Historic Centre of the City of Salzburg

Salzburg (literally “Salt Fortress”) is located in Austria. Once considered the “Rome of the Alps” has many historic buildings. In fact, Salzburg Cathedral was fashioned after St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

Salzburg is located in the narrowest point of the Salzach valley and sheltered between mountain ridges. Because of the location, it was an obvious choice for a Roman Settlement, Municipium Claudium Juvavum. This settlement was at the intersection of three major Roman roads. This Roman Settlement was where Hohensalzburg Fortress was built.  The fortress was a Roman structure on the steep rock fan overlooking the city. It was replaced in the Middle Ages by a wooden fort.

Salzburg is also the birthplace of famous musician and composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. “The city which found its fortune in salt, now thrives on Mozart’s music.”

The Holy Land

Welcome to this week’s installment of Where To? Wednesday. Since today is Christmas Eve we obviously have to do a Christmas-themed edition.

DJTo join us on this adventure we have Dee Jarrett. A little history on Mrs. Jarrett – she was my neighbor back in good old Fullerton, CA for over 20 years. Her and her husband, Jim, have been all over the world. They have done every kind of trip and tour you can think of, but cruises are their specialty.

Without further adeau let’s get into Where To? Wednesday

Rome Across Europe: Merry Christmas Dee and welcome to Rome Across Europe.

Dee Jarrett: Well, thank you. Glad I can help you out.

RAE: I know this is a busy time of year. Thank you again for taking the time to join us. On this Where To? Wednesday where do you plan on taking us?

DJ: The Holy Land.

RAE: The Holy Land sounds wonderful. It is a perfect place for our Christmas edition.

DJ: I have pictures for you too. I’m very visual.

RAE: Perfect. Since having already seen your photographic style I know your pictures will be shared. They will definitely bring the interview alive.

I know you and Jim are big fans of cruises. Was this a direct trip or part of a cruise?

DJ: We went to Bethlehem as part of an Azamara [Club] Cruises.Overlook of Bethlehem The ship docked in the port city of Ashdod, Israel. We drove to the Palestinian border with our Israeli driver, who was not allowed to cross. We transferred into the car of a friend and then he became our guide for the city of Bethlehem.

RAE: That sounds very covert. Like you were James Bond, or even Indiana Jones. What happened then?

DJ: We were able to see the Church of the Nativity. This church is Church of the Nativitysaid to stand on the land where Jesus was born. To enter, one must bend very low. Once inside I was overcome with the sense of history and reverent feelings as the realization that I was where our Lord Jesus Christ was born. The church is very beautiful. Restoration is continuous. Beautiful columns, mosaic floor, gilded angels, and alters take your breath away.

RAE: So not only were you in a basilica made by Constantine the Great and Helena, his mother, but you were also where Jesus Christ was born? That is simply overwhelming. Plus there is not a better location than the location of the nativity to discuss during Christmas.

DJ: That is why I picked it.

RAE: Perfect selection. Can you please continue with the church?

DJ: Certainly. We crowded down a narrow passageway by theGrotto of the Nativity church alter into the Grotto of the Nativity, a very small space. Here is the Chapel of the Manger where the birth is depicted.

RAE: I am in awe.

DJ: It is also here where a silver star marks the spot where it is Star of the Nativitybelieved Christ was born. Touching the star is a very emotional and inspirational feeling. The day we visited there was a contingent of young girls who sang a hymn as we prayed.

RAE: Being in the location where Jesus was born would be amazing. Having an unforeseen hymn sang while being there would simply add to the beauty. What happened next?

DJ: Upon exiting we were guided to one of the many shops and were able to purchase a nativity scene carved by one of the local residents. Each Christmas season it is a reminder of the special day.

RAE: You were at THE place where the star, manger, and birth took place. Without the Nativity there would be no Christmas to celebrate. That is beyond words. I could spend all day with just the church but I want to know more about the overall trip as well. Did you have an local food while there?

DJ: The only food we sampled was some cookies, and tea, that were given to us in the store. We have found in our travels that this is often the custom to offer customers a small treat as they shop. A very nice custom, I think.

RAE: Sounds like a great way to connect with possible customers. Make a friendlier atmosphere. I agree with you. Is there a particular reason as to why you chose Israel?

DE: We chose Israel because of the history. We went in 2011 and the unrest was not at its peak. From all accounts it was safe. We wanted to be sure to be able to cross it off our bucket list. I don’t think I would be willing to go into that area now.

RAE: That’s good to know. Obviously we would check out the U.S. State Department prior to traveling abroad. Safety first. Was there anything that stood out about your trip?

DJ: To answer your question what stood out on the trip was that each time we would see something or stand in a place, to think that the Lord Jesus, Son of God, our Savior, who died for our sins was in the same place was a remarkable experience. To close your eyes and picture the people then and Him standing preaching was truly amazing.

RAE: This is a very, very big deal.

DJ: From the same port, Ashdod, we traveled one day to Jerusalem. Old Jerusalem was the highlight. The Church of the Holy Sepulcherchurch-of-the-holy-sepulcher was where Jesus ended his walk. Inside the last Stations of the Cross are shown in beautiful stained glass windows. Also in Wailing Wallthis same area is the Wailing Wall. On this same cruise we also docked in Haifa. From there we were able to go to the Jordan River. We stood in the waters that are used for baptisms. Another inspirational experience.

RAE: Having been baptized that had to be a very cool experience. What else did you see?

DJ: We also visited Peter’s Primacy, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The rock where Jesus is said to have used as a table to feed his disciples, is incorporated in the building of the chapel. Again, another inspirational visit. To think that you are standing in the same place that our Lord stood.

RAE: We can only imagine. How were the locals on your trip?

DJ: Locals were always friendly. They are very much interested in selling their wares and much bartering takes place. This trip was not about buying things, but to connect with a past that had been learned about through books, the Bible, movies and television.

RAE: On television we always see turmoil happening over in Israel, and the Middle East in general. Was being a tourist, especially an American, ever a problem for you?

DJ: We were always in a group and with a guide, but being an American was never an issue.

RAE: That is good to know. I think aside from having a good time, most people consider safety another big priority when traveling. Please share with us why you decided on Israel as a travel destination.

DJ: I thought it was wonderful to reflect on this trip in this Christmas season when we should all remember the true meaning of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

RAE: Dee, you could not have said it any better than that. Let me say it has been an absolute pleasure to speak with you again. The next time you journey to Europe we would love for you to share that with us as well.

In this season of giving, I want to tell the entire Jarrett Family “Thank You”. Everyone has been very supportive of me in one way or another.

I thought it was wonderful to reflect on this trip in the Christmas season when we should all remember that the true meaning of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

It is known and understood that Israel is NOT Europe, and this is supposed to be a site dedicated to the Roman Empire in Europe. This is where we make the exception, though, since The Holy Land was under Roman rule from before the Nativity until well after The Passion. Plus this is a Christmas episode.

The entire reason that Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem was due to the Census of Quirinius. This was taken during the reign of Rome’s First Emperor, Gaius Julius Caesar Divi Filius. Better known to most as Augustus.

“In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.” – Luke 2: 1-7

And Christianity basically started from there.

Hopefully Dee’s gift of her Holy Land experience is appreciated by the Rome Across Europe audience. Thanks to everyone for following Rome Across Europe, and Where To? Wednesday in 2014. We will be back with more fun and sharing come 2015.

Merry Texas Christmas Y’all and remember to keep on Rome-ing!


Happy Sol Invictus!

Prior to Christianity becoming the official religion of the Roman Empire, due to Emperor Constantine the Great, the Romans were pagans. Technically even Constantine was a pagan for much of his life. Romans believed in several deities, incorporated gods from conquered peoples throughout the empire, and held celebrations accordingly. All of this was to hold the empire together through a conglomeration of religions and celebrations of all included gods.

One of said celebrations just happened to be held on December 25th. The god honored on this day was Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun. DNSISolInvictus 4The festival held was Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun [1]. Sol Invictus was the sun god of the Roman Empire and patron of soldiers. The Roman cult to Sol Invictus begins with the early history of the city and continues through the institution of Christianity as the exclusive state religion.

Inscribed on a Roman phalera: inventori lucis soli invicto augusto, to the contriver of light, sol invictus augustus [2]. After victories in the East, the Emperor Aurelian made changes the Roman cult of Sol Invictus, from top to bottom. Thusly, it elevated the sun-god to one of the premier divinities of the Empire. From this point forward, the Roman gens Aurelian is typically associated with the sun-god [3]. This made priests previously associated with Sol Invictus raise up from the lower ranks of Roman status to the highly regarded priesthoods of the senatorial elite.

Sol Invictus was indeed a championed god for prior to his conversion to Christianity, Constantine was a follower of the sun-god. TheConstantine as Sol Invictus emperor, as emperors tended to do, portrayed himself as Sol Invictus on coins he issued. Constantine even went so far as to put SOLI INVICTO COMITI, which claimed the Unconquered Sun as a companion to the Emperor [4]. Constantine decreed (March 7, 321 AD) dies Solis, day of the sun or “Sunday”, as the Roman day of rest:

“On the venerable day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country however persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits because it often happens that another day is not suitable for grain-sowing or vine planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost [5].”

During the reign of Constantine, Christian writers likened this Constantine_multiple_CdM_Beistegui_233feast as the birthday of Jesus. In Malachi 4:2 this is mentioned as Sol Iustitiae, Sun of Righteousness [6]. Other emperors, such as Septimius Severus, followed suit with the usage of the pagan Sol Invictus however. This was done on coins as being a primary Roman god beginning around 325 AD.

A very general observance required that on the 25th of December the birth of the “new Sun” should be celebrated, when after the winter solstice the days began to lengthen and the “invincible” star triumphed again over darkness [7]. This was all based on the Julian calendar, introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 BC. The Julian calendar was a reform of the Roman calendar, and a Julian year was 365.25 days. Depending on what calendar was being used at the time would determine when festivals were celebrated. So until the fourth century AD dates were constantly being changed.

There is no historical evidence that our Lord’s birthday was celebrated during the apostolic or early post apostolic times. Christianity did not begin celebrating the Birth of Jesus on December 25th, beginning first in Rome, until between 354 and 360 AD.

Jesus as The Light
Jesus as The Light

The point of this article is not to say Christianity simply took over a pagan celebration. It may be true, it may have been intentional, or it may have been coincidence. The point is to provide insight that other gods and celebrations were held in the Empire. The celebration of Sol Invictus just happens to coincide with modern-day Christmas.

No matter what your opinion is on the celebration of a pagan god orJesus Christ’s birth is not to be debated. That can be done some other time, on some other website. All we want from you here is to be informed, and remember to keep on Rome-ing!



1) W. R. F. Browning (8 October 2009). A Dictionary of the Bible. Oxford University Press. pp. 58–59. ISBN 978-0-19-954398-4.

2) Guarducci, M. (1957/1959). Sol invictus augustus. Rendiconti della Pont. Accademia Romana di archeologia, 3rd series 30/31 pp. 161 ff. An illustration is provided in Kantorowicz, E. H. (1961). Gods in Uniform. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 105(4), 368–393, 383, fig. 34 (August 1961).

3) J.C. Richard, “Le culte de Sol et les Aurelii. A propos de Paul Fest. p. 22 L.”, in: Mélanges offerts à Jacques Heurgon. L’Italie préromaine et la Rome républicaine, Rome, 1976, 915–925.

4) A comprehensive discussion of all sol-coinage and sol-legends per emperor from Septimius Severus to Constantine can be found in Berrens (2004).

5) Excellent discussion of this decree by Wallraff 2002, 96–102.

6) New Revised Standard Version – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Malachi+4%3A2&version=NRSV

7) Franz Cumont, Astrology and Religion Among the Greeks and Romans (reprint; New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1960), pp. 89

Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier

Trier, which stands on the Moselle River, was a Roman colony from the 1st century AD and then a great trading center beginning in the next century.

This German city was once known as the “Second Rome”. With so many monuments and odes to Rome itself that is not a shocking title.

Modern-day Germans have the Romans for bringing Mediterranean grapes to the area to breed with the local ones. If this did not happen, then Riesling would not exist.

We here at Rome Across Europe enjoy today’s video. This is the last of the year. We look forward to joining you again in 2015.

Merry Christmas and remember to keep on Rome-ing!

Tynemouth, England (An Expat in Britain)

Hey all. Welcome back to another Where To? Wednesday. The audience seems to have an interest here, so we will keep the interviews coming.

Today’s victim guest is a friend whom I previously worked with,300787_10150291334748034_482014_n Vanessa Edeker. Vanessa lived abroad, with very young kids, while there. The interview today will not only be about traveling overseas, but also how life over there from here in the states. So let’s get Rome-ing!

Rome Across Europe: Welcome to Rome Across Europe’s “Where To? Wednesdays”. Always a pleasure to talk to you. Let’s get to it shall we? I know you once lived in Europe. How long did you live abroad?

Vanessa Edeker: I lived in Great Brittan for 8.5 years. Maybe a bit longer. I lived in the Northeast. In three sub-divisions of Newcastle.   First it was Whitley Bay, then Tynemouth, and finally North Shields.

RAE: That’s awesome. I must say I am quite jealous. Living abroad seems like something everyone should experience. How was it being an American living in England? Did you feel out of place?

VE: Living there was great…after a while. There were a few logistical problems initially such as shopping for food. I’m used to shopping in a grocery store. But now it was like, “How do I get there?” Well grocery shopping is one of those times when most Northern Brits drive as opposed to taking the Metro. I didn’t know how to drive over there so I had to learn. This was not fun! And until I learned how my husband (then my boyfriend) was my chauffeur! Not fun for him and I felt like a kid again, and not in a good way. But I learned.

RAE: I’m guessing that’s not the end?

VE: No. So now I can drive to the store, but wait there’s another problem. The food over there. The fruits and vegetables are not as fresh as here in America. Variety is non-existent. Also the meat is ridiculously expensive, and cut so fatty! So, after a time, I learned that most locals only get their canned products, cleaning items and assorted sundries at the supermarket. For fruits and vegetables they went to the Greengrocer. Then they went to the butcher for cheap, but better raised meats, with way better cuts.

RAE: And?

VE: So, now we know where to shop and how to get there. But wait, there’s another problem. Because we were there during the Mad Cow scare it was safer to avoid beef all together, even though it was sold cut off the bone. Now the challenge was to get creative with other meats and lots of veggies. Plus we had to make it palatable to a three year old!

I make a fantastic Eggplant Parmesan, but unfortunately no one over there knew what the heck an eggplant was! After a little English-to-proper English translation we figured out that I wanted an aubergine. And while we are on the topic of fruits and veggies, I am from Iowa so I am used to very fresh fruit and vegetables. That was not always available grown locally, and almost never in winter. There was a heavy import of hydroponically grown fruits and vegetables from Spain. This is what you were most likely to be purchasing at your local Greengrocer. Much of them were disturbingly tasteless or had a slight ash or carbon flavor to them. It took a long time to not notice that.

RAE: Anything else?

VE: Those are a few little issues that initially sprang up. Couple that with being a black woman with no idea of where to get my hair braided. PS – I did  it myself for the first year, not fun! Many barbers did not  feel confident enough to cut our son’s hair either. We found a barber relatively quickly who not only did a fantastic job, but made a point of steering us clear of those merchants that he deemed to be “Prats”. All in all, it took some getting used to.

RAE: Wow! I never considered day-to-day living across The Pond to be much different than here. I’m sorry you had to experience those things, but I am thankful that you were able to share them with our audience.

Regarding visiting places, where did you and the family tend to go?

VE: Well, because I had no real frame of reference beforehand, I had no idea of how much I would fall in love with castles and their ruins!  I am such a fan of them! Some of my favorites were Tynemouth Castle and Priory; The Castle, Newcastle;  Bamburgh Castle; and Alnwick Castle (loved this one, it was featured in Harry Potter as Hogwarts). There were many others too.

RAE: I can imagine.

VE: We lived right by Tynemouth Castle for several years and TynemouthCastlepassed it every day. My oldest (son) grew up rolling down the steep sides of what was once a massive moat. It’s now a massive hill covered in fluffy grass outside of the castle. You could go inside the keep and purchase cute little wooden swords and shields to have little battles with. Most of the boys wouldn’t be caught dead doing that in castle near their own homes, only tourists were that pedestrian.

It was much more acceptable to grab up a stick and an imaginary shield and play. Now, when you are at an away castle then purchasing a shield with their crest was completely acceptable. Oh, and every boy, and some girls, had a shield with their home castle crest at home somewhere!

RAE: That is something I totally would have done when I was young. Heck, I would probably still do it now! Please tell us more about the castles.

VE: Castles were fantastic to explore. I preferred partially renovatedOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA castles for several reasons. If it rained you didn’t have to scrap the entire day like you would in a castle of complete ruins. Most of these castles were on the coast so you see the walls and such as they had been for some time while still getting a lovely view of what was there now. And where else but a partial castle ruin could you go in and see a historical museum then walk out a ways and stroll on the beach? Not to mention how entertaining it is for the kids and the photo opportunities were just magic!

RAE: I bet. To most Americans, especially growing up, castles are alnwick-castleeither part of myth or stories like Harry Potter. It sounds like a lot of fun was had and memories made with so many castles as part of your daily living.

Let’s stick with castles for a bit longer. I am aware that Tynemouth Castle and Priory, in its 2,000 year history, was once one of the largest fortified areas in England. When you were there, in the castle, did it feel like you were very small? Like you could get lost amongst everything? Also, what was your favorite thing about Tynemouth Castle in particular?

VE: I did feel small in the midst of this huge structure, but since it is in ruins it does take some imagination. The most restored bit is the3050588139_80b93788c1_b gatehouse which is devoted to tourist pursuits gift shop, etc…There was always maintenance being performed on it to keep up the structure, which is to be expected. But one of my favorite spots was out in back of the castle. It was this little chapel with a restored stained glass window. It was just beautiful and solemn feeling. It was this quiet place amongst the mayhem of screaming children outside (yes, mine included), chatting neighbors and the various sounds of village life from just over the hill. Very cool.

RAE: There are over 1,500 castle sites, give or take, in England. I imagine this makes it easy to get around and tour them? Or are they in groups? Like a handful here, one in this area and then more scattered about? In your experience how did you perceive it?


VE: It is very easy to go and view them. All of their hours of operation were posted online as well as if the castle, or parts of it,  was closed for renovation or maintenance.

These places are full of plaques detailing interesting facts and stories. Because my husband and I like to wander around on our own, and read the plaques, we never had to wait in line for any real amount of time. And it allowed us to enjoy it all at a relaxed pace.

RAE: That sounds delightful.

VE: The one time that we went castle viewing with some of our friends, another American expat couple, they wanted everything regimented so they arranged for a tour. The whole thing felt so stiff. There wasn’t much time to actually get a feel for the castle itself.  But that is the nature of a tour. Hit the high points and keep on schedule. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but it just wasn’t our thing. We did an actual group tour once and the gentleman doing it was hilarious in an extremely dry way. It was fun.

RAE: Is there anything else you care to share about the castles?

VE: So to sum up…It is very easy to get to most of the castles. And it can be really easy to view them. Unless you want a tour which, generally, must be pre-arranged there isn’t usually any issue.

RAE: Perfect. That was quite helpful, and enjoyable. Let’s move on to the locals, shall we?

Were the people in the neighborhoods you lived in friendly? Was it easy to meet, and make, new friends there?

VE: If you want to get to know the natives up in the Northeast then you are going to have to do better than baking a cake and taking it next door. That will get you a “Hello” but, more likely than not, you won’t get past the threshold. [The people] have to know your face.  That means that they have to actually see you about town several times before they will even initiate a casual greeting.

RAE: That sounds not too much different from some places here in the states. Not Texas though. How did you feel about it?

VE: I didn’t find it offensive at all. Think of it like being the new kid in a school where everyone grew up together so everyone knew what everyone else was about. They just want to get a feel for you. I found the Geordies, the people of Newcastle, to be very “emotionally conservative” as par for the course.

RAE: Fair enough. Anything special you did, or places you went, to meet your neighbors then?

VE: Pubs were a really good place to meet your neighbors. The locals will gather there not to get “off their face”, but to meet in that designated social area where it is not seen as undignified to be a little louder and a bit silly. Let off steam while no one is judging. This is where the locals will be most comfortable in approaching a new person.

And a quick heads up, ladies…Geordie lasses love their heels but not their coats, no matter how cold it gets! So, if you want to fit in know that you are going to be teetering in heels, without the benefit of a coat, around two in the morning at some point in your journey. But don’t complain because those girls are blast! And having cold arms and legs for a finite amount of time cannot compare to the stories you’ll have that will last forever.

RAE: Sounds like, overall, your time spent abroad was a very positive, and pleasant, experience. Do you have anything else to add before we say “cheers then”?

VE: It’s cold in England and not very sunny most of the time. But like anywhere you go, you’ll adjust. Just give it some time. I wouldn’t return to live there, however, just to visit. Been there, done that. I do miss my British friends!

RAE: Vanessa, you have been wonderful to speak with and have as a guest. I think we all have learned lots from you sharing your experiences living in England. On a personal note, I hope you become top of your class as you head back to school for your Master’s Degree.

And now for some history…

Romans had been in Northeast England since the latter end of the Iron Age for it en-arbeia-roman-fortwas deemed very important for a port. They occupied the area all around where the River Tyne met the North Sea. Just across the river from Tynemouth, in South Shields, the Romans constructed a fort at Arbeia around 160 AD. The Fort was originally built to house a garrison, then soon became the military supply base for the 17 Forts along Hadrian’s Wall.
For more information about the castles, and Roman sites, mentioned in the article, simply click on the name here for the official website: Tynemouth Castle and Priory; The Castle, Newcastle; Bamburgh Castle; Alnwick Castle; Arbeia Roman Fort; Hadrian’s Wall.
Thank you, again, to Vanessa Edeker for being our guest today. And thanks to you, the supporters of Rome Across Europe, for joining us on another Where To? Wednesday. I hope you enjoyed the journey as much as I did.
Till next time, remember to keep on Rome-ing!

Vienna, Austria

Vienna is the capital, and largest city, of Austria. In 15 BC, the Romans came to this land and fortified it. This frontier city was to serve as a guard for the Empire against the Germans to the north.

Vienna, and Austria, have gone from being part of the Roman Empire, to the Holy Roman Empire, to the Austrian Empire, to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, followed by the First Austrian Republic, and now the Austrian State.

This is a place full of many cultures, styles of architecture, and time periods. A must see when you remember to keep on Rome-ing!

Santorini, Greece

Welcome everyone to out newest installment of Where To? Wednesdays. Last week seemed to skyrocket in popularity. Maybe it was my Grandma Precious as the guest. Maybe it was the interview? Who knows?

This week’s guest is a lady that is very important, not only to Rome Across Europe, but to me personally as well. She is a full-time teacher, RAE’s Editor in Chief, and my wife. Everyone please give a great big round of applause and welcome for Jennifer Norris.

Rome Across Europe – Hi, Honey. Welcome home. I know that after talking all day long and teaching the youth of America the last thing you probably want to do is talk some more.

Jennifer Norris – If it’s about travel, then I’ll talk about it anytime.


RAE – Great because we will need you to read over this interview before publishing to make certain no errors were had.

JN – (laughter)

RAE – So where are you taking us this Wednesday?

JN – Greece, baby!

RAE – I thought you were going to say that, but I wanted to give you a fair chance first. Why is this your pick for today’s trip?

JN – Well, a big reason is because it was my first international trip. Plus I took it alone.

RAE – I know you love Greek history/art/mythology as much as I love the same about Rome’s. What got you started with this topic? Was it the trip or had you always had this passion?

JN – I always had this passion. Since I started reading Greek mythology in 4th grade I began to love all things Greek history. And on my solo trip is where I found my sense of independce. There’s just something about being out in the world, on your own, in an unknown place to make you really grow up.

RAE – That’s exciting and good to know for the younger members of our audience. When did you go? What time of year was it?

JN – I went in June. It was the begining of the high season.

RAE – For those not familiar with that term, can you please explain a bit more?

JN – High season is the time of year when all the tourists are there. It’s usually because the weather is nice. Lots of people are there. There lots to do..festivals, activities, etc. It does come with a higher price tag though.

RAE – That’s some great information. Did you have a specific place in Greece that really stood out?

JN – As far as cities or towns go, I’d say Santorini.

Santorini, Greece

RAE – What made Santorini special for you?

JN – It was a combination of the things I did and the people I met. Some of the people I came across were the friendliest I’ve ever met. So helpful and generous.

RAE – That’s awesome. Can you share any moment in particular?

JN – In Santorini I stayed at a pension, Hotel Pension George. It was about 10 – 15 minutes outside Fira, Santorini’s capital. The pension was so cute, clean and cheap. It only cost about 35 Euros per night. The room I stayed in had these double-doors that opened up onto some lemon trees.

Pension George

The pension’s owner belonged to an organization that basically amounted to ex-pat women who feel in love with a Greek man and then never left. That organization was having a wine and music festival that night to which she invited me. So my first night there, I spent drinking wine in a Greek vineyard on the side of cliff. Being under the stars listening to music amounted to one of the best times ever.

So much fun was had that I ended up missing the last bus back to the pension. One of the ex-pat women offered to drive me back. No problem. It was as if we’d been friends forever.

RAE – Sounds like you really enjoyed yourself, and fit in well with the locals. Is there any place the locals suggested you visit?

JN – Santorini is really the only place I interacted with the locals. They told me I had to visit the black sand beach. It was amazing.

Black Sand Beaches of Santorini

RAE – Seems like you can go on about this trip for quite some time. Is there any advice that you would care to share for anyone looking to visit Greece?

JN – Yes. Watch out for the taxi drivers. They are friendly, but they’ll charge you an arm and a leg for a ride that should only cost about 3 Euros. Be aware of the distance from where you’re going. They seem to want to charge those appearing to be tourists a set fee. Just think, cabs here in the states don’t give rides for set fees, why should they do that abroad?

Oh. If any Albanian men offer to take you back to their apartment, just say “No”.

RAE – Anything else?

JN – Even in Athens, about half of the businesses did not have air conditioning. In the morning buy a liter water bottle and carry it with you. You will finish it. Easily. And your body will acclimate pretty quickly to the heat and humidity.

RAE – It’s been a pleasure to hear about your little paradise. Any parting words?

JN – If there are multiple places you’d like to travel to, ask yourself “If I could only go one other place in my lifetime, where would it be?”. Your heart will tell you where you want to be. Start there and then work your way down the list.

RAE – Wonderful. Thanks for taking the time to share about Santorini and Greece. Now go relax, Honey.

Just like the rest of Greece, Santorini or ancient Thera was once controlled by the Romans. When the Roman Empire split in two, Thera was controlled by the Eastern Roman Empire known today as the Byzantine Empire. Most of the island’s architecture reflects this eastern feel.

If you’d like to know more about traveling to Santorini, or Greece in general, just click Here.

Thank you again for spending time with us today on this Where To? Wednesday. We will be back next week with another journey and a new guest. In the meantime, remember to keep on Rome-ing!


Delos, Greece

Delos is located near the center of Cyclades archipelago. In mythology, the island is thought to be home to Apollo and his sister, Artemis. There were temples to them which then made Delos the home of the Oracle of Delphi.

Apollo is known as the “God of Music, Poetry, Art, Oracles, Archery, Plague and Medicine, the Sun, Light, and Knowledge”. Artemis is known as the “Goddess of the Hunt, Archery, the Moon, Forests and Hills”. The Oracle of Delphi gave prophecies supposedly inspired by Apollo.

Delos was taken over in 88 BC by the Romans and converted into a free-trade port. For more information, please check out the UNESCO World Heritage site.



A Wonderful Experience

There are many people, both living and passed, that I admire for different reasons. I have previously mentioned how I look to Julius Caesar for all he was able to accomplish while having seizures, since I too live with a similar condition. My Granda Precious is who I thank for getting me interested in studying history. And I would be lying to myself if I did not mention that I respect former Texas Longhorn Colt McCoy for his athletic ability and hard work ethic.

Last night, due to my verying loving wife, I was able to meet the man who inspired me to create this website. He also gave me the idea that possibly traveling and teaching others about culture and history could be an actual career. This man is Richard “Rick” Steves of the PBS show Rick Steves’ Europe.


He was giving a presentation in Downtown Austin at the historic Paramount Theatre about his experiences, travel tips, tours, paramount-theatre-austin-texabooks, and anything else one could wonder about when traveling abroad. The evening was a complete delight. Rick was quite engaging. He was exactly as I imagined him to be from seeing him on his shows. Rick was upbeat, entertaining, and packed full of information.

During his talk there were slides shown on the theatre’s large screen to provide visuals. This was a perfect accompaniment while he Rick Steves Ticketshared, of what I am sure in only a fraction of, the many stories he has. After the intermission, Rick also had a brief Q and A session. With the theatre being two levels, I thought for sure only those closest to the stage would be noticed. Wrong. Rick made it a point to make sure even those in the balcony, like Jenn and I, had some questions answered.

He came on promptly at 8 o’clock, as scheduled, and the time flew bye. In the lobby there was not only his latest book, Europe Through the Back Door 2015, but he also had a couple of free handouts. Everything there would provide great information and tips from the veteran traveler, like Rick, to those wondering if traveling was right for them.

With my head spinning from all of the new things I learned, upon the conclusion of his talk Rick said he would meet anyone in the lobby for autographs and pictures. Having done many of these signing sessions before, Rick’s approach was very “European”. Instead of sitting behind a table, Rick stood in the middle of the room and just rotated in a 360-degree motion. Once a person got an autograph he or she stepped away, he kept turning, and a new person filled the void.

Rick Steves Stuff

What a cool thing to do! Rick Steves was so friendly and enjoyable, I would make sure to see him whenever he returns to Austin. My advice is take the time and see him if he ever comes anywhere near where you live. It is definitely worth the time and money.

If I had to briefly sum up everything from what Rick shared it would be that a bit of planning and some basic information will make any trip easier and a lot more enjoyable. You may even save some money on the front end so you have more to spend on a special meal or shopping while on your trip.

I feel even more excited and inspired to keep working now. Thanks to my spectacular wife, Jenn, for the ticket and lovely surprise. And another “Thank You” obviously goes to Rick Steves for the lessons.

I appreciate you reading this and remember to keep on Rome-ing!

Edinburgh, Scotland

Hi and welcome to the first edition of “Where To? Wednesdays”. These posts are going to be all about you, the audience members. Rome Across Europe is going to share your stories, as well as your favorite places to visit when in Europe.

For this inaugural post I chose my grandmother, Flora. WhileChuck and Flora Carlberg 11-11-46 growing up, her and my Grandpa Chuck were the two people I knew who traveled across the world. When I thought who should be the first interview there was no doubt in my mind it should be her. I refer to her as Grandma Precious, or GP (this name is another story that does not pertain to traveling). This one’s for you GP!

This Wednesday our destination is…Edinburgh, Scotland. For those that are not aware, Scotland was built around seven hills following the Seven Hills of Rome.  Edinburgh is the 2nd largest city in Scotland and the 7th largest city in the UK. The Romans arrived here in the First Century AD. Just like everything else the Romans did, their influence stayed well after the collapse of the Empire.

View from Calton Hill

Rome Across Europe – Hi Grandma. Welcome to Rome Across Europe. You and Grandpa traveled to so many places, where would you like to take us today?

Grandma Precious – That’s a hard one. We went so many places together. How about Edinburgh, Scotland?

RAE – Sounds good! Our audience wants to know, what was your favorite place you visited on your Scotland trip?

GP – That would have to be Edinburgh Castle.

RAE – Castles are always interesting since they typically withstand the tests of time, both from humans and nature. What stood out to you in particular?

GP – You have to walk through 6 or 7 tunnels to get there.

RAE – I heard a tale warning University of Edinburgh students not to pass through the castle gates or they will fail their final exams. So I guess not too many followed in your path. How did you choose Edinburgh and Scotland as a place to visit.

GP – We always got lots of brochures and made a sheet to compare and choose before locations going to the travel agent. This was the best for when we wanted to go.

RAE – I know that you two went in the earlier part of the 1980’s. Was the trip pricey?

GP – The cost was a little over $3,000 at the time, but our trip also included England, Ireland, and Wales. It was a whirlwind tour of the UK. I don’t know what it would be now. I’m sure it would be much more though.

RAE – Probably so. What time of year did you make this trip?

GP – It was around the Fourth of July. The locals even had American flags flying to greet us at the hotel. Entertainment was provided by a local drill team. We were served a special cake after dinner and more musical entertainment.

RAE – Wow! That’s impressive, especially since the American holiday was a celebration of freedom from the United Kingdom. Apparently time has healed their wounds. What else did you do while in Edinburgh?

GP – Since the weather was very nice we did a lot of walking around. Our own tours of the town and local scene. Of course we did some shopping too. Plus the locals were very helpful if we had questions.

RAE – I imagine sharing a common language helped you out?

GP – Oh, yes.

RAE – How was the food? Did you eat anywhere special?

GP – We first had lunch at the Rose and Crown, a local pub. For dinner we went to Hotel Oratava where they served Haggis. Only a bite was enough for me. They put on a show for us with lots of singing and, of course, some bagpipes. One lunch to remember was at The George Hotel. It had so much elegance and traditions. They also served very good food.

RAE – Sounds like a pretty good adventure.

GP – That’s the best part of traveling. Each place has it’s own charm.

RAE – Indeed. Well, thank you for sharing your experience and I hope your sharing will inspire others to venture across The Pond.


For more history of Scotland during the Roman Empire, you can click here. To see more about Edinburgh Castle and get specific information you can visit its website.

I appreciate your reading this post and please contact us here at Rome Across Europe if you want to share your trip to a place that fell within the boundaries of Rome’s Empire. Till next time, keep on Rome-ing!