Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Most of this entry is about my trip to Italy and is a little longer than normal. For those not interested in the Italy part, skip to the bottom for a short update on my current condition and a link to the picture gallery from the trip.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain

I have always loved life but since I chose to live by this quote, it has become better than I ever dreamed. This past Friday, I left Prague to continue fulfilling that dream by taking a 3 day weekend trip to Florence and Rome in Italy. Once I went to Paris, Rome became the city in the world I most wanted to visit. Now I have to pick a new city (Sydney is the clubhouse leader).

My flight left Prague airport at 6am for Milan. From there, I caught the high speed train to Florence and arrived around 11am (note: the normal trains here are ok but the high speed ones are NICE). On my trip to Germany, I met two Americans who are studying in Florence. I stayed with them. With a free room arranged, I set out to explore the city. First I visited the Duomo. It is a massive cathedral with a huge dome. The view from the top is superb and the paintings on the inside of the dome are even more impressive. From there I took some time to walk around the city and finally ended up at the Accademia where Michelangelo’s David is housed. The David is a marvel to behold. It is 12 feet tall and looks more alive than many people I know. The details on it are so perfect in every way that I can’t even fathom how it could have been created by a chisel and hammer (again pictures were not allowed which is why I only got about 12 or so). The evening ended with a lovely dinner with my friends.

My second day was focused on the Uffizi museum, the greatest collection of renaissance art in the world. It was very interesting and well worth the trip. I followed this with a visit to the Piazza Michelangelo for a beautiful nighttime view of the city. The day again ended with an excellent meal (shockingly, it wasn’t hard to find good food in Italy).

Then next morning I got up early and headed to the train station and caught the first train to Rome (I arranged my visit so that I flew back from Rome instead of Milan). I arrived around 10am and went straight to the Vatican. St. Peter’s Square and Basilica were extremely impressive. The basilica can hold 60,000 people and I believe it. It was massive and ornate; the most impressive cathedral I have visited (unfortunately the Sistene Chapel wasn’t open on Sundays).

From there, I went to the Trevi Fountain. It was classic, beautiful and quite an adventure to find. At this point, it was around 2 and I headed for my last big stop of the trip, the Coliseum. For all the wonderful things I saw in Italy, the Coliseum dwarfed them all. It had a majesty and strength in person that I can’t explain. And I learned that it was originally covered in white marble. I can imagine what that would have looked like (thank you Gladiator) and it would be a marvel today. But to be finished in the year 87, its inconceivable. After this I swung through the ruins of the Forum. Without a knowledgeable guide, this was cool but not nearly as good as it could have been. At the end of the Forum, I head for the airport and caught a 10pm flight to Prague.

Overall summary, superb trip, can’t wait to go back (maybe this May). For now I’m back in Prague until Christmas break. Teaching is still great. Despite waking up between 5:30 to 7am every day, I never groan about getting up to go to work (and that’s saying something for those who know me well). Things are not perfect here but it brings me to life in a way that a corporate job couldn’t right now. I have decided to live by the wisdom of Mark Twain’s quote and I have not regretted it for a moment. I pray that each of you does the same.

PS. Many more pictures are here http://picasaweb.google.com/luke.brazell/20091108Italy?feat=directlink

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