• Jennifer
  • posted by Jennifer

  • I bought these flowers at our local grocery store. I just love daffodils. It's a signal for spring just around the corner!Spring Flower photos

  • Jennifer
  • posted by Jennifer

  • Here are some random cool images Kelly provided upon her return from her trip. There were additional email stories - comment if you'd like me to post them?! Kelly is such a funny writer and if you know her, her voice comes through in her choice of words. I love that I found a fellow photographer who loves to write just as much!Italy Travel Photos 1Italy Travel Photos 2Italy Travel Photos 3Italy Travel Photos 4

  • Jennifer
  • posted by Jennifer

  • Here is part two of Kelly's wonderful Italy trip story...

    "First of all - I am absolutely LOVING this trip even with all the mishaps, crazy folks, molesters and RANDOM EUROPEANS. Italy is a fantastic country, Rome is an amazing city and I can only imagine what Florence and Vencie will be like. Truly, truly amazing.

    As far as the American dollar here... well, we will just say that it SUCKS. It is not worth sh_t. Exchange rate is around 66 cents I think... If Iget 210 Euro from the ATM machine it costs me almost $400 (unless you exchange at the airport,and it costs $100 in service fees.) DUMB. Anyway, if you are ever going to plan a trip to Europe, take NO American cash with you... just take your atm card and withdraw directly - still not the best exchange rate, but better than converting cash.

    So where did we leave off... ah yes, the bus molesters. We have recovered, showered, and put those clothes in the dirty clothes bag and MOVED ON. We have pretty much mastered the public transportation system, and LAURA Thanks for the bus map. They don't give you one here, so you are on your own.

    Yesterday we went to see Ancient Rome. WOW! I was speechless, yes, me, speechless. Truly amazing. We started out with the Colosseum. WOW! I saw Gladiator the movie (which I did like,violence and all) but to stand where the Romans stood, I just couldn't believe that was what I had seen in the movies! WOW!!!

    After that we did the Roman forum, saw where Cesar was assassinated, burned, etc. Saw temples for the gods, the house of the Vestal Virgins and all the other good stuff you have heard of.

    Then we did Palatine hill and saw the chariot racetrack. AMAZING. Did I say that already???

    Today we got up before dawn so I could take some sunrise photos. Went to the Pantheon - in the dark, lit by streetlights, and not a soul around. FANTASTIC photo. Went to many of the fountains we did on the first night and took daylight photos. Saw the Spanish steps, and then we went down to the Jewish Ghetto and Travestere (older parts of Rome).Italy travel photosTonight we are going to be at the Pantheon for New Years. They began putting up barricades this morning at 9 ALL OVER ROME, and people were saving their seats and drinking wine by 10 am. Should prove to be a wild time.

    Tomorrow we leave for Florence and should be there by 9am. We will leave Florence on Wednesday late in the afternoon and go to Venice where we will finish the trip. We have our Tren Italia tickets in hand and are ready to go.

    Rome was not built in a day, but we conquered it in 3.5. Not too shabby!!!

    So,some things I learned from my trip to Rome...

    1. When you wonder HOW people can tell you are American...watch their eyes...They are STARING at your shoes!!! Like they have never seen my Nike running shoes before...

    2. When you shower - keep the water pressure LOW and spray the nozzle toward the wall...when it bounces off you less will go onto the floor. They don't use shower curtains here.

    3. The two buttons on the toilet are as follows: Big button for poo and little button for pee.

    4. If you need to use the restroom, make sure you have SOME change. You gotta pay for it... and NO they are not any cleaner than free ones.

    5. When you want to speak quietly to your American friend, you have to just speak real quiet. EVERYONE Speaks English to some extent and yes, they are listening.

    6. For some reason they like my blonde curls. I was called Bella twice today and yes, it made my day. NO they were not trying to sell me anything.

    7. I can function VERY well on less than 4hours of sleep a night. Yes, I am still waking up around 2 (Bethany is too) and we chat,eat candy, and read until about 3 or 3:30 then we go back to sleep.

    8. Men can walk arm in arm here and no one looks at them funny (the US could learn a lot from this one).

    9. I have developed random bug bites on my body, but I am sure I won't be getting the dengue fever here.

    Running out of time at the internet cafe! GOTTA GO!

    I do love you all,and have a happy new year, it starts here long before it gets to you.

    Mom,thanks for saving me some Black Eyed peas... "

  • Jennifer
  • posted by Jennifer

  • Kelly was in Italy this year for New Years. She kept us entertained with her email stories and travel photos and I looked forward to when she sent more. What a terrific writer! Anyway here is an excerpt from Kelly's first story. I'll post more stories by Kelly in days to come with more Italy pictures.
    Italy Travel Photospicture by Bethany

    "It all started when we got on the plane at 6am in the morning... 26 hours later (including a 9.5 hour time change) we arrived in Rome, Italy... After we landed, we figured out the "trenitalia" and made it to the main bus station... sounds easy... but an hour and a half later (and sore backs from carrying our stuff) we still hadn't figured out how to buy a bus ticket. ( we did get cash from the ATM after getting SCREWED at the airport... and our Roma passes)

    We FINALLY found our bus, got on and attempted to find the streets... using my best Spanish (combined with - donde sono - "where am I" in Italian...) Bethany and I found our B and B which is literally 90 feet from the Pantheon - our new favorite building (we'll explain later).

    So, we get to the B and B and can't figure out how to get in. It is a random little door (little meaning LESS than 6 feet because I do have to duck) across from a restaurant, marked by a sign the size of a 4X 6 inch index card. we find the ONE button to push, push it and the door buzzes open. MAGIC. We open the door to find 30 steps, no wider than Bethany's suitcase, leading to another flight of stairs... Bethany banged into every wall on the way up, and the hostess had to come help... Poor thing said the suitcase weighed more than she did!!!

    Our room is quaint, we are sharing a queen size bed (but luckily we are both tired enough that it doesn't matter) and the bathroom is in the hall. We are also sharing the bathroom with the couple across the hall - so much for a private bath. But, for the low, low price of 140 Euro - it's all good.

    Shower - weird! For those of you who have been to Europe... HOW THE HECTOR DO YOU SHOWER WITHOUT GETTING THE FLOOR WET??? and the toilet has 2 random buttons. I push the big one, and Bethany pushes the small one. We don't really know what they do, but the stuff goes down the drain anyway. Huh...

    The first night (after our 3 hour nap) we walked to Campo di Fiore, the Bruno Statue, had Piazza Bianco (which, though it sounds exotic, is nothing more than pizza crust bathed in butter and doused with salt), continued on to Piazza Novono, 4 rivers fountain, Pantheon (cause we love it, and you'll see why), had some Gelato DELICIOUS!, the Trevi Fountain and finally the Spanish Steps (which weren't very impressive at night, but we're going to go back in the daylight to see if they improve).

    So - now the fun part...

    We woke up Saturday morning at 2am. Why??? I DON'T KNOW! But, both of us had been tossing and turning so we flipped on the light, ate most of our candy, and read awhile. We turned off the lights again at 3:30, and when the alarm went off at 7 - it went sailing across the room.

    We got up - took a shower (which got the floor wetter than ourselves) and ate our pre-packaged breakfast meal. The toast came from a package and it was like eating a giant cruton... (not bad if you add enough butter).

    we then headed to the Vatican for the tour. We were halfway through St. Peter's Basilica before we realized it wasn't the Vatican. Explains why there was no line... Enjoyed the Basilica, and then found the Vatican... well... didn't find the Vatican so much as we bumped into a line of people about a 1/2 mile away and figured it was the line to get in... YUP.

    An hour and a half later, we were in! Not as exciting as it sounds... you get to see the Vatican Museum, and Sistine Chapel (both of which are VERY cool) but you never get to see the Vatican, or Vatican City... At least we think this is true... but neither of us is very well informed, so if you have ben here and you can get in to see the Vatican... EMAIL US.

    we didn't see the Pope either, except on a post card...

    Then we went to lunch and had more delicious pizza... and later walked to the Castel di Angelo. Here we paid 7 euro to climb a steep flight of stairs... because we hadn't had quite enough walking... Then we found the terrace which is Rome's version of the Empire State Building... Gorgeous views of the whole city - amazing pictures...

    Then, we tried to figure out how to get to the National Museum of Rome... but NO ONE will give us a bus map, so we kinda have to wing it... THIS IS WHERE OUR LOVE OF THE PANTHEON COMES IN...

    So, we got off the bus at what we THOUGHT was the National Museum...

    Mistake 1. never get off the bus unless you KNOW it's the right place

    Turns out it was the MUSEUM of ROME not the NATIONAL Museum of Rome. One little word... national... ahhh

    Our Rick Steves Guidebook warned us about Bus 64... but it was the only one going our way. So, we waited. the first one came by and by the faces plastered to the windows... we knew it was too full to accomodate two Americans...

    So, we watied for the next one.

    Plenty of room...

    for one stop...

    Then, 5 PUSHy ITALIANS SHOVED their way on the bus and we were literally in the filming of a Dial commercial... only it didn't smell so great. Next thing you know Bethany felt the warm sweaty palm of an Italian stranger (male italian stranger) on her behind. I was suddenly face to face with a tall, unshaven, Italan man who placed his hand directly above my head, all the while rubbing along my entire body. Each turn the bus took, he took as an opportunity to RUB HARDER. I couldn't figure out why why Bethany was gripping my arm so tight, but it was because she was being molested at the VERY SAME TIME!!!! So, while we are both being fondled simultaneously, the AGRESSIVE Italian women begin speaking badly about us.. we KNOW this because everyone on the bus turned to look at us - boy did it get hot in there...

    We FINALLY make the decision to hop off the bus and catch the next one. So, we broke free from the hands of our molesters and hopped on bus 6o...

    So, we KNEW we wanted to get to Termini Station to go to the museum... Alas, we slowly realized bus 60 was not going in the right direction. We got off at what seemed to be Termini station. Somewhere in our flustered "post molesting" state (and in the dark) we made a HUGE mistake.

    we got off the bus and realized we were not in Kansas anymore Toto...

    we walked a block to find we were LOST. Returning to the bus station we heard gunfire. At first Bethany though it was firecrackers... but as you know... I own my own guns, and recognized the sound of a handgun... So, we went to the grocery store and asked for assistance from the customer service lady.

    She spoke no English... and we speak LAME Italian... so I spoke in Spanish and she spoke in Italian. We both understood each other. Why? I don't know. So, we gave her the map, and she looked, and looked at it. Tried to flip it over (alas... there was NOTHING on the back) so, she told us we were actually off the map.

    She sent us to the bus station. Gunshots were ringing out as we knocked on the bus station office. A man speaking English answered our call. I fell in love. i don't know if it was the "damsel in distress" or if he was really as HOT as I recall... but he saved us. He told us to get on bus 63, and we would find our beloved Pantheon.

    45 minutes later... we were headed back to that beloved historical landmark.

    You can be ANYWHERE in Italy - ask for the Pantheon and EVERYONE knows how to get there!!! (except us). So, when we are lost, we ask for the BEST landmark EVER and we always get home.

    That is why we love the Pantheon...

    In case you were wondering... we lost our adventurous spirit for the evening and ate at the restaurant outside our b and b... DELICIOUS.

    our adventurous spirit should be back tomorrow... in the daylight...."

  • Jennifer
  • posted by Jennifer

  • So there was this documentary on HD Net today about birds. Notice the arrow in the below picture - what do you see? I found Clariese, not once, not twice, but three times sitting in front of the television watching the bird show. Clariese is a bit skittish of a cat, so she ran off a few times, but she kept coming back. I LOVE this shot of her.Sacramento Pet Photogapher

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