Thursday, May 15, 2008

Italy

My wife and I spent the past two weeks in Italy for our wedding anniversary. Flying into Rome we stayed in a nice bed and breakfast that was near to the main train station. Flying from Oslo where it is still a little chilly, Italy was absolutely perfect (minus a tiny bit of rain two of the days). Beyond visiting Rome we took some early morning trains out of the city and as a result saw a nice sunrise or two.

The first day trip we took was out to Florance where I encountered more people speaking English in public (in a country whose primary language isn't English) then at any time while here in Europe. One of the more famous paintings that we were going to see in Florence was "The Birth of Venus" which is currently in the Uffizi Gallery. But the experience at Uffizi was the worst out of all of the many galleries we visited in Italy. To start off they force you to ditch any water you have when you enter the building and only two minutes later they have you put your bags in storage. Later on we find it was so you will go to the cafeteria and buy nice overpriced water and food. Then we get to the painting and find it covered with a sheet of glass, but the worst part was that when you are standing at the perfect viewing spot (i.e. a few feet away in front of it) the top of half of the painting is covered by the reflection of the air vents from the other side of the room. Uggg. But beyond that Florence was beautiful and we spent the day seeing the sites and wandering around. I had never realized how tall the statue of David was and the accademia gallery did a fantastic job of displaying it.

The day after Florance we took a train down to Naples and visited Pompeii. There we had an exhausting, but fun day wondering around all of the ruins. Even though a lot of it was blocked off we could have easily spent another day there exploring. Later in our visit we returned to Naples to climb to the top of Mt Vesuvius. On the way up it was very cloudy and cool, but after walking around the rim the clouds finally lifted and we got some spectacular views.

I have come the conclusion that when available trains are a vastly superior form of travel over planes. We would wake up, get some breakfast, walk to the station, and hop on the next train to our destination. Big chairs, power plugs, huge windows, no hassle. There was absolutely no long stupid security checkpoints, no waiting half the day away, no feeling like a criminal when you haven't done anything wrong, and no waiting for your lost luggage. The trains always arrive in the middle of the city rather then 30 miles outside of where you want to be. They left on time and arrived on time. You don't have to buy a ticket a year in advance to get a sane price. Sometimes we would just hop on the next train not caring if it was the 10:00 or the 10:30 because you can. Another time when returning from Pisa we decided to take a completely different route through a different city and got a ticket for the new train in five minutes and quickly ran over and boarded the train moments before it left. Maybe this is what plane travel was like fifty years ago? I'm not saying I hate to fly, just that Trains (in Italy at least) seem to have it down really well.

Back in Rome there were many different things to see. Vadicant City, Four Fountains, Panthenon, Trevi fountain, Spanish Steps, Borghese Gallery, Coliseum, many different churches and much more. Trying to not walk the same way twice we ended up all over Rome and saw many unique shops. The biggest tourist trap was the Coliseum where I ended up having more fun photographing the people rather then the Coliseum itself. Throughout the day newlywed's appeared up to have their some photos taken with the Coliseum in the background which was an interesting local custom which I can't seem to find any reference to on Google.

Our final day trip was up to Pisa where we had some ice cream and took the tour up to the top of the tower. Pisa was a good example of the "little European town" that is in so many of the american movies show as the perfect place to live if you could.

Returning back to Oslo it was Rainy and cold. But not to worry, the days are long and I know it will be a beautiful summer as always in Norway.

Of course while I was away the GPL version of Qt 4.4 was released and got press everywhere. With that Arora got mentioned a number of places and I came home to find lots of patches and questions. I'll be going through them shortly and will try to get caught up as soon as possible.

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