Hello again from Rome, Italy

Hello again from Rome, Italy
Thursday afternoon September 4, 2008 (eleventh travelogue of this trip)
We need to make a couple corrections and then try to catch up on our travels and observations.
First, lets go back to Vienna. As I mentioned, our “pension” was located right on a great plaza close to a lot of historic buildings. Our location was (here). All around the square were very high-end (pricey) stores. You name them and they were all there (Armani, Dior, Versace, Cartier, Gucci, etc). Many stores displayed men’s and women’s watches that all had very large faces and are quite expensive (some were priced over $75,000 !).
Now lets get some corrections out of the way. Irina and Matthias have been great to offer suggestions and corrections to our blog. In one of the blogs, I mentioned that the European electrical system did not have a ground. Matthias pointed out the they do indeed have a three wire system. The ground connection is made at the outside of the plug rather than with a third spade. However, when we use our adapter, it does not come in contact with the ground connection. Maybe the Europeans plan that so they can fry a few Americans? {big grin}.
One of my previous observations was on the beautiful “timber wood” houses, and their origin. Irina gave me a great link that discusses their history and construction: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timber_framing#The_structure. The origin is not clear. The following is quoted from that website: “The techniques used in timber framing date back thousands of years, and have been used in many parts of the world during various periods such as ancient Japan and medieval England.” There are some great pictures and a good explanation of how the house were built on this website.
Just a note here, I have chosen to give the full link to reference websites (as opposed to using the “hidden” hyperlink like I do for the satellite images). I do this in case the website does a revision and my link is eliminated. Usually, you can go back to the root part of the link and find the information.
Now for some other observations.
The streets in many of the European towns we have been in seem to go every which way. They are often very short, so that the address numbers don’t get very high (many do not get over 100). Some of the streets radiate out for a building that is the center of town. As I have noted, many streets are cobblestone. Here in Rome, even the main streets are cobblestone. If I were a suspension engineer for a car/truck manufacturer, I would put my product here for testing (some can be very rough).
It seems like many Europeans we come in contact with ask us about American politics. We have not found one that likes the Republican candidate. I think it is more a case of strongly disliking Bush and his policies. It is amusing, when a taxi driver can hardly speak English, but they will be adamant that the Bush party must be elected out. These conversations are not just a way of talking to Americans, they have very strong feelings. We have not encountered any animosity (that we know of) against Americans, but rather animosity against our political policies and “our” war.
Much of the music we hear is from the USA. It is funny to hear radio stations or hotel lobbies playing “our” music and then hear the “disk jockey” talk in their native language. I don’t recall hearing any county western, but lots of “standards” out of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.
On the trains, we have enjoyed observing the farming techniques. The have lots of corn but only a few soybeans. They have quite a bit of sunflowers, and vegetables (most of which we could not identify. However, hay fields are very prevalent. We saw just about every haying method you could imagine. Some were picking up the hay green and putting in something that might be described as a silage wagon, some was bagged, there was a little bit of baling (large round). Quite a bit was put in silage bunkers. It looked like a lot was used to feed dairy cattle. Some of the hay looked like plain grass with lots of dandelions. They were mowing this grass when it was less than 10 inches tall. They used a lot of tedder (sp?) rakes. We did notice that the size of the tractors seems to have increased since we were here several years ago. They now have quite a few with front assist drive and were about the size of a John Deere 50 series (50-75HP). The tractors in the vineyards had a very narrow tread spacing (probably less than 4 feet).
Now to our apartment in Rome. Matthias gave us a connection with a person who rents an apartment to tourists (he has stayed here a few times). It has a “perfect” location right in the middle of old Rome (here). It is probably worth playing with this link to zoom in and out. If you zoom out a time or two, you will see that we are right in the middle between the Colosseum and the Vatican. Make sure you are in the satellite mode and you will see the Colosseum on the right of the picture (looks like a football field). The Colosseum is a bit over two miles away and the Vatican is about 1.5 miles away (both as the crow flies). We walked to the Tiber river which is about 0.25 miles away and walked part way out on the Ponte Sisto bridge built in the 3rd century. A nearby bridge, Ponte Cestio, dates back to 46 BC
The apartment is great. It has a very large bedroom, a small kitchen and a medium size living room. The couch makes into a queen size bed. It is only a hundred yards from a main piazza (plaza) that has close to 20 sidewalk cafes/bars. We went to dinner there last two nights (Tuesday/Wednesday) and it is a very busy place from about 8:00 PM on. There is a TV in the apartment, but it does not get CNN or any other English channel (we do buy a paper every so often and check the major headlines on the Internet most days).
We thought that the cathedrals and buildings were very old and grandiose in Belgium/France/Germany/Austria and they are. However, Rome just blows you away. Some structures date back well into the BC era.
We are just beginning to explore Rome. We have done a bit of walking around our area and have purchased 3 day bus tickets which allow us to ride on an open top bus that stops at many of the historic sites. You can get on and off as much as you want and it has an English narration that has helped us to understand the general layout of Old Rome. In the next few days we will begin to explore this storied city.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.