Notable: Josh Garrels

      A friend recently recommended this song, "Ulysses", to me, which I fell in love with and promptly web searched the artist to uncover more of his work. Unknowingly, I was actually rediscovering a singer, who I had cued up on my first iPod when all my music was hand-me-down from my brothers. His raspy voice and folksy mix of guitar, xylophone and strings has been my jam for the few weeks. It was like uncovering Simon and Garfunkel again. Not only are his tunes worthy of a hipster playlist, his lyrics match in depth the likes of U2 and Eminem. Particularly his song, "Resistance." It encouraged me to trust the words of the Bible during a period of time when I was feeling very week and fragile. Although "Ulysses" is still my favorite of his.  "Resistance," "Pilot Me," and "Rise" are up there on my list.

  His most recent album is called Home, and you can find his website here: http://joshgarrels.com/.

Veronica A.


Greece & Italy {Part 6}

       Corinth was on our last day, but it was probably the most significant of all our destinations. This was where Paul preached and brought the word of God to the people. I was standing in a Biblical location, not to mention Corinthians is probably my favorite book of the Bible. The weather was perfect, which made the scenery more enjoyable. Even though it was our last day together, it seemed like a good place to end-- somewhere that we all had in common as Christians.
       That night, we ate at the Plaka again. Speeches were given and phones passed around for contact information. I will never forget this experience. It was intense, but extremely edifying.



Elisabetta, our fabulous guide

Veronica A.


Greece & Italy {Part 5}

In front of the Parthenon!
      We took a plane to Athens, Greece and there were many adventures that came with that. But arriving at the Acropolis, seeing Mars hill, passing the first Olympic stadium-- Greece held just as many treasures as Italy. Whereas Sorrento had masses of lemon and orange groves Athens was  covered with olive trees.
     When most of the sight seeing was done, we grabbed lunch in an outside cafe. I was refreshing to sit outside, eat some good food and be with really awesome people. But when the evening came, we got to dine at the Placa, which is like a little neighborhood of restaurants at the foot of the Acropolis. It's the place to be in the evening when all the Greeks are lounging on the steps outside drinking their wine and eating their Spanikopita. Somehow I got pulled into a ten minute display of my Greek dancing skills, but it made the night unforgettable.

An arm wrestling match in front of the first Olympic Stadium.
Gazing over Greece from Mars hill.
Under the olive trees.

Veronica A.


Greece & Italy {Part 4}

Just a hallway in the Vatican Museum.
     Talk about overwhelming, the Vatican museum was covered in classic pieces by Michelangelo and Raphael. I have never seen such skill concentrated in one place like that. From the School of Athens, my favorite, to the Sistine Chapel, I could not keep my mouth from falling to the floor.
     In St. Peter's Basilica, it was even more so. Massive statues hung from the ceiling and every inch of the building was covered in with some kind of decoration. The creators of that space went all out- American cathedrals are wimpy compared to this.

The School of Athens- Plato in red on the left, Aristotle in blue on the right.

           Lunch was in order after seeing the Vatican. I wandered off with some of our group to look for some food. I'm not sure if what I ate had a name, but it was very tasty. It was bizarre passing the massive walls of the Vatican State, because it is its own country, and getting some gelato on the other side. 
       The last destination of our day was the Catacombs. We bussed there, which was a nice break for our feet. Before the tour started, some of the group played hacky-sac, while others enjoyed the sunlight. It was a relaxing area, since we left the metropolitan buzz. Below the original grounds of Rome, the catacombs were cool and dark, but vast. Back in the day, Christians had to navigate the labyrinth by candlelight and with no GPS. What brought me to silence, more than the riches of the Vatican or the wonders of St. Peter's Basilica, were the simple markings of Christian graves. 

Gian Lorenzo Bernini's last work of art.

Veronica A.


Greece & Italy {Part 3}

                Ancient Rome's Yankee Stadium, the Coliseum stood magnificently among the modern city. Even in its dilapidated state, the structure held its own. Our guide for Rome, Rosa, spoke to us through tiny static ear pieces and her thick Italian accent-though she boasted to us of her pure Roman heritage. Before we braved the crowds and entered the massive structure, I caught glimpses of determined looking police women chasing quick, Indian street salesmen who were trying to pressure tourists into buying umbrellas.
     Then we entered. Like a picture that reveals the inside of a house and its various rooms, the inside of the Coliseum was exposed before us with its various cavities open to view. The Romans didn't have cranes or steel beams, yet they created things that would rival some of our own century’s structures. The estimated capacity of this stadium was 50,000.

         The rain was a rough companion to the forum, but by the time we made it to the capital square, the sun had come out. Seeing the forum and knowing that Caesar Augustus had spoken there and Julius Caesar had most likely been murdered there, was almost enough to make me see the ghosts of Romans past. Still following the distinctive voice of Rosa, we waded our way through history, past Constantine's arch and the forum, and into the capital square, where we collapsed in the presence of the sun and Marcus Aurelius' statue.

Constantine's Arch
This is where most of the political pow wows went down. That dude, Caesar Augustus was here. 
The extensive aqueduct system built by ancient Rome still provides free drinking water throughout the city. 
The founders of Rome-Romulus & Remus. They'd be youngest winners of "Survival," had the show been around back then.
There were occasional tributes to Egypt through out the Roman art.
Marcus Aurelius (old dude in Gladiator)
            The next thing on our agenda was the Pantheon and avoiding selfie-stick sellers. We wandered about the crowds surrounding the temple-turned-church after some lunch and gelato. I really wanted to try an Affogato, which is a shot of espresso with a scoop of vanilla gelato. Two of the guys agreed to go get some with me just before we were scheduled to meet up with the rest of the group. In a tiny cafe, we got our caffeine fix, which was rich and delicious, before running through the Pantheon square and past some old guy playing an electric guitar.
    In those few moments I had a glimpse of what Rome was back in the day of Christ- a melting pot of cultures. The Pantheon was a Roman Temple, which had been turned into a church, a destination that is on many a tourist's agenda and therefore a hunting ground for scam artists. And then there was a guy playing his guitar amplified through the whole square. 

I wish they still created fountains like this. 


Veronica A.


Greece & Italy {Part 2}

          Touching the same rock that has stood in Pompeii for almost 2,000 years was one of the highlights of the trip. As a little kid, I had a level 4 reader that immortalized the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in my mind. I still remember staring at the pictures of people, horrified, running away from the flaming mountain. Pompeii became like a favorite childhood destination. Yet I only know about it because it was destroyed. It is one of the most well preserved and oldest cities of Roman antiquity.

The professional theater of Pompeii
Original wall art

      A boat ride away after a quick slice of pizza, Capri welcomed our troupe onto its vibrant and splendid shores. My eyes feasted on the pink and blue and yellow homes stacked on top of one another. No wonder the Roman emperors loved coming here for their vacation, it was heavenly. Though the skies were slightly overcast when we visited, the numerous hues of white evoked the a lazy, beach town feel. 

        To kill time, we threw a Frisbee on the beach. An group of Italian teens were hanging out near by and one of them wanted to play a little with us. It was cute seeing him try it out for the first time--did I mention all the boys there have very nice haircuts?

Some of our own hanging out on the rocks.

       We took a cable car up to the second level of the city, and the view was stunning. The richness of the Italian colors mixed with the majesty of the natural cliffs was pure delight. Aesthetically, Capri is the place to be.

Myself, my dad, and my mom.

Veronica A.