Christmas in Vegas

I spent this year's Christmas and the few days before New Year's in Las Vegas with my boyfriend. It was mostly random walks through all the hotels and casinos, enjoying the winter displays. I didn't take as many photos as I would have liked, I blame it on the cold and a general end-of-year laziness.


We also took a day trip to the Grand Canyon. The bus ride wasn't too bad, driver was mildly entertaining and there was an audio guide talking about the history of the area. I mostly just slept since it left early in the morning. There was a quick stop over the "new" bridge to see the Hoover Dam.

The trip we chose was to the West side of the Grand Canyon where the Skywalk was, on Hualapai reserve land.  You are not allowed to bring anything with you onto the glass platform. Partially for safety reasons, mainly so you have to buy the photographs they take of you. They also make you put on little cloth shoe covers to avoid scratching the (already visibly scuffed) glass.

The Skywalk was cool but once I was standing on it, not as scary or impressive as my first impression. The glass did flex a little bit when some people decided to lightly jump.

Ending this post with a picture spam of all the food I ate. (Pictures vary greatly in quality depending on the lighting at the time.)


Favourite and fanciest dinner of oysters and beef wellington at Gordon Ramsey's restaurant. 


From Rome, with Love

(The last installment of my Italy trip, and only half a year later!)

Finally, it was to be my last day in Rome. It was a day filled with plazas and the famous fountains and statues that inhabited them.


The early morning had the perfect lighting for all the fountains and statues. The view being marred by the positioning of advertisements.

We started the day at Piazza Navona. The most famous fountain, Quattro Fiumi by Bernini, stands at its center. Two additional fountains lie at either end of the plaza.

Next was Campo de Fiori, a small square with a statue of a philosopher (Giordano Bruno) at the center and inhabited by a market selling fresh flowers, vegetables, jams, pottery, etc. This was another location where public executions used to take place, the aforementioned Bruno being burned alive for heresy in 1600.  

A short walk north-east will take you to Largo di Torre Argentina. This is a depressed square featuring ruins of four temples. The oldest of the temples date back to 101 BC. In fact, these temples were reconstructed in antiquity after a fire in 80 AD. 

Like many ruins in Rome, you start to grasp the true age and history of civilization after the sudden realization that the first restoration works took place in a time unfathomable to us in the distant past. Many current archeological sites in Rome were themselves the subject of archeological explorations and restoration during the Roman Republic, a time we label with the faraway words of "classical antiquity".

Largo di Torres Argentina is also home to a shelter housing a large population of wild cats. All the cats are neutered and a sign noted that adoptions could be made by interested parties.

Next came a few small plazas to see the Fontana delle Tartarughe, and Bernini's Elephant and Obelisk (in Piazza della Minerva).

Nearing noon, it was then off to the famous Pantheon. Built in ancient Roman times, it was converted to a Roman Catholic church in the 7th century.

It was extremely crowded inside and difficult to take a picture of the feat of ancient engineering marvel that is the dome of the Pantheon, or of any of the other tombs and statues about its circumference.

It was, however, much easier to take a picture of a well-dressed horse in the plaza outside. Piazza della Rotonda is also home to another obelisk with some pf the most amusing faces I've seen on sculptures.

Next on this whirlwind tour of famous Roman landmarks was the Column of Marcus Aurelius, located fittingly in Piazza Colonna. Even lame names sound more impressive in Italian.

And then, of course, the uber-famous Trevi fountain. The entire surrounding area and steps down to the fountain were all completely packed with tourists. However with a bit of patience (and some good old Canadian politeness), you can manoeuver down to the fountain's edge, make a wish and throw in a coin over your back.

The next famous Bernini fountain is the Triton Fountain located in Piazza Barberini.

After this point I'm a bit muddled on what happened. All I remember is that we got lost trying to find another plaza and instead stumbled upon a military band performance.

The final destination in Rome, and the conclusion of the trip in Italy, was the Piazza della Repubblica and the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs, a beautiful church (on the interior) located by the Terme di Diocleziano and right off the Piazza.

The Basilica is home to a lovely organ, with live performances throughout the day (or at least when I was there.) It is also home to a meridian line and sundial commissioned by Pope Clement XI.

And that concludes my trip to Italy! It was a beautiful place full of history, architecture and delicious food. I would love to return again some day and see all the other myriad of places I wasn't able to visit on this trip.

There's so much world to explore and see. I can hardly wait for my next trip!

Wild Hawaii

I first visited Hawaii back in 2012. I was surprised to find that there was a prolific population of feral chicken and cats. I was entranced by these rather majestic strays and dedicated a good portion of my time stalking them with my camera.

Six Feet Under

The third day in Rome was rainy and gray, and as a result there's pretty much no pictures in this post.

In the morning we went to see "Bocca della Verità", or the "mouth of truth". Apparently this worn down piece of stone is famous for having been featured in the movie "Roman Holiday".

After that we took a bus, past the city walls of old Rome, to one of the many catacombs scattered around the outskirts of Rome. Burials were not allowed within the city walls of ancient Rome. Le Catacombe di San Callisto is known for having up to 16 popes buried there, among other martyrs and other figures in early Christianity. The Catacombs are managed by a monastic order that offers guided tours in English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish.

Since it was an "indoor day", our next stop was Basilica di San Clemente. This church is extremely interesting structurally due to the present church being built on an earlier converted church built in the 1st and 2nd centuries, and below that are foundations from a building during the Roman Republic. It's quite amazing and the stairs go down several levels to reach the lower levels. It was used for a period as a "safe house" of sorts and there is a trench where a fresh water spring was directed to run.

I thought I took pictures but it turns out I didn't.

In keeping with the "dead people" theme of the day, next stop was "The Protestant Cemetery" or "Cimitero Acattolico" (non-Catholic cemetery). It is located near the Pyramid of Cestius. The cemetery contains the tombs of non-Catholic foreigners, in particular, the graves of famous English poets Keats and Shelley.

Then it was off to one of the many famous plazas of Rome. The Piazza del Popolo ("People's Square") is famous for its symmetrical layout featuring a relocated Egyptian obelisk in the middle of the plaza, and flanked visually by twin churches (Santa Maria del Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto) at the entrance.

It can be extremely difficult to get a good shot here due to the high number of tourists milling about. The road does slope up a  bit facing the churches, so I recommend standing back more, almost to the archway.

To tie it into our theme of the day, Piazza del Popolo used to be one of the chosen executions sites of the Papal state during the 18th and 19th centuries. The public executions consisted of everything from simple beheading to hanging and quartering. 

It was here that I had the most expensive cup of cappuccino I have ever had in my entire life. I was feeling a bit unwell due to the cold and dampness, and desperately needed to sit down somewhere warm and have a hot drink. Unfortunately I chose Rosati, a famous cafe open since 1923. I suppose it was nice to see the atmosphere but I don't fancy paying 8 euros for a small cup of coffee. The cappuccino was indeed very good, but I don't see any particular reason to patronize this cafe unless either you have money to burn or really like fancy atmospheres.

After that it was to the famous "Spanish Steps" at Piazza di Spagna. Story goes that it used to be a famous spot for pretty girls to linger in hopes of catching the eyes of a painter. Later on, supposedly it was to try and catch the interests of famous movie directors.

There is of course also the famous scene from Roman Holiday of Audrey Hepburn on the steps.

The famous fountain, Fontana della Barcaccia, by Bernini was unfortunately undergoing restoration work, and so had was covered by rather ugly scaffolding.

The streets leading up to the Spanish Steps are all occupied by couture and luxury brands. Peddlers just steps away were hawking counterfeit goods. I wasn't there to shop, but had to stop to take a picture of the Dior store front.

A little ways away, there was a cart selling roasted chestnuts! A warm and welcome reprieve from the seeping coldness. I also finally manage to get a nice clear picture of one of the many Fiats roaming the streets of Italy.

Dinner that night was pizza! One seafood pizza and one with zucchini and prosciutto. The next day was to be the last in Rome and Italy.