Wandering, the Vatican Museum, and the Sistine Chapel

Sam and I spent the morning of day 4 just wandering the city.  We started with a walk through the local morning market.

Then we were off to grab some breakfast.  I was developing a real appreciation for sandwiches.

After breakfast we decided to take a walk along the Tiber River.

We were due to meet up with everyone else for a tour of the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s, so we headed that way.

My spent several hours walking through the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel.  I did not enjoy any of this.  The crowds were too big.  I get a little anxious when I’m being herded like cattle and there is no end of it in sight.  I’ve been told that these crowds were nothing, which to me means it could have been worse.  I still managed to take some pictures.

These are from the Vatican Museum

A little too late I learned that you aren’t supposed to take photos in the Sistine Chapel.  I managed to miss the signs that said no photography, I also didn’t hear the security folks saying, “No photos.”  I blame it on how miserable I was at this point.  I didn’t even look at what I was taking photos of, just raised my camera and shot.

I ran into Sam in the Sistine Chapel and we skedaddled.   St Peter’s was next, but I couldn’t follow the crowd any further so we headed outside and appreciated St. Peter’s Basilica from the outside.

We wrapped the night up with a rousing game of Wizards and Jesters and a small sampling of desserts.

Naples and Pompeii

Day 3 in Italy had us up early (5am) to catch the 6:30am train to Naples. (I haven’t mentioned that we had 6 adults on our trip and only 1 bathroom.)

Sam wasted no time getting comfortable on the train.

Sam wasted no time getting comfortable on the train.

We arrived in Naples and took a quick detour out of the train station in search of breakfast.  We settled on McDonald’s.  It’s kind of fun to see what’s on a McDonald’s menu in foreign countries.

After breakfast we grabbed coffee.  I loved that coffee was everywhere.  The best coffee I had was in Naples.  It was probably the best because it was made with love.

After coffee we headed back to the station to catch the train to Pompeii.  I had no idea it was such a bustling city in it’s heyday.  One more time Rick Steves was our guide.

We left Pompeii and headed back to Naples.  I don’t know if you can tell in the pictures of Pompeii, but it was drizzly and cold, so by the time we were back to Naples 1/2 our group (me, Sam, and Esther) were ready to sit in a cafe and have some coffee and snacks and wine.  (I probably only had wine and some snacks.)  We spent an hour (maybe two) talking.  The other 1/2 of the group were busying themselves in the museum across from the cafe.

We ate dinner and caught the train back to Rome.

The Coliseum and The Forum

Sam and I just returned from 10 days in Rome.  We were there to celebrate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary.  The first day in Rome was a bit of a wash.  It was a travel, find the apartment and just get situated kind of day.

The start of day 2 – dad, Mike (my twin brother), mom, Sam, and me. Behind the camera is Esther, my brother’s girlfriend.

Day 2 in Rome involved walking to the Vatican Museum, St. Peters, and the Bridge of Angels before heading to the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument.  I also managed to fit in a bit of selfie practice.  Sam appreciated it.

When we got to the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument we rode this elevator up to the roof.

From the roof you have an amazing view of the city of Rome.  It’s an excellent place to practice your panoramic photo taking skills.

Our next stop was lunch and then off to the Coliseum and the Forum.  The Coliseum was amazing.  We put in our earbuds and listened to Rick Steves’ guide us through the Coliseum (my dad had strongly suggested that we download all of Rick Steves’ Rome podcasts).

After the Coliseum we regrouped at the Arc de Triomphe.  You might notice my selfie skills are improving while Sam’s tolerance of selfies seems to be flagging.

Next up the Forum.  The Forum was probably my favorite site.  It helped that the weather was cool and there were no crowds.  We were guided through by Rick Steves.

Days 1 & 2 in Rome done and we only thought we were exhausted.

Summer with Aly

We left New Zealand for America.  We were going as a family of 4 but we’d be returning to Thailand as a family of 3.  Well I’d be returning alone and 2 weeks later Michael and Sam would follow.  Aly would stay in America.

I’m not going to catch up to all that happened while we were in America, but here are some photos of the stuff we did with Aly this summer.

Last Day in New Zealand

Our last day in New Zealand and we had to get the caravan back about 10 hours before our flight.  Michael made arrangements for us to have dinner with the family of one of his old coworkers.  But first we had a few hours to kill so we headed to the beach.

After an afternoon at the beach we went for dinner.  We had a lovely dinner and a great visit.  I’m sad that I didn’t think to take one picture.  After dinner we were off to the airport and on our way to America – by way of Singapore, Bangkok, and Tokyo.

Glow Little Glow Worm, Glimmer, Glimmer

High on Michael’s list of things to see in New Zealand were the glow worm caves.  Not being able to take the main highway caused this to be a bit of a challenge.  But we weren’t going to be deterred from our task and set out to cover some ground.  Some really, really, beautiful ground.

We made it to the glow worms late.  Too late to go into the caves.  Michael had read about a smaller area to see glow worms.  A more secluded place.  A drive down a long dark road and a walk down a long dark path and over some long dark bridges and into a very dark cave.  We used some flashlights to find it.  And found ourselves disappointed because there were no glow worms.  Luckily, someone suggested that we might want to turn off our flash lights.  When we did there were glow worms!  Glowing in the dark.  Very cool.  I don’t have any pictures of it, because we don’t have the kind of camera that lets you take night time pictures of glow worms.

Weta Caves & Workshop

Our fourth day found us in Wellington and getting a little bit of a late start.  We had a scheduled time for our tour of the Weta Workshop and it had been arranged weeks in advance and missing out on it wasn’t an option.  You might notice how focused Michael is on the driving.  In the zone.

We were so focused on getting out of the motor park and on the high way that we might have skipped a step or two in the proper putting away the camper related stuff before you depart.

We accidentally got on the highway heading away from Weta Caves.  While we were correcting our course we noticed a guy waving us down.  Michael pulled over, rolled down the window, and was told that we were dragging our power cord.  Dragging it down the highway behind us like a tail.  Michael had to get out of the caravan, on a busy service road, gather up the cord, and stow it away.  He was pleased.  (Photos are a reenactment.  He kindly posed for me.  I knew I’d eventually blog this.)


The drive to Weta was beautiful.  Our first real view of the ocean.

We made it and we were late.  They were able to switch our time to a little later in the day so we spent some time looking around the gift shop.  Posing with props and wandering out to find some coffee.  Michael was paid the highest of compliments by one of the staff – “I mean this in the best way possible, you would make an awesome dwarf.”

After we finished at Weta it was time to hit the road again.  We were of off in search of glow worms.