5 Days in Rome. Thoughts. Photos.

This is part 2 of my trip to Paris, Rome, and Venice. (Spoiler: I loved Rome the best)

Click here to read part 1 on Paris.

Tuesday June 12
8.9 miles | 21,317 steps

Arrived in Rome around noon. We went to the Hotel Regio where we would stay for the rest of the trip. First, some comments about the hotel. Someone wrote a review saying the beds felt like sleeping on “Roman marble slabs.” I must say this is absolutely correct. During the night, I rolled over on my arm, and I think I still have a bruise. The control panel for the air conditioner was also broken, so we woke up in the middle of the night freezing. But their breakfast was pretty epic.

We ate lunch at Pinsere, a cute little pizza shop. The owners were super friendly (i.e. explaining to me in English what all the toppings on the pizzas were) and service was fast. Definitely would recommend going there.

We then took it easy and walked around the city to see some basilicas and the ruins outside of the Roman Forum complex. My favorite basilica was the Basilica S. Maria degli Angeli e Dei Martiri because it looks really run-down from the outside but quite beautiful on the inside. It was also built over a Roman bathhouse. And there are some interesting modernistic sculptures.

My favorite part of the whole trip was probably sitting outside Trajan’s Forum as the sun was setting and drinking an iced cappuccino with lots (and lots) of sugar. Very American I know.

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Trajan’s Forum

Wednesday June 13
10.2 miles | 24,047 steps

More walking around. More basilicas. Accidentally wore shorts this day because it was quite hot but forgot that some basilicas won’t let you enter without “appropriate attire.” Whoops. Visited the Pantheon, where the only thing I remember is a recording repeating the phrase “Silence!” in different languages. Visited the Triton fountain, the Piazza Navona, and Piazza del Poplo. Visited the Spanish Steps, or rather, casually walked down some crowded stairs and then realized it was crowded because the stairs were a tourist destination. It’s really easy to stumble onto cool places/historical landmarks in Rome. And that’s awesome.

We ended the day going to the Trevi fountain. I heard you are supposed to throw a coin into the fountain from your right hand over your left shoulder. It started raining so my sister panicked and just chunked a coin into the fountain, never mind the tradition.

Thursday June 14
7.8 miles | 18,431 steps

Don’t pay $56 to “skip the line” into the Vatican Museum. There is a street corner where someone sells these tickets for outrageous prices and someone on the other side of the intersection selling the same thing for $26. I honestly just waited in line for about 30 minutes and paid $17 at the door.

The inside of the Vatican museum was packed, both with visitors and artifacts. There is literally a hallway lined with shelves full of ancient Roman statue pieces. Like heads and torsos of historical figures. The museum has too many objects fighting for display space (a good problem to have I suppose). The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was pretty cool but The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo was much smaller than I expected. Kind of underwhelming.

We also went inside St. Peter’s Basilica. Some famous stuff, like Michelangelo’s Pietà and a canopy by Bernini. And obviously a lot of history. But you have to experience it for yourself.

Friday June 15
13.7 miles | 33,837 steps

I read online that Palatine Hill is the best place to buy tickets that give you access to both the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill/Roman Forum complex because the lines are shorter. Well the lines were definitely shorter because it was such a struggle to find the entrance for some reason 😅. We went the wrong way and hiked up the hill only to find a church at the top. And it was a dead end. Other tourists kept asking me for directions to the entrance, so I guess I finally blended in with the locals???

Anyways, the Roman Forum was epic. But, again, I am definitely biased because I am a huge Roman history fan. I was literally running around the forum fangirling over the Arch of Titus, spewing random facts about Roman emperors, and caressing the ground while chanting, “this is the ground Julius Caesar has walked on!!!” As a bonus, walking amongst the ruins made me feel like I was inside a video game (recent games I played being Breath of the Wild and Shadow of the Colossus).

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Roman Forum, as seen from Palatine Hill

The Colosseum was also pretty cool but not as cool as I wanted it to be (?) I’ve always been fascinated by gladiators, and Gladiator (2000) has always been my favorite movie, but actually standing inside the Colosseum just felt vaguely unsatisfying. It’s hard to imagine all the people and animals who lost their lives in a place that is now falling apart and covered in tourists taking selfies.

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The Colosseum

Finally, thanks to Roman Holiday, we stopped by the Mouth of Truth to take the obligatory photo of our hands inside the mouth. Unlike Audrey Hepburn, I had to wait 40 minutes in line.

Saturday June 16
12 miles | 28,326 steps

For our last day in Rome, we strolled around the city visiting well-known gelato and tiramisu places such as Pompi and Gelateria Fassi, which has been open since 1880! We also chilled along the banks of the Tiber river and saw the statues along the Ponte Sant’Angelo. Overall, a good conclusion to our Rome journey.

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View of the Vatican from along the Tiber

 

Texas RenFest 2017

📍Texas Renaissance Festival
📷 Canon EOS 60D

If you like jousting, good music, fireworks, handcrafted jewelry, beautiful costumes, FOOD, and just having a great time in general, then RenFest is the place to be. This is my second year attending, and RenFest does not disappoint. The admission tickets are a bit pricey but totally worth it considering all the shows and activities. Highly recommend.

Road Trip Photos II

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I’m heading out on another road trip in a few days! In the meantime, I’m uploading some old road trip photos that I’ve taken throughout the years.

All photos were shot from inside a moving vehicle, usually with the windows still up.

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📍Red Rock Canyon, Nevada
📷 Canon EOS 60D

Noticed this stunning reflection out the driver’s sideview mirror. The blues in the mountains and the sky really stood out against the dried grass along the road. Used my zoom lens to awkwardly take a photo over the driver’s shoulder. Worth it.

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📍Nacogdoches, TX
📷 iPhone 5s

Accidentally took a wrong turn while on the way to Lake Nacogdoches. Ended up driving through this beautiful little forest for half an hour before we realized we needed to turn back. Needless to say, we had no regrets. I snapped this photo with my phone through the windshield because my camera was in the trunk.

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📍Somewhere between Houston and Boston
📷 iPhone 5s

Smooth reflections.

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📍Arizona
📷 Canon EOS 60D

Long Road-trips 💙

📍California & Nevada
📷 Canon EOS 60D

Photos taken from inside a rental car during a recent road trip. Despite the fact that our car was going around 80 mph and the windows were covered with rain residue, my camera was able to save a few shots.

I absolutely love road-trips. Watching the scenery change gradually (or abruptly) is both relaxing and awe-inspiring. During the evening or early morning, you can witness the sky take on so many different shades of pinks and blues. I love knowing that there is nothing I can do inside a car except sit back, blast some road-trip music, and admire the view. No email, no work, no stress.

Can’t wait to hit the road again.

Sea Lions | San Diego

📍La Jolla Beach, San Diego
📷 Canon EOS 60D | EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM

Rumors say you can see sea lions up close at La Jolla Beach.

I am pleased to report that this is indeed true.

When I arrived at La Jolla early in the morning, the sea lions were sunbathing on rocks along the beach, and they weren’t camera-shy at all. You could easily get within arm’s reach and pose with them. Despite the signs warning against harassing the sea lions, many tourists could not resist touching the adorable creatures.

Here are some photos I took without tourists photobombing in the background:

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Oh! The Drama!

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The Professional Model

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Little Mermaid Reenactment

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BONUS: On the other side of the beach, I found a herd of seals! The waves kept washing them into the cove, and they would resolutely wiggle back onto the shore.

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Life Goals

All in all, it was an amazing day at the beach.

 

Merry Christmas🎄

I hope everyone is having an amazing holiday season!

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The above photo of my Christmas tree was taken on a Canon EOS 60D with manual focus and an index card that I cut and attached to the lens to create the bokeh tree pattern. Always fun to experiment with Christmas lights.

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I’m spending the rest of my Christmas day processing holiday photos. Adobe Lightroom never ceases to impress me with its ability to enhance RAW files. Hopefully I will save some good shots to use for greeting cards next year!