Monday, August 17, 2009


by Christie Kelley

First, I have to say I'm so sorry about the late post. I'm hiding deep in the cave to get my book done on time and completely forgot the date until I turned the calendar this morning!

So we had talked about blogging about our vacations and I thought I'd share my impressions of Italy. My husband and I celebrated our 25th anniversary this year and this was our present to each other. A trip with no kids, just us!

We started out in Rome and stayed one night not too far from the Vatican. We were about two blocks from St. Peter's Square and the Basilica. The first day we walked up there and toured the basilica. We arrived just in time for the Saturday night vigil mass. Being Catholics, we sat right down for mass in St. Peter's. I can't describe what an incredible feeling it was to listen to mass being said in Itaian in such an awe inspiring place.

The next morning we toured the San Angelo Castle, which was built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian and is now a museum. Then we headed over to Piazzo Navona and then the Pantheon. I loved the Pantheon. It's amazing to turn a corner in Rome and stumble on something that's been there for 2000 years.

Next we headed to Florence. I have to admit something here. Everyone we knew told us Florence was the best, take an extra day in Florence. We did enjoy Florence but it wasn't in the top two for us. We climbed to the top of the Duomo, which included a catwalk inside near the top of the dome. That just about scared me to death.

We took an afternoon trip to Siena, which is a medieval town that still has it's old wall that used to close off the city. It's a picturesque town that has very little traffic (because of the size of the streets) and lots of adorable shops.

Next up was Venice...ah, Venice. We both loved Venice. I've heard people talk about the smell of the canals, rats and garbage. Well, we arrived there when it was over 90 degrees and humid. Neither of us noticed any canal smell, in fact, parts of Florence smelled worst than Venice. Neither of us saw a rat and there was no garbage to speak of. But what a beautiful city. Very tourist-y though. The highlight of Venice was the water taxi to Murano to see the glass shops and glass blowing. I have never seen so many beautiful glass pieces I wanted to take home with me.

We then headed back to Rome and stayed near the Colosseum. My husband had had enough of pasta at this point so we walked to the Hard Rock Cafe for burgers. I'll admit, it was a fantastic burger. But all the food in Italy is good. After our nurishment, we walked to the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. Yes, I threw a coin in the fountain over my back so I'll return to Rome again someday.

The biggest surprise of this trip was the graffiti. I have been to NYC so many times I can't count, I used to live outside of Phili and yet, I have never seen so much graffiti as in Italy. Still, this trip was by far my favorite vacation. Good food, good company and tired feet. It doesn't get any better than that.

So tell me about your favorite vacation. We did you go? What did you see? Or maybe it was doing nothing at the beach for a week. Tell us all about it. Or tell me the biggest surprise of your trip.


Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Oooh, ooh! Really? I get the golden one???

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Well, well, well, she said with a satisfied smile. Heeeere chooky, chooky! Let's go on a boys-to-camp run, shall we?


Christie, I am SO jealous of your wonderful trip. The pictures are beautiful! What a fabulous time you must have had. I have all kinds of questions, but I'll have to come back with them. The GR and I have to make a camp-run...See ya!

Christie Kelley said...

Congrats on the Golden Boy, Jeanne. Have fun with him.

TerriOsburn said...

Add me to the jealousy list. I've yet to get to Europe and the longing grows stronger every year. And everytime I watch "Under the Tuscan Sun" which I watched AGAIN over the weekend. LOL! Can't. Resist.

I rarely take vacations like this one. Use to be all my vacations were to the hometown to visit the parents. The crankier they got, the less fun that became so I gave that up. Now my vacations are all to Nationals. LOL! So, working vacations but with some of the best company.

Hellion and I did take a trip to the Outer Banks back in May and that was fun. Perfect weather, lots of history, and very relaxing. It's not Italy, but it was a nice getaway.

Congrats on the chook, Jeanne. I thought I might have had a chance, but no. LOL!

Christie Kelley said...

Terri, my husband and I turned on the TV in Rome and Under The Tuscan Sun was on dubbed in Italian. We both thought it was quite entertaining to watch.

This was my first trip to Europe and it was amazing. I can't wait to go back.

Claudia Dain said...

It sounds like the perfect trip! You sure saw a lot while you were there. Do you wish you'd spent more time in Rome?

My favorite vacation was our family trip to England this past January. It was pure bliss from the get-go. The kids appreciated every second of it (we rarely take vacations) and I have memories of us there that will still be strong when I'm 90. I still laugh when I think of my younger son calling out to his sister on the street using a very fake, very strong English accent.

Christie Kelley said...

Claudia, I loved your story about England. We may take our kids there next year as a graduation gift to my son.

I do wish I had spent another day in Rome. There was just so much to see and we missed the Sistene Chapel and I really wanted to see it!

PJ said...

Welcome back, Christie! I'm so glad you enjoyed your first visit to Italy. I've taken a lot of vacations but, by far, my favorites have been my trips to Italy. That country calls to me like no other.

I hope you get to see the Sistine Chapel on your next visit. It really is remarkable. Did you make it to the Accademia to see Michelangelo's David while you were in Florence? Absolutely breathtaking!

Terry Odell said...

Most of the places we've been were because one of us (usually hubby) had to go there for work. If we could, we'd tack on some extra time at the beginning and the end.

I couldn't pick a favorite any more than I could pick my favorite child. But we had great times in Australia, South Africa, Rome, Portugal, Hawaii, Vancouver. I think the travel is what I miss most now that we're not working.

Our only "pure" vacation was a 10 day cruise to the Caribbean for our 30th anniversary. And this year, two of our kids chipped in and bought us a ticket for a 4 night Bahamas cruise. I do love cruising. I can handle being pampered!

PJ said...

Christie, I was in Venice in May but I didn't think it smelled at all. Did you watch the glassblowers in action on Murano? Such skill and artistry!

Christie Kelley said...

PJ, we were so tired after touring the Uffizi Gallery that we decided to skip David. We'll have to catch him on the next trip.

I talked to someone on Saturday who went to Venice a few years ago in May and she's the one who told me about the rats and the stench. I just thought it was beautiful. But both my dh and I love being near the water.

Christie Kelley said...

Terry, I would love to do a cruise some time. It sounds so relaxing. In Italy, I felt like I was at Disney. Up early, walk, walk walk, lunch, walk, walk, walk, back to the hotel for another shower.

My poor feet are only just now recovering.

Donna MacMeans said...

Terri - Our vacations are usually focused around my dh's or my work, but I can't say that we've ever traveled to as many interesting vacation spots as you (grin). We did get to have a week in England once, though. He had to go to Scotland for a week. I flew over at the end and we toured England for a week.

My other "best" vacation was also in celebration of our 25th anniversary - must be something about that number (grin). We went to Hawaii. It was an extension of the RWA conference in Annaheim. Loved, loved, loved Maui. We did catch a Marlin off the big island and have the souvenir in the basement. Almost died in Waikiki. Definitely a memorable trip.

Christie Kelley said...

PJ, a lot of the glassblowers were not working because of the heat. I didn't mind because I grew up about 35 miles away from Corning Glass Works and had see glass blowing many times.

Christie Kelley said...

Donna, I would love to go to Hawaii! Maybe for our 30th anniversary.

Karen Olson said...

We just came home from Paris. It was my 12 year old daughter's first trip to Europe, and we went with my in-laws. My mother in law is 81 and an art historian and speaks fluent French. She brought us through all the art museums and neighborhoods she lived in during the 1950s. It was an amazing trip.

Christie Kelley said...

Karen, that sounds fabulous! Did you enjoy Paris? I've heard so many mixed things about the city I'm not sure I'd want to go. I'd love to hear more about your trip.

Barbara Monajem said...

This isn't exactly a vacation (yet)... I've been to Curacao twice on business. It's a lovely island with lots of interesting history, and I hope return someday to explore and see the sights. It would be a great location for a historical novel.

Christie Kelley said...

Barbara, I used to have to travel for business but never did I get to some place like Curacao. I wouldn't mind exploring it either.

Claudia Dain said...

Christie, we rented a flat and it was the perfect way to do it. There were two bedrooms and two baths, a kitchen, and a comfy living room. We ate a giant breakfast at "home" then marched around the town all day like Romans. We were a half a block from an underground station as well. Just idyllic.

Christie Kelley said...

Claudia, that sounds excellent!

Becke Davis said...

Uh oh -- Jeanne has the GR? This could mean trouble! He'll be back tomorrow smelling of cordite and with his feathers singed!

Oh, vacations - what a great subject! This year my vacation was going to RWA, but I've also been back and forth to see my daughter in Orlando and my son in Chicago several times, so I'm not exactly suffering!

So many favorites:

Banff, Canada
St. Davids, Wales
Bath and Wells, England
Devon/Cornwall/Somerset, England
Maui and Kauai, Hawaii
St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
Florence, Italy
Paris, France
Woodstock, VT
Albuquerque and Santa Fe, NM
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Las Vegas, NV

Christie Kelley said...

Becke, what a great list. Many places on that list that I haven't been yet. I need to do more vacationing!

EilisFlynn said...

A lot of our vacations are work-oriented too -- we just celebrated our 25th anniversary as well, and we went to Washington DC for Nationals! Italy sounds wonderful -- someday!

The vacation I remember most fondly is the Big Island in the Hawaiian Islands. Volcanos, snow-capped mountains, beaches ... I can't wait to go back one of these days!

Joan said...

Hey Christie!

Man, I envy your trip to the land of my heroes :-)

You said you stayed near the Colliseum but did you visit it? I've watched many remarkable stories about that place.

Sigh, I'd just like to go!

You'll be able to guess my most memorable trips...Ireland,Ireland, Ireland, Ireland, {deep breath} and Ireland.

Oh, I've enjoyed lots of others including Disneyworld, St. Georges Island for my goddaughter's wedding and San Francisco last year...

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Ellis,

As I already said, I would love to go to Hawaii. I was also lucky this year that Nationals was in DC so it was cheaper for me because I live in Maryland.

Christie Kelley said...

Joan, you can't do Rome without visiting the Colosseum. It was amazing to walk around in something so old and rich with history.

Keira Soleore said...

Jeanne, congrats. It's rare when a Bandita snags him.

Christie, I haven't been to Italy yet, so this was a vicarious thrill for me. Mass at St. Peter's counts as one of the top few items on my Italy list.

My best Euro vacation has to count the day I spent in Talinn, Estonia. The medieval town was superb and the guide was funny as heck. Pink is a royal color, so many of their official buildings are pink (what the guide called "Barbie Culture").

Christie Kelley said...

Keira, that sounds like fun! I love the fact that pink is the royal color.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Christie! What a great vacation you had. Love the pictures. If you get to go back would you try to go at a different time of year?

I only get so many weeks off a year for vacation, so one long weekend visit to the folks every fall and Nationals for RWA is about all I get. This year Joan and I got to do some sight seeing before Nationals in Washington and last year the Texas girls and I did some in San Francisco. Before that I did take a few "beach" vacations with the kids when we lived in Florida. Now that was very relaxing!

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Suz, if I'd had my choice I would have gone in Spring or Fall. But with the kids in school we had to do it when I could take them to my mom's house in NY. So we dealt with the heat of summer. And man was it hot!


Italy is one place I've always wanted to go.

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Kelly,

It's awesome. If you ever get the chance...GO!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

YAY Jeanne! I'll bet between your boys and your doggies, that chook will be run ragged by dusk. ;-)

Christie, you pretty much described my first trip to Italy. We too saw the Big Three, Florence, Venice, and Rome. It really was like Disneyland, wasn't it?!?! And I had the same experience as you in that people kept telling me how much I was going to LURVE Florence... but I really didn't. I mean, I DID, but not like I LURVED Venice and certainly nothing remotely like I LURVED Rome!

Yes, you really need more than one trip to any of those cities to do everything. And going at different times of the year gives you an entirely new perspective. You MUST see the Sistine Chapel next time, AND the David! And wasn't that striped Duomo in Siena divine?!?!

who has to stop gushing now

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Ahhh, lunchtime with the GR. It's entertaining, to be sure. He seems appreciative that I'm making ham sandwiches...rather than chicken, I guess! It's too hot for cordite, Becke, but after dusk, who knows? Grins.

Speaking of Becke, I'm jealous, I want to go to Banff, Canada in the WORST way!

My fav vacation to date was our honeymoon to Kenya, East Africa. OMGosh. Fab-u-lous. I want to go back. After that, mountain vacations and visits to family don't quite cut the mustard, you know?

I really want to go to Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and yes, Italy!! All those amazing architectural wonders...I'd have sore feet too, Christie!

Christie Kelley said...

AC, I'm glad to see we weren't the only ones who didn't, as you say, LURVE Florence. It was nice. We had fun. But Venice and Rome were so much better!

Christie Kelley said...

Jeanne, I have to tell you I have never had an interest in going to Kenya. What (other than the honeymoon) was so fabulous about it? I need to know!

Joan said...

It was amazing to walk around in something so old and rich with history.

Bran wants to know....did you see a pair of sandels there? He thinks he left them by the wild animal lift :-)

Beth said...

What gorgeous pictures, Christie! Sounds as if you had a fabulous trip!

My niece went to school in Italy for a semester last year and loved it. She lived in Florence but was able to do quite a bit of traveling *g*

Congrats on nabbing the GR, Jeanne!

Christie Kelley said...

Joan, tell Bran there may have been a pair in one of the display cases. He might have to break some plexiglass to get at them :)

Christie Kelley said...

Beth, this is only a very small portion of the 700 pictures my husband took. Unfortunately, because I'm so disorganized with a deadline on the brain, I didn't get the pictures from him before he left on a business trip to Orlando. So I copied them from his Facebook page.

Karen Olson said...

Christie, Paris is a wonderful city. There's just so much to do and see. And the French are actually quite friendly, despite what we hear here. They were very patient with my husband's fractured French :) The food is unbelievable. The subway system is one of the best and it's very very easy to get from Point A to Point B.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

What wasn't fab about Kenya? Grins. I know KJ will back me up on this one, since she's a fan too. The people were wonderful. The guides on the photo safari were knowledgable, interesting and full of tidbits. The animals and the scenery were wild and magnificent. It was just amazing to see the geography and the powerful ruggedness of the mountains.

And the honeymoon part didn't hurt either.


Christie Kelley said...

Thanks, Karen! I had the French were not always nice to American tourists in particular. It's nice to hear that you didn't find that to be true.

Christie Kelley said...

Thanks, Jeanne. I don't know anyone who's been there. So it's nice to hear about some place different.

Helen said...

Congrats Jeanne have fun with him

Christie I would love to visit Italy my daughter went there on a school excursion when she was 14 and is 22 now and still talks about it, maybe one day I will get there.

The best holiday we ever went on was a cruise and what a fantastic time we had everything included food activities and lots of fun beautiful islands to visit great shopping we intend to go on another one hopefully next year.

Have Fun

Lynz Pickles said...

Ooh, I'm so jealous, Christie! I've only been to Europe once, and since I was eleven months old at the time, I don't remember it very clearly. :p

My favourite short/"informal" vacations have been my trips to Québec City - it's stunningly beautiful, and I love getting to practice my French. The highlight of any trip there is a visit to a French bookstore so I can stock up on French reading material. It's expensive, though.

My favourite real vacation... well, it hasn't happened yet. Last year, I went to Mexico for three weeks and loved it. This year, I'll be going for two months, and I'm predicting this coming stay will take over the "favourite vacation" spot. I'm staying in a small town called Bucerías - it's about twenty minutes north of Puerto Vallarta and is wonderful - and am looking forward to long days on the beach under a talapa and practicing my Spanish. It seems that to enjoy a vacation, I've got to get to practice another language. :)

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Helen,

Everyone talks about cruises. Boy, I want to go!

Christie Kelley said...

Lynz, I've heard Quebec is beautiful. When I lived in upstate NY, it wasn't that far but we never made it up there. I have to add that to my some day list.

Have fun in Mexico when you go! I went to Cancun with a friend of mine about ten years ago. It was a blast.

Becke Davis said...

Jeanne, Banff is amazing. Go to the Icefields, too, if you make it up that way. The scenery is otherworldly.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

I've seen so many cool pictures, Becke. I've wanted to go since I arranged a sales meeting there -years ago! - and didn't get to go myself. :>

Louisa Cornell said...

Oh Duchesse, darling! You caught him! Make him behave. OR misbehave, depending on your mood.

Christie, your vacation sounds wonderful. What a great anniversary present to give yourselves! I haven't been to Italy in over 20 years. I would LOVE to go back.

One of my favorite vacations was the week I spent in Amsterdam during a break from the opera tour. One of my fellow singers was from Amsterdam and she went home to help out during the Easter break in the family shop. We stayed with her parents. I was on my own for the most part and I got to wander all over the city at my leisure. It was fantastic. The Anne Frank House, Rembrandt's House, the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum where Rembrandt's Nightwatch is. I toured the entire city in an electric boat. Fabulous.

My trip to Romania was also amazing and a great deal of fun as we scared each other to death telling vampire and werewolf stories!

My last tour of England, Scotland and Wales was another favorite. We visited the lovely beach town of Towyn in Wales. It was exquisite, quaint and so peaceful.

Pat Cochran said...

In 1997, I won a trip to Venice, and I totally agree on the beauty of the city. We had two special experiences on the trip,(make that extraspecial.) The first: St. Mark's Square with pigeons fluttering in the air just like in the movies. The second: the church which was on the corner over from our hotel. We went to Sunday Mass, enjoyed the Italian language, and stayed to listen to a marvelous organist play a postlude. (Did I mention that we are church musicians?) I applauded as he finished, he turned, saw us, and bowed ever so graciously! That was the trip highlight for us!

Pat Cochran

Lynz Pickles said...

Christie said: I've heard Quebec is beautiful. When I lived in upstate NY, it wasn't that far but we never made it up there. I have to add that to my some day list.

It's one of my favourite places in the world. One of the reasons I'd love to go to Europe is that when I read about it, or look at pictures of it, there's this sense of history that I don't really see here in Toronto, or North America in general. Q.C.'s an exception to that rule - you can feel transported back in time when you wander the upper and lower town. (The lower town's my favourite, personally... so many arty shops!) There's just something magical about standing in a building that's been standing for centuries, you know?

limecello said...

I'm super enjoying this vacation, I have to say... other than relatives who make me want to stab my fingernails into my eyes :X

Umm... nothing really surprising has happened yet? Or will? In a way that's a good thing?

Genella deGrey said...

Ah, Venice.

We went for Carnival in 2001 - Can't wait to get back.