On a Train to La Spezia

The girls are asleep. Jane is feeling sick to her stomach and I keep screwing up the details of traveling. This morning I got us onto a train to Pisa, but Jane kept reminding me we needed to get our Eurail pass validated. She remembered this because apparently I was rude to her about the exact same thing on our honeymoon. I rudely failed to believe her this time around, had not validated the pass, and boarded this Pisa bound train. Finally, on an inspection of the front flap of our pass, plain english declared "must be validated before first use."

We had to walk all the way back from where we had just come. Our validation also resulted in an hour and a half wait. My half-witted planning was rewarded with McDonald's breakfast (at my second favorite foreign McDonald's, #1 being near King George Street in downtown Jerusalem).

Today marks the seven year anniversary of Jane and my first kiss. So to celebrate, we're on a train for 5 hours headed towards a tiny little berg called Manarola.

Yesterday was another long day.

Jane started out ridiculously and inexplicably grumpy, even through breakfast and a walk all the way to the Colosseum. Somehow, the view of this famous monument released Jane from her chains. Once reaching the Roman Forum (on the other side of the Colosseum from which we approached), Erin lead us on the "Rick Steve's" guided walk. Her reading and telling us where to look made for quite a nice tour. Having read Conn Iggulden's Emperor series makes the ruins more fun. We even went to the top of the Palatine Hill to look out as Nero and others must have millenia ago. Lunch was a substitute bar halfway up the hill to St. Peter-in-chains church. Here we tried Italian hot chocolate and the girls were disappointed by our selection. The interior of the Colosseum was next. Erin had finished the reading tour, and as we stood in the Colosseum she had difficulty fathoming the brutality of ancient Rome. I had trouble explaining a "why."

Back up that hill to St. Peter-in-chains church we hiked, and we saw the chains that bound Peter during his captivity in Rome. Also, this church holds the only complete sculpture from Pope Julius II's tomb by Michelangelo. He was commissioned to make around 40 or so masterpieces, but was too often distracted or pulled away from the project. One distraction for Michelangelo was that cheeky chapel.

Our brief pilgrimage to see the relic chains lead us into an epic walk through what I thought were the back streets of Rome. These back streets lead us directly to the piazza directly adjacent to the Italian White House where a military band was rockin' the crowd. After about an hour of walking, we made it to a church dedicated to Loyola in which a dome was supposed to have been built. It never was added, so some genius painted a fake dome ceiling. From the entrance of the church, it really does look like a dome. I'm reminded of Jesus' words about fasting in the sermon on the mount...don't put ashes on your face to make you look worse than you are so you can appear more holy. That's the gist anyway. The painted dome is a funny way of declaring grandeur.

From this church we went on another long walk up a long hill just as it was starting to get cold. The decision was made to head in this direction because we knew internet would be available. The second long walk in an hour almost killed us all, but we needed to get the address of Silbano Roma's restaraunt. Silbano is the brother of Franco, a jeweler frequented by Mr. Roy Bolhorst, in Santa Clara). Turns out the restaraunt is close to our hotel so we took the metro back for a short rest.

Ristorante L'Europeo is a delightful place to spend the evening. Certainly the least expensive dinner we found in Rome, it was also the finest and for Erin, the sleepiest. Wine was cheap, grappa was cheap, and we received a "we know your brother in Cali" discount. Silbano himself was in the house that evening, so we met him, though Erin was too awkward or sleepy to shake hands. Somehow, the Air-bear shook off her narcoleptic tendencies and briskly walked and giggled us back to our room. We managed to put ourselves to bed later than we have been, yet I was still up at 5 am.

This morning some older folks from California were at breakfast. All they did was complain about the little things. As I have written two and a half pages in my journal, the girls have continued to sleep. They share the uncanny ability to sleep with legs spread wide. The fashionably dressed Italian man in the window seat has been quiet (save his cell phone calls) since he boarded the train and the girls decided to sleep.


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