Plan Ahead – Part 3: When to Travel

Frank Sinatra laid it out perfectly when he sang, “I love Paris in the spring time. I love Paris in the fall. I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles. I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles.”

From my great skills of deduction it’s basically hard to hate Paris according to The Chairman of the Board. If it’s good enough anytime of year for Frank, well, it’s good enough for me. Period.

With lots of things to celebrate in late December, the Missus and I decided to head to Paris for Christmas 2015 / New Year’s 2016. It will be a chance for us to get our feet wet in France, but not so wet frostbite sets in.

Piazza San Marco - Venice, ItalyWhen we were last in Venice, Italy we each got a pair of knee-high rubber boots that we’ll get to use again. Best 40 Euros we’ve spent while on vacation.

As I’m trying to plan out our trip, I’ve come to find out we’re not wanted in Paris…at least not yet. It seems that most travel sites (Travelocity, Orbitz, etc) want your business, but they only want it if you are within 10 months of your trip. Since this is August 2014, right now our plans don’t equate to dollar signs for these companies.

The same goes for airline websites and individual hotel websites. Train passes and rental cars cannot be booked either. Apparently nobody wants to bother with your plans this far in advance. Not to worry. This simply gives us all ample time to get the plans polished up.

According to this USA Today article by Laura Dixon, there is really no bad time to see Europe. It really depends on you. Do you want to be warmer or cooler on your trip? Do you care if it rains? Do you want prices that are a little lower? Do you want to be stuck amongst other Americans or tourists in general? These are all questions we have to account for.

Christmas is Jennifer’s FAVORITE holiday, hands down. Since wetumblr_mdiq27uecU1qi46ero1_400 both get a longer break from our jobs around this time of year it works out perfectly. This is also a period in which many tourists are not abroad since it is typically a big family holiday here in the states. The only thing we have to watch out for aside from the sad faces our families give us when we remind them we won’t be with either of them is closures of tourist destinations due to the holiday season.

For me, the easiest place to check on that was going directly to the source the city’s tourist office. For even more information you can visit the websites of the speicific locations you care to visit. For us we are going to The Eiffel Tower and The Louvre for starters.

Your computer is your best allie in figuring things out for you since information is at your finger tips. By sticking to your plan you will have details worked out ahead of time so your trip will be more enjoyable when you arrive. Till then keep on planning!

Coming Up…Plan Ahead – Part 4: Budget

Have your own Aeneid. Follow in the footsteps of Aeneas.

1024px-GiorcesBardo42Publius Vergilius Maro, aka Vergil or Virgil, is the greatest of the Classic Roman poets. Is it because he was the court poet for Augustus? Is it because Vergil has become the benchmark for Augustan Literature? Or is it simply because Vergil was born on October 15th just like me somebody else I know? A strong case can be made for all of these. However, I think he is tops for his writing of “The Aeneid“.

Vergil has been said to write in the same style as Classic Greek poet, Homer. In fact The Aeneid is said to be the Roman combination of Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey“. That’s neither here nor there. The Aeneid is about our hero, Aeneas, and his journey from the burning and sacked city of Troy to establish a new home for his people in Latium, Italy. The twist? Italy was the home of those people that founded Troy. Mind blown.

Aeneid MapOur journey begins in Ancient Troy, in what has become modern day Turkey. The now legendary Trojan Horse was brought inside the city walls allowing Achilles, Ulysses, and other Greeks bring the mighty city to the ground.

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Since his present home is being destroyed, and his goddess mother Venus has instructed him to gather the remaining Trojans, Aeneas and his people trek across country to find safety in Antandros, which is still in Turkey. Due to its location on the coast, near the Gulf of Adramyttium, this is where Aeneas chooses to build his fleet before setting off for Italy.

Since this is an epic poem, and nothing is ever direct in ancient adventures, Aeneas and his fleet leave Antandros and sail North into the Aegean Sea where they make landfall in Thrace. The location is not exactly known but it’s believed to be the no-longer-existing Aenos which would be located still in Turkey, near the Greek border. Here in Thrace the reamains of fellow Trojan, Polydorus, are found.

All Aeneas wants to do is build a wall and establish a city. Not too much to ask for. While clearing the land in Thrace to create the wall, the plants that are uprooted spout blood and begin speaking to Aeneas. It’s Polydorus not crazy at all to have a dead person speak as a plant explaining what happened to him and to venture on.

More expelled Trojans are found as the group finally leaves Turkey and lands in Delos, Greece. Known as the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, Delos was home to a sacred oracle. VLUU L100  / Samsung L100Aeneas believes this is the place they have been searching for only to have Apollo say it’s not quite right for them. The sails are set again. Now it’s out into the Mediterrananean Sea and the Island of Crete. It’s basically the same story for Aeneas et al on this Greek island. They think the location is the one for them. Construction gets underway. Then one of the gods tells them to get moving.

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As they hug the Greek coast, Aeneas and the fleet are driven to Strophados. This tiny set of twin islands was a perfect fit. Aeneas then encountered the Harpies and found Strophados to be their dwelling place. The Harpies kept stealing all of the Trojan’s food and made life even more difficult for these expatriots. I don’t think Aeneas to be wrong for leaving these female monsters that had the bodies of a bird with the head and face of a human.

After fleeing from the Harpies, Actium is the next place for landfall and to see if this is the right spot. This again is not the right place so the group sets sail. As they head North the fleet halts at Buthrotum in ancient Northwestern Greece, but the location is now modern Albania.Butrint,_Albania

Aeneas was happy to find Buthrotum the home of Helenus, another son of King Priam of Troy. Unlike his brother Polydorus who was killed after escaping Troy, Helenus was a survivor. This could be due to the fact that Helenus was a seer. It was Helenus who told Aeneas this was not the place for him and to carry on. Helenus had a vision that Aeneas would go on to found Rome, so they kept moving.

Crossing the Ionian Sea, Aeneas and company make their first landing on Italy at Castrum Minervae. Knowing this is not the place they carry on.

Castrum Minervae

Upon rounding Italy’s boot, the fleet arrives the ancient town of Aetna 1280px-Mount_Etna_from_the_south_060313on Trinacria, or modern day Sicily. This is also the Land of Cyclops. So the group shoves off hugging the island’s coastline. It is during this time thatTrapani_from_erice Anchises, the father of Aeneas, passes away. They end up at on the western coast at Drepanon. Just like at every other stop before, Aeneas and clan find that as they prepare to end their journey it is not the right spot. So they pack on up and head back out to see once again.

The vengeful Juno takes advantage of this and blows the Aeneas’s fleet off course, yet again. They now land in Carthage and are greeted by Queen Dido.Ruines_de_CarthageIt is here with Dido that Aeneas, just as Ulysses did on his travels, gets halted. The Carthaginians welcome in their Trojan guests and want Aeneas to be their king. During a mystical evening alone, Dido and Aeneas are thought to have relations, thus causing Dido to believe Aeneas is now her king too. This is when the messenger god Mercury, sent via Jupiter, reminds Aeneas he is not to stay in Carthage with his new-found love, Dido, but to sail on to Italy and found Rome.

Again landing on the western coast of Sicily, Aenea’s throws funeral games honoring the anniversary of his father’s death. While only the men are partaking in the games some women, under the spell of Juno, burn some of the boats so the men can no longer travel. The plan is to have Aeneas never reach Italy. This plan does not work and those that can sail on head out.

The fleet lands next at Cumae, where Aeneas is told he must venture into the underworld for guidance.

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In the underworld, Aeneas meets his father once again. They discuss the prophetic future that is Rome and how Aeneas is to achieve it.

Upon returning to the land of the living, Aeneas knows what he must do. His people follow him once again to sea. They stop briefly at Caeita. It is here that Aeneas burries his wet-nurse prior to pressing on for his final destination.

Aeneas and his Trojans land in Latium. It is here that Aeneas falls in love with and courts Lavinia, daughter of King Latinus and Queen Amata.

Juno once again meddles with the happiness of Aeneas and his people by tricking the Latium Queen into starting trouble for the Trojans. The hatred for Aeneas get Turnus of the Rutuli people to battle The Trojans.

Since the story is meant to be a positive outcome for the survivors of Troy (Spoiler Alert) they are victorious in this outcome. Aeneas goes on to found Lavinium. The prophecy is now complete.

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Although he did not found Rome himself, it Aeneas’s Lavinium was the center of the Latin League. It was from here that the people of Rome sprang, thus linking the the royal house of Troy to the newer Roman Republic.

Travel by land, sea or air and you too can now have your own Aeneid. Tutus Itinerarium (safe travels).

Plan Ahead – Part 2: What to See? What to Do?

So now we have started our trip planning by creating a list. We’ve decided where we want to travel, for Jenn & I it’s Paris, so the hard part has been taken care of.Make_a_List

Time to continue the list with Part 2: What to See? What to Do?

Knowing the things you’d like to go see or do while in your destination will further help ease the stress that is trip planning.

Just like in Part 1 where you were deciding what city (cities) to go in a specific country (countries), it is now time to fire off ideas about what you want to happen while you’re at your destination. Do you want an all-inclusive package? Do you want beach activities? How about museum tours? Did you want to try that restaurant your friend won’t stop talking about when she was overseas? Nothing is wrong or stupid at this point.

The more ideas about what you want to do will only make the trip more enjoyable for you.I’m certain there’s a reason you are going to your special city, and it doesn’t have to be due to a Roman site. That can just be the icing that makes your trip more special.

Thermes de Cluny - caldariumAside from going to the obvious locations in Paris (Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, Arc de Triomphe) we are going to check out the Thermes de Cluny. This is a picture of the caldarium, or hot water room. I wasn’t lying when I said The Empire was everywhere.

Jenn & I do not have kids to travel with so our choices are more for adults only. If you have kids you may want to choose things more age appropriate. I have a feeling that youngsters won’t do to well in a museum for a handful of hours.

We want to make this trip special for everyone partaking. If you’re traveling alone, then you can do whatever you feel like doing that’s not against the law. If traveling with a partner, obviously some compromises shall be made. If children are joining you good luck! include them in the plan. Make sure there is at least one thing each traveller is interested in included in this trip. I promise the trip will be better for everyone.

Once you’ve figured out where you want to go make sure you check for closures. Most big tourist locations have an individual website. For our trip to the Eiffel Tower we can check out the Official Site for hours of operation, tickets, etc. Same goes for Germany’s Cologne Cathedral or Austria’s Hofburg Palace. Sometimes technology is a wonderful thing.

A helpful tip to remember is that just because we are on holiday does not necessarily mean the places we want to see are open. Tour guides, shop owners and cafe staffs have lives as well. If traveling during a religious holiday, like this Paris trip, note some adjustments may need to be made. Another reason why planning ahead helps.

louvre-horaires-tarifsI’m certain Jenn & I will be stopping by the Louvre to look at some old magnificent things. By checking the Hours & Admissions page I see that Christmas Day and New Year’s Day the museum is closed. It’s also closed every Tuesday. This means that the only day we won’t have access to these treasured works of art would be 12/29/15. Unless things change by then, a potential situation has been avoided.

Now that we’ve done that I’m a bit hungry. Any easy interwebs search has given me some useful information about places to eat and where to grab a drink.

Wow. We did a lot today. I don’t know about you but Jenn & I are going to grab a bite somewhere close and discuss things further. Why don’t you do the same. Take a break and let things sink in a bit. I mean it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right? Cheers!

Coming Up…Plan Ahead – Part 3: When to Travel

Plan Ahead – Part 1: Where To?

My wife, Jennifer, and I are just itching to get traveling again. For me, traveling is an addiction. I just can’t get enough. Toss in some good food and great sites and I may never come back home to Texas.

Over the next handful of posts I’ll be bringing to you ways to make your next adventure something to remember, while also taking some of the stress out of it.

The best way to begin is simply by making a list. Actually sitting down and putting ink to paper, or typing whichever, will help connect you to begin your travels.Make_a_ListAll plans must begin somewhere so why not start now? Ask yourself, “Where do I want to go?” With this page being dedicated to Europe, especially those countries once incorporated into the Roman Empire, there are tons of places waiting to be explored in reverse by us Americans. So where to?

For Jenn and I the idea of going to Paris didn’t just come to us. We are both a bit nerdy awesome when it comes to reading. Our home is full of books. From all of our collective reading came ideas of where we’d want to go if we had the chance.

I know I could probably spend years upon years in Rome, or at least Southern Italy, and never tire of it. But since we were just in Italy it was my turn to compromise on the location.

Jenn & I both like the islands and beaches, with that carefree Jimmythree-stooges-toga Buffett-lifestyle but these islands lack a certain passion and history that Europe has. Plus the Romans never made it to the Bahamas. I don’t know if this is what the outcome would have been, I’m just glad we didn’t live in a world that would’ve let this crime against The Empire happen.

Simply narrowing our trip down to “Europe” did not really do much better. Basically I just knew Italy was out. What Jenn & I did was ask ourselves “Where would we go if this was the last trip we could ever take?” We don’t plan on leaving the planet anytime soon unless space travel becomes extremely affordable, but we wanted to make sure we knocked someplace very memorable off our proverbial Bucket List.

After much discussion and lots of back-and-forth we came to a conclussion. We decided it was time to see France. More specifically, it was time to visit Paris, The City of Lights. This time is was not going be through a movie screen. My Grandpa, Charles Carlberg, made his way through here during WWII. Jenn’s grandmother Meme was born not too far from Paris, so there is a personal connection for us both.

Eiffel tower (3)

Part 1 – Where To? has now been accomplished. It’s written down for us. Have you decided where you want to journey? Is it Paris too? Was it Rome? Maybe London? How about Athens? Wherever it is make sure to write it down yourself. The adventure is real and it’s only just begun.

Coming Up…Plan Ahead – Part 2: What to See? What to Do?

Hercules: From Twelve Labours to The Rock.

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Hercules easily identified in his lionskin

Unless you’ve been locked away somewhere without television or the internet, you’ve most likely seen movie trailers for the new movie “Hercules” starring Dwayne (formerly The Rock) Johnson. I love movies of this genere, shocking I know, and will go see it no matter how closely the storyline stays with the myth.

This son of a god and a mortal woman heads out to do his Twelve Labours. He goes all over Ancient Greece and even into the Underworld. After finishing the twelve, Hercules joins up with Jason and The Argonauts for more adventures.

Due to his roaming and adventures, with a lot of help from The Romans, the legend of Hercules spreads. And being a demigod makes him a worthwhile being to worship.

Temple of Hercules VictorIn Rome there is the best preserved TheTemple of Hercules Victor, Hercules the Winner. The longstanding is partly due to the early Roman Catholic Church converting into a church. It is located on the Forum Boarium near the Tiber River. The design is very Greek in nature with its 20 Corinthian columns.

Hercules Monument - Kassel, GermanyAs we travel north from Italy into Germania, we arrive at the town of Kassel. Although construction did not begin until 1696, The Hercules is another historical site to behold. Named at first for just the statue of our hero the name now encompasses the entire monument. I realize this was not around during Roman times, but it just seemed to good to pass up.

Now we turn our travels west and head for Roman Britain. Our stop will be in Market Bosworth in Leicestershire, England. It is 188070-9891-150here in this rural area of the United Kingdom that we shall come across a statue dedicated to Hercules. In the Provincia Britannia there was a push to be as Roman as possible since the citizens there were farthest away from the heart of the empire. Amulets of Hercules’s Club were worn by followers of the hero spreading into the far reaches of the empire between the 2nd and 3rd century.

Since Hercules was half mortal and half god, only half of himHercules Andalucia could possibly die. When the mortal part finally perished the people of Hispania were all too happy to build what they claim to be the Tomb of Hercules. This is located in modern Cadiz, Spain.

Moving into southern Spain to the Iberian Penninsula we’ll come across The Pillars of Hercules. To the north is peak entering the Straits of Gilbraltar. In North Africa, which is actually the southern portion, is Morocco.

The European Pillar of HerculesThe North African Pillar of HerculesOn the left is The European Pillar of Hercules, the Rock of Gibraltar. On the right is Jebel Musa, the North African Pillar of Hercules.

As you can see once you achieve mythic status your legend will range far and wide. Here we are in the modern day and yet we still look back upon an ancient hero. I hope you enjoyed the journey with Hercules as we traveled from The Twelve Labours to The Rock.

Don’t Wait in the Eternal City

When my wife and I visited Rome, aka The Eternal City, there was just so much to see and do we did not know really where to start. We had searched for places online, received ideas from family friends having already been there, television shows, etc. And that was a great jumping off point.

Knowing a bit before hand really proved quite helpful when we discovered the heart of what was The Roman Empire. There was one thing nobody told us about and that was getting passes for tours.

I don’t know about you but I am not a fan of waiting, even more so when there is so much to see and experience. Ask my wife or family about how impatient I get when I am excited. We had a finite amount of time and there was an almost endless list of things to enjoy. Lines and waiting just cannot factor in to this.

When one thinks of Rome, The Colosseum is what comes to mind. All the movies its starred in, all the sporting arenas attempting to copy it. It is truly amazing.

From the Arena Floor

The Colosseum has tours running all the time and from various guides. Going in with a tour group will help you bypass having to wait in line to visit Il Colosseo on your own.

The same goes for viewing the Vatican museums. Immediately around St. Peter’s Square there are lots of tour groups for various needs, all will keep you from having to wait close to two hours in line to get in.

St. Peter's Square

From sunrise past sunset there are always other tourists waiting to see all the marvels Roma has to offer. Yes, the tours cost a little more but in the end it was completely worth it.

At The Colosseum after your tour is done the tour guides want you to go visit and explore on your own. With the Vatican, you could stay with the tour or just use it as a way to skip ahead of those still waiting to get in the door.

In the end though it comes down to how much time and/or money you have. If you care to grab a tour here are a couple of sites to get you started:

Colosseum Tours

Vatican Museums Tours

What Is This?

Maybe you stumbled across this site on accident. Maybe it was on purpose. In any event you’re here. Might as well stay a spell and learn what’s here.

What is Rome Across Europe?

Rome Across Europe is mainly focused on what was the once vast Roman Empire. So basically the area what we know today as Western Europe.

What makes this site special?

Rome Across Europe is going to be a travel site where you can find various ruins or current archaeological dig sites to visit on your trip to the modern cities of what was then part of The Empire. I will also share some ideas about what you can do or see or where to eat after visiting the Roman locations.

Why do these places from an ancient time matter?

The Roman Empire strectched from the Mediterranean Sea in the east to the Atlantic Ocean on its western border. It encompassed what is now Italy, Vatican City, England, France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Albania and Greece. The influence of Rome was felt in the Middle East and North Africa as well. From those countries I’m sure Rome Across Europe can find something or some place interesting.

Is there anything else?

Of course. You can check Rome Across Europe for a brief history on what you will be seeing, and where to look if you want more information.

As I venture out on trips myself, I will have much more to share. Planning of trips. How to get the most out of your Euro. Any secrets about getting better rooms, best ways to travel while in-country, tours, food, drinks, etc. Rome Across Europe is all about having the best trip possible without having to stress over details while venturing around Europe.

If you have a passion for Ancient Rome or are just wanting to have a good time in Europe then Rome Across Europe is for you!