Samuel Dodson

Joined June 2018
  • Day33

    Flying home from Rome via China

    July 30, 2018 in China ⋅ ☁️ 28 °C

    On Sunday morning, 29 July, we rose early to clean our Airbnb apartment, pack our bags and head for the Airport. We had to walk to the tram stop, catch the number 8 tram to the Trastevere Station, then catch the train to the airport. Then checking into China Southern Airlines was relatively painless. We were at our boarding gate in plenty of time. We needed to have one last Roman coffee and a final croissant before boarding and admitting that it really was time to leave Europe.

    The first leg of our journey from Rome, leaving at 11:30am, took us to Changzhou in about 11 hours flying time. In Changzhou, we had a three-hour layover. Then our second flight took us about 10 hours to Sydney, arriving at approximately 7:45pm on Monday night, 30 July.

    We have taken nine flights in the last month. We have visited nine counties and four continents, not including Australia. We have enjoyed a northern summer with temperatures in the high thirties degrees Celsius. We have swum in the Meditteranean sea. It has been enriching in so many ways. There are so many memories that have been created.

    It seems incredible that a month has passed since we first left Sydney on our European adventure. We have seen so many wonderful places and shared some amazing experiences. We are thankful for the opportunity, Sam and I, to travel this journey together. What a blessing.
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  • Day31

    Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum

    July 28, 2018 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    After visiting the Colosseum, we went for a walk up the Palatine Hill and through the ancient Roman Forum. This was the centre of the city in ancient Roman times. The forum was where all the main city squares, Temples and Administrative buildings were located. There are huge areas being excavated and they are uncovering more archaeology all the time.

    In this area, we saw the Arch of Constantine, the famous arch of Titus celebrating the victorious siege of Jerusalem in AD 70 and the arch of Septimus Severus. We also climbed Palatine hill to see the amazing view the emperor's of Rome had from their palatial location on the top of the hill. We also saw the location of the Temple of Julius Caesar, his burial location, in the centre of the forum area.
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  • Day31

    The Colosseum

    July 28, 2018 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    The main attraction of the ancient city of Rome would have to be the Colosseum. This really is an amazing structure. The scale of this building takes one's breath away. Even today it is a huge theatre. The incredible thing is that it was built 2000 years ago. It was built using the Jewish money and Jewish slave labour the was taken from Jerusalem in the successful Roman siege of Jerusalem in AD 70. Some cheeky New York Jews have been known to make the point that it really should be regarded as a Jewish building given that it was built using Jewish money, labour resources and expertise.

    The Colosseum was Nero's gift to the Romans to entertain them and buy their support for his rule and policy. He opened the theatre with a festival which went for 100 days during which spectacles were held every morning, midday and afternoon. It was gladiators versus animals in the morning. It was executions during lunchtime, often involving criminals being thrown to wild animals, being crucified or being killed by the Roman sword. In the afternoons it was fighting to the death between gladiators. Sometimes the gladiators numbered in their hundreds. It was reported in the displayed information that 11,000 gladiators were involved in one festival.

    The Colosseum is a testimony to the cruelty of man. It represents the kinds of conduct that even the most sophisticated ancient society was involved in. Human beings are not much better than animals when such sport is the preferred entertainment of the people.

    The arena was at times filled with water and naval battles took place using full-size naval ships. Sometimes the drama of the event told the story of famous battles the Roman emperor felt should be told to communicate their greatness.

    The Colosseum is one of the best places we visited.
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  • Day31

    The Old City of Rome

    July 28, 2018 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Today we ventured out to see the main ancient and cultural sights of Rome. We walked a long way, but were rewarded with seeing some amazing things. We saw Piazza Navona, The Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, Trajan's column, Hadrian's column, to name just a few. We really walked a long way and it is tough on the feet walking on the cobbled streets of Rome all day. We did feel like pinching ourselves at times as we walked past such amazing places.Read more

  • Day30

    Paris to Rome

    July 27, 2018 in China ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    Today was a big day. We packed up from our Airbnb in Paris and headed to the train station at Chatelet Les Halles. Our location in Paris was amazing. It was very central and we could just walk to the station and catch the train directly to the airport. Charles de Gaulle Airport is very accessible by train from the centre of Paris.

    It was a bit sad to say goodbye to Paris, but Rome lay ahead, so onward we went.

    The plane flight to Rome was smooth and quite short, maybe 90 minutes. It is amazing to travel so short a distance and be in another country with another language and culture.

    We arrived in Rome at Airport Fuiccimo, which is some distance away from Rome, but once again can easily be accessed by train from Rome. We had to catch a train, then a tram, then walk to our Airbnb in Trastevere.

    Trastevere is the really old and quaint section of the city across the Tiber River from the main city centre. This was the old Jewish quarter of Rome and it is a fantastic quaint area. Sam and I walked past the very place where Priscilla and I stayed when we first came to Rome three years ago in July 2015.

    We wandered the old streets of this amazing city and ate pizza for dinner made fresh at Pizzeria Nerone. What else? Rome is an amazing city with a long history. The evidence of the Caesars and their empire seems to be around every corner.
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  • Day29

    The Louvre

    July 26, 2018 in France ⋅ 🌙 28 °C

    In the morning I made a trip to the Laundromat to complete some much-needed laundry for both Sam and I. This should see us clean now until we get home on Monday.

    I spoke to a man from Romania who was also washing clothes in the laundromat. He came to Paris to source clothes and transport them back to Romania. He said that there is not the selection of men's clothes and shoes in Romania that there is in Paris and that Romanian men wanted access to affordable variety, which he provides. He said that Romania is a great country to visit, particularly Sibiu in Transylvania - very beautiful he assured me. He also said that France was suffering from too much democracy, too much freedom. Too much freedom leads to lack of boundaries and then no freedom at all because of deterioration of cultural values and terrorism. He also bemoaned the fact that French people saw all Romanians as gypsies, even though that is not the case, and he also said that anti-semitism is growing worse every year because the Jews are so successful and controlling the money and wealth of inner-city France, particularly Le Marais district.

    The laundry trip took two hours in the morning. In the same street as the laundromat was the oldest stone domestic house in the whole of Paris. It was the house of the famed alchemist Nicolas Flamel, who was legendary for his alleged discovery of the Philosopher's stone, and changing base metals into silver and then to gold. His old medieval house is now a restaurant with a Michelin star. The house dates from the 14th century.

    Sam and I bought tickets for the Louvre today and visited the amazing museum. It surely must be counted as one of the very best in the world. We spent about four hours in the Louvre but only got to see about half of the displays. The collection is amazing, and always interesting.

    The fascination about the Louvre is two-fold. Firstly, the historical exhibits represent the most amazing collection of cultural treasures from all areas of the world and from every era of history. These include ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, Europe, and more. Secondly, the museum is located in the main royal palace in the centre of old Paris, so the building itself and its rooms take the visitor back to the golden age of the French Monarchy in the 17th and 18th centuries. Many of the rooms have been maintained with the furnishings of the monarchy to give an insight into the decadent regal lifestyle.

    The visit to the Louvre was quire tiring. After a short rest, I visited Mont Martre and the Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart) Cathedral on top of a hill overlooking the skyline of Paris from another angle. This is always a special place to visit and a highlight of any trip to Paris.
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  • Day29

    Paris wanderings

    July 26, 2018 in France ⋅ 🌙 21 °C

    Today Ben and Emily went to Versailles, so Sam and I had a more restful day.

    I went on a scooter ride around Paris in the morning, visiting some of my favourite spots around town, including;
    The Seine, Notre Dame, Shakespeare and Co Book Shop.
    I visited the Epicerie by Oliver that Priscilla and I visited with the Carrolls when we first went to Paris. I paid a visit to Le Procope, the oldest cafe in Paris, dating from 1686. Significant figures from the past have sat in this cafe and discussed their revolutionary ideas, including Ben Franklin, Danton, Marat, Rebespierre, Napoleon, Balzac, Victor Hugo and many more.

    Sam and I met Ben and Emily at St Chappelle, the famous church in the Conciergerie, the old palace of the royal family on the Isle of Paris. The palace was used at various times for the royla family, then it was converted into a prison. It was the place where significant prisoners, including Marie Antoinette, were held prior to execution during the Revolution. The chapel has huge stained glass windows that tell the whole story of the Bible. The windows are what make this chapel so unique and special. The light coming through the windows gives the interior and magical glow.

    I also paid a visit to Galeries Lafayette, the famous shopping centre in Paris, and on the way marvelled again at the Paris Opera building which is spectacular. It takes one's breath away every time you come around the corner and see it from the front. Galeries Lafayette has a beautiful view of the Paris skyline from the seventh-floor terrace.

    It was another fascinating day in the old city of Paris.
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  • Day27

    An Evening in the Marais District

    July 24, 2018 in France ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    I went for a wander in the Marais district of Paris at about 7:00 pm. This is the famous Jewish district of Paris and has narrow streets and lots of character. There are restaurants and all kinds of stores, including Jewish shops, selling all kinds of food and goods. Some of the most exclusive brands and boutiques have outlets in this area. It is also fascinating to see little bookshops and niche clothing stores. The Falafel outlets which are famous in this district are also hard to resist, so I didn't. I ordered and received a lamb schwarma which was delicious.

    The Pompidou Centre, the Place des Voges and the Jewish Synagogue are all locations I walked past. There were also plaques outside schools which acknowledged the hundreds of children that were relocated by the Germans (Allemande) to Nazi war camps during world war two and never seen again.

    The Marais District is one of the areas of Paris that one can just wander through and marvel at the history oozing from every building and doorway. It is an amazing district of Paris.
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  • Day27

    Scooters around Paris

    July 24, 2018 in France ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    We had planned to catch the Big Bus around Paris today. This was scuttled when we found a way of hiring motorised scooters which we could ride around and drop off anywhere. They are battery operated and really a great way of getting around Paris.

    We rode them past Notre Dame and had a look at this 900 year-old cathedral which is so famous and has seen a lot of history, including two world wars in the last hundred years.

    We rode the scooters to the Army Museum and Napoleon's Tomb. We spent a couple of hours in these amazing places. The army museum has the most amazing collection of Medieval armour and weapons in the world. The Spanish Army Museum in Toledo is extraordinary, but the collection in the Paris Army Museum is even better.

    We then located some more scooters and rode them to Place de Trocadero to see the Eiffel Tower from another perspective. From there we walked to the Arch de Triumph to see the amazing arch and the crazy roundabout. We walked through the underpass and stood in the middle of the roundabout and saw the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the eternal flame which is located directly below the arch.

    We travelled by train back to our apartment for a bit of a break after that energetic day.
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  • Day26

    Goodbye to Spain

    July 23, 2018 in France ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    This morning Sam and I packed up our Airbnb apartment in the centre of Madrid and caught the train to the airport. The metro in Madrid is pretty good and it was not difficult to find our way to the airport. We boarded a small plane booked with European budget airline, Vueling. We grabbed something quick to eat at the airport and then boarded the plane. It was not long and we were in the air, on our way to Paris, glimpsing out the plane window the last views of Spain for some time to come. We have enjoyed our three weeks immensely, but who knows if we will ever have the opportunity to come back to this unique country.

    We touched down in Paris at about 1:00 pm. We went straight through without delay, as Spain and France are both parts of the European Union. The international tourist with carry-on luggage can walk straight from the plane out of the airport and onto the next adventure. So we did.

    We caught the train to the centre of Paris. The station we alighted from was Chatelet Les Halles, not far from the Seine and very close to our next Airbnb. Our host, Rachel, met us and showed us around our very spacious and rather luxurious Paris apartment. We can walk to Notre Dame and the Louvre in five minutes from here. What a great spot.

    It wasn't long when Ben and Emily came around to our apartment. They arrive in Paris one day ahead of us. They have really enjoyed their trip to England and Scotland. They are having a great time. We swapped stories for a while and then ventured out for a walk.

    We headed first to the Louvre, to see the magnificent palace of Louis IV and his predecessors. We walked past the famous pyramid of the Louvre and through the Tuileries gardens to the Place de la Concord, where Marie Antoinette and many others had their heads separated from their bodies by the guillotine during the upheavals of the French Revolution.

    We met Sam and Jo Ryan, who had been up to the Arch de Triumph, and then we walked to Eglise de Madeleine, Place Vendome where the Ritz is located, to Angelina's coffee shop and then back to the Tuileries gardens to go on a ride at the Fair that is set up in those gardens. We went on a crazy roundabout which gave us a rotating view of the skyline of Paris. Then we enjoyed some churros and citrus gelati.

    We then decided at 7:00 pm that we would go to the Eiffel Tower and buy a ticket and go to the top. We waited for a bus near the Louvre for about 25 minutes in a queue (it wasn't to be our first queue of the night). The bus finally arrived and it was chock full of commuters. We pushed our way in and squeezed a few extras in by breathing in. This bus took us to the base of the Eiffel Tower.

    We waited in the queue for a ticket for two hours. After we bought the ticket we were expecting to go straight into the lift. What we then learned is that the queue for the lift was another 45 minutes, which we dutifully waited. When we finally got to the second level it was about 10:30 pm. Then we waited in the queue for 30 minutes for the lift to take us to the top. We got to the top at about 11:00 pm.

    We spent about 15 minutes at the top, then got in the queue to descend down to level 2. We got to level 2 at about 11:40 pm. Then we got into the queue to descend to the ground, another fifteen minutes. It was just before midnight when we saw the ground again. We caught the bus back in the direction of our apartment. Then we caught a train the rest of the way. Then we grabbed some McDonalds for dinner at 12:45 am, then finally got to bed about 1:30 am.

    We were in Spain this morning. Now we have just walked around Paris and been on top of the Eiffel Tower. Eating fries from McDonalds at 1:00 am was not the most unusual part of the day. It was an amazing day. And we were able to share much of it with Ben, Emily, Sam and Jo. Very special.
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