Tag Archives | Rome

Discovering the Seven Secrets of Rome

We understand that there will be something happening in Rome in the coming weeks?  The focus will be on one of our favorite fighting destinations, Rome.  Home to gladiators, Popes (including a new one,) painters, and poets, a stroll around the Eternal City of Rome is an adventure in itself.  We want to offer you some of our secrets, and some of the off the beaten path sights to take in while in Rome.

rome church

Santa Maria Del Priorato

Secret Rome Keyhole

For our first secret of Rome, head to the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, wander around to the back side of the square, there you will find the church of Santa Maria Del Priorato.  Find the door leading into the church.  Peer through the small bronze keyhole in the gate.  Spoiler alert!  As you gaze through the small hole you will see perfectly framed by trees and scrubs, the Basilica of St. Peter.  It is truly a sight to behold.  It is difficult to fully describe just how beautiful and unexpected this view is.  We highly recommend!

 The Holy Fun House

Our next stop on our adventure is the Rooms of St. Ignatius, located at Piazza del Gesu 45.  This is the former home and monastery of St. Ignatius.   He actually designed and built the rooms and corridor.  This honored Jesuit had his important vision of service to God and Church in these hallowed halls.  Don’t miss seeing the patron saint’s shoes in the display case!

Sometimes called The Holy Fun House, the entire complex holds wonderful examples of perspective painting and distortion in art.  Flat walls seem to transfigure into flying buttresses!  As you walk down the corridor the walls truly seem to come alive!

Protestant Cemetery

Not all of the holy sites in Rome are related to the Catholic Church.  In one of the most well-kept cemeteries in the city,  the Protestant Cemetery, you will find a couple of interesting internees.   Both John Keats and Percy Shelley are buried here!  The walls of the cemetery are actually the walls of the “old” city.  They held out fierce attacks from the barbarians for more than 100 years.

Rome Fountian

Trevi fountain

The Secret Perch

Our next adventure takes us to the Vatican.   It is a little known fact that you can actually go up in the dome of St. Peters!  The trek is not for the faint of heart.  You must climb 200 stairs to the elevator that takes you to the top.  For those wanting the further challenge, they can skip the elevator and take on another 300 steps to the top!  The vista is truly one of the best in all of Rome!

The Underground Wonderland

Just like peeling the layers of an onion, the deeper you journey into the bowels of the Basilica of San Clemente, the more you learn.  The “new” part of the church was constructed in the late 12th century.  It includes beautiful art and mosaics.  Take the stairs down and you enter what was a 4th century church!  As you wander around this subterranean church, take in the amazing art etched into the walls.  Continue your quest by going one level lower, into the deep.  In the very depths of the building, you will find a 2nd century Mithraic Temple, complete with altar!  The entire structure exudes history.  The Basilica is still undergoing excavation.

What will they find next?

Rome-The Italian Hollywood?

It’s no secret that Rome has been captured on film over the years.  What is stunning is the sheer number of films and genres that feature the city.  For those of you that want to retrace some cinematic magic, we tracked down some of the locations from a few films.  Of course you want to travel like a Hollywood Starlette but dont have the budget?

Oceans 12: Airport scenes were filmed in Rome’s Fiumicino Airport.

Eat, Pray, Love:  Piazza Nabona

The Gladiator:  Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix were filmed in Coliseum.

The Talented Mr. Ripley:  Cafe Dinelli: The terrace cafe, where Ripley arranges for Meredith, Marge and Peter Smith-Kingsley to meet up was filmed in Piazza di Spagna.

And of course how could we leave out:

Roman Holiday, a separate category on its own.

Joe Bradley’s apartment was filmed in Via Margutta 51.

The bench where Bradley finds the Princess asleep  was filmed in Via dei Fori Imperiali.

Mouth of Truth was filmed in Santa Maria in Cosmedin.

The Final Secret

This one is up to you!  You must find your own secret in the city of secrets!  Enjoy Rome.  It is truly one of the most amazing cities we have visited.  The city is a perfect blend of history, architecture and of course adventure.  Enjoy Rome!

 

 

 

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My Day With Gaudi

Those who look for the laws of Nature as a support for their new works collaborate with the creator. –Antonio Gaudi

There is a long list of things the Catalonian region (Barcelona, Spain) has given to the world: amazing paella, an incredible football team,  and one of the greatest modernismo architects: Antonio Gaudi.

We are going to take you on a visual day tour of the greatest Gaudi masterpieces in Barcelona.  You are going to see futuristic designs, wild abandoned whimsy and holy edifices that rival the best of Rome!

First off a little primer on Gaudi:

The most famous architect of the 20th century was born in Rues (or just outside, depending on what account you believe) in the Tarragona providence of Catalonia, 50 miles south of Barcelona.  After enduring a childhood troubled by rheumatism, the son of two coppersmiths travelled to the Catalan capital to enroll as a student at the Escola Technica Superrior d’Arguitectura where he duly studied from 1873 to 1877.  Even his professors did not quite know what to make of his work, and when he was awarded the title of architect in 1878, Elies Rogent, the director of the school, declared:  “Who knows if we have given this diploma to a nut or to a genius?  Time will tell.”  http://www.barcelona-life.com

Lets start our tour!

 Park Guell

One of Gaudi’s wealthy patrons wanted to build a par for the blue bloods of Barcelona.  He wanted to build a gates community before the advent of gated communities.  He wanted a park setting with fountains, dramatic vistas and swanky amenities.  Gaudi was up for the challenge.

Barcelona, Spain

Park Guell sits atop a gentle hill with views of the city, the sea and another piece of Gaudi’s handiwork the Sagrada Famila.

barcelona spain

Today you can stroll through the park setting and take in some amazing vistas.

Barcelona Spain

 Casa Mila-La Pedrera

At the top of the mighty tough fare Las Ramblas is the Modernismo masterpiece, La Pedrera.  La Pedrera means The Quarry.  It is the precious gem of Barcelona.  The apartment complex was commissioned with money made in America by married couple Roser Segimon and Pere Mila.

The address quickly became the pinnacle of success.  The façade of the building reflects the rolling waves of the sea.

Barcelona spain

 

Perhaps the most photographed part of the structure with its unique statues and fireplace chimneys.

Barcelona spain

 

Sagrada Familia

Gaudi has been nicknamed, “God’s Architect”.  While this might be a little presumptuous, one cannot argue his dedication to integrate what he say in Creation with a capital C into his creations with a little c.

The construction of the Sagrada Familia predates Gaudi’s involvement.  It began its construction in 1882.  Shortly there after, Gaudi was brought in and completely transformed the scope and design of the project.  Gaudi employ his skills building the cathedral until his untimely death in 1926.   At his passing the building was a little over 25% complete.  The Sagrada Familia is still a work in progress.  Gaudi’s grand vision outstripped his lifetime’s devotion to building.

When objections were raised as to the extended completion date of the Sagrada Famila, Gaudi said:

“Don’t worry, my client isn’t in a hurry.”

Since then the project has been on again off again.  It is projected that the completion date will be around 2026 the centennial of Gaudi’s death.

Gaudi Barcelona Spain

 

Barcelona spain

Gaudi’s work is on full display in beautiful Barcelona.  Don’t miss it!

 

Are you looking for Free Coupon Codes or Southwest Airlines Coupon codes?  You just found them.

 

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5 Great Cities for Couples

As you know, 1000 Fights is all about encouraging couples to get out and see the world together.   We have put together our 5 favorite couple travel cities.  These are not the “most” romantic cities for couples…look for that post next month!  What we have put together is five great cities to travel as a couple with something for both of you.  Its no secret that we strongly recommend that when couples travel, you spend some “alone” time seeing things that interest you “sans” your mate.  While some folks frown on this, it really works for us.

How did we select these cities?  First of all, it is a bit limited, we only picked cities that we have been to and are very familiar with.  Have you been to a great couple city?  Zing us a comment below.  Besides that, we picked cities that appealed to us individually and collectively.  Cities that could do it both, entertain us on our own and together and do it with panache!

fountain rome italyRome for Couples

For the Gals:

Let us help you plan your “girls” day in Rome.  Start off in the morning at the Villa Borghese.  The Villa is surrounded by a huge central park right smack dab in the middle of Rome.  The villa houses the newly renovated Borghese Gallery.  The Gallery itself is a work of art, not to mention the works of art displayed inside.  Don’t miss Bernini’s famed Apollow and Dahne.  In a word: stunning. (galleriaborghese.it).

After you have taken in the majesty of Borghese, why not hit a famed roman bath/day spa?

For the Guys:

What is more manly than standing in the colosseum and shouting to the world, “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED!?”  Channel your inner Russell Crowe.  Besides Pamela Anderson’s chest….the colosseum is likely one of the most photographed structures that man has ever made.  With that said, both of them are much more impressive in person.  Throw down the extra euros and take a real tour.  The little details on the colosseum are so impressive.  The stadium could seat 50,000 people!

To mark the grand opening of the sporting complex, a hundred-day games were held by Emperor Titus in AD 80. In the process, some 9,000 wild animals were slaughtered!  The entire floor was flooded on occasions and great sea battles were staged!  How cool is that?

Together time:

Rome is a great walking town.  We recommend the Trevi Fountain.  Toss a coin into the fountain and you will return to Rome.  Two coins and a new romance will blossom. (hopefully with the one you are with?)  Three coins a happy marriage.  Four coins?  That just means you don’t have enough for gelato.  Don’t make this mistake.

 

London for Couples

Jane austin London EnglandFor the Gals:

Simple!  Leave the guy behind and rent a car and head to Jane Austen’s house!

For the Guys:

We highly, highly recommend the Imperial War Museum:  http://www.iwm.org.uk/.  For starters the entire museum is free!!!  Save the cash, we won’t tell!

Together time:

We have two really good ideas for you.  The first is to catch a play in the West End.  Dress up to the nines and have a great dinner right on the West End and see some incredible theatre.

For those on  a budget, grab some curry at one of the many little street shops and ride the London Eye together.  The views are to die for!

 

New York for Couples

For the Gals:

New York, New York

Shopping! On you marks… get set… GO!  New York is also a great place to take and do some personal pampering.  There are an endless supply of amazing spas, and salons.

For the Guys:

New York is all about the food and the sports!  There is nothing in the world better than a fat slice of Brooklyn pizza, just dripping with cheese and pepperoni!  BoooYa!  Then take in a game-pick your pleasure:  Yankees, Mets, Knicks, Rangers, Islanders, Giants or Jets!  So much to choose from!

Together time:

The Big Apple is a very special place for couples.  Our fave couple experience is take the elevator to the top of the Empire State Building.   We picked the perfect evening recently, the building was in the clouds and lit up blue!  It was so beautiful.  The view from the top is not to be missed.

 

Vancouver, CanadaVancouver BC for Couples

For the Gals:

Ditch the guy and take a ferry over to Victoria Island for the day!  It is well worth the trip.  Candidly if you pull maps up on google, Victoria is a hop, skip and a jump away from Vancouver.  In reality it is a bit further.  It will take all of a day to get there and back and see a few of the better sites.  The ferry terminal from the mainland is a bit out of Vancouver.  The ferry across the drink will take 90 mins or so.  Bring a girlfriend and chat it up while taking in some truly amazing scenery.  Arriving in Victoria you can take high tea at The Fairmont Empress, then you can hit Butchart Gardens or do some antique shopping in the antique district.

For the Guys:

Vancouver BC is loaded with outdoor adventures.  Take out a kayak, rent a bike or just head for the hills.

We also hear they have a pretty good hockey team.  Watching hockey with a bunch of Canadians is an experience every man should have.

Together time:

Vancouver is a great couples town.  For the best in couple time we suggest a few ideas:  First you must dive into the food scene.  We did a post on some of our faves to give you a head start.  Then we highly recommend taking a stroll down by the waterfront or in one of the many parks in town.

paris franceParis for Couples

For the Gals:

Just go here and thank us later:  http://www.girlsguidetoparis.com/

For the Guys:

France does have something to offer the Hommes.  We recommend taking in the Military Museum aka Les Invalids.  I know what you are thinking…France has one of those?  Yep, and its pretty cool.  See Napoleons tomb as well as tributes to French generals when they knew how to fight wars.

Together time:

If we have to give you ideas for this, you have bigger problems!  For those romantically challenged here is our sure fire recipe for a perfect evening in the City of Love.  In the early evening, hop on hte metro to the Basilique du Sacre Coeur in Montmartre.  Watch the sun set over Paris holding the hands of your lover.  Then experience the delicious cuisine of Montmartre.  Then ????

So that is our humble list of great couple cities.  Do you agree?  Disagree?  Did we miss a city?  Just click below, we would love to hear from you.

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The Seven Secrets of Rome

Check out our latest post for the City Blogging Tour:  The Seven Secrets of Rome!  We were even awarded the Jury prize for our post!!  Please check it out and while there could you hit the vote button for us?

An excerpt from our post:

The Secret Keyhole

For our first secret of Rome, head to the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, wander around to the back side of the square, there you will find the church of Santa Maria Del Priorato. Find the door leading into the church. Peer through the small bronze keyhole in the gate. Spoiler alert! As you gaze through the small hole you will see perfectly framed by trees and scrubs, the Basilica of St. Peter. It is truly a sight to behold. It is difficult to fully describe just how beautiful and unexpected this view is. We highly recommend!

 

 

 

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The 7 Sports Meccas

Another post in our Man-cation- Ideas Series

Visiting the Mecca’s of Sport

The definitive seven sacred shrines to sport: Olympia, Monte Carlo, the Old Yankee Stadium, the All England Club, the Roman Coliseum and St. Andrews. The nano-second that you step foot on the grass, pebbles, or tarmac of these hallowed sanctuaries of sport you FEEL the history ooze through your soul.

Does size mater?

Lets take a step back…what makes a sports mecca? Is it size alone? No. Of the 10 largest stadiums in the world, six are home to US college football teams (University of Texas, University of Michigan, Penn State, Tennesse, Ohio State and Alabama.) The largest stadium in the world is the May Day Stadium in North Korea, seating 150,000 people! In selection of our meccas, our first consideration was global recognition and significance.

Ok..lets take a look at each one of the meccas and why they were chosen:

Olympia

Olympia, Greece is arguably the birthplace of competitive sport. Olympia boast the inspiration for the modern Olympic games. The location saw it’s sports hay day peak from 776 BC to 400AD the longest period of athletic excellence of any location on the planet. Only a decree from the Emperor Theodosius 1st ended the games after he thought they had become a paganfest.

Visiting Olympia

Reaching Olympia is a little involved. It is roughly a 5 hour drive from Athens. The train service from Athens to the are has stopped. So your options are limited. As you can image, there are a number of tour companies that offer bus and overnight accommodation packages out of Athens.

Olympia offers so much more than just sport history. Due to the long history of human inhabitants in the area every stage of Greek Arctuture is on display. We understand that archaeological museum at Olympia is excellent.

The Olympic flame of the modern-day Olympic Games is lit by reflection of sunlight in a parabolic mirror in front of the Temple of Hera and then transported by a torch to the place where the games are held. When the modern Olympics came to Athens in 2004, the men’s and women’s shot put competition was held at the restored Olympia stadium. Wikipedia

Roman Coliseum

Perhaps the most recognizable location on our famed mecca list is of course the Roman Coliseum. The structure was the largest amphitheater built during the Roman age. Construction started around 72 AD. It was the brain child of Emperor Vespasian. Construction was completed in the year 80 AD under the direction of Titus. At its pinnacle of operation, the stadium could hold over 50,000 people. According to legend, each citizen of Rome was granted season tickets and an assigned seat.

The Coliseum’s primary sporting event was produced by the gladiators. Men would take turn killing various wild beasts and each other to the cheers of the wine bibbing throngs. According to historians on occasion the rink was flooded with water and famous sea battles were reenacted. The venue was truly a multi purpose facility; it hosted events including public executions, plays and concerns, as well as religious services! Even today, every Good Friday the Pope leads a throng of “fans” down to the old pitch.

Visiting the Coliseum

As they say…When in Rome! There is so much to see in Rome, with that said, any visitor must make their way to this ancient relic of sport. As you approach the structure, be prepared to be encircled by gladiator garbed goons attempting to solicit a pricy photo session with you. Take the audio tour that gives you a pretty in depth description of the form and function.

Image supplied by Your Golf Travel

Image supplied by Your Golf Travel

St. Andrews

St. Andrews the town is located on the east coast of Scotland. There is much to see in this small borough. St. Andrews is home to the third oldest university in the world, the University of St Andrews. (It must drive them crazy to say GO USA!) The location is of course best known as the international home of golf. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club was founded in 1754. The rules of the game for the entire world are determined at a local pub. The Club hosts the annual Open Championship, by far the oldest major in golf.

Visiting St. Andrews

Of all the locations, visiting St. Andrews is perhaps is perhaps the most difficult. The best way to get to St. Andrews is to fly into the Edinburgh airport and then either rent a car or take the Airlink bus to the train station. Most of the St. Andrew facilities are within walking distance of the town center. How do I play the course? First of all, there are loads of courses in the area.  Find one that fits your skill set, then swing hard!

A word or warning for you duffers: “If there is one part of the game not right, no matter how you try your hardest to protect it, the Old Course will find it.”

—Peter Thompson, on St. Andrews

Monte Carlo-

I know, I know, you think that the Indiana’s speedway belongs in this hallowed spot. You would be wrong. The Monaco Grand Prix is truly both the most prestigious and important automobile race on the planet. The race was first run in 1929, and was won by William Grover-Williams driving a Bugatti

The race is held on a narrow course laid out in the streets of Monaco, with many elevation changes and tight corners as well as a tunnel, making it one of the most demanding tracks in Formula One. In spite of the relatively low average speeds, it is a dangerous place to race. It is the only Grand Prix that does not adhere to the FIA’s mandated 305km minimum race distance. Wikipedia

The danger of the course, the international intrigue of the location, and the global field in the race makes the Grand Prix a mecca.

Visiting Monaco

Perched on the French Riviera Monaco is truly one of those special places. Nestled near Cannes, Nice and the border of Italy, Monaco is the heart of glamor, beach and luxury. Of course no visit to Monaco would be complete without a visit to the famous Monte Carlo Casino. The entire place is just dripping with luxury. Yes, you still need to wear a jacket to enter the “special” rooms of the casino. Ferraris, Bugattis, and Lamborghinis line the front entry. Amazing yachts line the harbor.

 

Old Yankee Stadium

“The House that Ruth Built.”

The old Yankee Stadium is located in the storied Bronx section of New York City, New York. It was the home of the New York Yankee Baseball team after its completion in 1923 to 2008 when it was replaced with a new monstrosity. The diamond hosted over 6000 baseball games over its 85 years of service. It has played host to a number of world series games and allstar games. It has also hosted a number of boxing matches and three Papal Masses! On June 21, 1990, a rally was held at Yankee Stadium for Nelson Mandela upon his release from prison.

Perhaps the most memorable moment in the venue’s history came on July 4, 1939, designated as “Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day”. Gehrig, forced out of action permanently by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and facing his impending death, gave a legendary farewell speech thanking his fans and colleagues for making him “the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

A number of college football game were held in the stadium. This included the Notre Dame-Army games. One match up in particular found legendary Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne offering his “win one for the Gipper” speech. The 1946 Army vs. Notre Dame football game at Yankee stadium is regarded as one of the 20th century college football Games of the Century.

The New York Giants of the NFL played their home games at Yankee Stadium from 1956 to 1973. On December 28, 1958, Yankee Stadium hosted the NFL championship game, frequently called “The Greatest Game Ever Played”. The Baltimore Colts tied the Giants, 17–17, on a field goal with seven seconds left. Led by quarterback Johnny Unitas, the Colts won in overtime, 23–17. The game’s dramatic ending is often cited as elevating professional football to one of the United States’ major sports.

 

Visiting Old Yankee Stadium

You cant. The Stadium has been demolished.

 

All England Club

Our next to final Mecca is a mouth full: All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. It is located in Wimbledon, London, England. The storied club hosts the Wimbledon Championship. the Championship is the only tennis major to be held on grass. The club has just shy of 400 members. The patron of the club is H.M. Queen Elizabeth II, and the President is H.R.H. The Duke of Kent. The club was founded in 1868.

The facilities include 20 tournament level courts and 16 other gross courts. The gras can be used May till mid September, at which time a small number of clay and hard courts on premise can be used. For your information, the grass is cut to an exact measurement of 8mm, and is 100% perennial rye grass. Center court the largest, seats roughly 15,000 patrons.

 

Visiting Wimbledon

The Club will likely be on full display at the upcoming London Olympics. This is be a great chance to see the venue and the top players in the world on display. Wimbledon has its very own tube stop, so visiting the venue is extremely easy. The Lawn Tennis Hall of Fame and museum are also on premises and are not to be missed.

 

By now you probably noticed that we only mentioned 6 meccas. You are sooo good! We are leaving the 7th up to you our loyal “1000 Fighters”. So where/what do you nominate? Just leave a comment below and let the fights begin.

 

 

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7 Questions with Kali & Christy of Technosyncratic

 

We are continuing our series of 7 questions with some of the coolest couples out there traveling.  This installment we highlight Christy and Kali of Technosycratic.com.  They are currently driving around the us in an RV!  We will look for some more great fights from them!
Blog:  Technosycratic.com
Twitter:  @Technosyncratic
Follow’em!
1) How many countries visited between the two of you?

Only six countries thus far (Mexico, Spain, Italy, France, Canada, India), because most of our traveling has been around the United States in our motorhome.  There are just so many cool places to explore in our home country!  In another six months we’ll be moving abroad and traveling more extensively through other countries, though, so I imagine our number will increase quite a bit over the next two years.
2) If you had to travel with someone else besides your travel partner, who would it be?

Kali:  Any reasonably non-annoying person with an English and/or Australian accent.  I love accents, so listening to someone whine like a Brit would probably make whatever they were whining about infinitely easier to tolerate.

Christy:  I would totally travel with Wes from Johnny Vagabond for a bit; he’s hysterical and always manages to get himself into the most random situations.  I’ve never met him, though, so he’d probably be like “who the heck is this random person following me around?”

3) What has been your favorite destination in your wanderings?

Kali:  India.  That’s a large “destination”, but we find the whole country captivating.  We visited Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra on an academic trip, and it was fascinating to meet with community leaders and develop a deeper understanding of the societal conditions we would have otherwise just seen in passing.

Christy:  I really loved Cinque Terre in Italy.  We visited with a friend of ours and the three of us hiked the entire way between the five villages.  I have never seen so many stairs in my life; for weeks after that I would have a panic attack whenever we came to stairs!  But aside from that little downside the area was beautiful and the gelato was abundant.

4) If you had to eat one last meal, what/ where would you eat?

Christy:  While wandering around the super sketchy part of Naples on our first backpacking expedition, we stumbled on a tiny little pizzeria where we had our first Italian margherita pizza and limoncello.  I thought the limoncello was lemonade, silly me, so I gulped it down and almost died.  But eating that pizza was like tasting the divine!  We vowed to return, but didn’t write down the name and then got lost on our way home.  For days afterwards we for searched and searched for that little Napolian pizzeria, to no avail.  I refuse to die before I’ve tasted that pizza again, so I’ll find it eventually.

Kali:  On that same backpacking trip we also went to Marseille, where we found this little Tunisian restaurant that had phenomenal mediterannean stew and couscous.  We couldn’t finish it all, so we combined the couscous and stew and asked if they had a container for us to bring it home…. and they yelled at us!  We don’t speak any French so we couldn’t figure out why he was so angry… maybe because we mixed the dishes? He thought we hated it?  I don’t know, but he was really, really upset and he wouldn’t let us take our leftovers.  We left the restaurant empty-handed and traumatized, but (while it lasted) the food was spectacular!

We love cheap, hole-in-the-walls with authentic ethnic food, and hunting down the best local joints is an important part of our travel routine.  Other favorites include Il Vegeteranio in Florence, Dottie’s in San Francisco, and a little Ethiopian joint we never caught the name of near the train station in Rome.

5) How do you pick the places you visit?  Spontaneous vs. planned?

Kali:  Spontaneous

Christy:  Planned.  Wait a minute….

6) If you could solve one problem in the world what would it be?

Kali:  People need to queue the eff up!  Seriously, people, lines are a brilliant invention, and they make everything go smoother (I’m looking particularly at you, over-the-hill French matriarchs who look down your noses at young backpackers’ naive attempts to form an orderly line when you waltz into train stations at the last minute and push your way aboard before those of us who’ve been waiting for hours, but who don’t speak enough French to dare question the goings-on around us, realize what’s happening!).  Ahem.  And world peace, of course.

Christy:  On a serious note, one of the most horrific things happening in the world right now is the ongoing trend violent gang rapes in the Congo.  The extent to which sexual violence is being used as a weapon of war is devastating, so I would use my theoretical powers to address this issue (and its underlying systemic roots).  But until that happens, you can make a difference now by donating to Doctors Without Borders, a great organization offering medical assistance and support to the women being affected.

7) You knew it was coming… what has been your greatest travel fight?

Kali:  It has to be our infamous brawl in the Paris subway.  We’re usually pretty tame when we argue, but this fight was fueled by exhaustion and frustration and mean Parisians who kept giving us the wrong directions while we lugged our heavy backpacks all over the city on our first day in Europe (combined with growing terror as time wore on and we realized there was NOWHERE to spend the night for under 300 euros).  We took all that out on each other in the subway while trying to figure out which line to take.  There was much screaming involved on our parts, and much disgusted eye-rolling involved by the people walking past us.

Christy:  It certainly wasn’t our finest moment!  We try to be nice to each other even when we’re fighting, but every civilized thing we’ve ever been taught just flew out the window.  At one point we were so angry we just sputtered and glared.  We find it quite entertaining to think about now, but at the time it was a hot mess.  We were pretty ridiculous.

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Put it in Context

We must put a clear disclaimer on this post, there is one thing that we both hate more than a layover in anywhere that begins with Den and ends with a Ver: it is tour guides.  WE DESPISE THEM!  In so many places we have seen the gaggle of tourists led by someone that is supplying very simplistic remarks.  To identify them simply look for the person holding the metal stick with a yellow flag on top- sporting the clipboard.  You might hear them say, “There is a fine example of Greek statue….ok moving right a long.”  This in front of the Venus de Milo!  Or the most egregious example was a tour guide who said in front of the Celcius Library, “This is the library; imagine it,” and walked off. End of disclaimer.  Ok one more disclaimer…(We are never, ever paid/compensated for anything that we review or comment on.)  This is really the end of disclaimers.

We found a truly unique and frankly awesome service, Context Travel.  This is not your run of the mill tour guide.  You are paired in small groups never more than 6 people, with a true expert in the field.   When we say expert, we mean….someone that has devoted a lifetime to study in a given field.  Imagine having an architecture tour of Rome with someone with a Doctorate in Roman Architecture!  Or a tour of Topkapi Palace in Istanbul with someone that wrote a book about the palace!  Or even an incredible tour of Wall Street with a former bond trader!  With Context Travel you get just that. Ok…must be expensive right?  It really is affordable.  Tours are much more specific in their breadth, but much, much more profound in their depth.Our guide Claire in Istanbul. She speaks seven languages and literally wrote the book on Topaki Palace. We spent four hours with her and it was a highlight of our trip!

Most of our tours with Context have been just Mike and I.  They are not in every city. They don’t cover every topic.  They don’t even offer tours to some of your typically touristy spots.  But what they lack in quantity, they certainly make up in quality.

We have taken the following tours with context:

Imperial Rome: Architecture and History of the Archaeological Center

HISTORY AND CONTINUITY IN ISTANBUL

Tasting the Immigrant Experience

HISTORY OF FINANCE

Many of the tour descriptions sound more like a college syllabus than a promo for a tour. Don’t be scared away.  The beauty of Context is the questions you are able to ask.  Forget the trite quicky response (quicky’s are good just not on a tour).  You are always going to be surprised and enlightened.  (In-depth info really makes you sound cool at cocktail parties.)

We have only had one bad experience with Context.  Our foodie tour of NY.  But he really ruined it for himself.  He speaks fluent Chinese, so in Chinatown he kinda didn’t pay attention to guide.

We have recommended Context to many friends and now our blog-followers! A friend recently went to Rome with her two teenage daughters. They used Context to see the Vatican and the Vatican Museum. My friend said her daughters even thought the guide was cool! Context really puts things in, well, “context.”

We HIGHLY recommend:

Context Travel

Scholar-led Walks of the World’s Greatest Cities

Context is an in-depth alternative to traditional tours. We are a network of architects, historians, art historians, and specialists who organize over 300 different walks in 12 cities around the world.


What distinguishes us:

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