Category Archives: Italy

On my 1,000th Geocache

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A little over four years ago, while killing time before class in my M.Sc. days in Cleveland, I was looking around for new apps for my iPhone and remembered a thing I’d heard about called geocaching.  It was the idea that a person would hide a box somewhere (the geocache) and upload the GPS coordinates to the Internet, and then other people would find them in a bit of a scavenger hunt.  It was an idea that I found interesting when I first heard of it in college, but a GPS was too pricey for me as a student (and I had no car, making me a lot less mobile) so I promptly forgot about it.  But a search that day revealed that in the smartphone era one could go geocaching via a smartphone’s GPS, and there was even a free app, and hey there are a lot of these things around Cleveland!

I promptly went out that weekend to start finding a few of these things and the rest is history, as it turns out geocaching is a great thing to do when searching for an adventure.  The thrill of the hunt aside (and occasional swag to trade), they tend to be hidden in interesting locations that someone wants to bring you to, so a little research before traveling to an area on popular geocaches there rarely disappoints.  So far geocaching has taken me to extraordinary viewpoints from Italy to Tanzania…


Re Teodorico, Verona and NgoroNgoro- A Big African Caldera Continue reading

Photo: Gelato on the Spanish Steps, Rome

spanish-steps-romeSomewhere back in March or April when I was dreary and depressed that Dutch winter refused to release its hold on the country I bought a cheap weekend ticket to Rome in June, on the grounds that even if the weather not better I at least had a weekend of warmth and sunshine to look forward to.  And I’m pleased to report that the plan worked perfectly- the sun was hot, the food delicious, and I got to break out my summer dresses for the first time this year!

It’s really hard to describe time in Rome without falling into a corny saying, but anyway, when in Rome one thing that is fairly mandatory is gelato on the Spanish Steps.  Sure there are probably a hundred tourists for every local, but the people watching is fantastic!  My favorites, for the record, were all the peddlers selling knockoff illegal designer handbags and the like: if you stand at the top of the steps every once in awhile you’d see them scramble up their wares in an instant and run up the steps (making you realize why the handbags are always displayed on a sheet- easy to grab and run!), leaving you to wonder why until you saw policemen walking up.  All the peddlers would then wait a reasonable distance away with one keeping watch, and when the policemen left they’d all trot back to resume their sales.  For some reason this was rather entertaining to watch, and the one time I saw the police actually catch someone who was too slow they just had a conversation and let the guy go.

Clearly, they were already familiar with each other…


Mantua, Italy- A City with No Tourists

Like in any sport or hobby you play against yourself, after a certain point a person engaged in it begins to seek handicaps in order to keep the game interesting.  For most travelers that involves going to adventurous and far-flung locations (“you mean you’ve never been skydiving in South Sudan?!”), but when you’re in a place like Italy where one often sees more tourists than locals it can be a little difficult to get off the beaten path and keep things interesting.

All in all, my solution to this was to head to Verona, already a less-touristy sort of town, and head to Mantua (Mantova) for a day trip for no real reason except the B&B owner where I was staying suggested I should.  I didn’t know a thing about Mantua except that it was where Romeo gets banish-ed to (written like that because I’ve never seen a Romeo & Juliet production where it’s not pronounced like that), and that it was a 40 minute train ride from Verona.  No map either- I just started heading towards the interesting-looking spires one could see from the train station, and when I arrived was pleasantly surprised.  Mantua is gorgeous! Continue reading

In Fair Verona, Where We Lay Our Scene

Earlier this month I happened to spot and snag cheap budget ticket for a long weekend in Verona.  I’d never been to Verona before, but love Italy and knew it would be warmer there than Amsterdam, and honestly I’ve been to stranger places for less reason so why not go?

Anyway, it turns out if you’re interested in spending a nice weekend somewhere you will be hard-pressed to beat Verona-

Continue reading

Photo: The Coolest Street Act Ever

I was in Italy for a long weekend this past weekend, but until I get around to the lovely pictures of architecture and what not I thought I’d post a photo of a super neat street act I spotted in Verona.  Now over the years I’ve seen a lot of acts to the point where yet another Darth Vader or street statue doesn’t get a second glance, but I loved this one as I’d never seen anything like it.  Took a few minutes to work out the trick too- I’ll put the answer under the fold for those who want to figure it out on their own… Continue reading

Photo: View from Capri

Taken March 2009

Because it is snowy and ugly outside right now and pictures like this make me feel a lot better.

Photo: Capri, Italy

Taken March 2009

This helpful advice is brought to you by the port authority on the island of Capri in Italy, proving that Engrish is not an exclusively Asian commodity.  Though I won’t make much fun of them because c’mon, it’s sensible advice!