Honeymoon: Rome (Day 3)

April 27th, 2006

Our hotel is quite new and nice, but the area isn’t so nice. It feels dangerous but may be safe, as lots of people, including elderly, walk around by themselves and don’t seem worried at all.

But when you see subway entrances like this, you gotta wonder. But still, it seems like all of Rome looks like this.

Vandalism is everywhere. The trains have more graffiti paint on them than real paint! I thought NYC was bad but that’s nothing compared to this.

On the other hand, here’s a different kind of painting - the Transfiguration by Rafael at the Vatican Museum.

Yuki inside St. Peter’s Basilica.

View of the high altar.

Outside St. Peter’s.


Honeymoon: Rome (Day 2)

April 26th, 2006

Today we had a quick breakfast in the hotel and headed out to catch the Rome metro to see the ancient sites. Our main goals were to see the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and the Pantheon. It was a pretty tough day for me as my nose went crazy and I couldn’t stop sneezing. I’m definitely allergic to something in Rome. Hopefully, it’s not going to be like this throughout all of Italy. Yuki was also sneezing, but she was not nearly as bad as me.

We started out by taking the subway to Cavour station. The Rome metro stations are dirty and heavily vandalized like the rest of the city, though it seems relatively safe. The first train we took was really nice and new, but the second one had more graffiti paint on it than real paint, and the inside smelled like a public toilet.

First, we visited St. Peter in Chains Church which houses the chains that held St. Peter and the statue of Moses created by Michelangelo. Unfortunately, we were only there for 10 minutes before some grumpy man kicked everyone out. We didn’t even get to see the chains. I think they have siesta time in the afternoon here and places close until the evening hours.

Our guidebook recommended getting a ticket for the Colosseum from less-crowded ticket booths, so we used the handy map and got our tickets in less than 5 minutes. We were really glad we did, as the line in front of the Colosseum looked at least 45 minutes long. We zipped right in and settled on using rental audioguides because the English tour was full.

After the Colosseum, we toured the Roman Forum and enjoyed seeing more ruins of ancient Rome, which I will detail later after I rewrite this section of the blog.

We enjoyed panini for lunch atop the Italian something (I’ll post the name later) which was built to celebrate 50 years of the country’s reunification in 1870. It took 243 steps to the top but the views were worth it. From there, we headed to the Pantheon - got lost - but finally made it there with some help from the locals. But, it was closed for no clear reason and nobody seemed to know why. People were lining up to peek through the bronze doors, and we did too, but it wasn’t going to open until the next day. We decided to hit the nearby McDonald’s for the restroom, which was awful - 2 stalls, one for men, one for women. The men’s was closed, again for no apparent reason, like the Pantheon. The women’s had a massive line of people waiting, including men. Worse, it was in the basement at the bottom of a cramped metal spiral staircase like the one at the top of Diamond Head crater in Hawaii. No, it was even smaller than that. The restroom itself was smaller than anything I’ve seen in Japan.

After pushing our way up the staircase back to the ground level, we headed to a gelata place recommended by our Rick Steves’ Italy 2006 guidebook. The gelato was amazing, but the place was packed and getting our gelato involved a lot of maneuvering and jockeying for position. It was certainly worth it thought and I’d go back again in a heartbeat.

Our guidebook recommended a night walk through Rome, so we followed the path which led us past the amazing Trevi fountain to the Spanish Steps.

Yuki in front of the Colosseum.

Both of us at the Roman Forum.

Heading to Capitol Hill.

The Roman Forum from Capitol Hill.

Inside the Colosseum.


Aw, the Pantheon is closed!?

The Spanish Steps.

Roman night… smiling before we found out that the metro was shut down at 9pm and realized we had to find another way home. Eventually we took a taxi.

Here I am coping with the start of allergy symptoms at the Colosseum.

Uh oh, things are getting worse at the Roman Forum.

Miserable runny nose.

By dinnertime, I’ve pretty much had it and am ready to go back to the hotel.

Honeymoon: Rome (Day 1)

April 25th, 2006

Heading to Narita on the Friendly Airport Limousine Bus.

Checking in our bag. Took this photo as an ID tool in case they lost our baggage.

11.5 hour flight from Tokyo to Vienna.

Arrival at Vienna International Airport.

After a frappucino at Starbucks, withdrawing euros from the ATM and having vienna sausage (different from the one in the can), we boarded our next plane bound for Rome. Happily we were upgraded to business class and enjoyed a fine meal.

The plane to Rome was an Airbus A320 like this one.

Approaching Rome - sky was hazy.

Arrival at Rome’s Airport.

Yuki waiting for me by the restrooms with our bags.

On the train heading for our hotel near Stazione Tuscalano.

Our small room at the Express Holiday Inn San Giovanni.

Hachi Learns To Bow

April 18th, 2006

At Dad’s request, Yuki has been teaching Hachi to bow. After 2 training sessions, he’s doing quite well as you can see from the photo below.

Hachi and Yuki bow to each other “konnichiwa”!

Sleepless In Seoul

February 26th, 2006

I’m waiting for my flight at Incheon Airport - hoping to find some good food here in the Asiana lounge. 6 bugs left and hoping for ZBR soon. Too many all-nighters, but hopefully it’s over soon.

Christmas Eve Sunset Over Tokyo

December 31st, 2005

Can you see the silhouette of Mt. Fuji on the horizon?

Seoul Trip #3

November 19th, 2005

I’ve been in Seoul for almost 2 weeks and every waking moment has been spent at work, unfortunately. In addition, every sleeping moment has been way too short. I have some photos and will post them shortly, hopefully with some stories if I can find time on the flight back to Haneda. Right now, I’m enjoying a nice chocolate espresso in the Asiana Lounge at Gimpo Airport. It’s nice to finally be able to take a breather.

Japan Earthquake #4: (JPN:5;US:6.2)

October 20th, 2005

Yet another quake hit tonight while I was at work. Yuki and Dad felt it at home, but Mom didn’t notice a thing. First Japanese quake for my parents who just arrived yesterday.

Japan Earthquake #3: (JPN:4;US:5.1)

October 17th, 2005

Yesterday we had earthquake #3 (since we’ve moved here in June/July) which measured 4 on the Japanese scale (out of 7) and 5.1 on the richter scale. The building was moving a bit, but this one was far less scary than the last few. Either that, or I’m getting used to all this shaking.

Recent Mobile Phone Photos

October 16th, 2005

Keio Line express train speeding through Daitabashi station.

Akihabara at night. (Taken while shopping with Rob for his denshi-jisho.)

Now that’s a big QR-code. Taken while in Ginza after getting a haircut.

The Apple Store in Ginza.

Having uni (sea urchin) spaghetti at Spaghetti Hashiya in Daitabashi near the office. (Visiting due to ZBR bug crunch - bringing snacks to the testers.)