The Sites of Rome

No matter how many times I go to Rome I still love to go to all of the main sites.  Rome is busy with tourists in mid-May but I still enjoyed each of these places.  There are lots of good memories in each.

The Pantheon.  Always great for people watching.

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The inside always is so large and the dome is amazing.  The light from the oculus causes the inside to change all during the day.

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Campo Fiori used to be a big farmers market every day now it is more for tourists but it is still a fun place to spend a morning.

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One of my favorite monuments has always been the Castel St. Angelo and the bridge lined with angels designed by Bernini.

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Of course St. Peters Square is amazing.  I didn’t take the time to go inside this time.

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What seems like the most crowded place in all of Rome is the Trevi Fountain.  I learned from Sadie to get a gelato and find a seat to watch the craziness.  A return late at night allows for a more normal viewing of the fountain.

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My favorite scene is the night time view over the Forum from the Capitaline Hill.  Matthew and I stayed very near here on my first trip to Rome many years ago.  I always come back for a quiet nighttime view.

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And nighttime at the Colosseum is a great time to see this beautiful ruin without the mobs.

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Of course the daytime views are spectacular.  It looks like I’m alone but far from it.

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The beautiful gardens for the Vestal Virgins in the forum.  Of course they had to commit to 30 years of celibacy and the punishment for a slip up was a gruesome death.

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The forum looking down from the Palentine Hill.

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There was a new area of the forum open this time.  It was a 4th century church that had been partially restored.  It was located inside of the Palentine Hill.  Very interesting to get to walk around inside the hill.

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Ponferrada Old Town

Posted from Seville, Andalusia, Spain.

My time in Ponferrada has been great.  It is a beautiful old town with a great view of snow capped mountains in the distance.  It is peaceful, lovely and always offers a nice free pincho when ordering a beer or wine.  The town has a great old castle on the edge of the river.  Free on Wednesday’s it made for a nice stroll.

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In addition the old town is pedestrian only with a wonderful old buildings.

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As I head out to the big city of Rome I suspect I will miss the quiet solitude of Ponferrada and the small villages nearby.

Cacabelos

Posted from Seville, Andalusia, Spain.

I decided to take a side trip to the small village of Cacabelos. I read about a small inn that was very nice. So I  decided to give it a try. The Hotel Mancloa was very large but had only 8 rooms. It had a famous restaurant that was a stopping place for people headed to Madrid. 
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There were great gardens and tables set out for a quiet wine in the afternoon. 

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The village was very nice. Old homes and several churches. 
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The restaurant was a little pricy so I opted for dinner in a small cafe. A pulperia (octopus). Sliced octopus tentacles cook tender with spices. Delicious. 

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Day out

Posted from Seville, Andalusia, Spain.

On Saturday, Bruno invited me to go with him, his brother-in-law David and niece Henar to a small village a few kilometers away.  We drove thought the country side catching occassional glimpses of pilgrims along the road.  We drove up a small road to a hill with a commanding view over the countryside.

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The hillsides were covered with grapevines that were just beginning to show this seasons growth.

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It turns out this hill was actually an old Roman fortress.  It was obviously chosen because it had views in 360 degrees.  Now all that is left is the old wall that surrounded the fortress.  Apparently most of the stones from the fortress have been removed to build the churches and buildings in the surrounding villages.

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We walked around the old wall.

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Afterward we went to a nearby town and had a drink and pinchos.

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The pincho was a seafood rice.  Delicious.

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Afterward David treated us all to a wonderful Sunday dinner at a local restaurant.  An unbelievable selection of food.  Soup,  pork, potatoes, wine and desert.

Staying in Quatro Vientos

Posted from Seville, Andalusia, Spain.

After my short jet lag rest in Leon I headed west to a small town on the outskirts of Ponferrada.  The town is Quatro Vientos (four winds).  I found a nice room on Airbnb.  This is a room rental as opposed to an apartment rental.  However, I had actually met the man that lived there.  When on the camino a fellow pelligrino knew him and we had drinks in the old town near the albergue.  His name is Bruno Santin and he is an artist.  He has a relatively large apartment.  He will be in the apartment for a couple of days then will be off to an art exhibit so I’ll have the place to myself.

The apartment has a nice terrace overlooking a square with a nice view of the mountains in the distance.

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The apartment has two bedrooms, a living room and a studio for his drawings.

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Bruno has his art spread around the apartment.IMG_2897

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On the day of my arrival he had a great empanada and salad for dinner.IMG_2867

Delicious!!

Technology is Still Amazing

Posted from Vitoria-Gasteiz, Basque Country, Spain.

Today I am headed to Europe for 6 weeks.  No specific plans but to spend some time in northern Spain, Italy (Rome and Florence) and London.

Normally when it is time to depart I have someone take me to the airport.  But in an effort to be a bit more self supporting I thought I would utilize technology to help get me to the airport.  At 1:00 p.m. I turned on my iPhone and brought up my Uber app.  It knew where I lived and I told it where I wanted to go (the corner of Center and Border).  My app said ok, Emmanuel would be there in 7 minutes to pick me up.  It showed me a map of where Emmanuel currently was located (somewhere along Cooper street).  As I gathered my things I watched on my phone as the map showed Emmanuel getting close enough.  then 1:07 my phone made a sound and gave me a message that Emmanuel was outside of my home.  I looked out the window and sure enough there he was.  I went out, loaded my things in the car and off we went.  In no time I was at my destination.  I got out, thanked Emmanuel, took my things and he left.  No dollars changed hand, no tip was expected or offered.  How easy.  As Emmanuel drove away my phone sent me a message with a receipt and a map of my journey.  How easy.

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As I sat and waited for my next leg of the journey to begin.  Again, I pulled out my phone and started a different app.  I said that I wanted to go from the Arlington bus stop to the TRE train station.  I selected my ticket type.  A ticket appeared on my phone just as the but pulled up.  I picked up my things, go on board and showed my iPhone to the driver.  He smiled and waved me on.  Again without any dollars changing hands I was on my way to the airport.

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I often feel that technology is passing me by.  These technologies have been around for several years so it was nice to know that I could still master them and put them to use to make my travels easier.

At the airport I boarded a plane to Spain (fortunately in Business Class) and took the 10 hour to Madrid.  I didn’t spend any time in Madrid but made my way to Leon on the train to recover from jet lag before continuing on my journey