Having a dog like Noah is like having a tail that doesn’t like you very much. He won’t like it if you leave him to go to another room, so he’ll follow you. But when your heart has melted from his cute clingy self and you try to hug him he will, quite literally, push you away. With two paws, even.
I mean, that’s how much he doesn’t like you.
Noah turns a year old on March 31st. He was thisclose to becoming an April Fool’s joke.
So, my mom casually commented on my lack of updates here which confirms two things: a) I have been away for a longer time than is healthy for someone who keeps a blog, and b) my mom reads this (hi, mama!). In any case, I was going to make an update, when there was a server error here (that I did not appreciate), and then the moment passed and I wrote on my beauty blog, Softly Sometimes, instead.
My mom pointed out that I hadn’t even finished posting about Europe yet, and now I have
begrudgingly put together a photo post of Belgium. Now, Belgium wasn’t a major destination in terms of our itinerary. We took a day trip there because we were in between places (Amsterdam & London) and we figured it would be worth our while to make a stop over.
Because we were going to be walking around, I stashed the digital camera I brought along with me in one of the train lockers. These are the only pictures (aside from a few shots on my Diana Baby/110 camera) you will see of Brussels. The wider angle photos were taken with an LC-A+ (with a wide lens attachment & loaded with Kodak Ektar 100) and the more close-cropped ones were taken with a Nikon FM2 (loaded with Lomo CN 400). I hope you enjoy!
Fun Fact: Tintin is of Belgian descent, apparently!
Some pictures from various train rides. During the course of the month, I believe we’ve had at least thirteen major transfers when we were trying to get from city to city. This doesn’t include day trips to Château Versailles or Schloss Neuschwanstein. The novelty of train rides quickly wore off, when we had to haul all of our luggage, stow them in easily-accessible places, and then run to the next far-away platform for a transfer to our final destination.
Not that I’m complaining, though. Sometimes, train rides can still be magical. See for yourself.
(I don’t understand my title segregation and formats anymore, but I think they are pretty descriptive anyway, so whatever you need to find should be easy to find.)
It’s 3 a.m. and I’m being a zombie, transferring a bunch of files for work (2 CDs x 2-4 GB each x 18 people), which as you can imagine, is depressing. Partly so because I did not have time to read through my copy of Refusing Heaven, in memory of Jack Gilbert.
But, news. Great news from yesterday: I have a new niece.
Yesterday (or I guess, now it’s two days ago), my cousin gave birth early in the morning to Sachi Elise. Sachi is a Japanese name that means “child of joy.” Elise means “God’s promise.” I like it because it reminds me of that song by The Cure, and also because one of my first web hosts is named Elise.
Here are a few pictures from when we visited her. I can tell you that a) she’s very nice, b) she’s very cute, and c) she was very quiet when we were there.
I’m enjoying this baby boom in my family. (In the last year and a half, 4 new babies on my dad’s side with another on the way & 1 baby on my mom’s side.) Life’s been stressing me out lately, but it’s always nice to remember that on some weekends, I can come home to beautiful burritos like Sachi.
I’ve been trying to upload and edit my pictures as diligently as possible—to no avail. It doesn’t help that my connection speed has been akin to a snail’s. I got back fourteen rolls of film, though (3, I have yet to have processed) and I’ve scanned them all. I guess I should try to find the time to do that, too.
In any case, it’s been a high stress situation, being back. Something I’ve decided to remedy by vegging out while reading bad YA lit, and super-cramming everything
We started our Roman holiday by alighting from the metro, thinking we were two minutes away from our rented apartment’s street—only to find out that we were not. Rome’s underground rail covers only a little bit of the city. The quickest way to get to our new home was to cross the entire Vatican City, dragging our luggage on the cobblestones. As unpleasant as the experience was on our arms and fingers, Rome, at least, offered a spectacular view.
We settled in, had spectacular pizza (!) and a new dish my mom discovered made from Bresaola (dried beef), rocket salad, and shaved parmesan. The next day, we planned to conquer the Vatican Museum and to see, of course, the Sistine Chapel.
We crossed St. Peter’s Square everyday, to get to the central places, as well as the Roman underground.
Space invader! I saw one in Montmartre, Paris as well, near the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
I think Rome might have my favorite trees. Check these ones out, lining the first floor wall of the Vatican Museum.
They have such wonderful mosaic floors, too.
There was a room dedicated to maps. It was quite thrilling to see people who made these partly from imagination, as there had been no cameras to take accurate pictures of land and water at the time.
I had no idea that Raphael’s “The School of Athens” was going to be there! I walked into one of the rooms, which was adorned in the style that was typical of this Museum. Then, I turned around, and there it was! I love this fresco; we talked quite a lot about it in school.
A bigger surprise: a series of Matisse!
We finally reached the crowning jewel—the Sistine Chapel. It was so breathtaking, I actually thought I was going to cry. The last restoration was conducted between 1980 and 1994, which reportedly made the colors really pop. Prior to the restoration, the chapel was dark and badly cracked. Imagine being part of that restoration team! I suppose it would have been exhilarating but frightening as well.
Technically, you weren’t allowed to take pictures, but of course no one listened.
The exit by the post office was an enormous spiral staircase and a thing of beauty. My dad wanted a picture, but we couldn’t time it properly without other people passing.
We had pizza from a random place called Pizzeria Rustica (near the Ottaviano stop), which created personal delusions of how any random place in Rome had great pizza. Lots of places had excellent pizza, but you could luck out and eat at a bad one—which we did. Here, you pointed to your chosen variety, they cut it for you, and charged by weight.
The crust is a bit thicker than typical Roman pizza (they like their crusts thin!) but it was delightfully crispy and burnt in some parts.
We took the underground to the Spanish Steps, which as you can see, a lot of tourists also wanted to see. I don’t exactly understand the fuss, but my brother said it was a big deal because it connected the Piazza di Spagna to Piazza Trinità dei Monti. It is also the widest staircase in Europe.
This fountain, the “Fountain of the Old Boat,” was thought to have been made by Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s less famous dad, Pietro Bernini.
We walked to Fontana di Trevi from Piazza di Spagna, and I can’t seem to find the name of this statue (monument?), but we all loved looking at it.
It is said that if you throw a coins into the Trevi Fountain and drank water from it, you would come back to Rome. I didn’t see the later part and just threw in a bunch of coins, so I guess my Roman future is still up in the air.
Apparently, around 3,000 euros are thrown into the fountain everyday and it’s being used to subsidize a supermarket to feed Rome’s needy. I wonder if there are enough coins thrown into the Trevi Fountain, in total, to get Italy out of debt.
A lady sitting in the Pantheon. I don’t know why, but I expected to see a lot of Renaissance renditions of old pagan gods and goddesses in the Pantheon, but I did not.
Accordion player at Piazza Navona.
Piazza Navona is a city square that’s flanked by three fountains, the center one (called “Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi” or “The Fountain of the Four Rivers”) made by my one of my favorite sculptors, Gian Lorenzo Bernini. I learned quite late that my favorite work of his are housed at the Galleria Borghese, which requires pre-booked reservations, so I’m happy I got to see this fountain, at least. It’s supposed to represent the Nile, the Danube, the Ganges, and the Platte—great rivers of territories or continents where papal authority had spread.
Lady in the window. Tomorrow, the Colosseo!
My sister went on a study tour in Munich about a year and a half ago, so she planned a packed few days for us. After Dachau, we decided to visit Schloss Nymphenburg (or Nymphenburg Palace), which was a tram ride away from the city center.
Schloss Nymphenburg was the main summer residence of the rulers of Bavaria, which is a state of Germany of which Munich is part. We were all palace’d out, so we just walked around the gardens, which are obviously things of beauty. This is partly what I mean when I say that it’s full of parks.
I wondered if swans could fly, and then I got my answer.
We walked to Hirschgarten, the biggest beer garden! but it was a dud. We tried to look for the nearest train station, but got severely lost, before braving the woods again and looking for the tram instead. It took us about fifteen minutes to walk to the tram. Oops.