Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Back from Italy

I'm finally back from one of the best holiday's I've had in a LONG time. It was definitely different because I didn't travel with D. I've also never traveled on my own to a new country (I'm not counting places in the US or UK because I feel quite at home there). Still, I found it very therapeutic, and being surrounded by so much history and beautiful scenery and architecture ... didn't have a problem at all! Plus I found the Italians to be so friendly, and the charm of the city seemed to rub off on all the people around, tourists and locals, which kept everyone smiling and laughing.

The one thing I found with Rome was that I was so enchanted and overwhelmed with the history of the city that I felt no photos could really do it justice. Still, I did take lots of photos - here are a few:

Il Colosseo -- The Colosseum was truly colossal!!

Fontana di Trevi - The Trevi Fountain was really spectacular. The only drawback was that there were SO many tourists around blocking the steps down to the fountain. Still, I fought my way down and made a wish!

The buildings, alleyways, and arches of the city were lovely!

My hotel was at the top of the Spanish Steps -- a place that was always buzzing with activity!

I spent a whole day in Vatican City - absolutely loved it!

Standing in the middle of the piazza, walking into St. Peter's Basilica, and then climbing to the top [hundreds of steep stairs -- OMG, it was tough!] - still, the view was so worth it!! You can read about it more here. I'm glad I'm not claustrophobic, but the narrowness of the stairway was overwhelming. I think there should have been a warning, especially as there was no way to get out of it once you started your climb to the top.

Waiting in line to get into St. Peter's Basilica:

On the roof - but not at the top yet! 

The view from the top of Cupola - magnificent!: 

I'm glad I had allocated an entire day for Vatican City, because the Vatican Museums themselves needed hours. With all my studying and the general frantic-ness of my life, I had forgotten my love for history, literature, and art ... it was all revived as I walked through the halls of the museum - surrounded by the works of Raphael and Michelangelo -- who wouldn't be inspired? I was really emotional as I walked through those halls.

Of course, the ultimate goal was to get to the Sistine Chapel. They didn't allow photos to be taken, and although many people were sneaking out their cameras and taking photos, I couldn't do it - besides, how can a photo on an iPhone really capture the greatness of Michelangelo's masterpieces?

I spent 45 minutes sitting in the Sistine Chapel. I had a book that discussed the artwork of the chapel, so I read the pages as I admired the work. I couldn't believe I was there - standing under the Creation of Adam ... It was my favorite memory of Rome.

After 4 days in Rome, I flew to Ancona.

My trip to Le Marche (in Ancona) was at a very different pace - and totally new scenery for me. I had never been so 'isolated' before. I was surrounded by rolling hills, endless greenery, and lots of fresh air - all things I sorely miss when I'm in Kuwait.

One of my favorite days was a visit to an antique fair held in Fermo. The vibe was fantastic. Music playing, people laughing ... everyone just so relaxed. The setting was so beautiful.

Me and KD in Fermo:

I didn't stop smiling during my entire stay in Le Marche. It was fabulous!

So, what about my health?

Upon returning, I have to say I felt a bit bloated. I definitely think it's from all the carbs from the pizza and pasta - and it truly was either pizza or pasta every single night! I also had a gellato every single day. One major difference to this holiday was that I didn't munch during the day. I didn't have any crisps; I only had 6-7 fries on one night; I didn't eat between meals ...

Also, in terms of exercise, it was a fail in terms of getting structured exercise in - I didn't go to the gym in the hotel nor did I do any outdoor runs like I had planned.

I did, however, walk A LOT. I walked for at least 5-6 hours each day in Rome.

In Ancona, I either swam (it was so serene):

Or I went for walks along the water's edge in the sand (did that 3 times, for a total of 2 hours walking each time; one time in knee deep water - very challenging and great for my legs!). Walking in the water/sun has made me 50 shades of darker brown ;)

KD is our body pump instructor and she had the latest release with her. She gave me the choreography notes to learn and music to listen to -- we did some body pump together at her house one day, and I taught a track. It was so much fun! I've got the notes and music with me here so my goal is to have it all learned by the time she gets back so I can actually lead the whole session.

Another major difference to my life in Kuwait is that I was able to fully relax. I caught up on my sleep. I felt absolutely no stress. For a whole week I had no Internet; I didn't watch any TV. I read a lot - for fun for a change!! There was no city pollution or even stale air from air conditioning - only fresh air, fresh, locally grown/produced food, and pure nature around me ... I think it really, really helped. I honestly feel like it was the first time I relaxed in years.

A sample of the scenery:

So, there were pool swims, beach walks, a bit of body pump, lots of relaxation ...

... and of course tons of shopping (hey, it counts as a workout)! :) [Only 4 new pairs of shoes ;)]

I was very, very pleased to have stepped on the scale and seen a 6 lb. loss! :) There were times when I was worried about all the food and lack of structured exercise, but I think all the other activity and rest helped balance it all out!

I also had one other major achievement - but I'll save that for my next post.

I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone else's blogs!



  1. What a great trip! I know that pictures never show the beauty or experience of what you saw. Saying that, the pictures are still very lovely. Love the pictures of you and your friend. And the 6 pound loss--just frosting of a very nice vacation cake. :D

    :-) Marion

  2. Seriously, who goes to Italy and loses 6lbs???? That's incredible!!!

    I'm glad your back as I have missed your posts!! Your pictures are beautiful. One of my dreams is to go to Italy. I'm not sure if it will ever happen but I can hope!


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