t wait to see what is in store for us

 

Ciao Ciao

 

Another beautiful day has come and gone

We started our day off with a visit to the Carabinieri. The Carabinieri serves as police officers in the Italy. We went into the office and explained what had happened with the theft of my camera and I was told that I wasn’t the first and won’t be the last unfortunately. We got all the proper paperwork filled out and were out within about an hour.

We dropped everything back at the apartment and started on our day. We stopped first at a little café beside the All Brothers restaurant, which I like so much. We had our morning cappuccino and started to walk. Sue wanted to see a few things today and I was more than happy to oblige. What I didn’t know is that we weren’t about to start a short walk; we were about to walk almost 7 kms, ONE WAY!

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We left the café and immediately walked through what Sue has now coined “The Tunnel of Despair” mainly due to the amount of pollution you breathe in and headed to the river. It was a balmy 25oC, the skies were blue and there wasn’t a cloud to be seen. You couldn’t ask for a nicer day.

Now, we have been all over Rome, at least we thought we had until we started getting farther and farther away from the city center. We walked down Lungotevere Farnesina all the way to Isola Tiberina, which is a small island in the middle of the Tiber River. This island houses a very old hospital and a church called San Bartolomeo all’isola. We walked through the church and had a rest. At this point we had been walking about an hour (about 4kms)

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After we got our legs back underneath us we headed on our way. We crossed an old bridge called Ponte Fabricio, which turns out to be the oldest bridge in Rome. As we now walked down Lungotevere dei Pierleoni we stumbled across the Temple of Portunus and the Temple of Hercules Victor. This country is amazing. When you can be out for a leisurely strole and just come across ruins like this, it boggles my mind, still. We sat in the park in front of the Fontana di Bocca della Verita and took our shoes off and relaxed.

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We started back on our journey and turned onto a little street called Clivo di Rocco Savella. This street was only about 50m long and when you turned the corner appeared to dead end. Well, this was an optical illusion and after climbing this hill found that it lead us to our final destinations, one of which being the Guardino degli Araci (The Orange Garden). The garden was beautiful. There were orange trees everywhere, and the views of the city of Rome were spectacular. The garden is right beside Santa Sabina church, which we got a small glimpse of as we continued onto the Villa del Priorato di Malta. This is neat because they have a door with a keyhole that if you look through you can see St. Peter’s. Kinda’ cool. We’ve now hit the 5.5km mark of our trip and we needed a rest and food. We sat down and enjoyed a nice sandwich and water and rebooted ourselves for the hike back.

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On the way back to the apartment we stopped at the Roseto di Roma Capitale which is a garden that claims to house 1100 different kinds of roses. The scent as you walked by way amazing. Then we headed down and saw the Circo Massimo, which is the old site, that roman games would have been held on, races, etc…

Once we started back on our way it was a slow journey home. We stopped every kilometer or so for Sue to rest and when we finally made it back to the apartment, it seemed like a lifetime. We were both very happy to be able to take our shoes off, kick back and relax.

As I type this I notice that my arms are touch pink and hope they aren’t burnt. I mean, if you know me you know that I am either white or red… I don’t typically have an in between haha!

Tomorrow is a new day and we are excited to be meeting up with our friend Ivey and other friends we made during the time we lived here.

Back to Italy we go

So, it’s time for another trip to Italy. This time our trip is more a vacation/pilgrimage. Our key reason for coming this time is for the canonization of Blessed John Paul II. John Paul II was the Pope of the Catholic Church for as far back as I can remember. 

            The trip started off ok, we made it to the airport about in Ottawa a little after 10am. Our flight departed to Detroit, Michigan at 12:30pm. During our wait I made an executive decision to unlock my IPhone so that I could use it on the Vodafone network.

            We arrived safely to Detroit but when we landed realized that KLM had changed plans on us and therefore changed our seats. We were no longer sitting together on a 7 and a half hour flight. NOT COOL. We quickly went to a Delta desk and had them put us in the last 2 remaining seats, which were side by side.

             The flight to Amsterdam was smooth. I had lots of time to practice my chanter. (electronic of course) I got in about an hour of practice. The rest of the time was watching a movie and dozing in and out of sleep (nothing restful).

            Once we got into Amsterdam we hit E.U customs and they have some fun new regulations and made me unpack my camera back and everything in my computer bag. That wasn’t fun. The guard said it was something new when I mentioned to him that I hadn’t had to do this before. 

            We landed in Rome about 7am EST (1pm local) and we got on a train and headed into Rome. We needed to transfer trains at Roma Trastevere and while at the train station I was robbed. A gypsy came in and stole my camera bag. I was and still am a little traumatized. While living in Italy 2 ½ years ago for the 6 months I was here I really built up a confidence, a feeling of safety and in a moment it was shattered.

            I went to the Train station office who pointed me to the local police who said there is not much they could do about it. I sat at the station a cried. I couldn’t believe it. My camera which I had invested so much money on was now gone.

            When I got the apartment I immediately got on the phone with my insurance agent who told me to file a claim and not to worry, there was a deductible that needed to be paid but it was almost a 7th of what the entire bag was worth. Sue laid down for a rest but I couldn’t. I was angry, I was hurt and I didn’t know what to do about it other than to scream. I went for a walk. I walked for about an hour, all around St. Peter’s, the Vatican, all over. It felt like I had only just left Italy. Everything was so familiar and as I sat under a column in St. Peter’s and had another good cry I decided it was time to go back to the apartment. On my way I stopped in at a Despar and picked up some water and food for us.

            Once I got back I made us some dinner and we had a really early night. I think we were asleep by 9pm. Got up nice and early on Wednesday, had a shower, some breakfast and headed out. As we got closer to St. Peter’s (We are staying about 600m from the Vatican) we noticed the mass amounts of people. I had forgotten that it was Wednesday and the Pope was having his audience. The square was full. It was awesome. Something didn’t feel right now. My confidence was gone. I felt like I was looking over my shoulder and constantly aware of every single person who was around me.

            Sue wasn’t feeling well so we made our way off the main drag and hit a little place for a coffee and water. We decided to talk a walk through Parco Adriano. This park surrounds Castel Sant’Angelo. The park is quiet, very green and smells fresh and wonderful. It was nice to be out of the busel of all the people surround by the nature and beauty. 

            After that we walked down the Justice building, then down the stairs and walked next to the river Tereve. As we continued to walk we visited San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, which was a beautiful, cool church. It was getting quite warm and you would have sworn the church had air conditioning. Then we just wandered around for a while. Sue realized I hadn’t eaten yet and we stopped at a little place called Al Braciere, I needed some fresh Italian Carbonara. We had a great lunch and continued on our journey. We ended up in Piazza Navona, which has 2 beautiful fountains in it. We sat and enjoyed the sun realizing that our energy was slowly getting zapped. We decided to head back to the apartment to get rid of our coats. On our way we stopped and got some more food and lots of water for the remainder of our time.

            We took some time at the apartment to make a list of places we’d like to see and things we’d like to do while here. Then we decided that we needed pizza and made our down to All Brothers Pizzeria. We also found out that I needed to find a police station to get an official report for my camera, so after dinner we started a to walk. We found the station and plan on going back first thing Thursday morning. It’s getting dark and it’s time to head home.

            Once back at the apartment we sat back and caught up on Season 5 of Modern Family and fell asleep. Tomorrow is a new day, bring it on!

Preparing for anther visit to Rome

Since leaving Italy 2 year ago I can honestly say that I think about it daily. I think about the people I met, the places I visited and the great food I was able to enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, I live in Canada, and there is no place I’d rather be, but Florence will always have a special place in my heart.

Once again an opportunity has arisen and I along with my wife will be going to Italy. This will be a much shorter stay at only 10 days but we are very excited.

During this trip we used a service that’s new to us called Airbnb (https://www.airbnb.ca/). From my understanding of the service it’s people who own homes who rent them out to travelers. We were able to get an apartment 500m away from the Vatican in Rome for $700 for 10 days. Now, we haven’t see the place yet but the pictures looks great, all our correspondence with the landlord have been positive.

As the work week drags on and Easter quickly approaching I have my eyes set on Monday morning, our departure date.