Favorite Moments in Europe

1. Drinks with the Art of Manliness Himself

When I was in Brussels with my friends Tim Kenney and Katy Duffy, we visited a semi-famous independent brewery known for its careful preservation of the old method of making gueuze and kriek lambic, a fruity beer without carbonation. While there, we met a Canadian named Louis-Philippe Dionne, who had a fantastic moustache. The picture we took with him would have made the whole trip worthwhile even if Brussels hadn’t been awesome.

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The Best (and most Non-Mainstream) Places in Rome:

A lot of people have asked me for my favorite places in Rome. Everyone has heard of the big sites like St. Peter’s and the Trevi Fountain, so here is a list of off-the-beaten-track attractions that most people never visit (arranged in order from awesome to most awesome).

  1. Santa Maria in Trastevere – an old Church in the heart of Trastevere with breathtaking Byzantine mosaics
  2. Aventine hill – a quiet hill of gardens and houses overlooking the Colosseum.
  3. St. Maria di Vittoria – A personal pilgrimage spot for me since I’m a fan of St. Teresa of Avila, this Church houses the famous and brilliantly sensual statue of Teresa being pierced by an angelic arrow in divine ecstasy
  4. Tiber island – Once a leper colony and hospital, this small island takes 10 minutes to explore and is well worth the small effort. Be sure to go down the steps and walk along the river.
  5. Cross the Milvian bridge – Enter Rome as a victor ala Emperor Constantine. It’s a small bridge and easy to miss. Take a bike or a bus, because it is a very long walk.
  6. Borghese at night – the Borghese park/gardens is a breath of fresh air and provides an amazing view of Piazza dal Popolo. The Borghese Gallery is the largest and most illustrious private collection of art in the world. The Gallery has to be done by day, but the park should be walked at night for maximum awesomeness.
  7. walk around Gianicolo and visit Aqueduct park – Southwest of the Vatican is Gianicolo hill, which features tons of parks, including a massive, sunny park full of Aqueduct ruins. Gianicolo is quiet and peaceful, and shows a completely different side of Rome.
  8. attend the fire & music show at the Tiber – If it is available (it might have been a one-time thing), WaterFire put on an amazing spectacle on the Tiber. It goes to show that beauty is in simplicity; all they did was light braziers of fire on the river and play classical music over loudspeakers. The effect was out of this world.
  9. Cupola of St. Peter’s – Everyone goes inside St. Peter’s and the Vatican Museum, but not many people think to climb the cupola  Yes, it costs money, but it is more than worth it. You will be treated to a panoramic view of Rome and a privileged view of the roof of St. Peter’s and the Papal gardens, as well as the eccentric experience of walking at a slant on the inside of a dome.
  10. Scavi tour – It may be cliche, but seeing the tomb of St. Peter was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, bar none. Religious or not, anyone can have their life changed by walking the ancient streets of Rome and seeing the burial ground of the force that determined most of Western history.

The Smeagol – Part 2

BACK TO Part 1

Part 2 – An Unexpected Help

(OR: What fellowship, night dangers, and suprises all had in common tonight)

When I returned to my room this evening to collect my stuff and ready myself to go out, my trollish roommate was waiting for me.

‘Helloooooo,’ said he.

‘Hello,’ I responded.

‘Have nice night?’

‘Yes.’ Continue reading

The Smeagol, Part 1 (with introduction)

Introduction: Of Golems and Gollums

This story began as a blog post that I wrote last night but saved for later editing. As the night went on and the new day came and went, my thoughts changed, such that I felt the need to write a sequel – or rather, addendum – to the previous post. 

Part 1 – Murmers in the Dark

(OR: How our desire for heaven and our ability to bullshit are connected)

When I returned from dinner today, the man in the hostel bed below me emerged  from the darkness for the first time. He was about my height, but hunched over, pale, with red eyes and stringy grey hair. He rubbed his hands together and gave me a creepy smile – it could have been nothing but creepy given he was in a youth hostel and looked to be about 40.

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“A Prophecy”: A poem about the Italian region of Campania

Quote

Do you remember what it is like to be in love?
These hills remind you with brazen shout
and a nuptial call to harken and be glad,
for the wine of life is rich in a morning light
and strong with fortune even at the twilight.
And do you still embrace those memories
of child’s days under a smiling sun
when joy fritted and alighted from your heart
to capture your open feet as they danced upon the grass?
Do kisses in the field and laughter among friends
still sit in your past like old brothers in waiting?
Remember, then, that these reside not only then but later,
and in the cycle of time the happy spring
both begins and ends the seasons’ march.
Therefore, let your hope become the solid certainty of love.