Europe » Italy » Campania » Naples August 20th 2021

The last 3 days in Italy were spent in Naples, with our home base at Hotel Rex. It was another one without an elevator, but the air conditioning was glorious, as was the breakfast and location - practically right on the sea. Our train ride from Rome included a transfer in Caserta, and some major confusion on my part. It was a pretty small station, and the signs above each platform stayed blank with a scrolling message in Italian. After typing out the message in bits and pieces, my translator app told me that from August 8th through August 29th, all trains between 2 stations (I assumed the one I was at was affected since there were no details on the platforms) were suspended and replaced with buses. After attempting to speak with a few employees ... read more
Cavoli Nostri
Free Beach on Capri island
Beach on Capri island

Europe » Italy » Lazio » Rome August 16th 2021

Sunday and Monday in Romewent far better than the first day. After breakfast at the hotel, we got tickets to a 2-day hop-on-hop-off bus tour with Greenline and got to see and learn much more of the city than if we'd only walked around by ourselves. The tour came with earbuds we could use to hear all about the sites as we drove by and stopped at each one. We got on the bus just a block from our hotel, Hotel Borromeo, at Stop 2 of the tour at The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore which I shared a picture of in my First Day in Rome blog. Stop 1 was just a bus 'resting place' near the train station, so there was really nothing to see there. Also nearby Stop 2 were the url= read more
Arch of Constantine
Eric's Favorite
Up Close and Personal

Europe » Italy » Lazio » Rome August 14th 2021

On Saturday, after a couple of disappointing (not to the fault of the city) days in Naples, we checked out of our quaint hotel and hopped on a train to Rome. The countryside was filled with never-ending grape and sunflower farms and mountains in the distance. After an uneventful hour and a half ride, we arrived and found our way to the taxi pickup zone. There was a group of around 40 or 50 young men playing drums and singing some anthem, drawing quite a crowd. We couldn't tell what the words were and I wasn't even sure what language they were singing in. Once we got in our taxi I asked the driver what the excitement was about and he said he didn't know because the group wasn't Italian. After the very brief (maybe 3 ... read more
Mvsei Vaticani
The Pope's Courtyard
One of many masterpieces

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Florence August 12th 2021

Wednesday Eric and I took off on Air France with a brief stop in Paris on our way to Florence, Italy. Five minutes into the drive to the airport, I got an alert on my phone saying our flight was delayed 4 hours, so we went back home. We were going to miss the second leg of our trip, so I nervously waited for everything to be rearranged and rebooked, and fortunately it was all smoothed out in time. The flight and stop were uneventful, though Paris CDG airport was under construction and we felt very rushed going through security a second time and making our way to the other concourse. The Thursday midday landing in Florence was extremely abrupt, and I overheard the flight attendant mention to a mother with small children that the runway ... read more
Street art

Asia » India » Jammu & Kashmir » Jammu City February 21st 2018

Since the reception on Wednesday didn't start until the evening, and there were no more rituals and ceremonies, I had a free day. One of my other friends (Neha) is also from Jammu, and she was originally planning to come up from Delhi to attend the reception, but was unfortunately unable to make it. She offered to have her cousins show me around town and visit the monkey temple (I told anyone who'd listen that I Must See Monkeys during my trip), but I was so zonked from staying up all night that I slept most of the day, then just stayed in my room until I was picked up for the reception. I was shocked to learn that Shashank and Rupal had to stay up all night (playing games and conversing with family after I ... read more
The goods!
Punch and Pizza

Asia » India » Jammu & Kashmir » Jammu City February 19th 2018

My train ride from Suratgarh to Jammu was uneventful. I had an upper side bunk, and slept or attempted to sleep the entire way. I'd never ridden in a train before, and I assumed it would be like the metro where the station stops are clearly labeled from the inside and you can tell where you are all the time. That wasn't the case here, and since I also didn't have a window, and kept my curtain closed most of the time, I didn't really know where I was for most of the journey. At some point in the last hour or two of the ride, I lost my cell signal, so I wasn't sure how I was going to communicate my arrival, and just hoped that I'd pick up a signal or a WiFi connection ... read more
My mehndi
Turban wrapping!
Turban complete

Asia » India » Rajasthan February 18th 2018

On Sunday, Ishan had tons of rituals that I didn’t sit in on – though I did see him covered in turmeric (haldi) at one point, which I believe is traditionally applied the morning of the wedding day as a symbol of blessing and to make your skin glow (brides do this too, but as we were in Shubha's hometown, she wasn't at the hotel for all of her rituals). Even though all of his family members were so great at taking care of me, he asked if I wanted to go out with some of his childhood friends and Shubha’s brother for an afternoon adventure. I was a little antsy, so I jumped at the opportunity to get out of the hotel and see something new, and off we went. I initially thought we were ... read more
This camel is for you

Asia » India » Rajasthan February 17th 2018

After the first three hectic days, I had nothing officially planned for the next two, which was good, because I spent them in my hotel room being sick. :( Friday night, I uber'd out to a metro station to meet Ishan and his family on the bus which would take us to Shubha's hometown in Suratgarh. Once again, my driver could not speak English and my whopping 5 words of Hindi were useless, so Ishan called him for me to tell him how to get to the apparently very well-known metro station with instructions to drop me at a specific gate to meet one of his cousins who was also arriving to meet the group. We took a few interesting wrong turns, and after meandering down an alley filled with shipping containers and people (and cows!) ... read more
Camel labor
Hotel selfie!
Cousin selfie!

Asia » India » National Capital Territory » Delhi February 14th 2018

This one is short, but I wanted to post something because I've been behind due to illness, travelling, lack of internet, and attending functions, and with more functions coming up, I'm not sure when I'll have time on the computer again. Wednesday was well spent with Ishan’s cousin (Manoj's nephew for my colleagues reading this) on a Delhi bus tour. We took the metro to our first destination, and I was given a taste of homemade halwa, which was like mashed potatoes, but sweet. Remember the aforementioned deathtraps that I would never ride in? Well, I rode in one. And it was nuts. It's basically a three-wheeled scooter with seats and a shell/roof. I don't think I'd mind driving one back home just because I already have a scooter, and that's pretty awesome, but here, not ... read more
Lakshmi Narayan Birla Temple
India Gate
India Gate

Asia » India » National Capital Territory » New Delhi February 13th 2018

The past two days have been very busy. Tuesday, at my good friend (one of the grooms) Ishan's recommendation, I went to Akshardham. I spent about five hours there, and still probably didn't see everything. The whole thing was quite an experience, from the security to get in (after attempting to check in my whole purse, but being told I only needed to turn in my phone and battery bank, then getting my purse rifled through and dumped out, and yelled at and groped by officers who reprimanded me for having mace on my hip and told to come back to get it later) to the amazing sandstone and marble carved structures including the most exquisite hand-crafted temple where shoes are not allowed and which houses the statues of the deities and sacred relics, to my ... read more
Gandhi and his followers - Dandi March
Side Saddle

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