Saturday, February 23, 2008

Rome and then home

Before we conclude our trip blog, we would like to take a moment and thank all the parents and relatives who helped make this trip possible. Your sacrifice both in terms of money and time were important in making this a reality and then making it the success that it became. Ms. Mullis and myself hope this is just the beginning of travel abroad for your child. Observing your children's expressions while they observed the people, sounds and history of Italy was a joy that sometimes comes rarely in the teaching profession. So this trip has enriched us as well. Once again, thank you. -Mr. Hanish

Once again the weather really favored us. Out of eight full days here, we only had one day of some showers. As you might have observed, since moving south of Tuscany, the temperatures warmed into the low 60's. Sitting in the sun like lizards and soaking up the rays will make going home so much more bittersweet. (Come spring, come!)

Our friends from Connecticut left us this morning for home and we were able to bump around Rome at a slow pace. Moving through the Roman Forum towards the Pantheon we stopped to see the Arch of Titus, the creamation place of Caesar, and the Mamertine Prison (where Peter and Paul of the New Testament spent time before their deaths. Our last stop was Trajans Column. On the way back to out hotel for an early night, some of us stopped for a little shopping. Doran was finally able to find his wool overcoat!

Our flight appears on schedule and we will call from Boston on the Concord Trailways. We will call with any times etc.

In addition, Nokomis has granted any of our students an excused absence for Monday as we are returning so late on Sunday.

The Concord Trailways will hopefully run us from Portland to Bangor (leaving Portland at 8:15pm and arriving in Bangor at 10:30pm). If for some reason we miss that bus, there is NO other bus that night. We will try to arrange carpooling but you may have to come to Portland to pick up your child. Keep your fingers crossed!

See you in Bangor sometime Sunday night!

Friday, February 22, 2008

St. Peters Basillica and more

I really was not sure if I should include a picture of the interior of St. Peter's basillica for the simple reason that it is so massive, and so beautiful that one photograph can never capture it in its entirety. I will leave it for the kids when they return to tell you about it an even show you their pictures of it. Our trip to the Vatican began in the morning, with a visit to the Vatican's huge museum of which we might have seen 10%. Then onto the Sistine Chapel, no photos allowed of course but still inspiring. The afternoon was reserved for the basillica which had been closed for the pope earlier in the day (quite rare, as he conducted a mass there today) and then a short bus ride to the Colosseum.
After dinner in a small resturant on a side street, some of the kids had their portraits done by street artists.
Our last day in Italy is tomorrow, The Roman Forum and a low key day before home!
(We will not be doing any more picture uploads until we return home. The internet in the hotel is too slow for uploads.)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

When in Rome

Another day and another great time in Italy. Although we have not had time to upload any of the new photos today aside from the few that I will tack on here, it was a good time had by all.
Our first stop was Pompeii, where in 79AD the small Roman town was buried by the eruption of nearby Mt. Vesuvius. It would literally take days to wander about the many streets, shops, homes and temples of the city. We had a few hours and a wonderful Italian guide who has lived nearby all her life. Her brother was a guide and resturant owner who died recently leaving his sister with the family business. She enjoyed calling us Maine and our partners Connecticut as she shepherded us around the best sites in the ruined city.
Walking the streets gave us a great sense of what life was like for the Roman people two-thousand years ago. The light rain gave this historical site a mournful feeling as we moved about it poking in and out of the bath-houses and villas.
After lunch we drove to Rome and quickly dropped off our luggage at the hotel before going out for a quick couple of sites. The Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. Everyone threw a coin in the fountain and got some good camera shots in. Climbing the Spanish Steps for a good view of St. Peters Cathedral was enjoyable in the early evening twilight.
Tomorrow, The Vatican, Sistine Chapel and the Pantheon!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Capri Sun

Well, if you have consumed the fruit juice found at Shop n' Save called "Capri Sun", you might have a very small idea about what Capri is really like. In reality though, you probably have no idea of how amazing this island off of the coast of Sorrento really is. Imagine lemon trees loaded with fruit, orange trees with large balls hanging amongst the leaves like Christmas ornaments; and your thinking of what Capri is like. The weather was sunny and warm (65 f) and some of us now have light sunburns and chapped lips. The island is only accessable via a ferry from the Sorrento docks and the half an hour boat ride across the bay. Off in the distance we could spy Mt. Vesuvius through the haze and fog as we docked in the Grand Harbor.
Capri is the summer home of many wealthy people and is populated year round by locals. Little shops lie around corners of steep alleys and winding paths. Cars are rare and most people get around on foot or by small scooters.
Our group walked up to the former palace of Emperor Tiberius, who ruled from 14AD-37AD. Famous for his insane later years, the cliffs you see in the photos were used to dispatch many of his enemies by having them thrown from their heights.
The ruins feature some classic roman arches and brickwork, as well as some remnants of mosaic tile floors.
The weather became cloudy as we headed back to Sorrento for some brief shopping and return to our hotel.
Tomorrow we are off to Pompeii and then the bus trip to will be wet with rain expected. So much for Capri sun!

(ps...some of the additional kids in the photos are from the Connecticut group traveling with us.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

In Sorrento, and back online

This picture taken 2/19 by Justin Hastings
shows the Bay of Naples and Mt. Vesuvius in
the background.

We are all doing well and are now back online at our hotel in Sorrento. As you may have noticed, there were no postings for the last two days due to spotty and unreliable internet access. One of the interesting things about this trip is that we have all found oddities between our country and Italy. For example, there are no hotel irons available, people rarely obey traffic laws, and access to internet technology and good land line phone service is difficult.
We spent the last two days in Florence and Siena. The weather was perfect and the streets crowded with shoppers and tourists. Florence is the "birthplace" of the Renaissance and Siena is a mountain town famous for its saint named Catherine. The students climbed over 400 steps to the top of the belltower in Siena for some good shots and over 600 steps to the top of the Duomo in Florence. The Duomo was designed by Bruneleschi and was one of the largest domes in the world.
Everyone is healthy except for Mr. Hanish who has a bad cold and Ashely who has a minor one. Ms. Mullis is doing well, but seems to enjoy sending Mr. Hanish up those long stairways to the tops of towers and domes while she explores the more grounded regions.
A big thanks to Doran for uploading the many pictures that all of us have been taking.
Tomorrow we will be visiting Capri and the Villa Jovis. The weather should be perfect.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Venice, day two

Another great day. Today we all took a tour of a glass showroom and a glass blowing demonstration. The look on the kids faces was priceless as the glassblower turned 800 degree glass around and made a beautiful vase.
Then it was onto the market district to shop and explore the narrow alleys and small bridges over the canals. Visiting the shops and open air markets that had fish and veggies was a treat for kids who are used to seeing their food under plastic wrap. (the shop with horse meat and hanging chickens was a real crowd pleaser)
Afterwards, we took a tour of the grand canal all the way to the end and returned via the vaporetto (ferries like the subway...except think a boat instead of subway train).
And finally two of the guys played a pickup game of soccer with some local Italian kids and had a blast.

Onto Florence tomorrow..all are well and healthy!

Friday, February 15, 2008

We are here!

We arrived safely and are enjoying the great views of Venice. We should have good pictures uploaded tonight of the flight from JFK to Venice and we should have even more and interesting pictures uploaded tomorrow night.

The boat rides were excellent and fairly cheap as well. We explored the Chapel of St. Mark and the small shops of that area.

Click on the section at the top right and check out our latest uploaded photos.

A few cool facts and bits of info, the water taxis that get us around are fun and fairly cheap, they get you all around the city.
All of our debt cards worked, and no lost luggage clean undies for all this week.
Will post up tomorrow with some great pictures!