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June 2023

When in Rome

Time to recount the events of the past month. We have been ever so slack and not written up anything about our Christmas in Italy. I cant do it justice here but it was spectacular. Rome is just bursting with things of cultural and historical significance. We were told that it took them 20 years to build the last metro line so that when it was finally opened it was already in need of replacement. Apparently this was all because every shovel of dirt had to be sifted to insure that the old Roma was not lost to the new.

I read yesterday that China is experiencing a similar situation as it undergoes major constructions for the up coming Olympics. Palaces, temples and grave sites are being re discovered and some are preserved and others looted.. Holding on to our past and yet striving for the future.. its not really a balance but fight between individuals with different senses of what is important… We hold on to so much and when looking through the Vatican museum of plundered antiquities there is so beauty to hold on to. When is progress more important that preservation? and what makes preservation tip the scale? it is just some person deciding that something is worth something. Does giving an artwork a value make it worth keeping? How many people save things for their perceived future worth? and objects value be it art or gadget is just so obscenely subjective… why do i think its obscene to be subjective??

Coming back from that digression Italy was much like France in that around every corner there is an iconic structure just waiting to be rediscovered newly by each person that turns the corner unknowingly. The Vatican is unparalleled in my experience of churches.. it is what all churches i have seen to date have been aspiring to be like. All the churches I saw during my travels of Peru were a comical mimicry of its splendor. English cathedrals that i have been to but an austere shadow of it. I think regardless of cred or religion this is the church to see. It is massive beyond any description of mine to do it justice and it is decorated with just style an finess that all the gold doesn’t make it look decadent and leturous , as it did in South America, but rather it truly achieves its goal of projecting power and Majesty even inspiring awe. AND ITS FREE! We went twice and still im sure that were we to go again it would offer up new niches and visual sensations. Its design is just superb. One can really tell that great masters used their genius to create such a place as this.

On Christmas day we wandered over to watch the midday mas by his Holiness (is that the correct honorific?) the pope – the one no one likes :p. We got blessed and like all good tourists went on our way in search of new sights.

Florance was more beautiful as a whole but then there is something to say for its smaller size compacting the beauty into a more accessable size that that of Rome. We visited all teh great museums. David is deserving of the hype and I really loved Michelangelo’s aborted grave stone piece. I really don’t think I have been as moved in a long time by an inanimate object. I find it wonderful that such an artifact can so trigger emotion despite the progression of time and impact of culture.. but then perhaps our culture is not so dissimilar to what it was.. and despite not being religious i still have a great understanding of Christianity so much so that I can see the suffering and sacrifice that is expressed by so many of the religious works. Would someone from an entirely different culture with no experience of Christianity nor the religions of the same roots (Judaism and Islam) still find the works so emotive?

Departing Florence we were heading to Paris for New Years and flying out of Pisa airport we stoped by in town to check out the mandatory tourist site – yes you guessed it that of the Leaning Tower! hehe.. yes we did pose with hundreds of others in the obligatory pose and i guess we were just doing our bit for continuing the neuvou tradition into the future. No one will know how many we shall inspire with this image ..hhehe..

Surprisingly we managed to secure tickets without prebooking to climb the tower and it really was worth doing. You could feel the slope change as you climbed the spiral staircase. As we were climbing a light rain had started and by the time we made it to the final and highest viewing platform the white marble was slick. You have got to love a country that lets you take responsibility for yourself. Unlike the US, UK and OZ there was no ubiquitous over-caution and protective litigious base where it is anyone but your own fault for makeing the decision that put you in the predicament you find yourself in. There was just a flimsy railing, easily big enough to lose a toddler through, protecting us from the not so vertical edge.

Paris was a bit of a let down but still and experience. There were no official fireworks at the Eiffel tower but there were an amazing number of riot police in very tight pants.. surely tight enough to inhibit free movement but then perhaps fashion really is the bread and butter of Paris..

22 days later we departed for Australia. The 22nd was a day that lasted for 72 hours for me. It started as most morning with me heading to work (granted with pack in tow) after work I caught the heathrow express (excellent service i might ad!) and waited for Phil to arrive on the tube (haha).. the flight departed at about 9pm and unfortunately sleep alluded me with great skill for most of the flight until we arrived in Sydney on the morning of the 24th this then turned into a full day of shopping with mum with me nodding off over dinner at about 7pm… longest day ever!

Phil and I headed to the Big Day Out on the 25th. I lost my phone and had a bit of an epiphany – i am just too old to go to these sorts of festivals!! The place was filled with flag wearing 18 year olds who mostly looked 16 but still managed to get a alcohol wrist band. Vik and I lost the others for most of the day as the mobile network just could not handle the number of calls and sms that were being cast out into it. It was a weird home coming. Being emersed in a group that really were an exaggerated representation of the Australian stereotype to the point of being farcical. Unpatriotic i know but i really felt put off by the sheer vehemence of their blind loyalty to the flag – really just a material artifact. It was just SO American.

The next day we headed to Marubra beach for the annual pilgrimage and as a bit of a farewell to Gus who was heading off on his big trip round the world. The weather put on a beautiful spread with the sea coming to the party and making it a really lovely day. Loads of the London crew had made it back for the day and Mr Lam also graced us with his presence making it the full contingent. It was great to see everyone and catch up.. though it seemed that very little had changed in the year we had been gone.. With all that we have done Sydney was no different. I really thought things would have changed but Sydney remained constant in my absence. Over the next week I went shopping with mum A LOT, Went to the Victoria rooms with Jo (highly recommend this place for cocktails and they do a high tea too!), dinner in the rocks with B, K, C, G and P then there was yumcha in chatswood and Ramen Kan in Haymarket I also managed to squeeze in a couple of days up on monsoonal Townsville with my brother and fathers side of the family. Sadly I missed catching up with Mark, Amanda and my father (where are you!?) along with a few others. Two weeks is just too short to see everyone. Expect emails people.

London welcomed us back with a spectacular morning. Snow drifting through the air frosting the city in white. It was mesmerizing to watch and made the first day back at work that little bit easier.

PS: you can thank Jetlag for this post (written at 4:30 am Sat morning)

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