Rome: Day 1

September 9, 2018

It’s busy here! Rome is crazy busy with tourists. If you thought Hawaii’s tourist attractions were crazy, you would be very mistaken. Stay tuned for pictures of crowds with some historical sights in the background!

Yesterday we decided to catch the hotel shuttle into the city and then just walk around. The hotel has shuttles that run every half hour from 8AM until 11PM which is great!! We shared the shuttle with two Australian couples who had been here a day longer than us, and they were so kind to give us some help in figuring out what was nearby and what there was to see.

First stop was the Spanish Steps.

The first picture only shows half the crowd. There’s a fountain right in front of the steps which you could hardly see because it was just surrounded by people! The bottom is Taylor and I trying to take a selfie on the Steps but we’re both noobs and don’t normally take nice pictures so that’s what we got haha.

Next was the Trevi Fountain. It was incredibly packed, as you can see in the first picture. The second picture is what I tried to take of the water and fountain area. We also took a few selfies but the lighting was really weird where we were standing, so my facial expression is very weird! Lol

Next up, the Pantheon! We were impressed by the orderly fashioned entrance/exit area. The second picture is of a hole in the floor, purposefully drilled to help drain the water! Since there is a huge hole in the ceiling, the Pantheon floors get flooded during rain, so these holes have been drilled to assist in removing said water! Pictures do not do this place justice. The architecture is seriously so amazing. I can’t believe how old this place is, and still looking good! I hate to say it, but they don’t make things like they used to!! Also the attention to detail is just insane. I could have spent hours in there just looking at the crown molding and other small designs!

Last stop was the River Tiber. Pretty impressive, although it looked a little similar to the Ala Wai Canal. There was a guy with a super high-tech looking one-man canoe (which I’m sure has a different name here but it really looked like a sleek, fancy one-man).

Along our walk we also stopped off at a place called Fabriano. It specializes in stationary and paper goods, so they have really really nice notebooks, pens, and other office accessories! Needless to say, we were super happy in that store! We also did a little olive oil tasting and looked at really nice ceramics from the Tuscany region in Piazza Navona.

The hotel shuttle service also works if you want to go back to the hotel. All you have to do is call them and ask if there’s room on the next shuttle. Surprisingly, the Australians were on the same shuttle again! They are so incredibly nice and we chatted the whole way back to the hotel.

Once it was time for dinner, Taylor and I went down to the restaurant and found one of the Australian couples, Bruce and Jan, having some cocktails. They were so nice and invited us to have a drink with them! We talked about all kinds of stuff, and they showed us pictures of their first granddaughter who was born only six weeks ago! If we’re ever in Australia, I would love to meet up with them again! Or if they’re ever in Hawaii! And with the other couple, the Slingsby’s!

Rome is truly a different world. It’s such a culture shock coming here from Hawaii, but it’s nice to experience a culture that has been around for THOUSANDS of years. It’s incredible to think about how old many of these buildings are, and how much history those walls must’ve witnessed. Anyways, that’s all for now!

A hui hou! Ciao!

Aloha,

Diamond

My First Train Ride!

September 8, 2018

Yesterday we moved from Naples to Rome. This meant packing up all our junk, checking out of the AMAAAZZZINNNGGG hotel (UNA Hotel Napoli, I love you!!), figuring out how to navigate the train station, actually getting on a train, getting off the train, and finding our way to our new hotel. Luckily, we did it all. It was a little stressful since neither of us had been to a big train station like this, so we didn’t really know what to expect, but it was doable!! Now that we’ve done it, I wish we could stay here longer and catch the train all over Europe. I guess that’ll have to be for the next trip!

So our train started in Naples, and was eventually headed to Milan. But it was going to make a few stops along the way, including Rome. They have these cool monitors in the wagon so that you can see how fast the train is moving, where you are on the map, the current time, and some news!

Our last view of Vesuvius as we pulled out of the train station. It was sad to leave Naples, but we were excited for our new adventure. Naples is kind of grimy, but it’s totally our speed. Not too busy, just enough traffic to kind of irritate you, but the best coffee and pizza and all kinds of food you could want!

Just one of the random pictures I took as we were on the train passing through other towns(?). We unfortunately had two seats that were backwards (so as the train moves forward, you’re facing the opposite direction so it’s like you’re moving backwards). I started to feel a little weird, and luckily there wasn’t anyone sitting opposite of us, so I moved to sit facing forward. Good to know for future reference: just book the seats next to the window and whatever way is backwards, make Taylor sit there. He doesn’t seem to mind that motion! Lucky for me, because I don’t like it.

We eventually got to our hotel with the help of our taxi driver Walter. Before we came here, Dr. Kiana Frank warned me about the Italian men and how they can be flirtatious. She was right. Walter said that next time we come to Europe he would take me around Rome on a moped…without Taylor haha. These guys are really funny. Anyway, we finally got to the hotel..and it’s suuuper nice! It’s got an old vibe to it, like an older Italy classical vibe. It really puts you in the mood of romance and being in a city with such a rich culture.

In the afternoon we went on a little walk around the hotel and found this park. I think our hotel is in a residential neighborhood or something, because not too far from our hotel is a little business district and this park! Oddly, there’s this little pony pen area, I don’t understand what it’s for, but they’re there! There’s also a small playground that seems to be very popular for families with little kids and dogs…there were so many cute kids running around yelling Italian at each other!! And also little friendly dogs 🐶

We had dinner at our hotel and spent the night here. Today we walked around the city, but I’ll write more about that later tonight/tomorrow morning.

A hui hou! Ciao!

Aloha,

Diamond

Day 4! Our Last Day in Naples

September 7, 2018

Day 4 was an amazing day. We visited Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius through a tour group I found online. It was kind of expensive but included costs such as picking us up from our hotel, and dropping us back off at the end, entrance fees to all sites, lunch, and of course the information provided at each site!

First stop was Pompeii. Taylor and I had seen a lot of the artifacts in the National Archaeological Museum earlier this week, so we were really excited to see the sites where it came from.

This is outside the walls of Pompeii. Just as you enter through the gate. Where we are standing used to be underwater, and it doesn’t really look like it because there’s no scale (I’m a terrible geologist!), but those walls are pretty high!

This is a courtyard where the residents could walk around and “stretch their legs”. There is a theatre nearby, as well as store/booth areas for food, where operas could last for days and days! So this area here is for the people to walk around a little since they’re probably sitting all day long!

The floors of this place are incredible! It’s all marble and travertine, and all I can think is how expensive that stuff is!

This is what the streets look like. These pictures, and literally what we walked on, are the original streets of Pompeii before they city was covered in ash from Vesuvius! The three raised stones in the road are literally stepping stones, allowing pedestrians to cross the street. Apparently the streets also doubled as the sewer, so if you don’t walk on the stepping stones there’s a good chance you walk in poo. The other pictures here are to show the grooves from the chariots, pulled by horse. The width between the stepping stones are just wide enough for the chariot wheels, and from years and years of use they created grooves in the rock.

The top picture here is of a bakery! You can still see the arched oven! Now this bakery must’ve been good, because it is right in this little intersection, seen above. Within the intersection there is a fountain of water. I guess that’s their old version of Street signs! Most people could not read or write, so they used symbols for everything!

These two pictures are of the outer bath area. We are just inside the walls of the common “restroom” where people would do their business. There were no bathrooms in individual homes, so everyone would always have to use these communal ones! Here, we are standing in an area where men were allowed to work out. The bottom picture is of the old swimming pool, where women were allowed to join men in swimming.

Original paintings on the walls! Hard to tell by these terrible pictures I took, but they used to have colored paint!

Inside the bathroom! Everything had so much detail. The art on the ceiling and walls, and the beautiful marble and travertine floors, were so amazing and all original!!

The next place we went to was the brothel. Inside, there are “instructional” pictures to show the sailors and soldiers different options they may choose from. Basically all they had to do was point at what they wanted! And then there are these little rooms for business to occur. In case you were wondering, “but how do they find the brothel?”:

This is no joke. There is literally a penis etched into the road so that they know where to go. Very efficient use of symbols, I would say!

And here we are in the forum! I couldn’t remember much, but I do remember some scenes from “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”, and I was trying to picture those scenes here! It was so amazing and huge. Pretty much everything you see is original. The only things that might not be original are the statues, because a lot of them are in the museum we went to on Monday.

And that was about it for our quick journey through Pompeii. These are the last few images I took on our way out.

Then we headed to a nearby restaurant for a group lunch. We sat at a table with a couple from Canada, and of course they were super nice 🙃 it was nice to talk to people easily, I really wish I could speak Italian so I could communicate with the locals easier!

After lunch we headed to Vesuvius. The road up to the parking area has a lot of switchbacks and is basically a one-lane road. Our bus driver was a CHAMP. I swear he must be the best driver I’ve ever seen. He also had this great technique of honking his horn as he approached a turn, so that oncoming traffic would know of our approach! Sometimes it worked…sometimes it didn’t and I had to hold my breath!! If those windows could open, I could’ve signed my name on the other car we were so close!

The last stop was Vesuvius! I don’t have a lot of pictures, but here are the “good” (at best) pictures I have. The walk up is hard if you’re out of shape like me, and also kind of sketchy since it’s all basically ash and cobbles. The first picture is a view of the city as you walk up. The middle three are at the top, looking into the crater. The only thing I wish they had was like a “viewing platform for the height impaired” or something but there was so much to see anyways I didn’t mind! And the last picture is of our walk back to the bus. I tried to get a picture of the dikes on the adjacent mountain because where we were walking was right in the middle of the old caldera! I’m not sure if you can zoom, but if you can, do it!!

Another Thing I noticed about this area is that it kind of reminds me of Hawaii! There are a lot of basaltic looking flows, and some even look like ropy pahoehoe flows. I guess because the climate is similar, there are similar looking plants and ferns that populate the flows. It’s really beautiful. Unfortunately I was too busy falling asleep or trying to watch where the bus was going so I wouldn’t get car sick!

That’s all I have for now! We just checked out of our hotel and are about to head to the train station to head to Rome! I hope I can get some cool pictures or videos while we are on the train. I’ve never been on a train before so this will be a new experience!!

A hui hou! Ciao!

Aloha,

Diamond

Day 3 – The Day of Buffalo Mozzarella

September 6, 2018

Yesterday was Day 3, and we didn’t really have major plans for the day. We woke up and went to have free breakfast again. Still blows us away every time. The other day, Salvo (one of the INGV scientists) told us to eat the Campania Buffalo Mozzarella because it is delicious and also native to this region!

Here’s Taylor at breakfast, laughing at how amazing the buffalo mozzarella is. I really thought he was going to cry, he was enjoying it so much! And I have to say, it is REEEEALLLYYY good!!

After breakfast we decided to just walk around, and try to head for the more touristy area near the ports. So we headed down that way and found ourselves at this little restaurant that has buffalo mozzarella Margherita pizza!

Here’s the last slice because I forgot to take a picture of the whole thing before being an animal and Just wrecking that pizza. We just can’t get enough of this cheese!

We walked around a little more and found this cute shopping plaza that looks really old, but also has a Sephora and Zara!! The Sephora wasn’t all that amazing, it basically had what there is in the US, but everything’s in Italian instead of English.

Then… WE GOT GELATO!

I got chocolate and pistachio, two of my favorites! And Taylor got stracciatella, which is like vanilla with shavings of chocolate! We couldn’t eat it fast enough, it was melting so quickly! And it was sooooo good and creamy! Ugh I could eat that every day for the rest of my life.

We also found a North Face store here. We walked in for some AC and just to see what they had. There was this plain shirt with just coordinates:

Which turn out to be the coordinates for that store! We bought it, I think it’s a fun keepsake from this trip!

When we got back to the hotel we lounged around for a while, and then decided to go out to our favorite pizzeria and get more pizza! The place is called Pizzeria Fortuna, and it’s right outside of our hotel. While that is a convenient location for us, we actually went there originally because of the good reviews on Yelp! And they have not disappointed us yet!

We each had a buffalo mozzarella pizza again. We just can’t get enough of it! I sure hope there’s some of this somewhere back home, otherwise we’ll be really sad. So we had our pizza and watched the latest Jurassic Park movie and enjoyed our evening together!

Italy has been fantastic so far. Today, we are headed to Pompei and Vesuvius! I cleared off a bunch of stuff from my phone, so hopefully there’s plenty of room for pictures!

A hui hou! Ciao!

Aloha,

Diamond

Day 2!!

September 5, 2018

I’m going to say this every day, but I can’t believe another day is over! Time sure flies when you’re in Italy!

Yesterday was presentation day at the Cities on Volcanoes 10 conference. Taylor and I went super early because we hadn’t checked in to get our badges or anything. I don’t remember giving them my shirt size upon registering, but somehow we each got a shirt and hat for this conference!! AGU, GSA, SACNAS are you listening? 😉

Once we had checked in I had to upload my presentation. I also had to find the other folks who were chairing the session! Both my advisor, Dr. Lautze, and one of my other mentors/committee members, Dr. Thomas, couldn’t be at the conference due to other commitments. However, they were co-chairs of a session with two folks from the Instituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia. Not sure if the sessions here are the same as other conferences, I wanted to make sure to help them set up the room and get anything else figured out before we began.

Unfortunately, the first two speakers of the session were not able to make it to the conference, and I was the third speaker in line…which meant I had to go first! I was really nervous, but I think the practicing, and just being part of the project, really helped. I felt pretty good about it, and the session overall! It was nice to hear about similar research being conducted in other parts of the world. Usually I only get to hear about what’s going on in other parts of the US!

There was this cute little forest outside of the conference hall. I like to think of it as “shade for humans, shade for giants” but I’m sure there’s a better explanation for the double layer of trees!

We caught a taxi back to the hotel, and at first the driver was very quiet. Once Taylor asked about the castle in the distance, the driver really opened up!! He was so nice, but I think he was quiet because he didn’t speak English! He told us that he will be taking English classes starting in October because it is very difficult for him to drive a taxi but not be able to communicate with people. He only started driving a taxi 20 days ago! I was able to talk with him a little due to his ability to speak Spanish, and whatever I could remember from high school and college Spanish. But he was seriously so nice! He pulled over so that I could take a picture of the castle and insisted i actually get out to get a good shot:

And then another as we drove around a corner with a view of Vesuvius:

And then we spent the rest of the day working on homework and other school requirements. But this time, we got TWO (because I was not about to share again):

Taylor got the same pizza we got yesterday, and I got one with eggplant and maybe parmigiana? I don’t know. It was delicious. It was 4.50 for each pizza. I’m still blown away.

Alright! We’re off to start another day! Ciao!

Aloha,

Diamond