Back from Italy

The Last Night in Rome

The Last Night in Rome

Yesterday was a long day of travel across ocean and continents, starting from 4:40am in a Rome hostel by the train station, and ending in the comfort of our home in San Fran, total of 25 hours in transit.

Turned on my camera this morning and realized the very last photo of the two thousand plus was this one from our last night in Rome: a cello left lying on the piazza of Campo dei Fiori. Seemed a rather fitting ending of the past 21 days. One session of music has ended, awaits for more?

Now i have to go through all the photos and collect my thoughts. Three weeks has always been my upper bound of being away: Europe in 1997, Eucador in 2002, Turkey in 2004, China in 2005, and now Italy in 2009. But this time, I wasn’t as eager to return home as before. We have gotten into a somewhat comfortable pattern during our final weeks traveling in Sicily. Finding a base, then peaking into little towns in the vicinity, deciding on length of stay, checking out the scene, finding our favorite local Trattoria or Osteria, trying out new dishes, new pastry/bakery/sweets, and then move on.

Places we’ve been are: Rome, Florence, Siena, San Gimignano, Naples, Herculaneum, Pompeii, Palermo, Corlenone, Syracusa, Ragusa. My favorite places are Rome and Siena…

More to come…

Roman Ruins – Ephesus and Pompeii

Saw a picture of Pompeii which suddenly reminded me of my favorite place in Turkey: Ephesus. Dug out our trip photo from Ephesus, flood of memory came back.

Library of Celsus, Ephesus, Turkey

Library of Celsus, Ephesus, Turkey

Gui asked me which of the two came first. I thought Ephesus was an ancient Greek city. Since Pompeii was Roman, that puts Ephesus before Pompeii.

Or does it?

Wikipedia browsing turned out more detail dates. Ephesus was founded earlier than Pompeii, 10th century BC versus 7th century BC.

Ephesus (Ancient Greek Ἔφεσος, Turkish Efes) was an ancient Greek city on the west coast of Anatolia, near present-day Selçuk, Izmir Province, Turkey. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek period.


But the key difference is the fact that Pompeii was abandoned/destroyed earlier than Ephesus. 79 AD’s volcanic event froze Pompeii in that era. But Ephesus went on living.

After Rome Republic, Rome Empire, Ephesus started its slow decline during its rule under Byzantine Empire. Throug earthquake, Arab invasion, and the silted up receding river, this once great ancient metropolis slowly dwindled into a little village. its past grandeur buried and forgotten.

My favorite structure “Library of Celsus” was complete in 135 AD.

The put Ephesus square in the middle of Roman Empire period. What i saw and what i loved in Ephesus were mostly Roman.

Beautiful Marble Columes and Carvings of Library of Celsus

Beautiful Marble Columes and Carvings of Library of Celsus

I wonder if i would see anything as beautiful in Pompeii?

Vacation in Post-iPhone Age

It has been two years since i took a proper vacation, as in go somewhere more than a long weekend.

Ever since I took my first trip to Europe twelve years ago, i’ve vowed to take an international destination vacation at least once a year. I managed to fulfill that plan until last year.

In the months leading up to this upcoming vacation, i felt, for the first time since i started working, really burnt out. I really need this break.

With three more business days to go, just the mere thought of the vacation ahead seems therapeutic. Felt like I haven’t been this mellow for ages.

While i was doing my research, i found out the way of travel has gone through a quiet revolution in the past two years. Here is an idealistic rendition of how one travels in the age of iphone and kindle.

Instead of buying/carrying a stack of tour guides, you can buy/download them onto your kindle. Similarly any books you want to read during the vacation/travel time, take them with you on your kindle.

Instead of printing out your hotel/flight reservation, you save them onto your iphone/blackberry/smartphones, including your pre-checked in boarding pass. In the airport you let them scan the barcode off your phone screen.

Instead of buying audio tours at museum or touristy sites, you can either download pre-recorded audio tours in mp3 form onto your iphone/ipd, and put on your own headphone when you arrived.

Instead of buying maps, you use Google Map for Mobile with my location, you will never get lost again and you can search for anything real time on the go.

You will travel light and have the world of information at your finger tips.

In addition, you will be twittering, blogging, uploading photos about your trip real time. Everyone in the world gets to watch.

But in reality, a reasonable data plan is still not available. Kindle has a limited book supply.  I was this close of ordering one over the weekend, then i found out none of the latest travel guidebooks can be bought. There is also no way for me to get the books i already own onto kindle free of charge, not to mention the books i want to read are not always available on today’s Kindle database.

Alas. Here is my poor man’s version of an upgrade travel, not perfect, but still better than two years ago.

Book reader app Stanza on iphone allows me to download any old classic that’s current available through Project Gutenberg: The Moon and Six Pence, Frankenstein, and even some Chinese classics!

Google Push Gmail was just released onto iphone which allows me to store email/attachments onto my phone, which i could read later without a data connection. So i could email myself all the hotel/flight reservations, maps, research bits, to-do list and download them ahead of the trip. Only need to make sure i have the proper power charger plug.

I still have to carry the travel guidebooks. Oh well. Reading a physical book has its own charm. I don’t mind the luggage.

And i will be bringing a pen and a little notebook, attempting at scribbling messy and typo-rich (cuz my little paper notebook doesn’t come with spelling checker’s little red squiggle under the alphabet soup i will be making up).

Off we go! Italy, here we come!

A co-worker shared this hilarious cartoon with me, and it confirmed Gui’s comment earlier, Italy is very similar to China!

Europe Vs. Italy