Category Archives: Lasting Impressions

Ode to Othello

As I was missing my cat and feeling guilty about leaving him for months, I ran into black cats in several cities I visited! So I’m sure he was with me in spirit.

Black cat in Amsterdam's Pata Negra
Another black cat in Amsterdam
Black cat in Porto
Black cat in Rome's ruins
Lisbon black cat
Black cat in Paris' Montmarte cemetery
My grandma's cat in Poland
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Lasting impressions: Rome

Rome is starkly different from any other European city I’ve seen so far. The ruins alone set it apart from any other place. But what makes the biggest impression on me is how Rome is just jam-packed with stuff: it’s a city where everything is piled on top of one another.

Riding on the bus, I experienced some of Rome’s infamous traffic. It was just cars and scooters all jumbled up seemingly randomly in the street – apparently the lanes are only suggestions.

The ruins, too, are all jumbled together: the Victor Emmanuel monument is cut into the Santa Maria Aracoeli church, which makes up a border of Capitoline Hill, which overlooks the Roman Forum, which neighbors the Colosseum. And this is only one cluster of ruins, which are scattered throughout Rome. Any one of them is a historic treasure, but Rome has dozens!

The museums have hundreds, maybe thousands of sculptures all lined up and crammed together into rooms, halls and gardens.

It’s unimaginable how much there is to see in Rome in addition to even all these things – the scenes that have been immortalized in movies, the never-ending streets of designer shops….

It’s all overwhelming and crazy – but in the best way!

Egypt in Rome

For some reason, despite my whole fascination with ancient Egypt, I’ve always had this very isolated view of it in my mind. But this trip has really opened my eyes to how interconnected all these cultures were, specifically the Eyptians with the English, Roman and Greek nations.

It all makes perfect sense, I just never truly made that connection before.

I can’t even count how many obelisks there are in Rome. Luckily, Wikipedia does, and even names Rome the obelisk capital of the world. Apparently there are eight ancient Egyptian obelisks throughout the city (and five ancient Roman ones). By the way, an obelisk is a tall, narrow, pyramid-shaped monument.

Highlights of Egypt in Rome:

Obelisk & sphinx at Piazza del Popolo
  • The cute little obelisk behind the pantheon, in the Piazza della Minerva, whose base is an elephant (which was apparently designed by Bernini)
Obelisk behind the Pantheon
  • The obelisk in the center of Piazza Navona, also set atop an extravagant fountain designed by Bernini
  • The two Egpytian lions at the base of the stairs to Capitoline Hill
Black lions at base of Capitoline Hill

Look for a more in-depth post about Egypt & Europe sometime in the future…

Lasting impressions: Paris

Je’taime Paris! (That means I love Paris, right?) I don’t know if it was the novelty of being in a country for the first time, or this being our first stop that truly felt like Europe, but I loved Paris.

Its historic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Notre Dame literally had an emotional effect on me, unlike I remember feeling in any other city. Paris is just, first and foremost, a beautiful city. The architecture, the narrow winding streets of Le Marais, the islands in the middle of the Seine, the sparkling Eiffel Tower at night…

I loved watching everyone carrying home a baguette in the afternoon, or listening to Parisians speak a language I barely know at all, or wealthy tourists strolling the Champs Elysee (not us poor tourists, ones that could actually afford to walk into LV and buy a bunch of stuff).

There’s just a different atmosphere in Paris than in other European cities I’ve visited so far – it’s historic, it’s delicate, it’s royal, it’s world-reknown.

I’m definitely coming back, and soon! On my to-do list:

  1. Learn French
  2. Visit the Pere-Lachaise Cemetery
  3. Spend more time at the Louvre
  4. See the Catacombs
  5. Wander around the Latin Quarter
  6. Eat fine French food
  7. Have a picnic with a baguette, some French cheese and wine
  8. Visit Sacre-Coeur and Montmarte

Lasting impressions: London

I enjoyed London, but I can’t say it’s my favorite place in Europe. To be quite honest, it didn’t truly feel like Europe to me for some reason. Maybe it’s because they also speak English, or maybe because they use pounds instead of Euros. It just doesn’t have the same feel or atmosphere (or maybe charm) that I usually associate with Europe based on my experiences so far.

But there’s definitely still more I’d like to see in London:

  • Visit the Tower of London, Tate Museum and some other remaining attractions (but NOT the London Eye – I don’t plan on ever going on there!).
  • Explore other neighborhoods outside of the immediate tourist area, including Chelsea and Notting Hill, to get more of a feel for the city.
  • Experience the nightlife! We were way too tired (or maybe too lame) to really party it up the few days we were in London.

That being said, I’d have to say my favorite experiences from this trip in London were the treasures collected during centuries of imperialism (i.e. British Museum), the legacy of London’s more recent history (the past 100 or 200 years, including writers like Dickens, characters like Sherlock Holmes and Peter Pan) and Westminster Abbey.

Cheerio London!