My Introduction to the Eternal City

The second I ascended the metro (subway) stairs into the busy Roman morning, I knew right away this was a city I would get lost in. And, in time, I realized that it was the perfect city to get lost in.

Around every corner, history, culture, color, life, and the very spirit of humanity itself, simply leaps out towards you and calls you to a undivided chorus of curiosity,  amazement, and joy. It is simply unfathomable that this city continues to breathe with the art and stone laid by Romulus and Remus themselves. The Eternal City serves not only as a tribute to the Romans, but seems to welcome every corner of the earth beneath its architectural and cultural canopy.

We in the west especially are specially indebted to this city that ‘saved’ us through the years from vandal, savage, and ignorance. Imagining the scientific, philosophical, and architectural genius  cultivated in its bosom over the years, we can almost picture Leo the Great in 452 AD imploring the powerful Attila the Hun to leave its unparalleled patrimony in peace.  The innumerable museums, churches, and art call us to contemplate the world outside ourselves and our present yearnings for self, demonstrating and reminding us that it is through our collective and cooperative pursuits that we gain immortality.

The city is simply a witness to beauty. Its cobbled and narrow streets burst with treasures ancient and modern. Electric trams and mopeds ring their bells while whizzing along streets paved long before Benjamin Franklin ever dreamt of sunlight. Children play marbles under trees; the same trees giving shade to an archeological dig where their fathers immemorial might have played with glass first made larger than beads.

Using elements as ubiquitous and primal as water, the venerated Bernini, among others,  works the marvelous gift that is baroque architecture into our hearts. (The featured photo for this page displays Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi with the glorious facade of the church of Sant’Agnese). Egyptian obelisks point majestically heavenward from rooftops and fountains, perhaps in an attempt to remind visitors of the city’s spiritual heritage. Crowned with the Christian cross, they serve as signs to the city’s papal guardians and benefactors, whose successors, the last of Europe’s absolute monarchs, sit on sovereign territory just a few feet away from my hostel window.

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To Rome! Vienna and Harry Potter

vienna to rome

I’d bet that this map, with its pretty little line and two city dots, looks like an entirely straight forward intra-European excursion. Maybe it  has you thinking it’s the route I took to get to Rome from my Viennese odyssey. Maybe you’re wondering why in the world I need to show you a map when everybody has Google?  Well, you’d be wrong the first two points because, although this map  presents a wonderful vision of our teleportation-beam-filled futures, it is nowhere near representative of a straightforward trek, nor is it the one I took. You’ll notice it involves four countries and crosses a body of water. Talk complex! If I’m not staying in your country for at least one day, I really don’t want to see all the marvelous sites without being able to touch, smell, or hear. Hmmph!

So, Rome through Milan it was. Why not some shorter route, you ask? Well, I think it was definitely a conspiracy to ruin my travel-high because my night train fiasco was hell on wheels. No, quite literally, everyone in my couchette almost died from either the abominable heat and  air deprivation! Of all the couchettes, my couchette was without working vents and was filled to maximum capacity. Well, my clean, lonely, well-ventilated  Budapest-Vienna  journey had spoiled me perfectly rotten and I was going to enter into the dreaded American-tourist-fuss-making mood. Then I realized there wasn’t anyone could do about that lone carriage that had sat in the sun all for a thousand years and chose to drown me in  a pool of sweat and insomnia. Everyone else was making the best of the situation and stood near the windows at intervals, so I eventually just did the same.

There was a bright side to this story though. I can’t prove I was there, and I can’t exactly pinpoint where “there” was, but believe me when I tell you, my train was flying hundreds of miles above the most beautiful valleys I have ever seen! Oh yeah, I should mention that by “flying,” I meant whizzing over stretches of train track laid across bridges that criss-crossed through openings in the mountainside. And…these bridges were supported by columns. Okay, I confess, I wasn’t actually flying, but it sure felt like it. I felt like Harry Potter on his way to Hogwarts for the first time. And like some muggle-obscuring spell,  I couldn’t get one steady shot as the lighting was never quite right and the train bolted along so fast, everything blurred.

Leaving the station in vienna
Leaving the station in vienna
Austrian Hillside
Austrian Hillside
Austrian Hillside
Austrian Hillside

Glenfinnan Viaduct, well known for Harry Potter fans, Highlands, Scotland (by loose_grip).
Glenfinnan Viaduct, well known for Harry Potter fans, Highlands, Scotland (by loose_grip).

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.” – Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Memes, Signs, Tips!

en2 Like everyone else, including our melancholic Mr. Kitty, I love a good meme. Every few days I’ll be posting some favourites I’ve made or/and seen. Some will actually incorporate photos I’ve taken on my travels. If you spot any, check out the next in the series to see if you got it right :-)!  Also, check out If I’ve left any helpful tips below. The memes may be funny but their significance could mean the difference between a great or terrible trip!
es2Como la otra persona, me gustan memes! A veces, voy a publicar mis favoritos: algunos he visto y algunos he hecho. Vas a ver unos fotos de mis viajes. Si tú ves estás fotos, puedes adivinar de donde las tomé. Voy a responder en la próxima entrada de Memes, Signs, & Tips!. También, hay consejos relacionados debajo. Algunos son la diferencia entre un viaje bueno o malo!


travel memes

travel memes

travel memes

travel memes

Previous Meme Explanations

True Josh Experience: First week in England, and every day until the day I left. Please note that this becomes very annoying when you have to walk up stairs thinking 2nd floor is one flight up!

Last days in Vienna


en2My last days in Vienna were spent exploring the remaining parts of the city on a hop-on hop-off bus tour. Another German word I picked up from this portion of my journey was platz, which translates to square.” Knowing this, it was easier to understand what the Stephansplatz must be and I also quickly verified the Stephansdom [photo] as Stephan’s Cathedral, Austria’s tallestAnother interesting church in Vienna was the Romanesque Kirche zum heiligen Franz von Assisi or St. Francis of Assisi Church [photo].A grand statue of Empress Maria Theresa [photo] towered over a square near the city’s cultural centre, the museumsquartier. At a time when only men succeeded their fathers and when rule over kingdoms was legitimated through simple blood relation, her ascension to the vast Habsburg dominions was naturally met with great opposition. Her father, Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI had issued the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713, granting females succession rights with which he acheived agreement among the powers within and outside his realm. After his death, however, the thirst for territory outweighed the promised peace and Maria Theresa had to preserve her birthright in the War of Austrian Succession against Prussia, France, and others. Her legacy in Austria is comparable to Victoria in Britain. She is often portrayed as a powerful matriarch, extending her had in protection or favor to her subjects. She, like Victoria, greived deeply at the loss of her husband, the Emperor Francis Stephen.
The mark of the Habsburgs is noticeable throughout the city. Their double-headed eagle can be spotted in numerous arches or atop state buildings including the Hofburg palace [photo] [photo]. I’ve mentioned the Habsburgs in earlier posts on this blog. That’s because the family has ruled at various times in what are present-day Hungary, Czech Republic, Germany, and the Netherlands. On what is known as the Outer Castle Gate or the Außeres Burgtor at the Hofburg Palace [photo] you can see the laurel-wreathed crests of the Emperor’s many dominions.  

es2Los ultimos dias de mis excursiones en Vienna, yo monté el autobús turístico (hop-on hop-off). Otra palabra alemana yo descubría mientras en este parte de mi viaje es platz. La palabra se traduce como “plaza.” Era fácil de entender que es Stephansplatz y Stephansdom [photo] (traduce como la Catedral de Stephan), la catedral más alta de Austria. Otra iglesia interesante en la ciudad es Kirche zum heiligen Franz von Assisi, la iglesia romanesque, Iglesia de San Francisco de Assisi [photo].
Una gran estatua de la emperatriz María Teresa [photo] está en una plaza cerca de Museumquartier, (centro cultural de la de la ciudad). En su época, solo los hombres sucedieron sus padres. Ademas, los príncipes gobernaron por los derechos de sangre. Por eso, otros demandantes amenazaron a su ascensión a el vasto imperio Habsburgo. Su padre, Emperador del Sacro Imperio, Carlos VI hizo una ley que permitía a las mujeres heredar el trono,la Pragmática Sanción de 1713.
Los austriacos consideran a ella como los británicos consideran Victoria: una gobernante fuerte y poderosa, madre fecunda, y esposa amante. Ella luchó contra los prusianos, franceses, y otros por su herencia.

El signo de los Habsburgo es una águila bicéfala. Se puede encontrar en muchos edificios del gobierno en todo la cuidad, como el palacio Hofburg.
He mencionado los Habsburgo en anteriores entradas de blog. Eso es porque esta familia gobernó en varias ocasiones en el territorio de los paises actuales de Hungría, República Checa, Alemania y los Países Bajos.

En las fotos de esta página, puedes ver los símbolos del los dominios vastos Habsburgo en la famosa Outer Castle Gate.

Una vez más. Por favor, perdona mi español horrible! Estoy aprendiendo 🙂

Traveling Languages Series Post: J, K, L

If you’re thinking of traveling to other countries, it’s interesting to see the languages officially used there. I’m hoping this series will help you plan which countries to visit to practice, study, or hear a rare language or simply just to know which languages are official in which state.

  •  Jamaica
    • English (official)
  •  Japan
    • Japanese (national)
  •  Jordan
    • Arabic (official)
  •  Kazakhstan
    • Kazakh (national)
    • Russian
  •  Kenya
    • English
    • Swahili (national)
  •  Kiribati
    • English
    • Kiribati (national)
  •  North Korea
    • Korean
  •  South Korea
    • Korean
  • Kosovo
    • Albanian language
    • Serbian language
  •  Kuwait
    • Arabic
  •  Kyrgyzstan
    • Kirghiz (national)
    • Russian
  •  Laos
    • Lao
  •  Latvia
    • Latvian
  •  Lebanon
    • Arabic
    • French
    • Armenian (regional in Bourj Hammoud)
  •  Lesotho
    • English
    • Sotho (national)
  •  Liberia
    • English
  •  Libya
    • Arabic
  •  Liechtenstein
    • German
  •  Lithuania
    • Lithuanian
  •  Luxembourg
    • French
    • German
    • Luxembourgish (national)

Info retrieved from Wikipedia.

Traveling and learning abroad with Joshua S

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