Why Rome is truly the Eternal City

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Coliseum Rome Italy Photo Credit Travel with T

Rome The Eternal City

 

Rome is truly an eternal city.   There is really not a way to truly understand this though,  It takes a journey and it takes you to actually step foot there before you really understand why.  This history of the city is truly amazing from the Roman Coliseum to the Forum your are presented with centuries of people who have stood before you.   You awe at the magnitude of architecture and art representing centuries upon centuries of souls.

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The Art of Italy Photo Credit Travel with T

Every step you take you are presented with the old and the new.   You can look back and see the old and  yet is a bustling city.   From the sights and sounds to the museums and churches it is all evident as you move through its streets.   There is so much to see and for an American tourist just visiting and so little time. 

My journey is a little different than most of the group I am with as it is part of a pilgrimage.   I bring not only my tourist side but some of my  hopes and dreams but also some of my loss and failures.   I am bringing it all with me because it is who I am.  It has made me who I am this woman of travel.

So one of my first stops in a life long dream is the Sistine Chapel.  When you step into the Sistine Chapel, you are presented a kaleidoscope of color with a palate and hues that entice the imagination.   You recognize it immediately.  As you have seen Michelangelo’s masterpiece throughout your life in various paintings, pictures, and movies.   I am here I am standing just below it, I am in Italy, and I am at the Sistine Chapel.  To my dismay there are no pictures are taken here.   So you have to capture it in your mind.  In this way it remains yours forever, however, not in a tangible way but in a somewhat ethereal way.

Vatican Museum
Vatican City Photo Credit Travel with T

There was so much after the Sistine Chapel it boggles my mind.  You could spend a lifetime here and not scratch the surface I feel.  Yet, I go on and my journey continues….   As you walk towards the Roman Coliseum you can almost hear the chanting of the crowd as the finest gladiators in the world prepare for their next battle.   You are amazed that this incredible structure is still standing being construction of it started in the year 70-72 under the rule of Vespasian.  How many have come here before and after?

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Coliseum Photo Credit Travel with T

As you move through time and walk through history you come to the Roman Forum a gathering place that has been hosting people since 500 BC.   People met there to do business buying and selling were popular as was gathering to learn of the news or perhaps go to school.  You walk on the stones that were placed there by the Romans and if you are quiet you can still hear the bustle of the market place and the whispers of the newest gossip.  I wondered what were the smells here?

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The Old and the New Photo Credit Travel with T

This history of Rome would not be complete without visits to the first churches of Rome where the early Christians for Rome gathered and celebrated.   It is an amazing walk as you discover and delight at the stunning adornment of the various places of worship within the city.  Nothing is more spectacular than the “Pieta” now housed in the Vatican Museum.  Any journey I make to the various churches is always bittersweet for me.  I enjoy the beauty but I am sadden when I stop a moment and light my candles.   This time was no different.

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Always Breathtaking Photo Credit Travel with T

My favorite part of the travels I make a lot of time is the food.  Oh and the wine of course.   Here is no different.  So for the culinary aspects of Rome as a foodie I tell you that you will not be disappointed.   Rome is known for its internationally mouthwatering cuisine.  Classic pasta dishes like Carbonara originated here, Trattorias are on every corner and wine is always flowing.  My favorite kind of place.

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Trattoria Photo Credit Travel with T

Yet the Eternal City would not be complete without the people who visit and the contrast of time is never more apparent than in Vatican Square.  it’s as if time has stood still but is still also fluid and moving.  It is where the old order meets the new.

 

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The many pilgrims of Rome Photo Credit Travel with T

You can walk down cobblestone streets and stop in one of the many churches for prayer or perhaps shop at one of the outdoor market places, take a journey into the past and the future.  Rome is truly an eternal city a place of culture, culinary delights, history, faith, and beautiful people.  I have just touched the surface of what Rome is about.  It is the Eternal City and it waits for you too to discover it’s treasures.

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Saint Peter’s Square Photo Credit Travel with T

Go on discover your next destination it just might be Rome.  You will not be disappointed  

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Discover the Eternal City Photo Credit Travel with T
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St Peter’s square Vatican City Photo Credit Travel with T
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History is alive Photo Credit Travel with T

Why Germany should be on your travel radar!

In Paris I found fashion, history, and beauty and in Germany along the Rhine I have found a picturesque beauty that people often think about when looking at the Rhine.  My story is from the eyes of a River Cruise through the Rhine from

The weather for the first part of our trip has been classic winter slightly misty but not too cold at all.

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View from Marksburg Castle, Koblenz

As the mist rolls over the Rhine it provides a beautiful romantic backdrop. Some say it is dreary  I tend to think romance and it feels my soul with warmth.  Not the warmth of a summer day but that of a warm hearth fire as I sit drinking warm wine or as most would say gluhwein.  A combination of red wine (sometimes white) mulled spices, and oranges.  It is available throughout Europe really during the Christmas Season at all the Christmas Markets.

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Europe’s Christmas Markets these are a bucket list item

I am in love with the small villages along this portion of the Rhine.  They are absolutely incredible.  Dating back centuries for many which traveling from the US is quite different than what we are used too.    This history of occupation that the various places go through a lesson all by itself.

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The Castles throughout the Rhine are amazing and you will not tire of seeing and hearing about their history.  From the Katz and Maus Castles to Pflz fortress that sits on a rock in the middle of the river.

Marksburg Castle

Cologne is I am sure a favorite of many as it’s history is rich.  The Roman’s founded Colonia Agrippina their first settlement.  Christianity was introduced here with the Roman’s and this city became a seat for the Bishop.  There are many left over vestiges such as Roman walls and such along the street.  The Cathedral is an amazing site to see with it’s Gothic Archetecture.   The background story is that it was begun in the year 1248 and continued over many years finally being finished in 1880.   It largely escaped damage that completely ravaged the city during World War II.  It’s iconic two soaring spires symbolize the city.

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View from Cologne Cathdral
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View from Top of Cologne Cathedral

As you proceed along the Rhine you will come to Koblenz, the Middle Rhine and Rudesheim.   This is where you will discover Marksburg Castle which overlooks a town called Braubach.   The castle itself is one of the best preserved onthe Rhine.   It was never besieged by enemies due to it’s remarkable fortification.   It really looks like it did when it was built about 700 years earlier.

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One of my favorite things in the winter and Christmas Season are Europe’s and Germany’s Christmas Markets.  They fill the streets and many are placed right by the local Cathedral which presents a stunning back drop to the market itself.

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You are able to pick up many items such as ornaments, gloves, scarves, and lots of local craft items.   My favorite though is the food it is varied to the region and is presented in a stunning array of colors and designs.   For a foodie this is absolutely amazing and the food is fantastic.  From pastries, to cheeses, to sausages, and much more your mouth will be watering.   Then of course you top it all off with a glass of Gluhwein and paradise has arrived.

Many of these Christmas Markets are set with the Cathedral in the background which brings a stunning historic beauty to the scene.  Nothing compares really.  If you have not been it is a must trip.  Early in the season of Advent is not bad.  We arrived just after the season started and the markets were filled but still manageable.

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If you are looking for a great way to see Germany, I would love to say Viking!   It is a fantastic way to see quite a number of places in the short amount of time you might have.   It’s a blend of various cities, styles, and culture all wrapped up in one trip.  This was from our Rhine Getaway trip.

Go on and open it

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Go on and open the door! Once you do you will never be the same.

I would love to hear if you have been to Europe’s Christmas Markets and if not I would love to help you go.  After all this is how I make me living.   Ready to book give me a call.

 

A Year with Marriott Gold destination: JW Marriott Houston Galleria

My year of Marriott Gold, destination: JW Marriot Houston Galleria

It’s April and we’re in Houston for one evening.  We’re getting ready to board the Emerald Princess for our voyage to the beautiful western Caribbean and some of my favorite islands (Belize, Cozumel, and Rotan Honduras).  For this Gold journey we chose the Marriott’s JW Houston Galleria.  Newly renovated, 23 stories, and reported to have luxurious accommodations.  Our anticipation is always heightened at the opportunity for Gold upgrades,  we are hoping not to be disappointed with just a standard room.  We really never know if we are going to be upgraded and usually just book a standard room and wait and see.  So far our best upgrade has been the JW Miami.  We were placed in a suite with wall to wall windows overlooking the incredible bay.  It reminded us of a penthouse on the top floor complete with a marble tiled bathroom. It will be hard for anyone else to compete with that but we are in Houston waiting to see.  Does Houston have what it takes to outdo Miami?

JW Marriot Houston Galleria is placed in one of the most famous shopping districts in the world only minutes to attractions like Minute Maid Park.  You can walk to more than 200 exclusive stores that surround it.  Fine dining and entertainment are only minutes away and we even managed to find a Catholic Church right around the corner for Easter Sunday Mass.

For our upgrade we were placed in a higher floor on the concierge level.   We were too late in the evening to enjoy any of what they had to offer.  The hotel features a state of the art fitness center with a view of the city.  It was definitely nice and I enjoyed my elliptical program while gazing out into the city.  The additional amenities we used were Starbucks in the morning. The barista was pleasant and enjoyable to talk with.  Breakfast was the buffet restaurant where the management and hostess were outgoing and friendly.  In the lobby lounge bar the service was sub-par and we eventually got our drinks from the bar.  It was the only area I found of the hotel to be lacking.

Our room itself was spacious but not noticeably different or luxurious, it was on a higher floor.  I have to say I didn’t pay too much attention to the down comforters, custom duvets or the rich cotton linens.  All in all I enjoyed my stay but they really didn’t exceed my expectations or deliver the type of service we experienced in Miami.  It is a great hotel in a great area.   Perfect location for our Easter Day visit to Saint Michaels Catholic Church.

Jw Houston Pool

JW Houston Bedroom

A Year with Marriott Gold destination: Courtyard San Antonio River Walk

san antonio rw4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               A year of Marriott Gold destination:  Courtyard San Antonio, Texas River Walk

Our journey was spent in the Downtown Marriott River Walk which is a Courtyard. It is somewhat small or narrow which makes it slightly in my opinion uncomfortable. It’s slightly old and has less attractive features than other Courtyards. The staff were nice but no one really stood out.  Our room was on a higher floor which is a standard upgrade for gold.  This does not mean much in the grand scheme of things.  I understand it is a selling point but the room does not have to have to be a nicer room it just has to be on an upper floor.  So you could in general receive an upper room floor overlooking concrete or air conditioning ducts.  This actually was the case when I booked the Pueblo downtown Courtyard.

So at the Downtown Marriott River Walk the highlight of the hotel is that it’s on the River Walk.  It is in a great location to start any journey to the various bars, restaurants, and activities on the River Walk.   I received nothing for being a gold member and barely even an acknowledgement. I was not overly impressed. On the contrary the Marriott River Center was beautiful and looked amazing!  I will definitely have to try that hotel before my year is out.  Just to compare the two.

san antonio missions 2  What a fantastic city! San Antonio is the quintessential American city. It’s a perfect blend of old and new all coming together in a sophistication of western city life. With its River Walk, missions, and history you could spend well over a week just viewing the city’s historical sights. The market downtown is where you want to go for your “REAL” Mexican food and it also has a panderia which is a Mexican bakery. For night life pubs and dance clubs abound in and around the River Walk and it’s lit up at night in more way’s then one. There are five missions there and they are a sight not to miss.  They represent the history and heritage of the city itself. San Antonio is one of the first cites I have seen embrace its history to the fullest. This is where the Alamo is and the missions are one of the jewels of the city. The city itself is truly a melting pot of America.  In it you will discover a wonderful blend of people, each embracing a San Antonio lifestyle. Not only is the city welcomed and developed its Latin roots but its German heritage too.  It all seems to be incorporated into a beautiful mixture of proud history and culture.

If you have a chance San Antonio should be on your bucket list. You will not be disappointed.   As for the Courtyard Marriott San Antonio if you want to be right on the River Walksan antonio rw 2 at a decent price point this is the place.  Just don’t expect too much.  Grab a drink and sit outside taking in the scenery, sights, and sounds of San Antonio.   That is what you will enjoy the most

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