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Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Colosseum and Palatine Hill

We saved the Colosseum and Palatine Hill for our last day. For no reason in particular other than those were the tickets we could get. We booked a tour with the Colosseum directly through the official Colosseum website, co-op culture, which gives us access to both the Colosseum and Palatine Hill, with a tour of the underground and the arena at the Colosseum. Getting tickets from Co-Op Culture is incredibly difficult, and we got our tickets out of blind luck of being on the website at the right time. I had woken up 1 month in advance at 3 am to try and get a ticket, but they weren't released at that time, but when I checked back a few days later in the morning they somehow still had availability for the day we wanted to go. My understanding is that local tourism agencies snatch up these tickets quickly for resale, so we got the tickets at a reasonable price of around $35 each (although that's still more than double what I paid for the same ticket in 2016).

Our tour was the first tour of the day, the 9:05, and got to the Colosseum just a few minutes early. Despite the Colosseum opening at 9:00, there wasn't that long of a line to get in. We got in and went to our tour spot, but before ran out to a place where we could take a few snaps of the Colosseum without anyone in it. Frustratingly, we got to our tour meetup point right on time but it didn't actually start for another 15 minutes - which means we could have gotten a few more shots with little to no people in it. But oh well, not getting those shots was worth not stressing about it.

The tour was great, I especially liked the tour of the underground. When I went 8 years ago, the underground portion was just walking down the stairs to the underground and then walking back up, but now they let you walk through the center of the area and all around, so that was quite special and a different experience. The lighting was harsh, so I'm sure the photos are terrible, but I like taking the photos to remind me of the real memories in my head. If my camera captures them, then that's great, otherwise, I'll have to try and remember how it looked in real life instead.

After the Colosseum, we went back to our Airbnb for a quick break before heading to lunch at Doppio Malto. Yesterday, we saw a brewery in the middle of Rome that we wanted to go back to, so that was today's destination for lunch. The beer was pretty good and expensive compared to the wine in Italy (although pretty on par for the cost of craft beer in America), but nonetheless, it was a good beer experience and a nice change from drinking wine at lunch the past few days. The food at the brewery wasn't all that great, I got an Italian burger that was decent, but nothing spectacular. Katie got some pasta that was drastically lacking salt and didn't have very much flavor to it. But I guess we went there for the beer and they delivered on that menu item. In addition to being disappointed in the food, the service wasn't that great either. The water took our drink order and when he came with the drinks he said he would be right back to take our order. 15 minutes later we flagged someone else down to take our order. I guess that's part of the culture in Europe, but I felt like there was something left to be desired in both the food and the service (but not the beer).

After lunch we walked to a gelato shop, Gioletti, which is highly rated and it was pretty good but incredibly busy and a little overhyped for the quality. Then we walked to a small kitchen shop for me to get a few things. At the kitchen shop, called Container 4, I bought two pasta-making tools, first a round ravioli stamp so that I can make half-moon ravioli which allows me to have a greater filling-to-pasta ratio than a traditional square ravioli. The second tool I bought was an Attrezzo per Malloreddus, which literally translates to "tool for Malloreddus (pasta)". Malloreddus is a thumbprint pasta, basically a shell-like pasta but Malloreddus has grooves on the outside to hold the sauce better than a traditional thumbprint pasta or shell. The wooden tool is just a flat piece of wood with grooves in it, and you use it by smearing your thumb over the pasta sitting on the board which creates the shell-like shape with the grooves on the outside. I plan on using it for rolling grooves into gnocchi, but I also certainly want to try making the Malloreddus pasta as well. I have been wanting these two tools for a few months, and they were something Katie was going to buy off Amazon for me for my birthday, but there's something special about buying these tools while we're in the pasta capital of the world. These tools I bought are no different than ones that I could buy off Amazon and aren't special in any way other than the fact that I bought them in Italy. They hold sentimental value in that these souvenirs will make me think of our trip to Rome every time I use them.

Our final item to check off the list of things to do in Rome was to visit Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum which was our plan for the late afternoon. Overall, we were a little underwhelmed. The lighting wasn't that great and we were completely exhausted from walking a lot the past several days. To make it worse, they started closing sections of Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum about an hour before they closed, so we didn't even get to see everything (since we arrived around 5:30 and they closed at 7:15). But that's okay since the lighting wasn't that great and we were tired and ready for dinner anyway.

We slowly wandered over to the Travestere area again for dinner to find that all the places we wanted to go were booked solid. I don't know if it was just that area or those highly recommended restaurants or if it's because the next day was a holiday and there were more tourists and/or locals in the area eating dinner in Travestere. So we picked a restaurant that had seating and ate some dinner. Our final meal in Rome was at Vascellari, and I had Ravioli with Amatriciana sauce and it was wonderful. It was backwards to a typical ravioli dish with the red sauce inside the ravioli and aerated ricotta cheese on top. Katie got Carbonara and it was pretty good, but the bacon (also on my dish) was way too salty and tasted like it was double fried - it just didn't taste right. We shared a bottle of wine with dinner that was a little too acidic, but overall it was an excellent final meal to close out the Italy section of our trip.

Since the next day was a holiday, our Airbnb host told us that the Colosseum metro station would be closed. This wasn't ideal for us getting to the airport, so we ended up getting a taxi to take us (which the Airbnb host kindly arranged for us). Taxis have a flat rate of 50 Euros to go from the city to the airport, and even though it was a little more expensive it was well worth not having to haul our bags to the closest open metro station. Our Taxi driver drove like crazy weaving in and out of traffic and getting us to the airport in record time, and we ended up having quite a bit of time waiting at the airport. But getting to airports is always a hurry-up-and-wait situation and I'd rather be early than being tight on time.

Morning SunshineUNder an ArchUneven ArchesOld WritingUndergroundColosseum PanoramaOuter RingGorgonMarbleFrom the Second TierFrom the FloorRoman ForumBridge to a HillCourtyardSoaking up the SunRoman FlowersNewer FacadeGreen DoorDecorative3 PillarsArch of TitusSeptimius Severus ArchMarcus AureliusThree BirdsWine in ItalyLast Meal in RomeItalian BurgerBeer and Popcorn

Sunday, June 5, 2022

The Cats of Cyprus

For the last segment of our trip we were in Cyprus. The vacation changed from exploring new areas of Europe more to hanging out with family at this point in the trip. This was still a new place for us to explore, but most of the days were hanging with family instead of being tourists. Because of this, I didn't take many photos, other than a few of the city from on top of Shacolas Tower in Nicosia, a few from our hotel in Ayia Napa overlooking the beach, and a bunch of Katie petting the Cyprian cats.

There were cats everywhere in Cyprus. Katie really enjoyed the cats of Cyprus and tried to pet every single one that she saw. I don't know how many we saw, but in our couple of days in the city of Nicosia, we probably saw at least a couple dozen cats. Katie was successful in petting a handful of them, and one even jumped up in her lap during lunch. Even though this album is dated June 5th, the photos of Katie with the cats were taken throughout the time we were in Cyprus from June 2nd through when we left on June 6th.

Lunchtime KittyUnder the BenchFace ScratchesSunbathing on the RoofAfraidDifferent CatBack ScratchesNotched EarShacolas TowerFrom the Hotel

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Quick Hike to Coyote Ridge

Having gotten back from our tip in pretty good shape from all the walking, we wanted to get out this weekend to try and retain our leg muscles. Katie was meeting up with a friend at 11, so we knew that we had to do something relatively close in order to make it back in time.

We've done this hike a dozen times, but it's a good one because it's a 10-minute drive from our house, it's pretty low in elevation gain (only 600 feet), but still a decent distance (4 miles). We got to the trailhead around 7:30, and it was already in the 70-degree temperatures. The temperature rose about 10 degrees during the hike, which made this a really hot hike. Luckily there was a slight breeze at the top of each ridge that we passed which helped with the heat.

About a mile into the hike, I saw a Garter snake in the bushes that ran right in front of us (and Katie even stepped on it by accident). We haven't had to worry about snakes on any of our other hikes because it was too early, but now that we're getting into the heat of the summer that's something that we need to pay attention to. That garter snake put us on high alert and that was good since there was a rattlesnake just 20 feet from where we saw the garter snake. The rattlesnake was coiled up in the middle of the path and started rattling at me right when I saw it, and I stopped and took a few steps back and it calmed down. Despite having hiked almost 300 hours in Colorado and over 500 miles, this is the first rattlesnake that I've ever seen in Colorado. I attribute that to the fact that I'm not usually hiking at low elevations like this hike. Most of the hikes I go on are above 8,000 feet which is not rattlesnake territory.

Ranger StationStaring Me DownCoiledWild Spiderwort3 PetalsTree at the Summit

Saturday, June 18, 2022

B-17 Crash Site Hike

It's been a while since we've done a real hike, so we wanted to get into the mountains and get back in the groove of things. The weather this weekend wasn't very cooperative, but we decided to go out and risk it anyway. The area that we wanted to hike in, Pingree Park, had a chance of rain all day but only 0.06" of rain was predicted, so we figured we would risk possibly having to end up hiking in the rain.

The drive to Pingree Park takes almost 2 hours from our house, mostly because the last 10 miles are on a dirt road. we got to the trailhead around 11 am and started on what would become a three-and-a-half-hour hike that took us through a beautiful area of Rosevelt National Park. The last time we were here (and the only other time I've been in this area) we were planning on doing this hike to the B17 crash site but we ended up taking the wrong turn and did a different hike instead. Ever since that hike last year I've wanted to come back to this area because it's such a peaceful area. Since it's so far from any city, most people don't hike up this way, which showed since we only saw three groups of people on the hike.

The hike started in poor weather. It was in the low 60's, quite windy, and starting to spit rain a little bit. We threw on our rain jackets and started the hike knowing that the weather would clear up since it was pretty light in the Western sky. It didn't take long for the weather to change from almost uncomfortably cold to hot with the sun beaming down on us. That's just part of the fun of hiking is having to take some risks when it comes to the weather. Luckily, the sun didn't stay out during the entire hike, but instead, it was partially cloudy the whole hike. The temperatures grew about 10 degrees during the hike and the wind stopped, making the start of the hike slightly uncomfortable from it being too chilly to being slightly uncomfortable from being too hot.

We got to the crash site around 12:30 and saw and ate our packed lunch. After lunch, I wandered up higher to get a better view of everything. There were quite a bit of airplane parts scattered around the area. There were 3 engines, both landing gear wheel assemblies, a big chunk of the deck that runs through the center of the plane, and a few other random assemblies and parts scattered here and there. There wasn't enough metal scattered around to make up a whole plane, so I speculate that after the crash some parts were air-lifted out of there to prevent things like oil and gas from leeching into the ground. Even though I was hoping to find more parts, it was still fascinating to see the carnage so spread out and to see what assemblies survived the crash and what didn't.

Start of the HikePurple FringTwin Lake ReservoirBoulder on the LakeParrySun WashedPath Along the RiverUnknownLanding GearAt the Crash SiteRockyUneven RustingMain Engine9-3080-22Rotting RubberLanding Gear CylinderOrange Peel FungusGreen Aspens

June 2022

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