SUMMER TIME

SUMMER TIME

Thursday, July 31, 2008

VALENCIA, SPAIN



On June 31st we arrived at the port of Valencia, on the east coast of central Spain. The bus ride took about 20 minutes from the port to the city centre with a stop for photos at the futuristic Arts and Science Centre (photo above). The Centre includes a science museum with inter-active exhibits (we did not have time to go inside so we just had to trust the tour guide that the exhibits were great for both adults and children). I thought of my brother and his son as they would have enjoyed playing and learning at this museum. There were also the "Hemesferic" planatarium and the oceannarium (top 2 photos) which again based on what the tour guide told us "a spectacular underwater city of the marine life". We spent about 20 minutes in an open garden across from the planatarium. When we tried to cross the street to get back to the bus on the other side of the road, while my husband and I waited to the traffic lights, other people decided to run across and one of them almost got hit by a group of motorcycles. Here is my report - people in Spain also drive on the right side of the roads as in the States.
After leaving the modern city centre, we visited the Cathedral Metropolitana, the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, the central square of the old town with buildings of mixture architectural styles of Gothic, Romanesque, and baroque. The Cathedral is known for supposedly as the home of the Holy Grail from which Jesus shared communion with his chosen disciples at the Last Supper. I enjoyed this part of the tour as I was more interested in seeing historic churches, not the typical modern, sprawling and industrialized city centre.
My Spanish came in handy when I was not sure if I had to pay to use public restrooms. As I walked towards one of the toilets, a lady stopped me and she said "Un momento". So I said to her, "Dinero necesita?". She said no so I waited behind her. Turned out, she was waiting for her daughter. Almost 20 years later, two words I still remembered from my Spanish courses at Hunter College were put to practical usage!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

PORTOFINO, ITALY

We arrived in Genoa on Monday, June 30th. Our excursion began with a bus transfer to Santa Margherita Ligure, approximately 45 minutes from the port. We boarded a boat and sailed to Portofino. We had about 2 hours to explore the village. We walked up the steep road to Santa Maria Assunta Oratory, a 15th century building (photos to be posted in future entries). From there we soaked in the view of the harbor, the cliffs plunging into the blue water and wondered who lived in a house that looked as if it was carved into the mountain side and the winding trail to get up to the house. We did not see any celebrity as mentioned in the guide books and I did not spend money shopping in any of the well-known fancy boutiques.
Portofino means Harbor of the Dolphins but this sleepy fishing village has become Harbor of the Yatchs. We saw a yatch from Cayman Island which is well known for its hidden bank accounts. There are many tiny hotels and restaurants that used to be private homes.


I love the palm lining narrow roads and charming old buildings that stood the test of time. By the way, the Italians drive on the right as in America. I admired the bus driver who was skillful at maneuver his vehicle around tight corners without knocking down any motorcycles.

Look thru the travel guide, The Italian Riviera by Amy Finley or any guides about Portofino, you will see these similar photos because this coastal village is so picturesque that you could not take a bad photo. My husband also commented that anyone (without any skills or talents) with a digital camera would be able to take great photos. Long gone the days when you need to learn to aim, focus, zoom and find great angles if you wish to take a decent photo.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

CIVITAVECCHIA, ITALY


Exactly a month ago that we were getting ready to leave the port of Civitavecchia to begin our 7-day Western Mediterranean cruise. Civitavecchia is about 45 miles northwest of Rome, in the central Italian region of Latium and a convenient port for hundreds of cruise ships. We did not spend much time there, just enough to take a few photos of the lighthouse and the breakwater along the harbor. Civitavecchia means "ancient town".

After our ride from the airport, on Sunday, June 29th, we checked in with the cruise ship and turned over our luggages to be taken to our stateroom, we were informed that we could either wait a few hours until 2:00 p.m. to embark or take the free shuttle bus to go into town. We decided to sit, half falling asleep, in the waiting room at the port. The building was set up for practical purpose, a warehouse for storage of bags to be transfered onto the ship and as collection of luggages after passengers were disembarked. There were row of chairs with arms to prevent people from lying down taking a nap or sleeping. There was a vending machine and restrooms. At around 12:30 p.m. a welcome table with juice and soda in small plastic cups provided at no charge. Beers or wine were available for purchasing. Not much for a welcome reception!
At around 1:00 p.m. we saw the staff putting the retractable ropes for waiting lines to be formed in front of the counters where passengers must show proof of citizenships or legal status and as security clearance. When we saw a person in uniform making announcement, in Italian, we started getting in line. Good thing we did because the message was announced only once, in Italian, not English or any other languages, not that we could understand German or French! As we proceeded orderly thru the lines, a man dis-engaged the ropes, cut in front of us and started calling loudly in Italian for his family, wife, 4 children, and his mother to move up. Sadly the man was not the only one who behaved in uncivilized manner. Most of the Italian people we had the misfortune of encountering on the ship were rude, loud and almost primitive in their behaviors. There was no "scusi" or "mi dispiace" when the person ran over you to get ahead and when we had to form waiting lines, these people constantly cutting in the front of the line. I wonder if anyone else has similar negative experience and would like to share their horrible yet funny stories about Italian passengers on cruise ships.

Monday, July 28, 2008

FUNNY OF THE WEEK

The photo above was from a brochure I picked up during a visit to a local ice cream store. I am sure some readers might recognize the cow as a symbol of a well-known milk company. I thought my brother as a punster would find humor in the word "Moove" and I have been considering making a career move. With the current downward economy, I feel somewhat lucky to be working at a decent job with decent income. There are many people without jobs due to massive layoffs, corporate cutbacks or working but not making end meets.

I often wonder if there is anyone who really gets excited going to work, like jumping out of bed in the morning, singing while getting dressed, smiling and saying "Good Morning" when he/she gets into the office and feeling that the work is meaningful and beneficial to society. Is there someone who feels that he/she is appreciated by the boss, that the work performed matches the skills and talents and that his/her life is not just wasting away doing meaningless tasks that are beneath the level of his/her intelligence? Or like the character Terry Malloy played by Marlon Brando in the movie On the Waterfront, "I could have been a contenter, instead I am a nobody!".

How often do you smile and pretent to accept what the boss or a co-worker said while thinking, "Why do I put up working with idiots?" or imaging the person turning into a giant turkey? A miserable job takes toll on the person mentally, physically and spiritually. I saw it first hand when my husband lost over 100 lbs before he finally had the courage to resign from a job that he worked for 19 years since graduated from college. He gained back all 100 lbs after he found a suitable and somewhat happy employment two years ago.

My sister has changed companies or departments almost every year or six months the last five years. I don't think CH ever is happy with working. I believe that a job does not define who you are and what you would like to be. If it is so miserable, then it is up to me to quit instead of staying because it is my life that I am spending every hours, minutes and seconds at a job and the people that I hate.

Well, I will start making plans for a career move. I remember a wise person wrote that in life you must keep moving because if you are standing still, you will turn into a chunk of butter. Whatever that means, if you are smart, you will understand.

Monday, July 07, 2008

ROME

By now, it is already old news - the story behind the hockey player #44 with the last name ROME was that when we saw the last home game between the St. Louis Blues v. the Columbus Blue Jackets in April, we were getting ready for our trip to Rome at the end of June. It was incredible to finally standing on the ground of the Forum where tribunes and senators gave their speeches thousands of years ago. My husband had to drag me to keep moving as I stood still looking at the Colosseum, the massive structure that I heard and seen from afar until now, visible just across the street from the Colosseo Metro station.


Please come back next week and I will share with you the story behind the photo above. Or you could send me your comment(s) and tell me your own version of a story about a hockey player named Rome #44.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME

Greetings to all of my adoring fans. My sincere apologies (again!) for not posting the last few weeks. Your guess is correct, I was on vacation and finally sorted thru all the photos to select only the best and meaningful snapshots worthy to be posted. My husband and I started our 8 days/7 nights Western Mediterranean cruise and a 3-day stay in Rome after the cruise. We left St. Louis at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 28th, connected to a 3:30 p.m. flight from Chicago and arrived at Rome's Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport around 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 29th. We were greeted by a car service agent (good thing he was holding a sign with our last name as we were too sleepy to look for the company logo on his uniform) and enjoyed a little over an hour ride from the airport to the port of Civitavecchia. We finally embarked and settled into our stateroom at 2:30 p.m. - we took a nap and got up just in time for our 7:00 p.m. dinner seating!
We spent a beautiful sunny day in Cannes and Nice. We walked along the famous "Promenade des Anglais" and around the colorful market square with sidewalk cafes and restaurants.

These photos (above and below) were taken while we were in Portofino, a quaint fishing village south-west of Genoa, Italy.

I was not quick enough to get a nicer photo of the sign (above) in Valletta, Malta.
I captured these photos (above and below) showing road signs in Arabic when we were transported by bus from the port of La Goulette to visit the archaelogical site in Carthage.
We disembarked around 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 6th, with our luggages in tow, boarded the train from Civitavecchia into Rome (about an hour and a half ride), then caught the Metro (a two-lines subway, efficient but on a very small scale compared to New York City subway) from Termini (Main Station), walked on cobblestone streets after getting off at Lepanto station and finally settled in our hotel room around 1:00 p.m. After a good shower and a short nap, we took the Metro to Berberini station, walked to Fontana di Trevi and Piazza di Spagna.
I promise to post photos and interesting details about our "very educational" vacation. Please check back often to read all the funny stories happened as we followed the roads that lead to Rome!

Friday, July 04, 2008

LAND OF THE FREE, HOME OF THE BRAVE

O! say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming.
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so galantly streaming.
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust"
And the star-bangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'ver the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Any harsh weather, all seasons, our flag was still there!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

HAPPY CANADA DAY

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,

The True North strong and free!

From far and wide, O Canada,

We stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

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