Movies that will give you itchy feet: Roman Holiday

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A postcard I picked up in Rome of the film poster

Those who suffer from wanderlust or the ‘travel bug’ can attest to the fact that it is a pricey passion to enjoy. So, for those of us who are not millionaires or lucky enough to work in the aviation business (where discounted or free flights are an option) there might be large gaps between our travel adventures. It is during this down time that I indulge in the only travel I possibly can afford — the movies. Movies help us travel vicariously through the lens of a camera. I can honestly say that there are some locations I would never know about had I not heard or seen it in a film. One of my favorite movies (and definitely my favorite Audrey Hepburn film) is Roman Holiday.

For those of you who have never seen the film — it’s about a Princess (Audrey Hepburn) that has become frustrated with the rigidity and structure of her life. So, while on a trip to Rome she sneaks out and takes in the night life of the city incognito — until she falls asleep on a bench and is rescued by an American newsman (Gregory Peck) who quickly realizes he has landed a potentially big story. False identities, romance and a lot of physical comedy make the movie a quick favorite.

Despite that the film is in black and white — the scenes of Rome in this film are incredible. All the big landmarks are showcased; the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, The Trevi Fountain. But, the film also shows what its like to experience Rome — riding a vespa through traffic, eating gelato, and sleeping in a realistic cramped Roman apartment. It’s a film about experiencing life and Rome for the first time which is endearing because it reminds me of the first time I started to travel and how amazed I was by everything and how I still am. I saw Roman Holiday long before I finally went to Rome and every time I see the film now — it only makes me yearn to go back. Especially, since I did not find the Mouth of Truth last time I was there! If you’ve seen the film you’ll understand…

What are you some of films that inspire travel for you?

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Postcard Pick: Prague’s Astronomical Clock

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When I visited Prague back in 2012, I paid a visit to one of the city’s most revered sights — the Astronomical Clock. The clock was created in 1410 and for centuries was considered a technological marvel.

Prague is a city of many legends and one story claims that when the Astronomical Clock was finished being made, the city councillors were so impressed with it that they did not want the clockmaster to create an identical clock for another city. So, that night they had the clockmaster blinded. In turn, the clockmaster managed to fumble his way back to the clock and break it. This damage led to it not working for a hundred years.

Whatever, the legend – the clock in Prague is the oldest working astronomical clock in the world. It is mounted on the Old Town Hall, where today it is a constant attraction for visitors. Large crowds of tourists gather around the clock every hour to watch the mechanical show that occurs. Essentially, the figurines move and “dance” when the clock strikes the hour. However, the locals seem to be less than impressed with the show. I was told that Praguers like to watch the tourists from the other side of the square and see the looks of disappointment and anticlimactic realization of those watching the show. What was considered a wonder of the world during the Middle Ages doesn’t hold up to modern day standards.

Postcard Pick: The Streets of Madrid

These are actual postcards I picked up in a small shop in Madrid two years ago. While I do favor picture postcards, these are unique in my collection as they feature the atmosphere and life of Madrid instead of a grand building or landscape. That is what made these the perfect souvenir. Madrid is not about larger than life architecture and must-see tourist attractions but about the attitude of the city and its people. Spain itself is very laid back and buzzing with energy, yet it’s particular history both during WWII and the Franco dictatorship afterwards has made it seem slightly more isolated than other countries in Europe. For instance, Madrid is filled with ex-pats, yet you will be more hard pressed in this European capitol to find locals that speak another language compared to it’s neighboring nations.  History is contentious here and you are reminded that while the rest of the world was fighting each other during WWII, Spain was undergoing a brutal civil war which has never been fully reconciled among its citizens. All of this makes Madrid a particularly different type of city to visit. It is one of experience, rather than sights and a history full of debate rather than certainty. But, one thing is for sure, you will not find any other place like it.

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Postcard Pick: The Countdown to Budapest

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I received this from the great Andy last week and it has got me counting the days until I leave for my Hungary/Lithuania trip! Only about six weeks to go! Budapest has been on the top of my list of places to visit since I marked Prague off. So receiving the postcard from Andy has made me all the more excited.  After five days in Hungary, I am then off to Lithuania to see my in-laws. This will be my first trip to Lithuania and I’m excited to go to the Baltics. Additionally, I am going ahead with my plan to bring one bag (a carry on bag) for the whole trip. Let’s see how I manage! If anyone has any recommendations on what to do or see in either Hungary or LIthuania, please comment!

Postcard Pick: The Bones in Rome

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Whether you’re sick of touring churches or you just have a thing for the macabre — the Capuchin Crypt can be an interesting sight for tourists who want to delve slightly off the beaten path. The small crypt is underneath the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappucini, just off the Piazza Barberini in Rome. As you can see from the postcard (they didn’t allow photographs to be taken in the crypt) the place looks like something you would find on the cover of a heavy metal album rather than as a destination point in Italy. However, the place has drawn visitors for the last several centuries including Mark Twain and the Marquis de Sade.

Over 4,000 Capuchin monks have been buried in the crypt since 1631 and the soil in the ground was brought over from Jerusalem. The display is meant to be a reminder of mortality and that our time on Earth is short. The Capuchins would bury their most recently deceased in the soil and after 30 years of decomposition, arrange their bones around the crypt in the ornate motifs. While I’m sure the displays were indeed meant to remind everyone of their own mortality; I am curious if it became a practical/slightly strange way to deal with the small space they were allotted to bury their dead. Either way, the Capuchin Crypt makes an intriguing site that you are not likely to forget anytime soon and something to certainly write home about!