Saturday, April 30, 2011

Traveling in Italy: Florence

Our next stop was Florence, which ended up being our favorite city of the trip. After leaving the crowded, fast-paced streets of Rome, it was nice to enjoy a slower-paced city that wasn't as full of people. We stayed right on the south side of the Arno River and could see it from our room. Our one day in Florence was spent walking around and seeing all the churches and museums from the outside mostly. We also checked out the local market and browsed the street vendor's stands, which smelled like leather because there were tons of purses, jackets, and other leather goods for sale. I'd been looking for a new purse for a while so I picked up a souvenir. =)

Then we headed into the heart of the city to see the Duomo. This enormous church was surrounded on all sides by buildings so it was tough to get a good shot, so here is one that shows the incredible detail that covered the building.

We thought it was interesting how plain the inside appeared after being blown away by the ornate detail on the outside.

Looking up towards the dome, before climbing the steps to the top.

The view from the top of the Duomo was one of our favorite views in Italy. The weather was absolutely gorgeous as well, which made the experience that much more amazing.

It might have been a cool view to see the Duomo from the Campanile as well, but we had to pick just one... we had already climbed tons of stairs the first part of the trip.

This was just a typical plaza that we saw with a relaxed vibe.

After weaving our way through the city, we came back around to the river and visited Ponte Vecchio.

Later in the evening we headed up to Piazzale Michelangelo which is a hilltop that overlooks the city. We had planned on taking the city bus since we'd already walked so much that day, but in typical Italian style, they were on strike... so we ended up having to walk the entire way. In the end, we both agreed it was worth the walk. The view from the hill was incredible. We got there a little before sunset and stayed for at least an hour.

This was the shot I had envisioned, and was so excited to get it even without a tripod!

Next up, our trip out into Tuscany to see Siena and San Gimignano.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Traveling in Italy: Rome Part 2 and Pompeii

Our last day in Rome was "Vatican Day". We made our way toward Vatican City on the bus just after sunrise and took a walking detour by Ponte Sant' Angelo (shown below) and the Castel Sant' Angelo.

It was actually a good idea to get to St. Peters early, because the crowds weren't nearly as bad as they got later in the day.

We decided to book our Vatican Museum tickets online ahead of time and it was well worth the extra 4 euro to skip the long line. Once inside, we had great views from the terrace.

This was one of the few museums we went to in Rome that actually let you take photos inside.

After the Vatican Museum, we waited in the long line to get into St. Peters Basilica. It wrapped around one half of the plaza but only took about 20 minutes to get through security. This place is just incredibly ornate with all the gold and the light coming in through the main dome was beautiful.

The wait to ride the elevator up to the first part of the dome was much longer than the wait to get into the Basilica. Then began the steps... But the view was totally worth it.

After experiencing the crowded streets of Rome for 3 days, we packed up our stuff and headed down past Naples, to Pompeii. We were forced to get the audio guide because they were conveniently out of info packets and maps in English, and the audio guide came with a map. (Plus I need all the maps I can get because of my scrapbooking obsession.)

It was really easy to get lost walking down the streets because they all looked so much alike. This was a typical street in Pompeii. The streets were sunken down so they could be flooded with water to clean them, and stepping stones were placed where people could walk across.

We didn't have time to hike all the way to the full amphitheater but this was the smaller theater that we did get a chance to see.

This was the bakery which still has the stove and mills in tact.

Mount Vesuvius was basically our compass every time we got lost. You could see it from almost everywhere.

Next up will be Tuscany, which was our most enjoyable part of the trip.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Traveling in Italy: Rome Part 1

Chris and I recently took our big 10 day trip to Italy! We flew into Rome and stayed for 3 days, then continued on to spend time in Pompeii, Florence, Siena, San Gimignano, Cinque Terre, and finally ended up in Venice. Since we saw so many things and I took SO many photos, I've decided to break it up into a few posts.

I'll start with Rome, which was the biggest photo chunk of our trip since Rome itself has an incredible amount of sights to see. On day one we decided (actually I begged) to go see Aqueduct Park since we had a couple hours that were unplanned (yes, if you know us, we plan a detailed itinerary down to the minute). After a 30 minute Metro ride (luckily the metro was actually running) and a 30 minute walk, we arrived at the park. It is so strange to see a huge chunk of Roman Aqueduct just looming in the distance. As we got closer, it was cool to see how civilization has just built around these structures. We crossed a field that had a some sheep, and then on the far side, there was a running/biking trail and even a golf course.

Later that night we met up for the New Rome Free Tour and learned some of the history of Rome and some random facts that I hadn't expected. This is where we started the tour, the Spanish Steps, which was covered with people and street vendors. We didn't climb to the top because there wasn't enough time before the tour started (we did plenty of climbing the rest of the trip to make up for it).

One of the random tips was that Rome has these water fountains all over the city that are free to drink from and if you use your fingers to close the bottom of the spout, the water comes out a smaller hole on the top and it's like a water fountain. We didn't try the water fountain technique, but did refill our water bottle whenever we ran across one. I am really picky when it comes to the taste of water, and I was very impressed with how great it was in Rome.

Our tour took us by the Pantheon and we only spent a few minutes here, but it is so overwhelming thinking about how old this is.

The inside was incredibly dark, but I managed to snap a few shots that weren't too blurry.

Our tour ended up in front of Trevi Fountain which was all lit up at night.

The next day was our "Ancient Rome" day where we started at the Colosseum.

Then hiked up to Palentine Hill.

And finally down to the Roman Forum, which was one of my favorite places for photos.

At sunset we made our way back to the Colosseum for a few more photos. I've heard people say that it is so strange to have ancient buildings on one side of the road and newer buildings on the other, but until you see it, it's hard to envision. (Google Maps Street View does a pretty good job if you want to save yourself the trip, haha.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Portraits - Palm Harbor, FL: Kara and Chris Maternity

It took a while for my good friend Kara to redeem the photo shoot gift I gave her for her birthday last year, but this year there was more motivation to get it done sooner. The reason: She and her husband have their first baby girl on the way! Here are a few photos of the expectant parents. Kara looks amazing for being 31 weeks along!

We took some photos at a park that hopefully they'll be spending a lot of time at in the near future.

And since they both love volleyball, they decided to be a little goofy.

I'm so excited for you guys and can't wait to meet your little girl!

Visitors since 1/20/2008