Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Honeymoon III - Steps, Purses and Fountains

We spent Thursday relaxing. The hotel had this beautiful American breakfast buffet with Italian touches [several sweet cakes; muesli; roasted tomatoes, etc.]. Asmus and I gorged and then went back to room to let the food move down and plan the day.

I got Asmus hooked on massages, so we made sure we chose a hotel with a spa. On our second day in Italy, we were going to take advantage of that. After perusing the spa menu over and over again while keeping in mind our 7 pm dinner reservation, Asmus had a reservation at 12:30 for a full body massage and I had a 25-minute face massage at the same time. We met up in the hot tub that was actually warm.

The hotel had a "system". There was a hot tub, a steam room, a sauna, a cold area, a heated pool and a relaxing outside area. Combined this is known as a Roman bath. People were always moving about the spa. I did a few minutes in the steam room and a long time in the hot tub. The hot tub was rarely hot, so I usually stopped in the heated pool, which was hot.

At the end of my face massage, my technician said she could get me the foot massage that I wanted. There was some confusion that morning making appointments. I blame pathetic staff, not language issues. The woman on the phone told me I could not get a foot massage until 3:30. That was too late, so I got the face massage. The woman who performed my face massage said a few words in Italian and suddenly I had a foot massage in 20 minutes.

Oh My God! That was heavenly.

Back at the room, Asmus and I compared notes. I enjoyed my face massage and loved my foot massage. Asmus loved his full-body massage. We got ourselves together. It was not that easy. Italy has two channels that broadcast shows in English. I had not had so much fun since London. I watched Will & Grace, Hope & Faith, and other luscious recently-canceled American sitcoms. It was difficult for me to leave the room [and to leave Italy].

We hit the streets with the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain in our sites.

OK, I don't want to sound too angry but the Spanish Steps ain't shit. They are a bunch of steps. They lead to a nice old church but they are just steps with lots of people sitting on them. On our way to the steps, we bumped into this family from the hotel. They had just come from the Trevi Fountain. They loved it, so we were hopeful. We warned them that the steps were pretty underwhelming. I had to stop this circle of hopefulness surrounding those damn steps.

On the way to the fountain, we passed a store with some cool purses in the window. It is Rome. When you see leather, you are supposed to buy them. I like handbags with distinctive shapes. The one that I fell in love with a black bag with a hard shell and a Grace Kelly flair. It was a little small. I asked the saleswoman if she had a similar bag. I think she was desperate for a sale. She kept showing me black bags in various shapes. I picked out a square, medium-sized purse. She showed me a huge hobo bag and a large square bag and small bag my grandmother would use. I decided to go with my original choice but then I worried about buying a bag at the first store I stopped at. I made the mistake of asking Asmus for advice. Within the same monologue, he recommended buying the bag that I liked and then he promoted going to a few more stores first. I just bought the bag. We stopped a few stores on the way to the fountain. No store had a bag that I preferred to mine!

That fountain is awesome. It is awesome in the strict dictionary sense. It is inspires awe.

The Trevi Fountain is about as tall as a three-story house. The dramatic scenes are wonderful. The statute Arch of Triumph, depicts the palace of Neptune, dominates the scene above the water. Abundance stands on the left of the fountain and displays Agrippa approving the plans for the Aqueduct. The figure, Salubrity, stands on the right. A relief above that shows the Virgin hsowing soldiers the Way. In the middle of the entire scene is the figure of Nepute firlmly guiding a chariot drawn by seahorses. The scene progresses and horses are guided in their course by tritons. Water trickles from this powerful scene.

Crowds surround the fountain. Some taking pictures. Some kissing. Kids playing in the water. People throwing coins over their shoulder. The only problem were these very aggressive men who wanted you to pay for photographs at the fountain. Oddly, mainly of the vendors at the historical site are Indian. I wonder about the moves that brought Indians into these positions outside the Colosseum, at fountains, and along the Appian Way. Regardless, the fountain rocked.

Here I am throwing money over my shoulder into the fountain, as the legend prescribes. See the purple bag. That holds The Purse. The blue plastic shopping bag held the two umbrellas that we had just bought. The sky threatened rain but did not deliver.

I did light research before we left Germany. Many guides and newpapers recommended Casa Bleve. Now I love it, too. Asmus discovered an affinity for white wine there. I learned that not all balsamic vinegars are the same. Asmus and I both had our first taste of raw meat. We tasted the damn good beef carpacio that the enoteca [a wine shop that also has a small restaurant attached that sells pastas, antipasta and salads] is famous for. Its raw beef was delcious but it is raw meat. I could not get that thought of my head. I walked out of there with a bottle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. I wanted the white wine we had with dinner. Asmus didn't want it. I didn't understand why. This morning I discovered why: he doesn't want to carry the bottle. He doesn't like carrying liquids because they are heavy. The vinegar and oil can only be found in Italy, so he supported that purchase.

It was a great day.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Honeymoon II - The Forum!

The Arch of Titus at the Forum. It was built to honor emperor Titus.

After eating Italian-style hot dogs [grilled hot dogs, split down the middle and stuffed into flatbread], we came to the Forum.

We didn't do much research for this vacation. The first thought was a trip to Greece. Land at Athens and then visit an island or two. That idea died when I learned that most of Greece is closed until late April. Then we settled on Istanbul. We hit the mall for some light shopping and then decided to go to the travel agent. On our way down the escalator, Asmus said he was nervous about me going to Turkey. As an American, he thought there could be a target on me. I thought that was unnecessary but if we would have a care-free honeymoon, then we should pick a place that we would both feel safe. So by the time we reached the bottom, we decided to go to Florence. Five minutes later, the agent said there was more to do in Rome. So, we left the office with hotel reservations to Rome.

It is early March and we confirming and making plans for the wedding and out-of-town guests, so vacation research falls to the bottom.

If I had, I would have skipped the Roman Forum. It is acre and acre of ruins. It once a great public area with temples, public squares, shops and streets. Now it is a complex of rocks and half walls.

We walked through aimlessly for about 20 minutes. Then Asmus and I left and got a drink at an outdoor bar across the street from the Forum. The good German had a beer and I had a refreshing glass of Frascati.