Touring Rome and the Vatican Museum

I realized that I had never shared our tour of the Vatican Museum from last year on my blog yet, so to capture what was one of the best vacations of my life I decided to recap a little.  Our first day arriving in Rome, Italy was exhausting. There is a 9 hour time difference on top of 12 hours of being on a plane to arrive in Rome from Arizona. Virtually no sleep on a plane I wound up watching 2 movies and read some of Dune: House Corrino novel on the plane instead.

When we arrived in Rome we took a taxi to our Cicerone hotel which was just a few mere blocks from Vatican city. We arrived at around 10am and my wife and I knew we had to get on a tour of the vatican museum that same day or else we may not get to see it. The following day was our cruise and we wouldn’t be in Rome until the last day of our journey where we only had enough time to see the Coloseum.

While in Rome we had lunch at Portofino Cafe which was amazing, my wife couldn’t stop praising the Latte which always came out at the perfect temperature and flavor while chiding Starbucks for making their latte too hot when first served.

The people were mostly a mix of tourists with some local Romans, nearly one in 10 people had a small to mid sized dog on a leash that sound down beside them and the fresh produce stands filled the air with fragrant scents of basil and canteloupe.

Our tour of the Vatican Museum commenced at around 2:00pm where we couldn’t believe just how massive the art collection was. At over 70,000 pieces you felt so rushed in a 3.5 hour tour and just couldn’t spend enough time looking at all the artwork. I had almost used up 1/2 of all the pictures available in my camera just trying to capture as many pieces at the museum as possible.

This is partly why I decided to make a video recording and do a little narration to convey just how incredible seeing the Vatican museum is in person:

The ceilings draw your eye and you just can’t imagine how artists such as Rafael worked for years bent over on ladders painting such magnificent works. The size and scope of the long painted ceiling is almost impossible to believe and gain a sense for without seeing it in person. The Sistene Chapel itself prohibited all picture and video of any kind so I was unable to get images of the artwork from within.

The walls of tapestries also are so old that they prohibit photo’s as the light could damage the inks and tapestries themselves from the flash. I tried taking some photo’s without flash but the images didn’t come out but it is simply amazing seeing 10′ high woven tapestries of such ancient art.

Here is the gallery of the Vatican museum artwork and tour I put together:

More sculptures, jewelry, paintings than you can absorb in a single day I was convinced that to truly enjoy seeing everything at the Vatican museum you would need at least 2-3 days and spend a good 6 hours each day just looking at the incredible artwork all around you.

You literally are seeing history in art and feel closer to something grander and greater than us all here.

-Justin Germino

Dinner Cruise Tonight

Taking my wife on a Prime Rib Dinner cruise out of the San Diego Harbor tonight, spending all weekend on a getaway while Grandma watches the kids back at our place.  As a married couple with children it is imperative to take some time away from the kids to connect without the pressures of day to day life.

We do make a point of taking at least 1 weekend every few months and around two weeks in the summer to just enjoy having some alone time together without having to worry about the kids.  We are very blessed and fortunate to have my wife’s mother in our life who always watches the kids while we are away, had we not had family so close by we would be unable to take as many vacation retreats.

I know my wife and I would never trust a service or anybody outside the closest family members to watch our kids overnight, we have never hired a baby sitter in the 8 years since we had our first child thanks to having grandma close by.

-Justin Germino

New Years Getaway

My wife and I managed to escape to Encinitas together for a post holiday recovery and to ring in the new year together while Grandma watches the kids.  This is a tradition we have done for many years were we celebrate the New Year together and the previous several years we have rung in the New Year in Las Vegas usually at The M hotel drinking Champagne while we watch the ball drop.

This year instead we are doing a Dinner Cruise to ring in the New Year, and the 4 hour cruise will actually be on the water when the ball drops.  2011 was a fairly good year to our family and any complaints I have are more than outweighed by the blessings for sure.

Today is just a relaxation day and maybe dining out on some great restaurants around the area.  You know we will be visiting East Asian Village Diner which is one of our favorite places and we order a Monk Stone Pot every time we come visit California.

This will be the first trip where I have my iPad 2, Bloggie Camera and iPod Touch in tow, so I should be able to take more pictures of the beach if I should go down there.

-Justin Germino

The Return to AZ

Fall Break ending and I return back to AZ after spending 11 days in CA on fall break but working most of those days remotely.  The kids enjoyed the vacation but when you have two kids under 10 years old a vacation doesn’t really feel like a vacation for parents, just parenting in a new location.

We topped the trip off with visiting Legoland last night for their Brick or Treat special right now which is a really great deal.  Normally taking 3 adults and 2 kids to Legoland will cost you over $300 in tickets but the Brick or Treat special has you go from 4pm to 9pm and only pay $25 per ticket (adult and kids the same).  This means you get 5 hours at Legoland for 1/3 the price of a normal day admission and you get all the Halloween activities as well.

Carlsbad was also only 7 minutes away from our CA cottage so was a quick drive and were able to arrive without issues or too much traffic along the way.

I will miss the smell of the ocean which permeated everywhere as well as the cooler temperatures at night and morning, it did get a little warm at over 80 degrees during mid day without any A/C however but was still preferable to the over 100 degrees back in AZ.

Probably will go back and stay in CA in two weeks just for a weekend and then the family is probably going to do Thanksgiving in CA instead of AZ this year for the first time.

-Justin Germino

Fall Break Starting Next Week

It will be a relaxing fall break as the family spends some time in our new vacation property over in Encinitas California.  This will be the first time the kids and Grandma are seeing our 2nd home which is our getaway from the AZ heat and only a 5.5 hour drive away.

We will spend a full week there and take the kids to the San Diego Zoo and Legoland for their birthdays since we are between their birthdays and these were being done instead of a birthday party this year.

Meanwhile, I have broadband internet and am taking two days off of work but will be working from the vacation home so taking my work laptop with me.

I hope to have some pictures posted of the beach and such around the place, the house was painted by a contractor and had a dog gate installed a few days ago so I have no idea how it looks with it’s new painted color and trim and the gates.

This vacation property is something my wife and I have been dreaming about for a long time and the right property came along at the right price after many years of looking.

-Justin Germino