Thursday, September 18, 2014

Villa Borghese: Enjoy the Outdoors in Rome

Rome, park, rowboats
Taking a row in the lake surrounding the Temple of Aesculapius

Most tourists head to Rome for the ancient sites, churches, and charming but narrow streets. When you've had enough and just need a breath of fresh air and open space, head to Villa Borghese. This 148 acre park near the Spanish Steps and the Piazza del Popolo is the perfect place to run free and enjoy the outdoors in Rome, especially for kids. For centuries, it has been an oasis of greenery in a bustling metropolis.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Discovering Art with Kids at Galleria Borghese

Galleria Borghese
Apollo and Daphne by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1625)

While visiting the Vatican Museum is de rigueur for any trip to Rome, I must confess that my family much preferred the art experience at Galleria Borghese. This private house turned public art gallery is located in the sprawling and verdant Villa Borghese park which itself has a ton of fun activities for kids like bicycles, rowboats, a zoo and a carousel.

Friday, September 5, 2014

When in Rome... Learn to Fight at Gladiator School

Learning the art of gladiator fighting

Wandering around the Colosseum in Rome, you try to imagine what it must have been like in ancient days. The roar of the crowds. The clanging of swords. Being swept up in the excitement of a gladiator fight. Would you be brave enough to enter that arena and battle it out? No need to just imagine it. Head out to the Gruppo Storico Romano (Historical Roman Group)'s Gladiator School on the Ancient Appian Way, don a tunic, pick up your weapon, and learn to fight.

The few hours we spent at Gladiator School were easily the kids' favorite part of our trip to Rome. They loved that they were actually doing  something, not just looking at old buildings. (They must have also wondered why the same mom that keeps telling them to quit arguing was happily snapping photos as they thumped on each other in front of an audience.)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Contemporary Art at the Vatican Museum

"Hey, you're not supposed to be in there. Don't touch that!"

Not exactly words you want to hear when visiting the Vatican Museum.

Vatican Museum, Arnaldo Pomodoro
Sphere within a Sphere by Arnaldo Pomodoro

It all began when we walked into the museum's Courtyard of the Pinecone after buying our tickets. In the middle of the courtyard surrounded by classical architecture sat a huge, golden sphere. It almost looked like a DeathStar under construction or a globe in the process of shedding its layers. Creation or destruction? I couldn't tell what was going on. So, I asked our tour guide, an art historian with Context Travel specializing in family tours, what in the world I was looking at.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Ice Cream is the Cure for Jet Lag

I am overwhelmed right now trying to get the kids registered in three different schools. I've been flipping through my travel photos for the last hour trying to figure out what to write about this week. I'm in one of those dour moods where nothing looks interesting. Tibet? Not interesting. Disney World? Not interesting? Stuffing my mouth with snack food? Totally interesting.

Instead of getting up and raiding my pantry which is what I really want to do, I'll just reminisce about a fabulous ice cream treat I had in Rome. (Pssst... I actually always want ice cream, even when things are going perfectly fine.) Specifically, I am dreaming of tartufo from Tre Scalini in Rome's Piazza Navona.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Don't Believe Everything You Read on Facebook

Last week, two things happened to me.

I celebrated my birthday.

I am now solidly, right smack in my mid-40s. I can't claim "early-40s" or "just past my 30s" any more. Without a doubt, I am middle-aged. 

I will admit that I've been feeling a bit... well... old

At least I've managed to dodge that whole Midlife Crisis bit. In my 40s, I've found fresh interests and excitement while staying happily married and avoiding any crazy stunts or purchases of convertible automobiles. 

I'm feeling kind of old, but I like the life I've led so far. 


And, oh yeah, something bizarre happened.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Penang's Temple of the Reclining Buddha

Golden chedi and a brilliant hued Naga statue

I have many fond memories of the Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Penang. This Thai temple's curvy, golden chedi tower looms over Kelawai Road, one of the main thoroughfares up to where I lived on the island. When we first moved to Malaysia, I would tell myself, "I don't think we're in Kansas Texas, anymore," each time I drove past it.
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