A Cuppa Cosy Winter Holiday 2019- Ancient Rome

I’ve decided to do another split in the Holiday posts and give Ancient Rome the post that it truly deserves. To be fair, when I planned out the original posts, I didn’t really know how it would shake out at the end. I mean, I should have known because I just tend to overshare the information anyways, but I wanted to try and condense it down as best as I could. Just the portion that covered Ancient Rome was almost 2000 words. Instead of giving you an almost 4000-word blog post, I just decided to do two separate posts.

So, today it’s all about Ancient Rome. Next it’ll be our last couple days in Rome (which was a fairly decent size too). Finally, I’ll have some tips and recommendations coming your way later on (probably in February).

So, on to the good stuff…

A Cuppa Cosy Winter Holiday - Ancient Rome

We started our 5th day out bright and early in Ancient Rome. So early in fact, we got to see the Sun breaking through the remains of the Colosseum.

What a way to start the day, huh?!

We booked another tour with Through Eternity Tours to see the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and The Colosseum. Once again, as with The Vatican, this was most definitely the right way to go about seeing these spots. Our tour guide was John and he was incredible. He shared information not only about the time, the people, and the places (aka the history of Ancient Rome), but he also clued us in on excavation projects including the first one we walked past, which was the most recent excavation to be done. The tour was the best way to get a somewhat in depth look at the history of Ancient Rome, the history of the location and different landmarks within the Forum and a history of the Colosseum. It was also great because we were able to bypass a lot of the lines that very quickly build up to get into these spots. I would highly recommend doing a tour (especially through this company) as it gives you a good overview of these spots and then once you are finished with the tour, you can then double back to the spots that you want to see more of (we went and walked through some other parts of The Coliseum). You know it’s a good choice if we are recommending it as we are not tour people at all.

IMG_4659.jpgSo, our tour started at the entrance of the Roman Forum. The Roman Forum was the heart of Ancient Rome, the heart of the empire, and the starting point of so much of our Western Culture/Civilization. Before I get too much into the history, let me start by saying how absolutely incredible, breathtaking, overwhelming it was to be walking these Ancient Streets. It is an experience that I am never going to forget. My history loving heart was just exploding with happiness, but it was also a bit overwhelming at times to think of just how old, how ancient these places are. It’s hard to wrap your mind around while you are standing there in the moment. To give an idea to this, many historians believe that people first starting meeting in the forum around 500 B.C., even though the “city” wasn’t founded until 753 B.B. (by Romulus and Remus). The Forum has served many uses under many rulers, from a marketplace, to a religious spot full of temples, to a circus/gladiator ring (pre-Colosseum) to a public affairs location where soldiers would march the streets after their victories. In fact, there are a few arches within the forum that were made in honor of the rulers’ military victories. When the Roman Empire started to decline, the Roman Forum went along with it and during the Middle Ages it was completely destroyed to make room for farms and animals to graze. In the very early 1800’s excavations began to uncover the Forum and are even continuing on today (the most recent excavations were “completed” about 5 years ago, I think?). Fun fact/super neat fact: Every time something would get ruined (due to the fact that the Forum was actually located in a swamp/flood area), the Romans would just build over it. So, there are actually several different “eras” to the forum.

A couple of the really cool bits that we got to see (I mean the whole area is incredible) was the old Senate House building. A lot of Roman history focuses on the Senate- it was one of their proudest bits of government, and you are still able to see the exterior of the Senate building. They were in the process of cleaning and restoring when we were there, so we were not able to see the specifics, but still a really awesome site to see. With the restoration in process, we were only able to see bits of the Temple of Saturn, the front columns to be exact. The Temple of Saturn was, what is thought, one of the first temples in the Forum. These specific ruins date back to around 42 B.C. We were also able to glimpse the Arch of Septimus Severus, one of a few arches still surviving, the few columns of the Temple of Castor and Pollux dated in the 480’s B.C., AND the Ara di Cesare which is the spot where Caesar was burned after his death (this is one of those things that just still boggles my mind, that we were standing there). We walked past the Temple of Antonius and Faustina, which was probably the most intact and preserved I’ve seen in the Forum, around the Arch of Titus which was dated the 1st century A.D. and built to honor Domitian after successfully winning the Siege of Jerusalem. The level of detail on this arch is incredible (that is THE menorah).

From there we started to walk up towards Palatine Hill and the Palazzo.

Palatine Hill is the center hill of the Seven Hills of Rome and was the actual heart of Rome. It has long been used (dating back to around 10thcentury B.C.) and became a spot for ruler’s palaces and the place to live for the affluent Romans. It overlooks both the Forum and Circus Maximus. Wandering through the rooms you can see just how the wealthy and ruling class of Ancient Rome truly lived. We looked at the “back windows” of the hill towards Circus Maxima and peaked into Palatine Hill’s own Stadium, where the wealthy would work out, have “baths” and various other spa treatments.

From Palatine Hill we walked down the hill, passed some of the last aqueducts
(outside of Aqueduct Park), past the Arch of Constantine and over to The Colosseum.

Commissioned in the 70’s A.D. and later opened 80 A.D.;  the colosseum was originally given the name: Flavian Amphitheater. Since this massive amphitheater (since that was it actually is) was completed under different rulers and there are no documents recording anything that have survived, we don’t know who the architect or builders were. The Colosseum was unique for its time in several ways; first, it was the largest of its time and second it was freestanding, rather than dug in. Each story had a different variety of columns, with seating for 50,000 (seated by class of course). There were also awnings built into the top in case the sun became too bright during the fights. Within the Colosseum there would be gladiator fights against other gladiators or animals. Despite what you see on TV or in movies, these fights would be massive theatrical productions. This was a source of entertainment (in as much as tv and movies are for us today) and so, to keep people interested elaborate storylines would be developed. This lasted 400 years and then the struggling Empire and a decline in attendance caused the fights to come to an end. Not only did the Colosseum struggle against Mother Nature with lightning, earthquakes, and such, but it also struggled from its own people. A large amount of the marble that was used in The Colosseum was “relocated” to St. Peter’s, Palazzo Venezia and other places around Rome. Finally, in the 18th century it has been conserved and listed as a sacred Christian site.

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I was truly amazed at the Colosseum. It’s a place that still very much sticks in my head as I think back to our trip (all of Ancient Rome does). To think about just how big these places and monuments truly are. The amount of work and engineering that went into each of these buildings is just incredible to think of. Then on top of that, the sheer age of the places just completely boggles my mind. In specifics to The Colosseum, aside from the size, the actual logistics of these tournaments, the truly theatrical experience was incredible to hear about it. You can see into the depths, where they would have platforms, levers, pully, whole systems that were so forward thinking for the time. It’s just absolutely incredible to think about and then to be there, standing right in the arena, seeing it all right in front of your face…no words.

Our Ancient Rome tour lasted about 4 ½ hours or so. It finished at The Colosseum and our tour guide finished up the tour with some recommendations on other places to check out. We spent the rest of our afternoon going to two of those spots: The Baths of Caracalla and the Santa Maria Maggiore Church.

Our first stop, The Baths of Caracalla, was not too far from where we were and was a spot that I truly just felt quite…small compared to what was around us. This was kind of a running theme for most of the day, but this just really compounded that in my head.

These baths are the second largest of the public baths (a 62-acre complex with columns reaching close to 40 feet tall) and date back to somewhere in the early 200’s. They were open for about 300 years before falling into ruin. While functioning, these particular baths were listed as one of the wonders of Rome and hosted a number of around 7,000 bathers a day. Something unique to these bath’s was the on-site public library. The library had two rooms, one for Greek texts and one for Latin, and each wall had niches built in to hold books. There was also a “frigidarium” (cold room), caldarium (hot room), a double pool, Olympic size pool, and two gym rooms to wrestle or box. One of the key parts to look at were the mosaics completed in marbled tile. You are able to see quite a bit of the mosaics as you walk along the complex. There were quite a few statues at one point in time, but those were either ruined or have been moved to other museums within Italy.

Our final stop of the day was a church. The Santa Maria Maggiore church is the most important church for the adoration of Mary.

This particular church was granted a Papal Major Basilica status, which is a really big deal (it’s one of four to have this title). Dating back to the early 5th century this church is incredible. Not only are the mosaics amazing, all in tribute to Mary, but it also contains some important things. Under the high alter is the Crypt of the Nativity, or a crypt that is said to contain the wood from Christ’s crib (as in- THE crib). It is also the home to Bernini’s steps AND at the time that we went, had the first nativity set on display. These figures are said to be from the 13th century made for Pope Nicholas IV. The church itself is beautiful, as is the nativity scene. We weren’t able to head up to the alter as a service was beginning.

That was the end of our day heading back farther into time than we could have ever imagined. Ancient Rome is probably one of my top places of our trips and this day was easily one of my favorites of our entire trip. I hope you enjoyed it too and that I did the history, information, and photo’s justice for you.

Kehlsteinhaus – A Day Trip

Over Labor Day Weekend we decided that instead of doing a long weekend away, that we would stick close to home and take a day trip or two. Now, we’ve been to Berchtesgaden before. We went on a long weekend back in May, but we were not able to do Kehlsteinhaus, The Eagle’s Nest, due to weather. It was on our list to go back to go see the area, but it’s a trip that you really have to monitor the weather for and be willing to just up and go when the window is right.

So, Labor Day Weekend became our weekend to see The Eagle’s Nest. The weather was supposed to be sunny and warm, clear skies except for maybe an hour or two for a storm. Since most of the day would be clear, we just decided to get up super early and make an attempt to do it. For us, it is about a 3-hour drive to get there, so totally doable for a day trip AND the Eagle’s Nest itself is a shorter visit, depending on you of course, so easy enough to fit into a day trip.

Some information about The Eagles’s Nest before we get into our trip.

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The Eagle’s Nest was built as a symbol of power and was a location where decisions were made in regard to Hitler’s plans for destruction. The house itself was built at the top of a mountain right over a sheer rock wall. The mountain was in some ways destroyed during the building of this house, having to cut through the terrain for a road and then equipping the mountain with an elevator to get up to the house. Where the house is actually located was known at the time as “the summit of all power”.

The Eagle’s Nest is one of the few buildings that WAS NOT destroyed post war which may lead to its popularity, along with it playing a prominent part in many US War Films (Band of Brothers anyone?). For all of its popularity, Hitler rarely actually visited the house, they only have 17 verifiable accounts of him being there.

These days,  The Eagle’s Nest is a restaurant that you can eat in on your lovely day their, which I actually recommend doing!

We arrived at The Eagle’s Nest around 9:15-9:30AM and I would recommend the same. You’ll want to get their early not only because the views and it being so clear, but also because of parking. Parking goes fast and, while you can park on the road (there is a lot of parking), the lower parking lot is definitely the better spot to be at.

You can purchase your ticket ahead of time or on site, we chose on site, so we had a little more freedom with our time in the morning (traffic, construction, etc.), and we had no problems getting a time close after purchase. To get to the elevator you can hike or ride the bus up. We have two young kids, so chose to do the bus. It was about a 20-minute ride and was absolutely beautiful. You get a good chance to see the entire area from different elevations.

Once you get to the tunnel and elevator entrance you need to give your return time to the bus organizer. Now, we planned for a total of 2 hours and that was more than enough time. That gave us time to leisurely look around the different overlooks and have a little lunch before needing to head back down. Depending on what you want to do (spend time sitting up there taking the beauty in, eat a longer meal, whatever) I think 2 hours is more than enough. If you do come down a little earlier than you expected you can speak with the bus drivers about taking an earlier bus.

Now, you get to go to the house, turned restaurant.

There are a couple of items of note within the house ( a fireplace, the sunroom, and a timeline of the build and who has been there), but the real beauty lays in what you see outside. The views from the mountain side are incredible. On a clear day you can see through to Salzburg (and they have the binocular bits set up so you can pay to really see it), you can see through the valleys of the Alps, and you can see Konigsee and the lake system nearby.

While we were there I was taken aback by just how, once again, stunning the views and beauty of this particular spot were and how this was also the spot where decisions were made that caused unspeakable hurt and terror. It’s such a hard idea to come to grips with and while doing a little extra research, I learned that in the case of The Eagle’s Nest, that was the point. The beautiful setting was intended to shadow all of the horrible actus. It was to give a pretty face at a time when many were starting to question as the war intensified.

IMG_9120We had a lovely little lunch on the restaurant terrace and then made our way back down to the Dokumentation Obersalzberg. This is what we would call a museum that talks about National Socialism, the major players in Hitler’s regime as well as the Obersalzberg area. Something I didn’t know is that The Eagle’s Nest and the Obersalzberg area was much more than just The Eagle’s Nest. There was an entire network of “high players” that had buildings or homes in the region. This center talks through the image that they tried to portray in the Obersalzberg and Berchtesgaden area along with history of the NS and World War 2 history and relics. As part of the entrance you are able to go down into the Bunker, which not only contains information about the bunker itself, but also has graffiti from the Soldiers who came through the area in WW2.

 

Overall, I would highly recommend a visit to the area in general and would recommend a stop at The Eagle’s Nest. You don’t need a full day set aside, just a few hours and it is well worth it.

Friday Morning Cups – Thoughts on History

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“Each of us today is shaping the background history of tomorrow”.

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I don’t really talk politics on here (and I’m not about to start so don’t worry), but I felt that this was too important not to share. I saw this quote at Dachau Concentration Camp and it just really…said something that I’ve wanted to say for a while, in fact tried to say for a while, but much better than I can. 

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This was placed at the start of the exhibit. The exhibit, of course, details the rise of Nazism, Hitler, hysteria, etc, but it also goes a little further back than that. It goes back far enough to give you a much clearer view of what ACTUALLY happened. Not just the xyz gloss over that we all know. This quote was placed at the very beginning. 

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“Each of us today is shaping the background history of tomorrow”. Repeat that. Over and over and over again. 

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This should not just be applied on a global scale, but on a community one, a familial one, an individual one. Take this- recognize these words, understand the meaning and connotation that they carry. ▫️

We can ALL do better. What background history are you shaping?

Friday Morning Cups

5198051616_IMG_3835.JPGSo, I’ve never posted a picture like this. It’s not in my comfort range of things to share. My body isn’t perfect (hello DR stomach that will never be normal again), but I’m OK with it. I’ve had two sweet babies and my body has proved itself again and again.

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I’m constantly told that I’m so lucky to be the size that I am. That folks would love to be my size. If I could profit off of everybody that told me how lucky I am, how they wished for my size, what am I doing, how do I eat, and the worst- I must not eat anything at all (which as a recovering anorexic is just lovely to hear 🙄), I would be a rich person. I hear constantly that I shouldn’t complain about this or that because overall I’m petite.

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Let me tell you something- just because I’m a smaller size doesn’t mean anything. I’m a fairly confident person and don’t often have moments of insecurity, but there are times that I feel iffy about my body. I work out regularly, I make sure that I fuel my body appropriately (and that doesn’t mean I don’t eat popcorn or candy every once in a while), and I have been blessed with some good genes. I am well aware of my size and how that is viewed, but newsflash, I still have my moments.

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Body confidence, body positivity, body issues are across the board. It doesn’t matter what your size or shape is, everyone is entitled to (and will probably at some point) feel insecure. And when someone is feeling insecure, we shouldn’t invalidate their feelings by telling them they shouldn’t feel that way because guess what…insecurity hits everyone. We are all beautiful, but we all have our moments. Let’s recognize that, cut the crap comments, and be supportive.

A Peak Into My Past

I have never shared this story publicly. I have never talked about this part of my past with anyone, outside of a couple of close friends and family. All of my healing has been done privately, in and out of therapy. Figuring out what works for me and how I would even begin to piece my life back together after the rug was pulled out from under me almost 16 years ago. I’ve finally reached a peaceful place in my life, partly due to finding love in someone else, partly finding the ability to love myself. The biggest part of my peace being the forgiveness I have given. 

Finding the peace within myself has allowed me to reach a point where I want to talk with and help others. When I first entered therapy I had sworn that once I had made my own peace, I would help others in any way that I could. I thought it would be something that I could do within a little bit of time and then I could get to helping others and speaking about this trauma that simply isn’t spoken about. Here I am 12 years later, only just now feeling like I can share this story. Only just now feeling that peace, that urge to share, and finally being comfortable enough to share. Finally at the point where I really feel like I can help others. Help them find their healing, help them see the light at the end of the tunnel. To be that person that I needed.

I’ll get into more of that at another time, but I want to give you my story. I want to publicly share the part of my past that I’ve never shared before. You may have read this already, if you read the linked article in Friday’s post, but I wanted to address it here. Directly on my blog. So, here we go…IMG_4702

I was emotionally abused for 10+ Years and physically abused everyday for 7 of those years (everyday for 5, off and on for 2) by a parent. The person who was supposed to be my guide, my champion, supposed to be everything, was instead my tormentor. I went through my childhood with the expectation of perfection placed on me (and criticized, put down, insulted if not) and my adolescent years with an unthinkable amount of fear. Child abuse is not just being scared, it is a traumatic event that changes everything. Everything about you, everything about your life, and everything about everyone you come into contact with. 

Before I even had the opportunity to have a voice, it was taken away from me. Before I could even understand what was truly right and wrong, what I wanted to be or do, what true happiness could be, I knew what fear was. Not just being scared of something, but true fear. True terror. In some ways I can’t put to words what I was feeling, but in other ways it is crystal clear. 

As I said to start this post, I have reached a good space. A space where I can handle the tough moments, when all of those emotions, fears, and moments come back. I feel like I am at that light at the end of the tunnel, when you know that the tunnel is coming to an end, but there is still a bit of darkness. It has been a long and tough road to get here, and it is a road that will continue for the rest of my life. I have also recognized that having gone through this, having worked through it, and having come out on the other side, I am a better person for that. I am a better wife, mom, a better person all together. 

I want to end this by saying that I will be starting to talk more about trauma, child abuse, and dealing with both of these factors a little more frequently on my blog. There will still be plenty of my usual happy go lucky content (as I am that happy go lucky, keep all things cosy, find the silver lining kinda girl), but I want to start sharing more of my story. I find that Childhood Trauma and Abuse is a topic that doesn’t seem to get enough attention (unless it is a major event) and it is something that is more common than we think. 

Friday Morning Cups

IMG_6413This morning is kind of a special morning. I am sharing something that I have NEVER spoken about “publicly”. I’ve told a small amount of family, a couple of close friends and that is about it. I’ve never spoken about this publicly as I’ve never felt like I was in a good place to really talk about it. I think once you read the linked blog post, you will understand. I will talk more about this in a future blog post, but since this has been published, I want to share with you.

The truth is…it has taken me 10 years to get to this point. To get to a point that I was truly ready to talk about this, to share my story, to help others. 10 years to feel like I have finally reached a point in my healing and recovery that I can actually help others go through it, get through it, and come out the other side. I will be slowly starting to introduce this topic into this blog and my own social media.

Click HERE to read the post.

Thank you for reading.

Mia

Day Trip : Colonial Williamsburg

On Saturday we took a day trip down to Colonial Williamsburg. This step back into history has been a “must do” on my list since we moved here and we just finally got around to doing it. It’s about a 2 1/2 hour drive from us and is the perfect distance for spending a day. 

The whole draw in for Colonial Williamsburg is that it is supposed to feel like you are stepping back into time, back to when the colonies were breaking free from English rule, and it is supposed to reflect what every day life was like for the colonists. It features character actors, both as guides and just portraying different folks that would live in town. There were stations where visitors could get involved, such as making brick and clothes, but also areas where you could just observe. 

Our day started at the Governors Palace, which is the main home and office for the Royal Governor. This was in use prior to the collapse of Royal Authority in Virginia, as the colonies broke away from England. We toured the main hall and two sitting rooms downstairs, as well as a bed & dressing room upstairs (not pictured). A tour guide, dressed in time period clothing (as was everyone) talked us through the last family that lived in the home as well as what a visitor to the home could expect. 

Our next stop was walking through the different Palace Grounds, with a beautiful little hideaway and a maze, and along the Palace Green, which had homes, kitchens, and a church.

While we were walking through the palace green, we got to watch the carriage and ox wagon rides go through the palace green, and then the rest of the town. Such a neat and fun experience to add to the idea of stepping back into history!

Once you finish with the “main” Palace walk, you come upon the little town itself. The main portion of town is divided up on one “main” street, Duke of Gloucester Street, and a side street, Nicholson Street. One Duke of Gloucester there were shops, taverns, and the Market Square. The shops and taverns all had character actors both outside to guide you in, and inside to walk you through whatever you were seeing, or to help you purchase any gifts you were interested in. 

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We stopped at the Market Square to see the “market” they were holding that day, to take a look at the Public Armory and to see how they would signal to everyone for lunchtime. Spoiler: the lunch time signal was a canon, which concerned both boys immensely. We also ended the day in the same area to see a demonstration of combat tactics of the time (hubs is a military history buff). 

We stopped for a quick lunch, watched the Fife and Drum March, and headed over to the children’s play spot. They offer a spot just for children that has a variety of toys from colonial times as well as a maze for the children to work through. Colton had quite a lot of fun navigating the maze and riding a toy horse, while Andrew took a quick snooze. It was a nice spot to take a little break from everything, let the kids just run free, but still maintain all the history. 

The last major “must see” stop for Colonial Williamsburg is at The Capitol, at the end of Duke of Gloucester Street. It has quite the tale to tell, and our guide very enthusiastically shared its history. Williamsburg was a capital at one point in time, and the capital building itself was built, burned, built, burned, left to disrepair, only to be built again later on. There is only one item that is original to the Capital, and that is the single chair where the leader would sit. The capital was rebuilt as it would have originally been seen and it was interesting to hear the history of Virginia breaking away from England. This stop also included a look at the courthouse, where royal crimes would have been heard. 

Overall, we really enjoyed our time in Colonial Williamsburg! They do a wonderful job with re creating a time in history that is so interesting (and full of strife), while still giving us modern day amenities. It sits right near William and Mary University and there is a full town just right outside the gates, but once you step onto the brick sidewalk and the bit of cobblestone street you feel transported. It was a wonderful day!