Wednesday, April 2, 2008

April 2nd Home with Lessons Learned and observations

The 9 hour trip back home gives me a chance to reflect over all the memories of the last 32 days. Somewhere over the Atlantic, south of Greenland, I realize the people I have gotten to know are just as important as the sites I have seen. I have also had time to know myself better too.
Here are some general observations. Mobile phones are everywhere; from the rural fields of Southern China to the skyscrapers of Dubai.
What started as an interesting vacation became an adventure and a learning experience.
It's hard to hide the fact that you're a Westerner. When they see what you are the marketing technique gets very aggressive and prices go up 500 percent,
English is the second language of the world and almost everybody knows the words "hello", "Coke" and McDonalds.
Most people like Americans and hate our President.
When you go around the world you never see the same place.
Here are some country specific observations.....
Now everybody is into business and entrepreneur ship.
The environment takes a back seat to commerce;. even air quality.
Shanghai seemed like the fastest growing city I had ever seen until I got to Dubai
It doesn't take a flashy corporate campus to make someone a global competitor
Not much has changed in the last 50 years except for cars. mobiles, and computers
This is the focal point for FABULOUS oil wealth; more opulent and outrageous than I ever dreamed possible.
They are building Dubai into a magnet for finance through exotic projects and buildings, but 50 years after the oil runs out it will be a ghost town
The Nile is everything to this country. Someone there told me, "if there was no Nile, there would be no Egypt.
Tourism and to a lesser extent the Suez may be their biggest resource.
They don't do enough to protect their antiquities for the next generation.
This is a wonderful mix of modernity, friendly people ad old world charm.
Ted Northrup

March 32 Our last day in Rome

This blog is titled March 32nd because I wish this glorious month did not have to come to an end. It's our last day in Rome and we want to make the most of it. There were some trepidations in planning a visit to Rome. We liked Florence but were afraid that Rome might be less friendly and more commercial. One travel writer we read said "If you like Florence, you'll love Rome". Absolutely right.
Our day started with the Spanish Steps. It's said that Rome is made up of 7 hills. The Spanish Steps help you climb down one of them. Our hotel is at the top of that hill so we arrive at the top of the Steps. There's a beautiful view from there.
The Steps and fountain make a great hang-out for younger Romans. It's a beautiful day with very few clouds and lots of folks are soaking up the sunshine.
Our primary objective today is The Vatican. Our walk from the Spanish Steps takes us to the Tiber River.
There are many bridges so we have lots of options. We choose Hadrian's bridge. Imagine crossing a functional bridge (I hope) that's 2000 years old. At the end of the bridge is Hadrian's Castle; also used as a defensive fort for the Pope in times of trouble.
After another mile or so we come to the entrance of the Vatican Museum. Most of the Vatican State is surrounded by a wall. Even though St Peter's and the Vatican Museum/Sistine Chapel are next to one another, their entrances are a kilometer apart.
The Sistine Chapel is at the far end of the Vatican Museum. You will walk through over half-a-mile of the most captivating art work you ever saw. Naturally our favorite room along the way is the Map Room. These maps give a whole new meaning to the term "wall map".
This room contains about 24 wall panels of hand-painted maps. Most maps cover a region or island of Italy. They are approximately 18 feet wide and 12 wide. In addition to the great maps, the painting and golf leaf on the ceiling are shockingly impressive.
For that matter, the size of the museum and the Renaissance artwork are larger than any we have ever seen.
After being bombarded by one spectacular room after another, several of which are the size of a wing in most museums, we arrive at the Sistine Chapel. I am not an art expert. All I can say is that this is the most beautiiful painting I have ever seen. The way Michelangelo has captured light and shadows on the robes and muscles of the characters makes them jump right off the ceiling.
Our last stop was St. Peter's. It was too crowded to go in so we just took this picture and left. We only walked 5 miles today but we opted to take the subway back to the hotel.
There we had dinner with our friends Willy and Jill and headed out to the airport hotel.

Ted Northrup

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

March 31 Some Funny Things Happened on the Way to the Forum

From the hotel it

was a short walk to the Trevi Fountain. Just our luck it was being repaired. There was no water in it but lots of tourists. This guy sort of stood out of the crowd.

From there we went to the St Ignasio church. It's famous for its painted ceiling; especially the section that is pained to look like a dome where none actually exists.

Next came the Pantheon; the best preserved example of Roman architecture and the world's first large concrete dome. It's 3 feet thick at its base.,

Then we proceeded to Piazza Navona, a great place to get a gelato and sit and watch mimes and artists.

Next came the Roman Forum and the Coliseum. Today was our lucky day; entrance was free! We think it's because it is the last day of the month.

We walked back to the hotel from the Coliseum via the beautiful gardens of Quirinale, but we weren't allowed in. This seemed a little strange until we learned it was the home of Italy's President.
We are on a diet of 2 gelato's a day so we had to stop for one more. We walked a total of 7 miles today.

We had dinner at a sidewalk cafe and by CHANCE ran into my first-cousin-once-removed, Willy Fisher, his wife Jill and daughter Nevi.