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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Quick and busy last days in Rome, including a Friday night pub crawl through all our favorite haunts.  Made me sad (and a little hungover) to get on the plane Saturday morning.  Got to say Good-Bye to pretty much everyone we wanted to, so that was nice, and collected a lot of email addresses along the way.
Arrived home on Saturday night, tired, delayed in Atlanta and a little jet lagged, but have recovered now.  Have about 20 hours of yard work that needs to be done in our jungle, but our house sure looks and feels nice.  What a relief to come home to an actual HOUSE!  Despite the heat of the first few days it has been very enjoyable. 
By Wednesday the heat had pretty much disipated and we ventured out to play our first round of golf this year.  Went with our friend Jerry to the neighborhood course (read:  not that challenging), but Mike and I both managed to post pretty respectable scores.  I will sub on my old league up north on Monday night, which is a much more formidable course, so we shall see. . .
Welcome home gift from the house:  Water heater needs replacing.  Handled that at Lowe's today.  As much for the installation as for the dang water heater.  My next husband is going to be more handy around the house. . . heehee.  Or maybe I will be!!
Internet was restored in good time (as you can see), they showed up on Tuesday.  Nice to wait two days instead of two months.
A little stiff and sore from all the yard work and the golf, but it feels good to get some things done, stretch those ole muscles, and feel a little sense of accomplishment.
Had dinner last night with the Joyce's at Uccello's (a popular "Italian" restaurant), but not quite the same as Rome, that's for sure.  Good though, in an American kind of way.
Time is going by really fast, can't believe Mike is leaving on Wednesday for a month.  So much to do yet.  We will be going out to our friend's Paul and Mary's boat on Saturday, Mike will play some early morning golf on Sunday with another friend and my family is coming over for a BBQ on Sunday afternoon.  Also planning a "Bowling Away" party for Mike on Tuesday night.  Busy busy busy.
The Thursday before we left we went to a goodbye party for us at the Green Rose, and when we left (very late) there was a full moon.  Now, you might not believe this, but after more than five months in Rome, I still had not seen the colloseum at night.  So, I sent Mike in to bed, jumped in a cab with my camera and headed down there to take some pictures.  Here's my favorite.

Wednesday, July 20

Hi all!  Whew, this month is flying by.  Nothing exciting to report, except that the project is winding down and we are heading out on Saturday.  As always, as soon as I buy a ticket for ANYWHERE, our schedule changes.  Now it appears we will be home on Saturday, but Mike will leave for Nigeria on August 2 for a month.  If we would have known this BEFORE I bought my ticket yesterday, we could have just hung here for a week, and both went, but now it looks like it may just be him going.  It is a bit expensive to fly there, it ain't so nice, and he will only be there a month. . . but who knows.  Maybe I'll go.
We were originally trying to plan a vacation in Sardinia for about 9 days, then a quick stop over in Paris to visit, and then back here, but I was giving myself a nervous breakdown trying to find someplace to go that wouldn't cost an arm and a leg and still had some of the modern conveniences we would have needed.  Finally got tired of the stress and figured home was just fine with us.  Mike really wanted to come home, anyway.  He may feel differently now that he will have to leave so soon.  Looking forward to coming home, though.  Mike hasn't been home in the summer in so long, and it will be fun to see our house without the snow all over it.
Been eating out a lot lately, too hot to cook and no sense buying a bunch of groceries when we are outta here, so that has been a nice change of pace. 
We are having a going away party at the Green Rose tomorrow night, so will be nice to say final goodbyes to everyone here. 
Big July sales going on here, so have been out window shopping a little.  Things are a bit more affordable when they are 60% off, but still a warped view for me.  Can't wait to hit the mall for sales when I'm home.
Went out to eat at Il Fico (The Fig) last night with Francesca.  We eat there a lot, ever since we discovered it with Roger and Frederique, but she had never been there.  Boy, was she impressed.  She said it was the best spaghetti and tomato sauce she ever tasted.  She wants to go back for lunch today.  I'm just addicted to their mussels in pepper sauce, lay awake at night thinking of them.  Thought it was funny she liked it so much, though.
Not much else to report, can't post any pics and life is just hot and slow here.  This is big vacation time for Europe, so the city is starting to empty out a bit, left just to us barbarian tourists.

Friday, July 1, 2005

Well, don't want anyone thinking they are missing anything because I haven't been updating the website very often, cause you AIN'T!!!
Today was the first day in about three weeks that it is bearable outside.  We have a little bit of cloud cover, and nice breeze blowing, and I can walk two blocks without sweat running down the middle of my back, or worse, the front!  Went up to the Embassy today for a little lunch at the marine house and to grab some books and a few things from the commissary, so thought I'd stop in to the internet cafe and update the pages a bit.  Still can't do it at home, and that's getting on my nerves, but not as much as the heat.
Have seen TWO movies this week, Batman Begins and War of the Worlds.  Loved Batman, and I'm not a big fan of the other movies, and War of the Worlds was pretty good for the first hour and then went straight into the toilet.  But, it was air conditioned, and probably saved our lives!  Had a nice big group going both times, so we are not alone in our quest for a cool place to hang out. 
Last Sunday we managed to get married on the island, was nice.  Attended by Valentino, Scott, Francesca, Jodi and Stefano, and of course Father Terry.  Afterwards we sat on the island and had a celebratory beer, then took the party down near Piazza Navona.  Ended staying out too late, but you only get remarried once. . . a year. . . heehee.
Monday I didn't even leave the house, slept most of the day.  It was toooo hot.  Didn't even cook!  Tuesday I managed to stay awake the entire day, but didn't do anything besides go to the grocery store.  I can't believe the humidity and heat, I know it's been hot at home, too.  It's just unfortunate the air conditioning here doesn't seem to work as efficiently as at home.  We went out for pizza the other night to an air conditioned restaurant, and sat there and sweat!  I guess over 200 people have already died in Italy due to the heat, especially in Tuscany, which makes me think we won't be traveling north when we are finished here.  Have been talking about going to Sardinia. 
What we really need is an air conditioned apartment!
A few parties planned around the 4th of July holiday that we will be attending, mostly on Monday.  I guess the Ambassador is having a HUGE party on Monday night, over 4000 people, fireworks, major beer and soda sponsors, etc.  But, it would appear that us low-life contractors are not invited.  So, we will have to make due with a contractor's party.  There is a large group of construction guys here working on a new security gate, they will be here 2 years total, lucky dudes.  The plan is to BBQ with them on Monday, plus I think Mike actually has the day off! 
Oh, by the way, Tuesday night we got word that the Nigeria trip was cancelled, thank GOD!  Mike and Scott are still safely here in Rome.
It still appears that we will probably be here until at least the 23rd of this month, possibly another week after that.  I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S JULY ALREADY!!!
Will try to get some pics up, still haven't gotten our pictures from last Sunday from Scott yet, he took them with his new $1500 Canon digital camera, and they are too big to fit on Mike's memory stick!  Haven't had any luck getting them on at home, but will keep trying.
Drop us a line if you are bored this weekend!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Yikes!  I've been a bad, bad girl!  Unfortunately, for whatever reason, I am now unable to update our website from home, including uploading pictures.  Our computer has been very, very ill as of late, has had at least 6 different Trojan horses, and is probably still not healthy.  I did all kinds of things to try and fix it, but to no avail.  Not a computer wizard afterall.  However, it is very frustrating, as sometimes it tells me my system is infected, and other times it runs a full scan and finds nothing. . . This is a tough little virus, it must have come from Chad, Africa!
Other than that, it has just been too darn warm to do much other than the minimum.  I had to bring Mike something up to the Embassy this morning, so thought I'd stop by my old internet cafe and do some updating here. 
Our wedding anniversary (5 years) is on Sunday, and it looks like we will be renewing our vows with Father Terry (our pub priest friend) somewhere down near the river, hopefully on Isla Tibernia, the only island on the Tiber river, very near the Vatican.  Will be a short and informal thing, and this year we will exchange Murano glass necklaces that we bought at the Embassy auction oh so long ago.   Will let you know how it goes, will just have a few friends around for that.
The biggest, baddest, and latest news is that because the project here is delayed (they have sent everyone home as of last Saturday except Mike and Scott), they have decided that Mike and Scott are needed to fix some problem in Nigeria!!!!!  So, next week Thursday they will pack up and go to Abuja, Nigeria for an undisclosed amount of time.  They are hustling around trying to get visa's right now (hence, why I'm here, Mike forgot his visa photos this morning, had to run them up there).  Besides the fact that tickets cost about $3000, and they will probably only be there until the 12th of July at the latest, I probably wouldn't be able to get a visa this quickly, anyway.  So, I will be the good wife, staying here in Rome until my husband returns from the wilds of Africa. . . heehee.  We were going to try to go to Paris for the long 4th of July weekend, but that appears to be out for now!  Of course, all this could change by next Wednesday, so . . . but it does look fairly definite, they did buy tickets for them both!  One way to insure it doesn't happen would be for me to find a "good deal" for $1500 and buy my own ticket.  Then it would for sure be cancelled.  Needless to say, they aren't thrilled to go. . .
Other than that, not a lot exciting going around here.  Have got some news from home, some of it sad, some happy, some crazy, but won't bore you with all the details here, YOU know who you ARE!  heehee.  We've been trying not to die from the heat.  Our rent is paid until the 9th of July, and quite possibly Mike will be gone during this time, so I may get to do the move out all by myself.  Am looking for a hotel close to where we are now and to the Embassy, maybe somewhere halfway in between, that has AIR CONDITIONING!  It would appear that if they return from Nigeria as expected, that the cut here will be pushed another week at least (plus, they are still waiting for an important part that is sitting in Washington), so very conceivable that we will still be here come August.  I knew they could find a way to keep us here. . . :-). 
I do think I recommend coming to Rome in the springtime, however.  I's not sure how fun it would be to drag around here in this heat, and they tell us it will only get worse.  When the weather says it's only 85 here, trust me, it feels much worse.  Thankfully, the humidity hasn't set in for real, yet.  They say it's coming.
Tom Cruise will be here in Rome again starting on July 18 to start filming Mission Impossible 3.  Will have to keep an eye out for him and his fiance.
Obviously, not much going on with us except the aforementioned.  Have taken no trips, tours, etc. for about 3 weeks.  Just laying low and hitting our favorite spots over and over.  Trying to keep cool.  Just discovered a leak in our small bathroom yesterday, called our landlady, so soon will probably have to deal with an Italian plumber.  Hope he is more efficient than the telephone guys!
Will try to get here more often, or fix my computer.  Love to all!

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Sorry I've been away so long!  Things just keep moving along here.  A little while ago, we thought we were leaving June 24th, however it looks like we'll be here at least until July 1 now, working.  The project is coming down to the wire, and it ain't really looking good.  The type of cut this is makes it more difficult more Mike, and all the pieces just aren't coming together the way they need to to ensure a smooth cutover.
Guess I'll go backwards in time today, as I can't remember everything I've done since the last time I posted!  Haven't been overly busy (unless you count scrubbing the apartment down of Monday) this week, just doing the normal.  Last
Saturday night we finally tried the Spanish Tapas restaurant across the street from one of our "regular" bars called TapaLoca.  The food was just okay, but we had fun.  Tommy, Scott, Alix, Eddie and Mike and I all ate a little, drank a little.  Then across the street for more drink.  Ended up closing the bar.
Friday night we met Father Terry and company down at the Green Rose for a night of darts.  Mike really had his game on, I spent more time flapping my jaw than playing darts.  He's dangerous when he's on, though!
On Friday during the day, Alix and I went to Tivoli.  We were going to go to Siena, but we decided it was just too far.  Tivoli is about an hour outside of town with two main attractions, the Villa Adriana and Villa d'Este.  Villa Adriana is about 4 miles outside of the city (of Tivoli, not Rome), down the mountain, so we took the subway to the bus station to Villa Adriana.  This was the bus ride from HELL.  It was so hot on the bus, and fortunately, as we got on at the station, we had seats.  All the seats quickly filled up, and then we started MAKING STOPS, loading up the bus with smelly young German tourists standing in the aisles, sitting in the aisles, and basically looking like they were going to be sick.  We endured the bus for almost 30 minutes, but it seemed like two hours.  By the time we got off at Villa Adriana Alix and I were both sweaty, hot and irritable.  It was amazing when we stepped off the bus, it was probably 15 degrees cooler!
Both our guide books said this was the more interesting site, but ended up just being another small city, kind of like Ostia, but up on a hill.  It was interesting, but not really what we were looking for. 

It was a little nicer than Pompeii and Ostia Antica in the fact that there were several "ponds" in the complex, it's always refreshing to see water.  This is what our intent was in going to Tivoli, had heard there were some spectacular gardens and fountains to be seen, and it has been so HOT, it just sounded refreshing, not plodding along in the dust looking at old rocks.  I have spent lots of time doing that here already.  We wandered around for about 90 minutes before searching for our bus to Tivoli.
Took a quick bus ride up the hill to the quanit town of Tivoli where lunch was in order.  Grabbed some pizza from a local vendor, quickly ate and continued on to Villa d'Este. 
This is an old convent that was made into a private home in the late 1700's, but the fountains date back to the late 1500's and there are plenty of them!  They are amazing, and all run by gravity.  I find it interesting they had the ability to even build them, let alone that they all still mostly work today.  There were two under repair, probably two of the most famous, but all in all, exactly what we were looking for.  Wonderful mists, wonderful views, spectacular gardens.  A spot not to be missed.

Now we just needed to get back to Rome.  Ventured back into the center of town and inquired as to where the train station was.  The first person we asked said it was "very far" and we needed a taxi.  So, we did what all smart people do, got a second opinion at a local cafe. . . where no one spoke English.  Both Alix and I speak survival Spanish, which is what we were getting directions in, until some Italian english speaking guy who was sitting next to the folks we were talking to said he had a car and was going near the train station, could he drop us off?
This goes against all my rules of safe travel, but he was a local, and known to the people we were speaking to, they told us he was "a doctor" and "a good boy".  Plus, there were two of us, witnesses that saw us go with him, and I probably outweighed him by 30 pounds. . . so, we got in the car, took a quick, safe jaunt to the train station.
There was NO ONE at the train station, just a fairly confusing ticket machine and a posted train schedule.  It appeared there was a train leaving Tivoli within about 10 minutes, bound for one of the major train stations in Rome, but we were unsure what platform or what train we needed.  There was a train in the station, but it was empty and didn't appear to be going anywhere.  We bought some tickets and looked around for someone to ask, but could only find a little old Italian guy who took us back in and pointed at the timetable.  Yea, thanks.
Walked into the cafe to get some water and encountered what appeared to be the conductor for the train in the station.  Asked him where his train was going to and when.  He said Rome in about 30 minutes.  Okay!  We jumped on the train (blissfully air conditioned) and prepared for the hour ride trip back.  This was some of the best 2 Euro 50 I spent on public transportation!
Other than that, did some shopping last week.  The weather has been so hot I needed some clothing that doesn't touch my body!  Got some pretty good deals on a couple dresses, and nice linen skirt and a cute blouse.  Just hope we are going somewhere warm next so I don't forget what I bought!
Starting to fret about getting short here.  I can't believe we have less than a month to go.  I feel unmotivated to do much, yet guilty for not doing anything.  Alix has language class all this week, plus she just got a job working in the commissary, so she won't have as much time to "play" as me. 
See Roma page for some updated pics of Rome.  For some reason I can load them to the website at home, but it won't let me post them on the pages.  I have to come here (internet cafe) in order to do it!  Strange!

May 26, 2005

The parental units have come and gone, they left fairly early yesterday morning, and already I miss them, my living room feels so EMPTY this morning. . . heehee. 
Seriously, we all had a good time, and of course, it's always lovely to see my folks, especially in a foreign locale (for the first time since I was 17, I'll add!).   We did a quick (3 1/2 hour) trip through the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel on Tuesday, and then off for some souvenir shopping and to the church with the bones.  I'm so bummed my brother Denny didn't see this, but we didn't know it existed until after he had left.
Near the Hard Rock there is an old church which has as a part of it a cemetary dating back to the middle ages where the monks mummified their brothers in the order, then decorated 5 chapels with their bones!  We must have seen over a thousand skulls.  We weren't allowed to take pictures, but I bought some postcards.  Will try to reproduce them on the website, as it was most gruesome and strange to see.  It would have been the highlight of Denny's trip, though!
Off to the Hard Rock afterwards for Happy Hour, then to the Hole in One for a last drink before dinner, down to the bottom of the Spanish Steps to a new restaurant (new to us, that is) where we ate the final Roman meal as a family.  I stole a napkin for Mom with the name of the restaurant on it.  Back home for last minute packing, etc. 
Yesterday, I finally fixed my computer.  Took all dang day!  It had FOUR Trojan horses on it!  This is the first time I've been able to update our website from our house!!!  What a thrill.  Also a thrill to know my computer is virus free now. 
The weather has officially moved into summer.  It was definitely the hottest day yet yesterday, and today is just as warm.  Nice breeze blowing around out there. 
On Sunday, my friend Francesca had quite the scare, woke up in the late afternoon with about 300 bees in her room, in her bed, in her closet, etc.  I guess if one had stung her, the others would have been incited to sting her and she would have died.  Thank God she didn't get stung!  What a scare, though.  She has been sleeping on her couch ever since, even though the exterminators came and killed them all.  Better watch out for the killer bees over here, eh?
Still no news if Mike's Mom and brother are coming over for a visit.  It would be nice, hope they can make it.  Might as well have one last set of guests before we leave.
As of now, we are scheduled to leave on the 24th of June, but our rent will be paid until July 9, so hopefully we can hang out a bit and see some of Italy while we wait for our next post, which is still a mystery. . . of course.
Here's some bone church photos!

May 23, 2005

Okay, I'm a Virgo. . . someone with more knowledge on astrology please tell me what's going on with my sign!  You can't believe the things that have happened since I last posted. . . .
Of course, my parents are still here and are having a wonderful time exploring Rome.  It's Monday and I haven't seen them since Friday morning, but I'm sure they're having fun, they went to the Tuscany region for the weekend while Mike and I went of a sun and fun "vacation" (we HAD to go because of our visa's, and we had to leave the European Union) in Tunisia.  So will be fun to catch up with them this evening and here about their time and see their photos, as Mike and I haven't been there yet.
Since I last posted, they also went on a day trip to Pompeii, just like we did a couple months ago.  Made it on the trains all by themselves and had an enjoyable, but long day.  We all went to Otello's for dinner (sorry Jen, don't drool), and I finally broke down and tried the eggplant parmagiana.  Now I'm mad I didn't have it earlier, as I'm fully addicted!  The trend has been that I walk them out somewhere, then leave them to sight see and find their way back, which so far they've managed to do!  Even once without a map (I didn't know Dad didn't have one with him when we left)!  They even found the Hard Rock, met all of us there last week for a going away party for Tommy's wife. 
My parents are troopers!  They've walked all over Rome and back, and probably by now, Tuscany.  It's been sooooo nice to have them here, and so fun to see them enjoying Rome the way they have.
On Thursday, things started to go a little sideways, though. . .  As those that have been following these postings know, we had 'quite' a battle getting internet at our house. . . well, we had it for about two days before my computer started acting "funny".  In the time between when we got here and then, my Norton anti-virus software had expired, and when I updated it on Sunday, apparently I was too late, for I have contracted a backdoor Trojan virus (any help on this issue is appreciated).  So, now I have internet, but a computer that is infected and won't stay on line.  Mike has taken it to the computer doctor at the Embassy this morning, so hopefully it will be "healed" soon.  This is the main reason there have been no updates on here for a while, or any new pictures!
Plus, after I discovered my computer was completely messed, I took my parents down to Piazza Navona and Campo di Fiori to see the markets, then to lunch at the Fico Bar (It was yummy, Roger, had the mussels in pepper sauce!!!  I dream of those. . . ), and while we were taking artistic photos at Fiori, I threw my camera on the ground, thus breaking the lens (again, same injury as in Brazil) and BROKE IT!  Now mind you, this is the second exact same camera I've had, as I bought a used one on Ebay after our other one was stolen (the one we paid $300 to fix) in Costa Rica.  And, to make matters worse, we were leaving for Tunisia in the morning, now without a working camera.  I could have cried, between the problems with the computer (which had/have wasted hours and hours of my time) and now breaking our camera.  So, I left them to wander to Trastevere and the Mouth of Truth (Boca de Verita), and went CAMERA SHOPPING! 
When I finally found the camera shop and picked out the one I wanted, I went to use my debit card and it was declined.  Hmmm.  Had to go all the way home to call the bank, after realizing the phone card I had was out of minutes and I needed to go BACK out and get another card, return home, call.  They told me they had shut off my card because I didn't tell them I was in Rome.  EXCUSE ME???  I've been in Rome 12 weeks and they decide to turn it off NOW???  Plus, they didn't turn Mike's off, and it's the same account!  Then, they told me it was declined because I was making a purchase of over $500.  I'm like, I just used it on Wednesday to buy $700+ worth of airline tickets to Tunisia. . . .  Obviously, this was not the best day for my bank to be messing with me.  After about 15 minutes they turned it back on and took all purchase restrictions off it and for about the 100th time, made a note in the system that we "may be out of the country often". . . DUH! 
Back to the camera store to show my embarrassed face and complete the purchase, then a quick trot up to the Embassy to not be late meeting my folks.  We are now the proud owners of a new Nikon 7900.  It's WAY smaller than our original camera, and does just as much if not more, except not as much of a digital zoom.  But, put us back a few dollars.  I'm sure this isn't the cheapest place to buy cameras! 
After the Embassy, we headed over to Tommy's house (he lives in the museum right on the Spanish Steps) for a BBQ, as we can't go to Scott's anymore, his landlady found out we were BBQing on the patio and said, "no live flame, no insurance", so now if we want to cook-out it must be at Tommy's or I need to bring my electric grill to Scott's.  Just had burgers and dog's, then over to the Green Rose with my folks for a quick one, we owed Francesco money from the night before, being we went there without any because, you guessed it, MY BANK CARD WASN'T WORKING!!!!!  Seemed like a hell of a day!  Everyone back home to pack for our upcoming trips, Mom and Dad for three days in Siena, Luca, and Pisa, and Mike and I for Tunisia.
Up early on Friday, everyone running around trying to shower etc.  Mike and I left first, and we were in the taxi to the airport when my phone rings.  It's 9:10 and Mom and Dad's train leaves at 10:05.  They are at the metro station near our house and the TRAINS ARE ON STRIKE.  So, I advise them to beat feet to the Termini to find out how extensive the strike is. 
Now I'm worried about them, worried that the train strike is nationwide (as rumored last month), so after about 30 minutes, I try to call them, and no answer.  Just as we get to the airport, they call and say they are safely on the train to Siena.  Whew.  Thank God.  Hopefully the rest of their trip went as easy.  Haven't heard from them, of course.  I guess they walked with their bags from Piazza de Spagna to the Termini and still made their train.  Good kids!
We arrived in Tunis at about 1 PM with Tommy and Bob, grabbed a cab to the resort where we were staying, and hit the pool (after doing a little bathing suit shopping for Mike).  It was lovely, if you could get over the sewer smell around the hotel and the smell of oil burning throughout the country. . .
Saturday morning we caught the tour bus at 9 AM and went to Hammamet to the Medina market and to the carpet store, where between the three of us we managed to drop around $1700.  Oh, we are so good for the local economy.  So much for our cheap trip to Tunis!  Oh well, we have two new rugs for the house now.  Being shipped home, so don't have to worry for all of that!  Returned back in time for a quick lunch and more sunshine.  Both nights at the hotel, Mike and I stayed for the nightly entertainment.  The kids tried hard, but a bit corny.  The FIGHTS in the AUDIENCE both nights were more entertaining. . . Geez, give some people too much to drink and they just can't behave! 
Had to leave the hotel Sunday morning at 6:30 to get to the airport for our 9:10 flight.  Returned to Rome without any misadventure. 
Computer still messed up, new camera working great, going to the Embassy for a few books and groceries now.  Will post more pictures now and when my computer is fixed.

May 14, 2005

Miracles of miracles, but we have internet in the HOUSE NOW!!!!  I'm peeing my pants in excitement, don't know what to do first, but I guess I had better put some pictures up here so you can all see our beautiful mugs and, if you are interested, the beauty of Rome. . .
My parents arrived safely on Thursday, mid-morning, and I dragged them around Central Rome for a couple hours, wore 'em out, then plied then with beer upon our return home.  Mom caught a couple z's in the late afternoon, but Dad stayed up, so I had to feed them.  Made some scrumptious swordfish and asparagus, then off to The Albert for some 2 for 1 beers.  Got them sufficiently liquored up to put on the couch for the night.  Dad wanted to sleep on the floor, but once he finally got up from there, I think he enjoyed the bed more. . .  :-)
Friday morning was sprinkling, so had a little bit of a late start (probably due more to the hangovers than rain), and then off for some more sightseeing.  Went up the Spanish Steps and down the road to Villa Borghese, then past the Embassy and down to Piazza Republica.  Took a stroll down Nationale, where Mom found us some cool necklaces, and we grabbed some lunch and ate in Quirnale park.  Then down through the Trevi area, back to home.  We went to the DCM (second in charge of the Embassy) for a fundraising auction which included dinner, open bar and a silent and live auction where Mike and I managed to spend about $400. . . What are we going to do with all this STUFF!?!?!?  Got some neat things, though.  The event was supposed to end around 9, but we didn't get home until around 11:30.  Had a couple of nightcaps and off to bed.
This morning I walked them down to Capitolone Hill, showed them the Forum and then abandoned them there to stroll through the Forum, go to the Colloseum, and see the Palantine.   haven't heard from them in a couple hours, so hope all is well.  I'm sure it is.  We are off tonight for dinner at Otello's (don't die of jealousy, Jen, I'll have an artichoke for you!) with Francesca, her friend Anglea, Scott and us. 
Trying to help them plan their weeks here, but they already think they need more time (as has everyone, and they have twice as much time!). 
We four are going to Ostia Antica tomorrow, bearing there is no rain.  Denny and I went before he left, but Mike hasn't been yet, so will be a nice day for all.  I don't mind going back, as is always nice to get out of the city a bit!
So, anyway, will put some pics up here and on the Rome page for your enjoyment!

May 9, 2005

We survived another weekend in Rome. . . The weather was beautiful, and still is today.  Friday night we laid pretty low, just had a pizza up the street and then off to play darts for a little while.  The auction thing I mentioned yesterday is actually not until this Friday, and it's at the DCM's house, not the Ambassador's.  Maybe we'll take my folks, as they arrive on Thursday!
Saturday we went out to Appia Antica (Appian Way, or the old Rome into Rome) with our friend Dave and walked around for a while, mostly in the wrong direction.  Stopped and had lunch at a nice cafe and continued on in the RIGHT direction to the catacombs.  Took a little tour of one, but you couldn't take any pictures (not that we could have posted them anyway, alas).  The catacombs are underneath a church and in the church they have this pink marble floor that you can actually see fossils in the marble.  Fascinating.  The catacomb we were in used to hold about 40,000 bodies, fortunately they have taken them out. . .
Saturday night we went down to a bar near Piazza Navona with our friend Scott.  Met some fun people, including an 84 year old woman traveling to Rome for the first time with her son.  This woman was a riot, I can only hope to have my wits about me at her age (or even now for that matter).  Was an enjoyable, if not too late, night.  Sunday was BBQ Day at Scott's again (has become quite a tradition).  It's sooo pleasant to sit up on his terrace above all the street noise and eat until you can't move!!!
Got home and made respective calls to our Mother's for Mother's Day, and had so much fun we just kept calling people.  Must of spoke to about 10 different people.  Was fun to feel so in touch. 
Mostly just cleaning and laundry on the agenda for today, but wanted to come up and send a few emails and see what was new.  Will keep you updated on what is happening with our possible change in plans and of course, the eternal saga of the internet at our apartment. . .

May 6, 2005

Not much new to report, just thought I'd post before the weekend.  Went to the Hard Rock Cafe with a large group of people last night for the Cinco De Mayo party (Happy Birthday to Jennifer) and had a couple margarita's.  Met a gal from Ohio who is traveling Italy alone for two weeks and we dragged her down to the Green Rose for a couple beers and a couple games of darts.  She is a graduate from Cornell, working for Johnson and Johnson in marketing, same age as me. . . makes a lot of money.  I guess I should have went to Cornell, eh?  Naw!
May go to a Embassy fundraiser and the Ambassador's house tonight.  It's a silent and live auction with a dinner buffet.  Mike's checking on who is going.  I read about it in the newsletter a couple weeks ago, but forgot.  Tommy's wife asked us if we wanted to go on Wednesday.  Would be interesting to see the Ambassador's house, though. 
Not much planned for the weekend.  Still want/need to get down to the Appian Way, maybe I can talk Mike into it one day.  Not a big day trip or anything, so he may be willing. 
Saw some folks last night that we had met at one of Scott's BBQ's, they are here on contract with OBO for two years, arrived just after us.  The wife of one guy is really nice, and she got her haircut near my house the other day. . . it's really short and cute.  She said she had to find an "interpretor" at the shop next door, though.  Need to get this haircut thing handled.
One of the guy's at work is going to get us a Vatican basement tour, need to book ahead for it, but sounds interesting for 10 Euro. 
No  news from Washington on what is happening here yet, but nobody else seems to be in much of a panic, so gonna try to relax and assume everything is fine.
Telecom Italia turned our phone line back on last night around 5, but now our modem won't/can't talk to the line, so don't know what is happening, and won't be able to find out until next week.  Joy.  I'm tired of this being such a central point in my life!  Oh well, at least I can make a few overdue phone calls home!
All for now, have a good weekend, take care, and take care of each other.  Happy Mother's Day to all and any Mom's!!!

May 4, 2005

This is the color of the sky here. . . .
Oh, you know, life is always throwing us curve balls.  When we left to come to Rome, we knew the visa's issued at the airport were only good for 90 days, as did Mike's company.  We/they "assumed" that the Embassy could fix it once we were all here, and worse case scenario, we would have to leave the country for a weekend.  Alas, we must leave the EUROPEAN UNION.  And while my folks are visiting.  And because of this mess up and the fact that the project is behind, Washington may just decide we are outta here, and send us all someplace else.  Won't know for a few days.  IF we get to stay, and IF things go as planned we will fly to Istanbul, Turkey for the weekend.  Keep your fingers crossed for us that we get to come back to Rome (or stay, or whatever).
Sent the Frenchies packing today.  Had a great time with them, and sure they enjoyed their time here as well.  Gonna lay low the rest of the day, those guys wore me out, and I wasn't even with them the whole time!
Did get delivery of our modem last night.  Now if Italia Telecom will just restore our phone line so we can use it. . . .
Life's a journey and I definitely feel on the train today.  .  .

May 3, 2005

Oh my God we are having wonderful weather in Roma!  It has been blue and beautiful since Friday, and I can't get enough of it.  Mid 70's in the day, cools down at night for sleeping, walking around, etc.  Have even managed to get a "red neck" tan.  The days are getting longer, and I LOVE it.  If I haven't mentioned it, I LOVE IT HERE!  I NEVER WANT TO LEAVE.  Has been a fun couple of weeks, as Scott's parents are here, Tommy's wife is here (with more relatives coming this week), and we have had Roger and Frederique here since Friday night (they leave tomorrow), so we have our own big group of turisticas to move around with/in.  Just need a tour guide. . . .
Per the dilemma of the internet.  Due to Mike's friend at work calling his friend at the phone company, etc. (you know the saga) we have finally had delivered to the Embassy our DSL line.  However, on Thursday, the phone company decided we did not need dial tone in our apartment anymore.  By the time we figured it out, we couldn't call until Monday.  They "hope" to have the problem resolved in 48 hours.  Trust me, I am not holding my breath.  I can't believe after two months of waiting, they shut our phone off.  Two different stories regarding why they did it, one was non-payment (this is what they told Mike's friend) and one was "technical difficulties" (which is what they told my landlady who pays the bill).  We'll see.  I think they accidently shut it off and need 2 days to turn it back on, because they don't need to visit the house for the technical problems.  Hmmmm.   I'm trying not to let this get to me. . . BUT IT DOES!!!!!
Enough.  Looking forward to a wonderful week.  Spent Saturday and Sunday doing "perfect" things, just strolling around, having a couple drinks at various places, a nice lunch near Piazza Navona at a restaurant Frederique found in her guidebook called "The Fig Tree".  Saturday night we had a group of 11 at our favorite trattoria, Otello's.  Sunday we were off and running once again down to the Colloseum and Forum, but it was closed as it was Mayday.  Walked around a bit then sent the kids on their way to Travestere.  Had a BBQ at Scott's later in the afternoon, and were sufficiently worn out and tired to have earned a gelato and a beer.  Nice day, nice night, good company.
Yesterday we went down to the Vatican and saw St. Pete's and the square, but the line for the museum was sooooooo long (almost a kilometer) that we passed.  Roger and Frederique got up early this morning and went back, and they are having lunch waiting for me to meet up with them in Piazza Navona (at the fig restaurant again).  I did "chores" this morning, a little shopping, cleaning, laundry.  Also found a belt and some nickel free earrings. . .
Did hear from Mike's Mom, and it looks like her and her friend Eleanor are thinking/trying to come over in June.   That will be fun for her and Mike (and me!).  Thought we might get a month "off", but doesn't look like it.  Glad for her, though.  She just finally "retired" and is looking forward to seeing a little of the world.
Did I mention that I love this place?!?!?!

April 28, 2005

I am a certifiable idiot.  Got up at 5 am this morning to go for a 30 minute metro ride down to St. Paul's in order to get Vatican first issue coins.  A whole bunch of the guys wanted them, and rumor was you could buy a maximum of 5 of each sets, the 23 Euro ones and the 125 Euro ones.  Collector's items, etc.  So, collected a bunch of money last night and went.  They actually didn't start selling them until 8 am, but when I arrived at 6 there was much evidence that probably about 2000 people had camped out overnight.  While being pushed aggressively through the line we were stepping over cushions, lawn chairs, mattresses, cardboard boxes (ironically, posters of John Paul II looked like popular sleeping material), and all the debris that comes with a bunch of people camping out on the street, bottles, food, trash bags, etc.  After waiting until 9 ish, we were ushered into a large concrete garage area where we were given a ticket of what we could buy.  We were all eligible for ONE 23 Euro set.  Now, I still had another hour or more wait, but what's a girl to do. . . LEAVE?  So I stood in line with over 800 Euro cash in my purse to buy one measly little set.  It better be worth something some day!  Plus, I have to say, this was a crowd of mostly older Italians, and I have never waited in a line with more RUDE people.  They were pushing, shoving, cutting, running. . . it was insane.  I yelled at a few of them, and they'd relax for about 30 seconds.  Scary thing was they shut the line off about 50 people behind me, so wasn't even sure after all that waiting if I would even get my set.  But, I did.  Stopped at internet cafe on the way home, gonna grab the paper and go take a nap!  This body ain't used to getting up at 5!!
On a better note, spring has finally sprung in Roma and the last three days have been the most beautiful we've had.  In the 70's in the day, with total sun and a cool breeze, drops down at night to make it bearable.  Have seen a hint of what the mid-summer heat would make this city like, however.  Getting train/bus directions to the beaches.  Guess there's a decent one about 45 minutes away.
Our friend Tommy who lives on the Spanish Steps (literally) has his wife visiting right now and yesterday morning they saw TOM CRUISE (and his girlfriend. . . YAWN) on the Spanish Steps through their window, and took some pictures.  Now I'm on Tom Cruise alert. . . he's gotta be here somewhere!  Caroline (Tommy's wife) talked to his bodyguard and he even moved out of the way so she could get a better shot.  Told her to sell them to the National Enquirer.
Have basically just been walking around enjoying the weather.  Will have to go and "retake" a bunch of pictures now that all the trees are coming into bloom.  Will make everything look different, I'm sure.
Uncle Roger and Aunt Frederique arrive tomorrow night (late) from Paris for a short visit.  Should be fun to see them!
Ciao for now!

April 22, 2005

Just a boring couple days as of late, so not much new to report as far as activities.  Just been kicking back and recuperating from a busy couple weeks.  Mike is plugging away at work, making headway, but still convinced we might need some extra time here. . . which is okay by me!  I've just been doing my "wifely duties" (not those), cooking, laundry, cleaning, shopping.  Just washing the sheets is a half day chore here.  I should just go to the laundry, but I guess I must be lazy.  Got up this morning and went to the Embassy to restock my book supply. . . planning on going to the park(s) and just relaxing for a couple days.
Today the weather is the best it's been in weeks, and I hope it is finally here to stay.  Francesca is going to take us to the sea one day this weekend for fish dinner at one of her favorite restaurants.  Not sure what day we are going, but am excited about it.  Especially as she is taking us in her car. 
Hopefully on Tuesday I'll have internet and will be able to post some pictures!  Happy TGIF to everyone, and have a good weekend!

April 20, 2005

Well, we are incredible losers, as we didn't believe that they would actually elect a Pope yesterday, and were sitting in the bar at the Hard Rock Cafe when the white smoke blew. . . did get to see it on TV, though.  Everyone was going crazy in the bar, and it sure looked like a mad house at Saint Peter's.  Mad at ourselves for missing it, but was planning on going twice today.  Cardinals were just too fast.  Obviously, they don't expect to get 27 years from this Pope.  Maybe they'll need another one even before we leave. . . .
Good news is they'll get the Sistine Chapel open again! 
After we watched the hoopla on TV over the new Pope, we headed out for dinner to a different restaurant in our neighborhood. . . Madonna ate there once.  It was okay, but for the money I think I prefer our standby.  Early night, as the Joyce's left this morning, and I took them down to the train station to see them off to the airport.  It was a wonderful visit with good friends.  I think after these last two sets of visitors, Mike and I will get lonely with just ourselves.  Plus, our friend Scott's parents arrived this morning for three weeks, so probably won't see much of him for a while, either. 
Today is a "Celebration of Life" party for my Aunt Marilyn.  She was cremated, and per her wishes there will be no funeral or visitation.  Seems like a neat thing to do, get everyone together who loved her and appreciate her life.  Wish I could be there.
Rumor of the moment:  I will have internet access in my apartment by next Wednesday.  Mike finally got the Embassy involved with the phone company, and after a lot of yelling and phone calls, we find out that the order for the ADSL line keeps getting cancelled by that notorious "someone" (they don't know who. . . hmmm) and now they are going to deliver all the good to Mike at the Embassy.  But, it will still take a week. . . I think I want to work for the Italian Telecom, doesn't seem like that much work!
It really has been cool having people here, it gives me a whole new look on Rome and makes me realize how "spoiled" I am.  It's fun to be with people who see everything through fresh eyes and truly appreciate the beauty of this city.  Joyce can't believe that there could be another city in the world as beautiful as this one.  And, even though they had a bad experience on Sunday, they were able to put it behind them, cut their losses, and still enjoy the rest of their time here.  My brother Denny said coming to Rome was his trip of a lifetime.  That's soooo cool.  Plus, it's way more fun for me to have people to hang out with for some of the time while Mike is at work. 
So, we have a new Pope, the city should settle down a bit over the next week and we won't be on the news 24/7 anymore I'm sure.  It seems so weird to turn the TV on every morning and have it be broadcasting live from Rome.  And every evening, too.  Enough already!  Go somewhere else!  Heehee.

April 19, 2005

Last night was a quiet night, had some take-away pizza at the house and played cards til about 11.  Everyone had a long day.
Went to St. Peter's square at noon today to see the smoke from Conclave, but alas, it was black, so not historic smoke, but still cool to see.  The Joyce's were keen on going, and so was I.  Now wondering if I should go back tonight, see if it's white.  Was suprised how few people were there (comparatively speaking, there was a lot of people there, but only for about a 20 minute window, waiting for the smoke).  Had a quick coffee, then continued on to Piazza Navona, after crossing the Tiber on the bridge of the seven stations of the cross.
Had a light lunch near Navona, then left the Joyce's to wander home.  It's their last day and they have some shopping to complete.  We are going to try a new restaurant (new to us not new) near our house for their going away meal tonight.
Not much else happening right now. . . wish the weather would warm up a bit, has been cold the last couple days.

April 17, 2005

Well, it's been a wild and interesting weekend, culiminating into Sunday, which will go down in history as being "Black Sunday" from here on out.  Awoke Saturday to a steady rain, which pretty muched wrecked our plans of going to the Appian Way, so settled for taking the Joyce's over to Travestere.  Subwayed it half the way, still had a nice walk in the rain.  Did stop and have a nice lunch in Piazza de St. Maria in Travestere, and then on to the church.  After lunch, the sun came out and we had a leisurely stroll back to the house, stopping for cappaciuno and people watching late afternoon.  We also had planned our dinner reservations at Otello's (our favorite neighborhood restaurant), so was a big culinary day, with lots of pasta ingested.  Francesca came and met us for an after dinner drink, and we got home and settled in sometime after midnight.
Awoke Sunday to more rain.  The Joyce's had planned on spending the day in Ostia Antica, the ruined city just 30 miles outside of Rome.  The were going to try and get back in time for a BBQ that Scott was hosting in the afternoon, so they got a pretty early start, hoping the weather would clear off.  Unfortunately, after their arrival in Ostia, it started to HAIL, and lasted for almost an hour, giving them an opportunity to see something that most people have never seen. . . Ice covered roads in Ostia.  Needless to say, they didn't see much of the ruins, had waded through knee deep ice water to get back to the train, and were slightly aggravated with the situation. . . . but wait, there's more.  Upon changing stations in Rome, they were pickpocketed and promptly relieved of two credit cards and 200 Euro, and John's Dad's money clip. 
They arrived home wet and shell shocked around 2 pm.  In the meantime, the BBQ had been cancelled due to weather, so we spent the rest of the afternoon trying to figure out how to report the credit and debit cards stolen, and getting them situated to file a police report.  In the interim, I called my father to see if he could help us out by looking for information on line, and he had to sadly inform me that my Aunt Marilyn had passed away on Saturday night.  It seemed the hits just kept on coming. 
Being halfway across the world when such things are happening at home leaves you feeling very isolated, and I promptly retreated to my bed, climbing under my comforter, but finding very little comfort in anything.  Grief and isolation seem to not be a great combination.  Needless to say, the stress of everyone's various situations was thick in the air.  I did, however, make myself get up and call home later in the day, where I was able to speak to my parents, brothers, and sister-in-law, which left me feeling a little better, but still in a  zombie like state, similar to what you feel like after flying for 24 hours. . . 
We had a quiet evening at home playing cards and hoping for a better day on Monday, and strange as it can be, things did look better this morning.  The sky was blue, the sun was shining and we headed up to the Embassy around 9:30 for a quick tour and a shopping spree through the commissary (the Joyce's now own more clothes that say "US Embassy" than Mike and I combined), and then they were off to see the Colloseum, Forum, and Palantine. 
Don't know what I am doing the rest of the day today, but tomorrow John and I are going over to the Vatican to look for the smoke from the Sistine Chapel.  I'm sure it will be black, indicating no new Pope, but would be cool if it was white.  A once in a lifetime opportunity, though, to be in Rome during Conclave, so will have to check it and the crowds out.
On a side note, we had an interesting antecdote on Thursday night (the night the Joyce's arrived).  John got up sometime in the wee hours of the night to go to the bathroom, and took a wrong turn out of the bathroom and ended up in bed with Mike and I.  Had to gently ask him what he was doing in our bed. . . and I don't think his feet hit the floor from our bed to his. . . he was scampering.  Funniest thing was he was the only person to actually remember it in the morning without being reminded. 
It has been fun having guests for the last couple weeks, makes it feel like we really haven't totally left home, what with family and friends around.  John and Joyce leave on Wednesday, and then our next guests will arrive on the 29th (Uncle Roger and Aunt Frederique from Paris).  Busy busy busy. . .

April 15, 2005

The Joyce's are officially in Rome, and I had an official hangover this morning.  The driver picked them up, as arranged, and brought them directly to our front door.  It was early for them, as their flight landed at 7:50 AM, and they hadn't slept a wink.  Took them out for a quick orientation walk/sightseeing cruise from the Spanish Steps to the Trevi Fountain, to the Pantheon, to Lago Argentina, to Campo di Fiori to Piazza Navona, then to the bar for some sleeping medicine.  Got home about 3, they napped til Mike came home, then off to the bar again.  No dinner in anyone, just some snacks and lots of beer.  Everyone slept great last night.
Went over to the Vatican this morning, Left them there about 11 am.  Haven't heard from them, so I hope all is well.  Had an opportunity to stand in line for 3 hours in order to get "vacant Vatican" commerative stamps.  Passed on that.  But, just looked on Ebay and they are selling for around $100 set.  I guess you can only buy one set at a time (30 stamps) for about $30, so if I kept standing in line I could sell them and make around $200/day.  Naw.
Forgot a funny antcedote from my brother's and Jennifer's visits.  At Pompeii Denny peed in a porta-potty with an electric door, and it wouldn't stay shut and the sirens were going off the entire time he emptied his bladder. . . was the funniest thing I saw, and needed it, as I was a bit ornery and grumpy that morning. 
Planning on going to the Appia Antica with the Joyce's, Mike and a couple guys from work (Scott and Tommy) tomorrow, check out the catacombs and the aquaducts.  This is the old road into Rome.  More rocks.
Look for us on the news today, as we were cruising St. Peter's Square and everyone is getting set up for 24/7 coverage on the Conclave I'm sure.

April 13, 2005

Okay, the first wave of visitors have left Rome, Chris and Jennifer yesterday, and Denny this morning.  Our next guests arrive TOMORROW!  Yikes!  Looks like a day of cleaning and laundry for me.
Had a wonderful, and very busy time with family last week, though.  Some highlights:
Saw older, short woman walking down the main road into the Vatican wearing nothing but a sweater (and not too long either), stopped to buy a pop, show us her bottom, etc.  Walked by three cops, too.  No one seemed to take much interest, but I did get a photo in.
Lost Jennifer within the first 7 minutes we were inside Pompeii's walls.  This is a 5 km square complex.  Refound her after about an hour and a half.  There were 9 of us there, and then there were 8.  No worries, she says we were the one's lost.
Chris, Jennifer and Denny saw nuns at the Colosseum being lifted up and thrown around by the guys dressed as gladiators.
Saw some firsts myself. . . Denny running, Chris in a rain poncho.  Scary stuff.
Seriously, though, we were able to see lots of things and everyone was pleased with the trip to Pompeii.  They all met my friend Francesca, she came over and made us homemade risotto for dinner one night.  SOOOO good.  Hope I can remember how she did it, there was a bit of wine involved. . . and not in the cooking.  Went to our favorite neighborhood place for dinner on Monday night, everyone enjoyed that immensely, and I met the owner finally (lady named Julia, really nice). 
Yesterday, when it was just me and Denny, we went to Ostia Antica, another city of ruins near Rome (30 minutes by train).  Was cool, not as big as Pompeii, but more greenery.  Think I'll use it as a park if the weather gets too warm around here.
Latest on the Pope:
1.  He's dead.
2.  Sistine Chapel will be closed until well after a new one is elected.  Bummer.  I haven't even been in there yet, and now it will probably be late May or early June before it reopens!
3.  Conclave starts on Monday.  SMOKE DETECTION DUTY coming up.
4.  Most of the hordes of tourists have left Rome, we walked right into St. Peter's Basillica on Monday, no waiting. 
5.  Vatican is issuing a special stamp only valid for mailing until there is a new Pope.  Have to hustle down there and get one before they make a snap decision and my chance is gone!
Can't think of much more to post right now, too early in the morning!

April 4, 2005

As everyone knows, the Pope passed on Saturday night.  We got the news after having had a wonderful rooftop American BBQ at our friend Scott's house, then wandering over to a local watering hole for a night cap.  The rumors had been flying that he was already dead and the Vatican was waiting until Tuesday to announce it as they have their elections this week.  But, alas, there was no major cover-up and he had passed on.  Heard the bells toll through our drunken haze and stumbled home to watch TV.  Seems very strange to be watching CNN and having them live only about a 15 minute walk from our house, and feel so very unaffected.  Not by his death, but by the crowds and mourners that are already streaming in.  There were people standing "watch" all night, and there are people who waited in line all night last night in order to be in line to see his body today.  They won't even move him until later this afternoon, and I can't imagine standing out there for this amount of time.  Especially because the closest public toilet is about 7 minutes away, so you'd best have someone guarding your space!
The news is saying that over 2 million people will arrive this week for the funeral and to pay their respects.  I can't even imagine.  I think I will put a sign at the end of my street and charge people 2 Euro to pee.  Could probably make a mint.
So, Denny, Chris and Jen should arrive tomorrow, hopefully.  Chris and Jen are flying stand-by, so I hope to GOD they make it on their flight, and I also hope they have no trouble when they go to leave.  I'm sure this city will be turned upside down in the next few weeks.  Now I have to get over to the Sistine Chapel (what a great time to do that, with hundred of thousands of others), or wait until after the Conclave and a new pope is elected, as it will be closed for the entire time.  Not sure if our guests this week and next will even get the opportunity.  It's only open most days from 9 am to 2:30, maybe they'll have extended hours due to the tourists.
Obviously, an historic and interesting time to be in Rome, but if you aren't standing in St. Peter's Square, it's pretty hard to tell a difference from any other time.  Will have to go down during conclave and watch for the smoke, though.  Will be cool if I hit it on the day it's white. (For those who don't know, they have an election by written ballot everyday amongst the cardinals, and if they do not have a 2/3rds majority then they do not have a Pope and must wait for the next vote.  Then they burn the ballots and black smoke comes out of the top of the Vatican.  When they do have a new Pope, they add chemicals to the fire so the smoke burns white).
Planning a trip to Pompeii on Saturday, we have about nine people going.  I am going to meet Francesca for lunch so she can tell me/show me what we need to do to get there.  First, however, I need to go to the Embassy and get some new books!  Spent the weekend trying to make the one I was reading last. . . .
Internet update.  Still don't have it.  Landlady says she is going to buy what we need today, but I don't honestly think she even knows what we need.  She is coming by at 5 with whatever she bought, and then she says when the phone company shows up with their stuff she will take it for her husband.  Should be interesting, as always, but probably will not solve our problems.

March 28, 2005

Yes, I know I have been bad as far as updating this sight but you know how it is. . . after a while we are just doing the same ol' stuff so nothing new and interesting to report.  In fact, as I'm sitting here I'm trying to figure out what I even did last week!  I know I spent at least two whole mornings just sitting around the apartment waiting for the phone people to come (which they STILL haven't), so that was exciting, and I remember doing some laundry, grocery shopping at the Embassy  and cleaning as well.  Hmmm. . . what else?  Seems I walked around a little and took some pictures. 
Had a fairly unexciting Easter weekend, but this city sure does close down for the holiday!  They call it the festival of eating, but not for us alas, as most of the restaurants and grocery stores are closed.  We had the traditional Easter dinner of tacos at home!  Then we watched a movie.  Did make it over to the Vatican, but not in time to see the Pope's 12 minute appearance.  Rumor in Rome was he would not be out at all, so we didn't go.  Also due to the fact we were in the pub on Saturday night until way too late playing darts!
One week from today my brothers Chris and Denny and Chris' wife Jennifer will all be here!  Our first Roman guests!  I have to get a few things sorted out, including getting the roll-away bed over to our house from Tommy's.  He just lives a five minute walk from us, but we are gonna look like goofs pushing that thing around over the cobblestones, that's for sure.
We did find a pub within 7 minutes of our house the other night that has a nice dart board and cheap (in comparison) pints, so I think we have found a home. . . 
Went to lunch with Francesca last week Wednesday, about killed me.  Too much wine and food in the afternoon.  We found out from some folks at the Embassy that they call this the 20 pound post.  Meaning, if you are posted here for 2 years, you will gain 20 pounds.  Starting to believe it, if it wasn't for the walking around I probably would have already gained 5! 
Speaking of walking around, I'm off and ready to go!  Hope everyone had a great Easter weekend!

March 21, 2005

Unbelievable that we've been here three weeks today.  Seems like quite a blur, and in about two weeks our first guests will arrive!  Craziness. 
Word on the street is our phone and internet will be turned on Wednesday. . . We will see.  Hoping so.
Had a wonderful weekend, the weather was beautiful.  Friday I walked around and saw some things (Theater Marcello, Largo Argentina, Plaza Republica, got kinda lost up around our favorite little British bar, figured it out when I tripped over the Chinese restaurant we've been frequenting) then out for dinner with Scott and Francesca (again).  Was a bit messed up, as the the Italians are notorious for taking a long time to serve a two course dinner, but after waiting forever, Francesca finally inquired to where our food was, and apparently the kitchen had "lost" our order.  Ended up eating our main course about 11 pm, seemed dumb to be eating by that time.
After dinner we went over to our apartment for a night cap, everyone left around 1 am (except Mike, I let him stay).  Laid pretty low most of Sautrday, checked out Scott's new apartment, had a little lunch, until the evening when we went back down to the notorious party area of Campo di Fiori (not party like night clubs, but more a place so "see and be seen").  Was fun.  Sunday we got up early and went to the flea market (junk).  It was so completely overrun with people shoving and pushing and looking at junk, that we could only take about an hour of it, hit the streets of Trevestere (section of Rome), and ended up climbing a large hill up to a beautiful park and look out point over the city of Rome.  Biggest disappointment, you can't really see the ruins that well, as they are quite far off and low.  But, still cool.  Then we went down to a square called Piazza de Santa Maria and had a nice (and expensive) lunch at a restaurant that an Italian guy Mike works with had recommended.  Then a leisurely stroll home.  Later, I didn't feel so well, had a bit of a fever, but sent Mike out with Tommy and Scott til about 10 for a couple beers. 
All and all, a nice weekend.  Hope you can all say the same! 

March 17th - Saint Patty's Day!!!!!

The luck of the Irish to you all!  Nothing new to report, just wanted to post for Saint Pat's Day.  Planning on hitting a few Irish Pub's tonight, sure they will be MOBBED.  Far cry from last year, though!
Last night we hit a local restaurant in our neighborhood called Otello de Concordia, right on via Croce.  Was excellent food and reasonably priced.  The four of us went (Mike and I, Scott and Tommy), had two bottles of wine, two bottles of mineral water, we all had a starter and a main course.  Total price for four:  80 Euro.  Not bad, really, considering you could do it for a lot less if you skipped/split a starter and the wine (it wasn't that great).  Hilarious thing though, you could SMOKE THERE!  So, I text messaged our friend Francesca who is taking us out tomorrow to a restaurant we can smoke in, turns out it's the SAME PLACE.  Rome - it's such a small city!  Heehee.
Slainte!  (Gaelic for Cheers!)

March 16, 2005

Well, had a big day yesterday. . . have been walking around quite a bit, trying to discover "routes" that our upcoming visitors might want to take. . . the one I took yesterday is NOT recommended!!!  Craziness.  By the time I finally got the destination I was looking for, I was too whipped to take the "tour".  Granted, I saw some interesting things along the way, but didn't get to do what I wanted!  And, after all that walking, I was only about 22 minutes away from my apartment.  Seems there might have been an easier way, eh????  Idiot.
It's not hard to get turned around here, however.  They say all roads lead to Rome, seems the roads in Rome lead every which way.  You do tend to walk around looking like a "turistica" with your nose buried either in a guide book or map.  But, you don't feel lonely, as everyone else is doing the same thing.  This place is COMPLETELY OVERRUN with tourists already, I can't imagine what it will be like next month.  There's no room for more people!  And, like the arrogant b*tch I am, I am already tired of all the tourists in my neighborhood. . . heehee. 
The weather has improved dramatically since Saturday.  It's probably about 60 and sunny, beautiful blue skies.  Loving it!  Sorry about the snowflakes you all are getting back home. 
Today, however, was a very interesting day.  Our landlady also owns the apartment next door, and yesterday she discovered the outer door key she has does not work.  So, she took Mike's last night to make a copy and told me she would return it in the "morning".  So, I got up and decided to do a little cleaning, which turned into about 3 hours of scouring and laundry, and she still hadn't shown up.  Now, we need this key, so I thought I'd better wait around.  But, I hadn't taken a shower yet, and didn't want to miss her. . . dilemma.  So it's 11:30 and I quick jump in for a quick wash up, and of course as I step out of the shower buck naked, she rings the bell.  Dang, dang, dang!
So, quickly throw my pajamas back on (wet body), and go to the door.  And now she wants a quick chat, wants me to go to the window and wave down to her husband (who is very ill), yadda yadda yadda.  I'm like, go away so I can get dry and dressed!  So, by 12:15 I'm doing okay, my apartment is clean, I've done two loads of laundry that are drying on the line, and I'm ready to roll, except the phone rings and it is the realtor telling me the television technicians are coming in "10 minutes".  Mike has been "DYING" because he has had no television at home for a WEEK!  Apparently, 10 minutes in Rome is a half an hour, but they do show up, and neither of them speaks English. . . so, now we are calling to the realtor and trying to communicate, etc.  Lots of fun.  
While they are there, a guy from the phone company drops off a complicated looking telephone (we are still waiting for our internet and phone in the apartment, I'm thinking, SUCCESS, we have a phone line).  So, I unpack this contraption, get it plugged in and connected to the phone jack, and nothing.  Meanwhile, the techs are climbing ladders and taking panels off my walls and generally making a mess of my FRESHLY CLEANED APARTMENT!  AHHHHRGGG!
Then I call the realtor, so she can translate something that Doriano is trying to tell me, and tell her about the phone situation (thinking there is something wrong with my jack as well, plus wondering where my ISDN line connections is).  Things progress, another one of our realtors has to come over to the apartment, get the satellite box from the apartment next door, yadda yadda yadda.  Finally, after 3 1/2 hours, we now have BBC, one English channel.  Wow. 
Turns out the telephone tech that stopped by was just delivering my phone, we are not actually connected yet. . . Makes sense only in Italy. . . here's your phone, but you have no service yet.  Plus, found out that it will probably cost about 2 euro an hour to be on line.  Apparently Italy has not heard about fixed price ISDN yet. . .
Needless to say, it was an interesting and frustrating day.  By the time I left at 3:30 to come to the internet cafe I was exasperated!  And, I have to be back by 5:15, AS MY HUSBAND DOESN'T HAVE A KEY!!!!!!!
Tomorrow's St. Patty's Day.  Few Irish Pubs around to have a drink in, but I'm sure it will not rival our day last year, walking in the St. Patty's Day parade in Tokyo. 
Went out last night to a famous drinking hole called "Trinity College" for dinner and drinks with Scott and his new friend Francesca.  She is wonderfully nice, speaks perfect English, and I think has adopted me (when Scott called her to ask her out for a drink and dinner, she asked if I was coming. . . hmmmm).  Anyway, we all have a date to go out for dinner on Friday.  Get this, she says she knows a restaurant in Rome you can SMOKE in!  (Note to the uninformed:  Precisely before we got here, Rome passed a law banning smoking in all restuarants, bars, cafes, etc., been fun).  A night to look forward to.
All to report for now.  Wondering if anyone has an airbed (twin)?

March 14, 2005

Well, didn't check email all weekend, and as expected, had to play catch-up for about an hour already today at the internet cafe!  Thanks for all the contact, though.  It's nice to hear from everyone.  Realize that my sight is a bit boring without pictures, but not much I can do.  Hopefully by the end of the week we will have internet at the apartment. . . just waiting on those silly Italians at the phone company. 
Spent Saturday at the Colleseum, the Forum and Palatine (old Roman ruins).  A little dissappointing in comparison to Roman ruins I have seen elsewhere.  Apparently the Romans of the Middle to Renasaince era's ripped down their own old ruins to build other buildings, so hard to tell what you are actually looking at.  Wandered around for most of the day looking at rocks, though, then off for a late lunch/early dinner at a Romanian place that served Italian food behind the Colleseum.  Going back down to the same area today to investigate a few other things we missed (it was getting cold, we were getting hungry, and there's only so much we wanted to do in one day). 
Went out to a British Pub near the Trevi fountain for snacks and beverages later with Scott, Tommy and an Italian girl named Francesca.  All was fun, and home in bed by midnight.
Sunday we had a slow morning.  Were going to go to this big flea market, but by the time we got motivated, realized it was only from 7 - 1, so we missed it.  Instead wandered down to the Campo di Fiori (plaza surrounded by artisan streets, markets, and pubs) and to Plaza Navona.  Spent most of the time looking at touristy art work, having a couple pints and enjoying sitting outside.  Later, Scott came down and met us at a place called Sloppy Sam's for a pint, and we sat outside under the heat lamps.  Can't wait until that's not a necessity!
So, a slow, but fun weekend.  Thinking I'm liking this city, but after two weeks, don't feel like I know it very well yet!  There is just so much here, depending on what you are interested in.  Art, sculpture, history.  It can be a little overwhelming and you wonder what you are "missing" by not knowing everything you are looking at, etc.  Hard to walk around with your nose in a guidebook all the time, too.  Sometimes you just want to take it in. . . not worry about it. 
The busses are still a problem, haven't figured them out yet. . . Oh well, getting lots of exercise walking around! 

March 11, 2005

Thought I could outsmart the internet cafe, brought my memory stick in to download photos, but alas, it won't recognize my stick!  Drat!  You will have to wait until we have internet in out apartment (which will still be about 8 more days, they say). 
Went down to the Vatican yesterday, walked around a bit, trying to get organized and familiar with major sights so as not to be a disappointing tour guide to our upcoming guests. . .  This morning I'm off to the department store to try and find some "decent" towels, the ones provided at our apartment are a bit skimpy, look like hand towels.  On the other hand, they do get us dry. . .heehee.
Off to the Irish Pub (Fiddler's Elbow) tonight.  Can't believe we haven't been there yet.  Already have my darts in my purse!
Much warmer today. . . feels like spring.  COOL!
Many of my pictures from the Pantheon didn't turn out and from the War Memorial.  My camera seems to be having trouble focusing, so will revisit those sights today on my way to the Collesuem.  Just got my brother Denny's itinerary and my folks, so things are actually happening as far as guests coming.  YEAH! 
Uncle Roger, if you are reading this, email me.  I have sent a few emails regarding you guys visiting, but haven't heard back.  Maybe I have the wrong email address?
Cindy, if you are reading this, I have tried to reply to your email four times and it keeps coming back to me as undeliverable.  Did you get fired?  HAHAHAHA  Anyway, look for an email from my brother Denny, he's gonna try and forward it to you.
All for now, gotta get out of this internet cafe, I think they think I'm gonna buy it or something.

March 10, 2005

Okay, now we have a home, but we need some groceries and essentials.  That's my day today, although I think I'll take a quick trip over to the Vatican, just to check it out.  Not gonna spend a lot of time there today, just want to get my bearings.  Climbed a bunch of stairs yesterday to the Villa Borghese were they have a lookout that you can see the Vatican.  Looks cool.  Will let you know.  Still waiting on Mike to go to the Collesuem, don't know why, I should just go!  Not like I'll only see it once or anything!
Hope I can get back in our apartment, keys look very complicated. . .

March 9, 2005

Oh my glamorous life in Roma!  Yesterday morning I spent my time lugging our laundry across town in my carryon, through three metro stops and down a side street to a combination internet cafe/laundry.  Got it all done pretty quickly, it was the trip that wore me out.  We do have a washing machine in our new apartment, but after 9 days of accumulated dirty clothes, felt it would be better to just "get er done".  Plus, we don't have a dryer, just a cute clothesline outside our kitchen window.  Anyway, just another example of how us jetsetters spend our time. . . heehee.
We are moving tonight to our new apartment.  YEAH!  Means I will spend tomorrow getting it stocked with such items as coffee maker, toaster, FOOD, drink, etc.  Should be fun.  Sometime I will have to find some time for sightseeing.  After I posted Sunday, I walked back home to our apartment and it started raining again, so we did nothing.  I just don't see the point of running all over in crappy weather.  Not like we have to.
Found a Chinese place the other night.  Pretty cheap eats for a three course meal, and tasty too.  Not real convenient to where we live, but not too bad.  I know this is hard to believe, but this is just such a TOURIST TOWN!  heehee.
So, not much new to report.  All is well here.  Hope all is well at home!

March 6, 2005

Oh, finally the rain has stopped!  It rained all day Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  Was sunny yesterday during the day, then hailed last night and thunderstormed, but has cleared off this morning and looks like it will be a nice day.  Trying to talk Mike into going to a flea market on the other side of the Tiber river, but not really his "scene".  Either I'll go by myself or we'll go to the colloseum. 
Yesterday we secured an apartment in a beatiful and convenient area right near the Spanish Steps.  This should be a much more centrally located placed to start walking tours from, and so much more to do and see.  For our future guests, it is only a one bedroom, but the sitting area is nice and has a pull out couch.  I don't think it's the largest pull out couch I've ever seen, but we are going to look into finding one of those air beds, too.  That might be more comfortable.
Then Mike and I checked out a few sights, including the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and Parliament, in addition to wandering down Via de Corso and doing some window shopping.  Met up with some of the other guys, and hit an Irish Pub for a quick bite and a pint.  I had calzone!  Yummy.
Hoping to move in this week, and will have ISDN line, so can get some pics up for everyone!  Been having trouble with my camera, though.  The battery doesn't want to hold a charge and about every fourth picture turns out very blurry.  I hope i don't have to buy ANOTHER camera here in Rome.
Laid low last night, didn't go out at all after we arrived home at 7:30.  For whatever reason  I couldn't sleep, got up at 2, took a couple valium, still didn't go to sleep til after 3.  Can't believe it was jet lag this late in the game!
So, speak to you soon and looking forward to posting some pics to share our experiences!

March 2, 2005

Hah!  Poor Mike, I gave him my cold, now he's suffering. 
Okay, don't laugh, but we went back to the Hard Rock for Happy Hour last night (hey, you can't beat two for one drinks and half price appetizers in this town).  Had a nice time and met two gals from Canada who have an Italian background and now live here, one for two years, one for five weeks.  They took us to a restaurant next to our apartment that is a traditional Italian trattoria.  Which means you basically eat for about an hour and a half - including tiramisu.  Anyone coming to visit will probably have to go there with us!  It was good, very different.  Started with lots of tapas, pasta, then a small main course of sausage and cheese, then dessert.  And, of course, lots of vino!  Not cheap, though (like the Hard Rock. . .heehee).
One of the girls, Berbarita, was a lawyer in Canada, but isn't working here, so that is cool, cause they live very close to us and she just got here too.  So, looks like I'll have a lunch date if I want!  She seems super nice, despite the fact that she's drop dead gorgeous!
This morning I went down the Spanish Steps to the Trevi Fountain area to get our phones registered and going.  Seems I keep seeing the same sites, need to get organized and get out there.  Gonna save the Collesuem and Roman Forum til this weekend, cause Mike wants to go, too.  Maybe it will be a little warmer then, as well.
Doing a lot of walking, though.  The metro doesn't seem that good, too far away from everything, although I did take a ride yesterday, as I was lost after I left the internet cafe, had no idea where I was.  Got lost again after exiting the subway.  Think I got it down now, though.  Biggest problem:  Left the house without a map. . . idiot.
Sorry about lack of pics, will try to remedy that this weekend.  Maybe I can go to the Embassy and post some.  The internet cafe doesn't let you hook anything up, so can't dump pics on it, and no internet at apartment.  Needless to say, it's darn purty here, though. 
Okay, out of the cafe and out into the world!  Miss you all!

March 1, 2005

Finally here!  Long flight with my terrible cold, but we made it okay.  Spent the ENTIRE day yesterday in bed sleeping, trying to get better so I could enjoy Rome this week.  Worked a little, as I can actually breathe today! 
Our first meal in Rome was at the Hard Rock Cafe, I'm embarassed to say!  We all woke up around 4:30 hungry and went out for a walk.  Apparently, everything closes after lunch until dinner time which is 7:30 - 8 pm.  So, my first meal in Rome was buffalo wings and spring rolls.  Good news, it was happy hour so we had two for one drinks and half price appetizers.  Will have to change things up today. 
Our hotel is very Spartanesque.  Ugly and utilitarian, no phone, no internet.  I walked around for two hours this morning looking for an internet cafe, finally found one down near the train staion.  There had to be one closer, but I didn't see it.  Mike packed tha map, so I couldn't find that this morning, so although I saw some cool things, I have no idea what they were!
Until we have better internet access, probably won't be able to post many pictures, but will work on that!
Just wanted you all to know we arrived safe and sound.  Cold as heck though, my first "Roman" purchase was a pair of gloves!

February 23, 2004

Okay, we are finally getting ready to roll on outta here!  Almost forgot what our job was, lately.  Have had a busy month, Mike needed lots of medical attention while we were home, starting with his physical.  They found some melanoma on his face, which he had surgery for last week (gets his stitches out tomorow) and a few other procedures that were mostly just preventative.  He's been such a healthy guy that he's been quite bothered by all the "attention".  Anyway, I think we finally have him put back together again!
Just been hanging around seeing friends.  Our roommate Kenya  (and my best friend) moved in last week to watch over the place while we're gone.  That's a relief.  Just a few last minute preps to be done before Sunday, when we leave for Rome.  We are scheduled to be there until July 1, 2005, and are COMPLETELY pumped.  It's a large scale project with a small, good team of people, so should have a grand time!  Also have lots of people planning on coming over to visit as well, so should be unlike any other experience!
Will be taking some pics down off the page in the next couple days, as I'm at my limit and need to make room for Rome photos.  FYI - If you want to be updated on changes to the website via email, there's a link on the bottom of the home page you can click when I post new stuff.
All for now!  New reports as news breaks - heehee!