Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Gifts

For Christmas I got Ryan a new cellphone. He’s always complaining about his old phone – it never gets any reception in the MTR or too far away from downtown, it’s too thick to keep in his pocket and it can’t take pictures. His new phone is super thin, seems to work anywhere – so far – and has a camera.

He got me a box of American artisan cheeses from Byerly’s. That might not sound like the most romantic gift, but I’m from Minnesota – I love cheese! A big block of cheese & a box of crackers and I’m a happy camper. Right now I live in Hong Kong – not the best place in the world for cheese – or crackers. Citysuper has some cheese, but their selection is pretty limited.

Ryan knows that I’ve been feeling homesick this Christmas – especially since I always thought we’d go home at Christmas. He couldn’t take me home so he brought a little slice of home to me – more like several large chunks of home. I have enough cheese to last for months!

I’m looking at blocks of Beecher flagship & Marco Polo, Bellavitano gold & raspberry, gran queso & bambina fontina, sartori asiago, crema casa and Humboldt fog. If any store in Hong Kong sold just one of these I’d be the most loyal customer they’ve ever had.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Frank Sinatra - I'll Be Home for Christmas

Christmas 2011

When we first came to Hong Kong we assumed we’d go home for Christmas, but then we went to Europe in October and spent all our money. Most of Ryan’s family came out here in September, so it’s not like we haven’t seen them in a long time. It would be nice to have a white Christmas with family & friends, but we have new friends here and Ryan & I still have each other.

I miss the snow, but I have to say I don’t miss the cold. It’s actually quite nice in Hong Kong. Yet it doesn’t feel like Christmas.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Bing Crosby

Tropical Christmas is very different from the white Christmas of Minnesota.

Amsterdam part 7

More pictures from the Europe trip.

The beautiful Vondel Park in the middle of Amsterdam

The floating flower market in downtown Amsterdam

The central train station, mostly under construction

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Amsterdam part 6

More pictures from the Europe trip.

Some of the many canals that run through Amsterdam

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rome part 8

Here are more pix from the Europe trip.

The Spanish Steps in Rome

The Colosseum inside & out

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pastime Paradise

When I came home from work today Ryan was sitting in front of the computer jerking off. He didn’t even try to pretend to stop when I came in. I’ve seen him jerk off before, but that’s usually when we’re together. I know he does it when he’s alone – that’s totally normal. Everybody does it. I often masturbate when I’m in the shower or in bed if Ryan’s not home.

What I found strange about today was that he had no reaction to seeing me. If you’re at the computer you’re going to notice someone coming in the door. There’s no way you can’t see them. Ryan was totally focused on the Asian girl with a bunch of guys. He just kept pounding away until he shot his wad all over the floor. He was pounding on his cock really hard so I guess he was just in the zone.

If I were masturbating when he came home I’d be embarrassed. He wouldn’t – he’d want to join me. When I came home and saw him it never crossed my mind to join him. I guess men & women are just wired differently.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Elephant Song

Ryan is a talented musician & singer. He’s always coming up with catchy melodies, but he can’t write lyrics to save his life. He’s always singing little songs around the apartment and sometimes the words make me stop and think what the hell?

Today he was singing a song about “elephants are sucking my dick”.

That’s my man.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Attack of the Flying Cockroaches

It’s starting to get cooler in Hong Kong, but it’s still nothing like Minnesota. Today was sunny & 20 degrees Celsius – that’s 68F. It’s supposed to get colder & darker the rest of the week. Compare that to Minneapolis. Today was 40F & cloudy – that’s 4C. It’s supposed to get colder & rain the rest of the week. That rain will turn to snow pretty soon. It will never snow in Hong Kong.

The great thing I’ve noticed about cooler weather in Hong Kong is that the bugs all go away. At home having insects in your house is a sign of dirt & poverty. In Hong Kong insects are everywhere. Even the richest people in the most palatial mansions have to deal with mosquitos. What really bugs me is that the cockroaches can fly! I’ve never seen flying cockroaches before in my life. I used to think that the only good think about cockroaches was that they couldn’t fly. Here they can.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Euro Money

There was a time when going to Rome & Amsterdam we’d have to change our Hong Kong dollars into Italian lira and whatever the Dutch money was. Now we only had to change Hong Kong dollars to Euros.

When you travel you’re supposed to look at the exchange rate of wherever you live, but I’m still thinking in American dollars – so if you tell me something costs $10 HK I think of it as $1 American. When we converted our Hong Kong dollars to Euros I didn’t think of it as Hong Kong dollars to Euros, I thought of it as American dollars to Euros. If something in Rome cost 10 Euros I didn’t think of it as $100 HK, I thought of it as $14 American.

American dollars

Hong Kong dollars


Thursday, December 8, 2011

John Lennon


Standing in the dock at Southampton
Trying to get to Holland or France
The man in the mac said, "You've got to go back"
You know they didn't even give us a chance

Christ, you know it ain't easy
You know how hard it can be
The way things are going
They're going to crucify me

Finally made the plane into Paris
Honeymooning down by the Seine
Peter Brown called to say, "You can make it ok
You can get married in Gibraltar near Spain"

Christ, you know it ain't easy
You know how hard it can be
The way things are going
They're going to crucify me

Drove from Paris to the Amsterdam Hilton
Talking in our beds for a week
The news people said, "Say what you doing in bed"
I said we're only trying to get us some peace

Christ, you know it ain't easy
You know how hard it can be
The way things are going
They're going to crucify me

Saving up your money for a rainy day
Giving all your clothes to charity
Last night the wife said
"Oh boy, when you're dead
You don't take nothing with you but your soul, think"

Made a lightning trip to Vienna
Eating chocolate cake in a bag
The newspapers said, "She's gone to his head
They look just like two gurus in a drag"

Christ, you know it ain't easy
You know how hard it can be
The way things are going
They're going to crucify me

Caught the early plane back to London
Fifty acorns tied in a sack
The men from the press said, "We wish you success
It's good to have the both of you back"

Christ, you know it ain't easy
You know how hard it can be
The way things are going
They're going to crucify me

Pearl Harbor

“Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

“The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleagues delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

“It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

“The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

“Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya. Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong. Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam. Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine islands. Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island. And this morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island. Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

“As commander in chief of the army and navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us. No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

“I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

“Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph, so help us God.

“I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.”

--President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 12/8/1941

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Amsterdam part 5

After Ryan’s birthday, he wanted to take me to the Red Light District. He went there on his birthday, but said he only looked around – he wasn’t a customer. This seemed kind of hard to believe until I went there myself. In the daytime it’s just like any other area of the city – except there are strip clubs and stores selling porn & sex toys. And in the middle of it all is the oldest church in Amsterdam.

What I didn’t like were some of the signs on some of the clubs. Some of them were pretty graphic. These signs are right on the street. At least the sex museum is indoors – in a controlled environment. You have to pay to get in and children aren’t allowed. The very graphic strip club signs are out in public where anyone can see them. Children & little old ladies walked by the clubs. I guess they’re used to it, but I can’t imagine seeing anything like this in Minnesota.

At night the Red Light District takes on a completely different atmosphere. All the customers come out and all the windows light up with red light bulbs. In each window is a girl in a bikini or lingerie waiting for her next customer. It seemed pretty degrading to me. The girls were like products for sale on display, but I guess it’s safer than hookers walking the streets. It was also a lot more crowded at night. During the day people are going about their business. At night people gawk & linger. We watched one guy pace back & forth getting up the courage to go into one of the rooms.

There seem to be more bars in the Red Light District than anywhere else. Ryan wanted to go to Molly Malone’s Irish pub because he thinks my family is Irish. I keep telling him my ancestors were Highland Scottish, but he always forgets. Instead, we went to a bar that had lots of Dutch, Belgian and German beer. I don’t usually like beer, but this place was pretty good. European beer is thicker, and one of the locals told us that American beer tasted watered down to them.

Just another street by day

Out in the open for all to see

The oldest church in Amsterdam

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Amsterdam part 4

I really didn’t know what to do for Ryan’s birthday until the last minute. We were in Amsterdam, so throwing a surprise party was out of the question. Most of the shopping there is small boutique stores and tourist gift shops. He wouldn’t like any of that. An Amsterdam t-shirt isn’t much of a birthday present, but I did get him a vulgar t-shirt that he absolutely loves. He hasn’t worn it in Hong Kong yet and I’m hoping he never does.

I decided that my gift to him would be a full day where he could do whatever he wanted without any complaints or judgment from me. My only rule was that I didn’t have to be there. So while he went coffee shop hopping – that’s what they call the places where you can buy pot – they’re nothing like Denny’s – I went museum hopping. I wasn’t interested in watching him get stoned and he wasn’t interested in visiting museums.

I went to the Rijksmuseum, which is in the middle of a massive renovation project. Only a tiny fraction of the art is on display, but it was still very impressive. I’d love to go back when they’re finished in a few years and see it in all its glory. I also went to the Van Gogh museum, which is next to the Rijksmuseum. It was pretty impressive. They had a lot of his art displayed in an easily navigated building. Most museums are like mazes. You usually have several different directions you can go. The Van Gogh museum is kind of laid out like Ikea. You start at the beginning and end at the ending.

At the end of the day – late in the night, really – Ryan came back to the hotel happy and wet. It hadn’t been raining, so my guess is he fell in one of the canals. I never asked him about it. I think the less I know, the better.


Concertgeboew @ Museum Square

Friday, December 2, 2011

Nude Beach Day

I went to my first ever nude beach – in Hong Kong of all places. Hong Kong isn’t exactly known as a nudist’s paradise. I’ve seen a lot of naked children at park fountains and pretty much wherever there’s open water – especially in the oppressive heat of summer – but this isn’t a place you’ll ever see naked adults. Even at a regular beach most people cover up as much as they can. I’ve never seen anyone sunbathing in any park. Most of the women seem to do everything they can to keep the sun away. They even use umbrellas on sunny days.

It’s December, but it’s not cold at all. It’s a lot cooler than it was a couple of months ago, but this winter is nothing like winters in Minnesota. I see a lot of locals walking around in the daytime with big coats and hats & scarves, but I’ve never been cold enough for more than a light sweater – and that’s at night. So when Ryan suggested going to the beach, it didn’t seem strange at all. What he didn’t tell me was that it was a nude beach.

There are beaches all over Hong Kong. Most of them are mostly empty, even in the summer. I don’t think the Chinese are big fans of the beach. There’s a small beach near the house in Clear Water Bay where Lily & Kevin stayed in July. I never saw anybody else there.

This nude beach was on Lantau Island and very hard to get to. We work on Lantau, but this was on the other end of the island, way beyond the MTR. I don’t think any buses even go out that far. Ryan borrowed a car from one of his band friends who probably “borrowed” it from someone else. They’re a questionable bunch. We drove out there with a hand drawn map that really wasn’t all that helpful. We probably would’ve had better luck with Mapquest.

We drove around a long time and got lost a few times before we stopped in a tiny little village to ask for directions. I know more Chinese than Ryan, but still not enough to have a conversation with anyone. I know north, south, east & west in Chinese, but that didn’t matter since none of the locals seemed to know what direction anything was in. They didn’t understand our map at all, but they understood the few Chinese words written on it and told us to go down the road they pointed to. It quickly became the only road, and at that point our only options were to turn around and go back or keep going. I was ready to turn around, but Ryan wanted to keep going. He thought the road either had to lead somewhere or just stop dead. I pointed out that this is an island. The road could go in a very large circle.

Not long after the tiny village, we were at a makeshift dirt parking lot. Ryan decided this was it. He’d never been here before, but his friend who drew the map said there was a dirt parking lot. Normally that wouldn’t be specific enough for me, but in Hong Kong any kind of parking lot is rare enough to beat the odds. It turns out they were right. A quick hike from the fake parking lot and we were at a beautiful little beach. There was no one there, so it’s hard to say if it was really the nude beach, but in December you’re not going to find any crowded beaches in Hong Kong.

Ryan was disappointed that no one was there. I think he wanted to go to look at naked girls just as much as he wanted to get naked, but if you want to see naked girls on the beach, don’t go to Hong Kong. I was glad there was no one else there. I brought a bathing suit and wasn’t about to get naked if there were any people around.

Ryan says I need to get over my prudish upbringing and be more comfortable with my body and the human body is beautiful and blah, blah. He’s right. I’d like to be more comfortable with nudity. I went to a great spa on my birthday and my discomfort took something away from the experience. It was great, but it would’ve been better if I was more relaxed. The ladies there weren’t trying to hurt me at all. They only wanted to pamper me.

I also know that the trip to the nude beach wasn’t just so I can gain confidence. Ryan wanted to look at naked girls.

The water was too cold to swim in. I’m never very confident about water quality here anyway. They have a system that tells you if the water’s ok that day, but that just makes me wonder. I’d rather swim where the water never has hazardous days.

Ryan got naked right away. He loved running around with everything hanging out. I stayed in my bathing suit for a while. Eventually I went topless. There was no one around, so I went full monty. It felt nice having the sun all over, but it’s not something I’ll be doing on a regular basis. I’d like to get to the point where I’m comfortable enough to do it with other people around, but we really don’t do much beachgoing in Hong Kong, and this beach was a pain to get to. They say it’s supposed to get colder, so this was probably our last beach trip this year.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Amsterdam part 3

From the middle of the Central Station – which is mostly under construction, but a great way to get anywhere in the city – you can easily walk down the main tourist street in Amsterdam. It’s all tourist gift shops and expensive fast food until you hit Dam Square.

In the middle of all the tourist traps is the Sex Museum. Ryan really wanted to see that. I was more curious than anything else. It’s a total tourist trap, but definitely worth a visit.

It’s not for prudes or the faint of heart. Some of the displays are extremely graphic. There were a lot of x-rated pictures and playing cards which seemed kind of pointless. You can easily find all of that online. There was a display of old sex pictures from 50 to 100 years ago – porn through the ages. That was more interesting. It shows that people have always been horn dogs.

What I liked were the mannequins and animatronics. They had a mini Red Light District with animatronic hookers & Johns. There was also an animatronic Marilyn Monroe.

animatronic Marilyn Monroe

animatronic hooker

porn through the ages

Monday, November 28, 2011

Amsterdam part 2

Dam Square is pretty much downtown Amsterdam. It has the Royal Palace – but the Queen doesn’t live there. The New Church – which is actually very old. Madame Tussaud’s wax museum – which is kind of creepy. And the National Monument – which reminded me of Trajan’s Column. I think it’s a European thing to have large poles in the middle of squares as monuments. We Americans never got into that.

Dam Square has a lot of tourist shopping and all kinds of food from all over the world. They were having some kind of electric car show one day and there were all these tiny electric cars all lined up across the square.

Royal Palace

car show @ Madame Tussaud’s wax museum

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Thanksgiving isn’t very popular in Hong Kong. I haven’t seen any restaurants with special Thanksgiving menus. I really wouldn’t consider fried rice & noodle soup a Thanksgiving dinner anyway. I’ve seen a few places with special menus, but nothing I consider Thanksgiving.

One place had roast duck & pumpkin soup. Another place had ham & baked potato soup. A lot of places had chicken – chicken is very popular in Hong Kong – but that’s not Thanksgiving to me.

What I really miss is this

There’s no pie to speak of here, let alone pumpkin pie. The Chinese have done some great things with food over the years, but they just don’t appreciate dessert.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Spa Day

Ryan got me the best gift for my birthday – a day of pampering at a luxurious spa. Hong Kong is famous for its spas, but I’ve never been to one – mostly because they’re expensive and we’ve been trying to save money. I guess now that we’ve spent most of it on Europe it’s ok to indulge a little bit extra.

A soon as I walked in the door I was treated like a princess. They gave me a cup of herbal tea and washed & massaged my feet. This alone would be great after a day of walking around, but there was so much more.

They wanted me to put on a robe and put my clothes in a basket. They said my clothes would be cleaned & pressed by the time I was finished. This seemed unnecessary since they were already pretty clean, but I realized by the end of the day that I was so scrubbed and detoxified that it only made sense to wear freshly laundered clothes. Some people probably go there after a day of walking around Hong Kong and getting hot & sweaty. Wearing those clothes after the spa wouldn’t be right.

The robe was purely for modesty since it didn’t stay on very long. They took me to an indoor homemade waterfall shower – it was basically a shower, but it looked like a tropical waterfall. A Chinese lady washed me with a salt scrub – like a bar of soap, but made with salt instead of soap. At first it was weird having a girl wash me. I’m pretty much used to bathing myself, except when Ryan joins me – and then he mostly just washes my boobs. It didn’t take long for me to relax and let the pampering happen.

After the shower they put me in a very hot bath. I love soaking in a bathtub and I wish we had one in our apartment, but this one was very hot. It was hard to get into at first, but I got used to it and as soon as I was ready to just sit there the whole day they had me get out and go into a cold bath. Going back & forth is supposed to help with circulation. After I got used to the cold bath they put me back in the hot one. I liked going from cold to hot better than hot to cold.

After I was cleaned and circulated I was back in my robe going to another room. The robe came off again and they had me lay face down on a table. They smeared mud all over my back, butt and legs. They put hot towels on the mud and very carefully helped me roll over. Then they smeared mud all over my front. That felt kind of weird because I could see what they were doing and also because they were very thorough – they put that mud everywhere! Once I was totally covered in mud from the neck down they wrapped me in hot towels. The towels were soaked in some kind of oil, but I couldn’t tell what it was. It smelled kind of like vanilla. After the towels, they wrapped me in a few layers of sheets and blankets. I was like a big human burrito.

While I lay there wrapped up one of them gently wiped my face with a hot towel. She gave me a mini face massage with some kind of sponge looking thing and then gave me a scalp massage – which was awesome! Ryan likes to play with my hair, but this lady really knew how to get in there and work it.

They unwrapped me and gave me a bottle of water – which I finished quickly after that mud wrap – and took me to another room. There was no robe this time, but I was totally covered in mud. They hosed me down with a removable shower head – every shower in Hong Kong has one – and scraped off the mud with a curved wooden stick. When I was completely mud free they toweled me off and rubbed lotion all over. Back on went the robe and we were off to yet another room.

I took of the robe again and lay down on the massage table. A Chinese lady covered my butt with a towel and dripped oil on my back. The towel seemed unnecessary since she’d just seen me completely naked. I wasn’t sure if it was for her modesty or mine. I went from robed to naked to toweled so many times it all seemed kind of silly.

The massage was great. She worked from my shoulders down to my butt then from my feet up to my butt. My butt seemed to be the center of gravity. Eventually she took the towel off and worked on my butt itself.

Normally, someone grabbing my butt doesn’t really do much for me, but she really knew what she was doing. The leg part was excellent! I need to find a much less expensive place to get leg massages on a regular basis.

When she had me turn over she put the towel back on – over part of me anyway. She did more shoulder work and worked on my arms. She gave a great hand massage that I wasn’t expecting. When you say massage I think shoulders & legs. When she was doing my stomach she worked her way up to my boobs. When she first touched them I was a little surprised. I wasn’t expecting a “special service” massage. This didn’t seem like that kind of place. A friend told me later that they always do your boobs during a full body massage – I guess that’s why they call it full body. You can tell it’s legitimate by the way they do it – if it feels like your boyfriend it’s special service, if it feels like a massage it’s a massage.

Again she went for the legs and again I was in heaven. A few times while she was doing my upper thighs she brushed against my special place, but it was more like good touch than bad touch. There were only a couple of times that day that I felt uncomfortable and I’m sure it’s more about things in my head than anything they were doing. Ryan says I’m uncomfortable with public nudity and that’s totally true.

After the massage a different Chinese lady sat me down in a very comfortable reclining chair and put seaweed goo all over my face. I was so relaxed and the chair was so comfortable that before I knew it I was asleep. The next thing I know I’m walking around the spa completely naked except for a towel wrapped around my hair. The spa is full of Japanese ladies in kimonos and they’re all bowing as I walk by. Then I see a sign in Chinese – that I can read – and it says “NO NUDITY!” with a big exclamation point. Suddenly all the Japanese ladies are pointing at me and giggling the way Japanese geishas do in movies. I take the towel off my head to cover my nudity and my hair is bright blue! I run out of the spa and onto the crowded Hong Kong sidewalk in only a towel and blue hair. It suddenly starts to rain and my towel and blue hair get wet. I run into a park and I’m in the middle of a nudist colony. There are a bunch of naked Chinese people looking at me and I see a sign in Chinese that says “NO TOWELS!” The naked Chinese people point at me and giggle like Japanese geishas.

One of the spa ladies woke me up and took the seaweed mask off my face. They did some more work on my face with lotions and oils and I don’t know what while 2 other Chinese ladies gave me a manicure & pedicure.

After they were completely finished with me they handed me my freshly laundered clothes all folded & pressed. When I was dressed and ready to leave I wondered how I should tip. I don’t even really know how many different ladies worked on me. What’s the standard tip for a day of pampered paradise? They told me not to tip at all. They said everything was included and fully paid.

After all that hard work I went home and took a nap. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a better birthday.

Monday, November 21, 2011

21st Birthday

Happy birthday to me! I turn 21 tomorrow. That’s a big milestone where I come from because you can legally drink. Here in Hong Kong you can legally drink at 18. So now I can do what I’ve been able to do for almost a year. You can also legally drink at 18 in Rome & Amsterdam.

It’s hard to believe it’s almost been a year in Hong Kong. Things sure do change. When we came here we didn’t know anything about Hong Kong, Chinese culture, living in another country or speaking the language. A year later and I think I know how to get around Hong Kong pretty well. I’m just starting to understand the culture and how different it is to live in another country. I still can only say a few phrases in Chinese.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Amsterdam part 1

Our hotel in Amsterdam was very close to Dam Square, lots of shopping and Central Station in one direction and the Flower Market, lots of bars & clubs and all the museums in the other direction.

It seems like a pretty small city – much smaller than Rome – and you can walk to just about everything. If there’s something that’s too far to walk to, they have an excellent tram system that’s very easy to navigate and seems to go everywhere. Instead of paying with coins, you use a pre-paid card – it’s so much easier. Lots of cities have subway systems where you can’t see where you’re going. The Amsterdam trams are at street level and you can see everything. It’s like a fast, clean, comfortable and efficient bus that you don’t have to be poor & dirty to ride.

From our room we had a view of the canal and a couple of house boats. Some people live on boats in the canal full time.

We were also very close to an archeological museum that focuses on places like ancient Rome. Since we were just in Rome and saw the ancient sites in person, we didn’t really feel like looking at the museum version.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rome part 7

The Trevi Fountain needs no introduction. If you’ve ever been to Rome or seen any movies set in Rome you’ve seen it. Audrey Hepburn goes to it in “Roman Holiday”. Anita Ekberg swims in it in that Fellini movie. She was really beautiful back then.

They say if you throw a coin in the fountain you’ll return to Rome one day. I threw in a couple coins just to be sure.

It was also very crowded all the time, but it’s one of those things that everybody’s looking at from the same direction. You can take pictures of it on the busiest day and you’d never know there were a hundred people standing next to you when you did.

It was pretty close to our hotel so we went there a few times on the way to other places. It’s like Avenue of the Stars in Hong Kong – once you’ve seen it you’ve seen it. There’s not much reason to go back, but I always walk along the harbor whenever I’m in the neighborhood.

Trevi Fountain

Vittorio Emanuele Monument

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rome part 6

The Sistine Chapel was always at the top of my list of things to see in Rome. Michelangelo was a genius! To get to it you have to go through a few other rooms with art by people like Raphael and Bernini. The whole Vatican museum was very impressive.

You’re not allowed to take pictures inside the Sistine Chapel – and it’s a rule they take seriously! I saw a few people try to sneak out their cameras and the guards were on them right away. You can’t get any good shots anyway unless you have a very good camera. The room is too dark without flash and flash won’t work because the ceiling is too far away. You can take pictures in the main hall of St. Peter’s church, but they don’t want you to use flash.

After waiting in a very long line to get into the church, we waited in a very long line to go to the top of the huge dome. There’s an elevator that goes to the top, but that line was ridiculous. Instead we waited in a shorter line to climb up hundreds of stairs! At the end you’re in a very narrow spiral staircase with hundreds of other people. It’s too small to stop and take a break and too crowded to let others pass. Getting to the top was hell, but the views of Rome can’t be beat.

We went to St. Angelo’s Castle on the way to St. Peter’s, but it paled in comparison. I guess it’s pretty good as far as ancient forts go, but St. Peter’s is one of the architectural wonders of the world.

St. Peter's Square

Michelangelo's Pieta

St. Angelo’s Castle

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rome part 5

The Roman Forum is what’s left of the capital of the Roman Empire. What’s now ruins & rocks used to be the streets & buildings were Julius Caesar was killed, the Senate planned all their wars and Nero watched everything burn.

It’s a very short walk from the Colosseum. Everyone goes there – and so did we of course – but I liked the Forum better. The Colosseum was always crowded and you couldn’t really walk around and take everything in because it was just a mass of people – I guess the way it was back when they used it to kill people. The Forum was never too crowded. I got the impression that people walked by it on their way to the Colosseum and didn’t really know what it was.

To get into the Colosseum you have to wait in a long line to buy a ticket, wait in a long line to get in, pass a security check – kind of like going to a modern sports stadium. To get into the Forum you just walk in and walk around. It’s free.

The Colosseum is impressive and it’s great to imagine all the spectacle that went on there, but for historical impact I’ll take the Forum.

Roman Forum


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Rome part 4

Trajan’s Forum is what’s left of a public square built by the Roman emperor Trajan. I don’t know much about him, but apparently he won a few wars and built a lot of stuff in Rome that’s still around – in ruin form at least.

The main part is Trajan’s Market – which was a market in the same sense that we use it. It was basically a large shopping mall with all kinds of shops, a food court and even apartments – they also had concerts. This is where the government gave people free baskets of wheat to keep everyone in line.

Trajan’s Column is a large pole dedicated to the emperor.

Trajan's Forum

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rome part 3

Our hotel in Rome was very close to the Vittorio Emanuele Monument, Roman Forum and Trajan’s Forum – we passed all of them every day. The Vittorio Emanuele Monument is a very large building dedicated to the first president of Italy. It’s not nearly as old as most of the famous buildings in Rome, but it was right around the corner from out hotel.

The hotel had a dining patio on the roof with great views toward St. Peter’s church. It was also very close to several excellent Italian restaurants. I love Italian food and I can never seem to find a good restaurant in Hong Kong. There’s a great pizzeria near the island, across the street from Surdyk’s and the best little Italian deli in Victory near Crystal Lake – but I haven’t found anything in Hong Kong. Our hotel in Rome was surrounded by great food.

Traffic at Vittorio Emanuele