Monday, July 15, 2013

Euro Vacation...So Far, So Good

Well, we finally made it after numerous planes, trains, and automobiles.  We drove to Dallas on Saturday because it was cheaper to fly out of DFW than Little Rock, of course.  We spent the night at one of the airport hotels, a Marriot, which offered free parking during our trip and a shuttle service to and from the airport.  After a smooth departure flight and layover in Chicago, we boarded for an overnight flight to Fiumicino, the airport in Rome.

Maddie has been the BEST little traveler.  She hasn't complained one time, although she has wimpered with exhaustion a few times and was caught sleep walking yesterday.  She managed to sleep a few hours on the plane.  Don and I didn't get much rest, but we were too excited to notice the fatigue when we landed.

We took the bus to the Hotel Morgana, which is where we are staying for the first leg of the journey.  It is conveniently located across from Termini Station, the central station in the city for trains, buses, and the metro system.  The bus was only 10 euro, versus 40 for the train, so we decided to be frugal.  Buses are always adventures because drivers in Italy are adventurous souls and driving here is challenging to put it mildly.  I'm glad we took a bus because we were able to see a little of the countryside and outskirts of the city.  Don said it looked just like Arkansas.  We saw some hay bales and pine trees, so I guess it did a little.  As we drive through some rough areas, Maddie kept exclaiming, "This place is so beautiful."  She finds something pretty in all things.  

Our hotel is very nice and is air conditioned.  The wifi signal is strong, so the Bentons are all happy.

After showering, we set out to see four sites today, the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and Piazza Navona.  We took the metro to the Spanish Steps and walked from there.  Rome is always very crowded, so keeping up with Maddie is a challenge.  We stopped around 3 p.m. for pizza and prosecco.  It was delicious.  Nothing compares to real Italian pizza!  Afterwards, Maddie had her frst gelato, Nutella flavored.  She was in heaven and a chocolatey mess when she finished.  

After seeing the sights on the agenda, tossing coins, etc., we decided to call it an early night and head back.  Maddie was too tired to walk, so we took a bus to the metro station and then took the subway back to Termini.  We crawled in bed to rest for awhile, but were all asleep entirely too early.  At the moment, it is a little after 3 a.m. and everyone is awake.  Maddie is watching an Italian cartoon and can explain the plot, so she is content.

Two additional events today: my converter tried to electrocute me and Don got shafted exchanging currency for the first time.  Traveling is a learning experience.  Tomorrow, we have "underground" tickets to the Colloseum.  The third tier and dungeons are now accessible, so this will be new for me.  They weren't open when I visited last year or in the past.  Afterwards, we will visit the Forum.  It is pretty warm here, 85 today, so we are going to take it slow with Maddie.  

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Lazy, Dog Days of Summer

I have never felt so lazy.  I haven't blogged in over two weeks because, well I was busy at first, and then I wasn't busy and I got lazy.  This is honestly the first summer since childhood that I can remember that I am not working or enrolled somewhere as a student.  The past three summers were hell as I worked on my Ph.D.  Last summer, in particular, was bad for a number of reasons, but primarily because I was writing my dissertation.  (I was only recently able to drop the ugly adjective that had historically preceded the D word.)

I told you guys that I set goals for myself this summer.  I don't remember exactly what they were, so if anyone remembers, please comment so I will be reminded.

I should be cleaning out a closet of something.  Instead, I am sitting on the deck with my MacBook Pro (new bestie) and researching information for my next big trip (Italy, France, and Spain) in a few weeks.

See, here I am on the deck.

I am, in effect, already there.  I have been to the end of the World Wide Web researching every facet of our trip, so when we actually get there, there won't be anything new to see.

I am also experimenting with the Big Green Egg. Pork butts were on sale at Kroger yesterday, so I thought I would try to cook one.  It looks like they are supposed to cook for a week or so (or so it seems), so I will be sitting out here for sometime.  

In the meantime, Maddie has the cavies out here and they apparently love willow leaves.  They are having a good time running around the deck, while she yells at them for their behavior.  It's amusing.

Don't expect any work out of me until August 1st.  I'm on vacation.