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Friday, October 28, 2016

Safely Back in The USA

Aloha Everyone,

A delay of two hours at the Rome airport was an opportunity to study people's behaviors when things go wrong and to observe Italian inefficiency. The Italians kept trying to cut in while some Americans shouted for them to get back. They pretended not to understand English.

The problem was malfunctioning computers.The solution? Create just one line for 1,000 to 2,000 passengers. Our departure was delayed over one hour.

In Los Angeles, there were long lines to go through self check-in prior to actually having an immigration officer welcome us back. More waiting time for the airport shuttle to take us back to my Mother's home. Practice in patience.

By the time we were on Interstate 405, all was well. Our gratitude for a safe return was enhanced by a beautiful sunset.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Arrivederci Roma & Profound Teachings of Seneca

Aloha Everyone,

There are many outstanding people throughout Italy's history but I choose Lucius Annaeus Seneca for today's blog topic. Commonly known as Seneca, he was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, and also remembered as a tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero. Seneca's teachings are just as pertinent and relevant today. Here are a few of my favorites along with a small sampling of favorite images from our Italian adventure:

True happiness is... to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future.

A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer.

Expecting is the greatest impediment to living. In anticipation of tomorrow, it loses today.

All art is but imitation of nature.

Nothing is so wretched or foolish as to anticipate misfortunes. What madness is it to be expecting evil before it comes.

As long as you live, keep learning how to live.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Rainy Roma Walk

Aloha Everyone,

Days like today, I am truly grateful for my yoga and meditation practice. Living in the moment, letting go of expectations is the perfect attitude to maintain one's happiness and equanimity.

J.J. and I had saved our last full day in Roma to visit the Pantheon. This was going to be one of the highlights of our activities in Roma. According to the weather forecast, today was supposed to be cloudy with a 40% chance of drizzle starting at 4:00 pm.

The two of us left our apartment early and began walking towards the direction of the monument of Vittorio Emanuele (Victor Emmanuel}. Within an hour, it started to rain. We took shelter inside a church then another.  We were surprised by the number of "worshippers" at the 2nd church, Santa Maria. It turned out that this is where the famous La Bocca della Verità (the Mouth of Truth) an image carved of a man-like face is located. It is in the portico and a line of eager tourists were there to stick their hand inside the mouth of the sculpture for souvenir photos.  

By the time we reached the Capitoline Hill, it was raining hard. After a much deserved break in a bar for hot cappuccino, the two of us agreed to abort our plan to visit the Pantheon.  

I told J.J. that this turned out to be a very memorable last day in Italy. It's rather romantic to walk in the rain among the ancient ruins.

We have thoroughly enjoyed our time in Italy. Quoting the author of our travel guide book, Rick Steves, "Travel is intensified living -- maximum thrills per minute and one of the great source of legal adventure." Intensified living requires time offs and this afternoon, the two of us are enjoying the sound of Italian rain and relaxing before our journey back home.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Galleria Borghese

Aloha Everyone,

Galleria Borghese showcases some of Italy's most priceless paintings, sculptures and antiquities. The majority of the collection is attributed to Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the nephew of Pope Paul V who reigned between 1605 to 1621. The gallery is actually the former Villa Borghese Pinciana located within the vast garden of Villa Borghese. The garden is free, but the gallery entry fee is €15 per person. There is no charge for reservations. However, it is required and one's waiting time is usually 3-5 days.  After we secured our tickets, J.J. and I walked around the garden for about 45 minutes until it was our time to enter the gallery.

Cardinal Borghese was a patron of Bernini. Masterly works by Bernini were on display in several of the 20 rooms that were open. An hour is sufficient time to walk through the gallery. More time is needed to understand and appreciate individual works by Bernini and some of the paintings by Caravaggio, Peter Paul Rubens and Federico Barocco.

We took taxis to and from Galleria Borghese. On the way, our taxi driver played music from an English radio station. We paid €20. For the same distance, the driver who brought us back was an elderly Roman. He sang Italian songs, pointed to the American Ambassador's motorcade then the US Embassy. When he dropped us off, the meter was less than €10.

Xuejiao and her friend were having dinner at a small restaurant J.J. and I have been to a few times. They are from Beijing and were in Italy for 4 days. Xuejiao agreed to be photographed for our blog and told us that she has visited 5 cities in America: Boston, Miami, Washington D.C., S.F. and L.A.  With her winning smile, she told us, "I love America!"

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, October 24, 2016

Sightseeing to Piazza dei Spagna and Fontana di Trevi

Aloha Everyone,

Most bus tours of Rome make stops at at least 12 top attractions. Piazza dei Spagna (Spanish Steps) and Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain) are always included. Made famous by such Hollywood movie classics as "Roman Holiday" & "Three Coins In the Fountain" these sites attract a huge and I mean bus loads of tourists. How can I write our blogs of Rome excluding popular sites. So this morning, J.J. and I bravely decided to face mass tourism crowds.

I think the following photos tell the story of what we encountered.

After walking through a long tunnel to return to our side of town, J.J. and I stopped for a leisurely lunch at a restaurant. J.J. enjoyed mixed seafood and I had a salad of salmon with mozzarella cheese.

We met Angela at a cafe near the Colosseum. She has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga. for 10 years and teaches classes in Rome.  A gentle soul with a kind heart, I am grateful for our mutual friend, James whose introduction gave us a chance to meet.

Tonight I need to set aside time to catch up with some emails while J.J. is enjoying an Italian movie with no English subtitles.

Aloha -- Cathi