The wonderful capitol city of Greece, the seat of Athena! It was a quick day to see the entire beginning of civilization. It began with a bus ride along the coast ending at the Temple of Poseidon, which stands on a cliff overlooking the clear, blue Mediterranean. 

Temple of Poseidon
The sky was a wonderful blue and clear and perfect. We headed to a hotel for a typical Greek lunch, at least typical for the Onassis-type Greeks.

We drove back along the coast to the Acropolis, noting the Olympic (ancient and modern) sites along the way. It was the original center for the city containing loads of temples, including the Parthenon - Athena's own tribute. The ruins are amazing and accessible. During the tour a sudden storm hit us. We were drenched but it cleared the place out which was fine by us!

Acropolis/ Parthenon
From the Acropolis you can see the entire city of Athens, including the ancient Olympic arena and the Temple of Zeus. 

The thing the probably thrilled me the most was Mars Hill - which we only saw from the Acropolis and is really more of a rock in my understanding. It was exciting to think that Paul preached there the famous sermon about the Unknown God (Acts 17). Our guide told us that the Bible mentions Dionysius, who believed what Paul said and Dionysius apparently brought Christianity to France and is known there as Saint Dennis. The only Dennis I know is the oppressed peasant from Monty Python, so I'm going to say this was someone else.

Mars Hill



Ephesus, as in the Bible epistle to the Ephesians, is a city near Kusadasi, Turkey, and I should like to go back very much. It's on the Asia side of Turkey and completely tourist friendly. I liked it better than Mykonos and Pompeii (what?!). 

We began the tour with a visit (no obligation to buy! cough, cough) to a rug shop. Almost though persuadest me to spend a lot on a rug. It's actually pretty cool even for a sales pitch and you get apple tea so win, win, win. 

And on to Ephesus!

This is the huge amazing amphitheater made extra amazing because Paul once preached here. He was run out of the city because he spoke against the goddess Diana and hurt the local idol economy. 

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand, and having done all, to stand. 
Ephesians 6:12-13

This is the place of excreting. It was a community affair and a place to conduct business is addition to the obvious. The idea was that blood flow and idea flow would be better if it was all... flowing. You just put your toga around for modesty and continuous flow of water ran underneath. 

Ephesus was once a sea port but not it's a few miles inland. It was abandoned and destroyed because of earth quakes and the receding shore line. Most of it remains under the hills. The ruins, in my opinion, are still very well preserved. It's large and lovely. You can be much more hands on with everything and there were fewer people there than at Pompeii.  

This is Library of Celsus, built to house 12,000 scrolls and Celsus' body and completed in 120 A.D. 

We had free time to walk around, and avoid the bazaar (I definitely don't like being hustled), so I learned that I can't do jumping photos with a skirt. In the meantime, I enjoyed the Turkish flag behind me. 

We spent time at a regular mall (no hustling) people watching. The city is calm, beautiful, and people are nice enough to have learned English so I can be snobby and all that. I'd like to live in Ireland and vacation in Kusadasi and Ephesus. 


Blog about/for therapy: Coping Ramona

I've been thinking about this for a while and decided I really wanted to try to write a blog about therapy-related topics. I was a little hesitant: would I have anything to say? Would I stick to it? Would it be helpful to anyone? I have no idea what the answer to any of those questions might be, but I made the blog anyway.

I named it "Coping Ramona" because I was reading one of the Ramona books - you know, Ramona Quimby, Age 8 and the like by Beverly Cleary - and in one scene Ramona is complaining to her exasperated mother who turns around and tells the little girl, "Cope, Ramona!" I thought that a rather good motto.

Maybe I'll write a little of what it's like to be a therapist, maybe some ideas for coping better in life, maybe whatever I feel like, gosh.

I have a few posts up at this point and I'm the goal is to post a couple/few times every week. I'm not sure how it will develop but I'm interested to see.

So check it out, add it to your reader, and leave a comment so I can stop feeling like I'm talking to myself (which I know I am because I've seen the stats).



Me Mum Married

This weekend we celebrated me mum's wedding with all the usual craziness that is my family. 

Welcome to the family, Ray... and good luck.

Istanbul (was Constantinople)

We visited the wonderful city of Istanbul, a city split onto two continents (here I am looking toward the Asia side), that is both secular and religious, and that is awesomely tourist friendly. 

Beauty is everywhere and Istanbul is especially gorgeous. Here is Haggia Sophia on the left and the Blue Mosque on the right 

We visited the two big, important mosques. The first mosque is officially named in honor of Sultan Ahmet who built it in the 1600s, but it's lovely interior all in blue gave it the nickname of the Blue Mosque. This is the first mosque I've ever been in. We took of our shoes and carried them around in bags. And we covered our heads, arms, and legs our of respect. The room is large with mosaic tile all over the wall. 

Just across the way is the famous Haggia Sophia - part Christian, part Muslim. It was first built as a Christian basilica, beginning in 537 and has that general cross-shape inside. 900 years later (and not too long after it was really completed), the church was converted into a Mosque by Ottoman conquerors. Mehmed, the new sultan, did not destroy the Christian art but simply covered it up. Our tour guide explained that the art was not destroyed because Mehmed's mother was Christian and he was a good son. In 1935, it became a museum. It now shows off both Christian and Islamic religious art. And there are a lot of stray cats on its grounds... which I found odd and photo-worthy.

Here we are at the Grand Bazaar. If you enjoy being hustled and harassed, this is the place for you! It's huge and confusing and awesome and has everything you could ever think of. And I was able to get Persian tea set, which was very important to me.

We had some time to wander the city and happened upon these colorful stairs and some proper graffiti. Then we sat in a park near the water and just enjoyed people watching. The Turks in Istanbul seem happy and comfortable and relaxed. Almost they persuaded me to be a Turk.

Istanbul was Constantinople
Now it's Istanbul not Constantinople
So if you've a date in Constantinople
She'll be waiting in Istanbul


Engagement Party

Me mum is getting married! Our family got together to get to know Ray and make sure that he knows what he's in for.



The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is a nice enough book series and good enough movies, but it's all made amazing because it's filmed partly in the parts of Greece that look like this.

After days of only looking, I finally got to swim in the clear Mediterranean water. 

Then we wandered the small and confusing streets of the city. We were told there is method in the madness - the streets were also confusing to pirates. We were right up there with people who were just trying to go about their day - I can't imagine how annoying it would be to have tourists strolling so close to my house. And then there were a lot of expensive, tourist-trap shops. I avoided overspending by thinking how I would like to redecorate my life to look like this.

Lots of expensive restaurants with lots of seafood but we wanted a simple Greek gyro and we got it. 

It was all Greek to me. 

Vesuvius and Naples

There used to be a funicular up the mountain - it's the exact funicular referred to in that catchy opera tune Funiculi Funicula - but it was destroy in the last eruption around the end of WWII. Now one takes a long and windy ride 3000 feet up the mountain to get to the top. The vegetation is thick and this region is known for exceptional soil - thank you, Vesuvius - but there are also dead spots where the lava flowed (which you can kind of see in the top right photo). The mountain was once three times that size but it's explosive (more so than other volcanoes) nature means it literally blew its top. 

In these photos you see the crater of Vesuvius and the expected epicenter for the next eruption - the things blows about every fifty years and the last was in the 1940s so you do the math. I'm very concerned about the 3 million inhabitants of nearby and in-the-way Naples, Capri, and Sorrento; our guide did say that volcanologists can predict an eruption two weeks in advance so there's that.

Many cities were buried and destroyed in 79 AD by Vesuvius but only Herculaneum and Pompeii have been excavated.  Herculaneum was in the path of the lava and so it it solid; Pompeii was covered in ash which is much easier to move out of the way and excavate; the paintings on the walls still have color.  The ash burned any wood (hence no roofs) and suffocated the people. Later archaeologists poured plaster in the molds left by the bodies in the ash and so you can see what the people looked like when they died. I found that rather morbid so I didn't take any photos but it's totally google-able.

We toured the streets and a home (no brothel which was fine by us). And then we took as many photos as possible with Vesuvius in the background.

And the walls kept tumbling down in the city that we love
Great clouds roll over the hills bringing darkness from above

We were caught up and lost in all of our vices
In your pose as the dust settles around us

-Pompeii by Bastille

Naples is the birth place of the pizza so obviously we had to get pizza. There's a reason it's famous. I thought the sauce was more like tomato paste (in a good way) and gave the pizza a nice flavor (versus the usual pizza sauce).  In other but related news, our waiter (who spoke very little English...similar to our grasp of Italian) was flirty and hilarious.

So, umm, Naples is a hole - which is what we learned walking around with our new cruise friend Kimberly. It's got one of the highest (if not the highest) crimes rate in Europe. And I think it's rather famous (or it should be) for the laundry drying on lines...everywhere. We felt totally safe walking around and rather surprised at the juxtaposition of the beautiful (fashion, for example) and the disgusting. 

When the moon hits you eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore
Scuzza me, but you see, back in old Napoli, that's amore

-That's Amore, Dean Martin 


Roman Holiday

Roma, Roma, Roma. The City of the Seven Hills. Caesar's Palace (wait, was that here?). The Eternal City. We saw all our must-haves in a part-day and we were able to be pretty leisurely about it, which was a surprise to us. We absolutely only got a taste but I'd recommend our line-up. 

The port was in Civitavecchia which is the single coolest word to say repeatedly. It was about an hour train ride into the city. I love European trains, heck, I just love trains. I'd love to live sans automobile. 

"While stands the Colosseum, Rome shall stand; When falls the Colosseum, Rome shall fall; and when Rome - the world." - Lord Byron

The Roman Forum ruins

The Pantheon

The Trevi Fountain... which just weeks earlier began a 2-3 year construction project and was barricaded and dry.

But that did not stop our coin tossing (which I'm told goes to help the poor of the city). Be back soon, but not too soon as I'd really love to see this fountain up and running. 

The Spanish Steps. Honestly expected a little more. Basically stairs in a so-so piazza surrounded by so-so buildings and construction and millions of people who were probably similarly disappointed but thought they've get a photo since they were already there. And in that rose photo we are terrified because the rose seller insisted on taking the photo and I was pretty sure my SLR camera was going to be the payment. In related new, when I didn't pay for the rose he recommissioned the rose, leaving me only my camera, which was exactly as I wanted it before he shoved the stupid rose at me and took my camera.

This gelateria came highly recommended and it seemed that everyone was there. It's just outside of Vatican City - as in next to the walls of Vatican City. Here is where I got the three-scooper. Big mistake. Mostly it melted quickly all over my hands. I didn't enjoy it as much as I could have being in such a panic and becoming quickly sticky. Two scoops max, y'all.

We had tickets for the Vatican Museum - get tickets or you'll spend your day in Rome in a long line. We walked through hallways and hallways - just a mass of people -- and then I realized this is the museum. Perhaps because of the herding crowd I found the museum forgettable except for two pieces from Matisse (top in the middle). However, at the end of the museum you are rewarded with the Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel (of which photography is not allowed) is smaller than expected and (like Michelangelo do) more amazing than expected. So amazing. If you go, study the art beforehand. 

Continuing the Michelangelo genius-ocity, the Pieta, inside St. Peter's Basilica. No words.

St. Peter's in huge and ornate and huge. There is so much to look at that I think I saw almost nothing. 

Did you know you can walk eight million steps up to the tippy top of St. Peter's dome? You can and whilst still inside the churchy part there are amazing mosaics. I can't even imagine the time, patience, and brilliance it would have required to compose such intricate, detailed work. 

The steps become increasingly small, the corridors increasingly small, and the temperature increasingly hot until you reach the top and then it's this. And you think to yourself I make good choices

St. Peter's Square - it's surreal to have been someplace that you've seen and heard about so often and then it's natural to be there. (Obviously I feel at home - look at those photos!)

Rome: veni, vidi, vici.