What have you been doing in school so far? Do you like your teacher? What interesting things have been going on? Have you been doing any after school activities?
If you have been receiving my previous e-mails, then you would know that I talked about Rio and South Africa. Since then we have been to Istanbul which is in Turkey, Paris in France, and finally many places in Italy.
The first place we went to from Kommetjie was Istanbul, Turkey. I will tell you my top favorite things that we did in Istanbul. Did you know that Turkey is in two continents? Half of it is in Europe and the other half is in Asia. The Bosphorus River is in between, but there are plenty of bridges crossing it. The first fun thing we did was going to the Hagia Sophia mosque. This mosque is the only mosque in the world to be converted into a museum. The mosque was built in only five years
which is pretty fast for a building its size. It was built so quickly because the parts were taken from other buildings. It actually started out as a church then became a mosque and is now a museum. The next fun thing we did was going to the Basillica Cistern. The cistern is a giant aquaduct that no longer is full of water. In the cistern we saw two Medusa heads, one of them
was upside-down and the other one was sideways. Each head was as big as me! Another fun thing we did was going to the Blue Mosque. The Blue Mosque is still an active mosque, and is not a complete museum like the Hagia Sophia mosque. The Blue Mosque is one of the only mosques in the world to have six or more minarets. The blue mosque is also famous for its blue tiles hence the name BLUE Mosque. The second to last thing I would like to mention is going to Topkapi Palace. At the palace they had a lot of cool thingamajigs, including an armory, and lots of expensive things. At the palace they even had the worlds biggest diamond, a box full of emeralds, and some daggers made of gold. The final noteworthy thing we did was going on the Galata Bridge to eat dinner. While we were eating dinner on the bridge we saw some jellyfish swim by in the sea right beneath the bridge. And those are some fun things we did in Turkey.
The next place we went from Turkey was Paris, France. The first fun activity we did was going to the top of the Eiffel Tower. We took two elevators to the top, and at the top we could see all of Paris’ sights including: Notre Dame, Sacre Coure, the Louvre, and the Arc de Triomphe. Another fun thng we did
was going to the Louvre, which is the biggest art museum in the world! At the Louvre we saw the Mona Lisa. It actually isn’t tht cool considering that it is three feet tall and two feet wide (the painting on the other side of the room is literally 20 feet tall and 30 feet long), and there is a crowd of about 100 people in a space the size of your living room and you have to push through the crowd to even catch a glimpse of the painting.
The third noteworthy thing we did was going to the catacombs of Paris (if you have been getting my previous e-mails then you would know that we also went to the catacombs in Lima, Peru). These catacombs hold more than six million dead people, and the walls are made of bones! The fourth fun activity we did was going to the Palace of Versailles. The palace is pretty big but the gardens around it are ten times as big as the palace itself. This building was the home of Louie XIV, Louie XV, and Louie XVI. Another noteworthy thing we did was going to the Museum D’ Orsay and the Museum Rodin. At the Museum D’ Orsay we saw some original paintings by Van Gogh and many world known impressionists. At the Museum Rodin we saw the Thinker statue and some of Rodins other works.
The final thing we did that I would like to mention was going to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. The Arc is so big that some people have even flown their planes through it (allthough only those people with the small cropduster-like planes, and definitely not commercial planes). At the top we had a view of the Eiffel tower and we could also see all of the 12 streets branching off from the Arc. And those are some fun things I did in Paris. (Note: If you go to Paris at the same time that I did then the weather can be very unpredictable. One minute it was clear blue skies and the next it was hailing. Literally.)
The next place we went to from Paris was Rome, Italy. One of the significant places we went
to in Rome was the Trevi Fountain, with it’s giant horse statues and a giant statue of Poseidon in the center. Although when we saw it, it was under restoration for the Jubilee in December, and they had drained all the water out. There is a superstition that if you toss a coin over your shoulder into the fountain then it means that you promise to come back to Rome. Well, they drained all the water out right? So how are you going to toss a coin in without hitting one of the workers in the fountain? Well they came up with a solution to that. They had made a little pool of water and in the back was a picture of the fountain so you could get your picture taken while throwing a coin over you back (which I did) and it would look like the fountain was not having any work done on it. The next noteworthy place we went to was the Vatican which is where the Pope lives. We didn’t actually see
the Pope because he was visiting you in the U.S. But in the Vatican we did see a bunch of art and at the end of our tour we did saw the world famous Sistine Chapel. The painted ceiling was amazing with The Creation right in the center. You probably didn’t know that the ceiling, along with the
ginormous Last Judgment on the adjacent wall were Michelangelo’s first ever paintings and everybody thought he was going to fail. (Obviously he succeeded).
We weren’t able to get any pictures with the Sistine chapel because a super loud announcement kept coming through the speakers saying “Silence please and no pictures allowed” The second to last noteworthy place we went to in Rome was The Colosseum. It is the best known Roman colosseum in the world. In the Colosseum they used to hold fights. These are some of the possible matchups: gladiator vs. gladiator, gladiator vs. person guilty of crime, person guilty of crime vs. a lion or tiger or elephant, and finally a hoard of elephants vs. a hoard of tigers. Have fun predicting the outcome of each battle. The final
important place that we went to was Saint Peters Basilica. Saint Peters Basilica is 500 years old. One person (whose name I can’t remember) started building it and then he died so Michelangelo stepped in. He came up with the design for the rest of the building and then started working on it but then he died too. So finally this other guy came over and finished Michelangelo’s work only changing it a little. Also Saint Peters Basilica is modeled after the 2,000 year old basilicas from ancient Roman times. And those are some fun activities we did in Rome.
From Rome we went to Florence which is also in Italy. One cool thing we did in Florence was going to the Accadamia museum. In the Accadamia museum we saw Michelangelo’s
David statue. It is considered to be the best statue in the world! The statue is 17 ft tall and is carved out of marble with incredible detail. We also went to the Borgello museum which has Donetello’s version of David. His statue is made of bronze and is only 5 feet tall, but was made before Michelangelo’s David. Another thing I will mention was walking across Ponte Vecchio bridge. This bridge is special because it has shops built right onto it. Of course these shops are super expensive selling gold and silver stuff. The final thing that I feel like mentioning is the Duomo. We walked up the 463 stairs to the top and on top there was an amazing view. It is easily the tallest building in Florence
with only Plazzo Vecchio anywhere close. (We also climbed up that one too.) And those are some fun things we did in Florence.
After Florence we went to the town of Lucca which is also in Italy. From Lucca we went to ………The Leaning Tower of Pisa! The leaning tower is cool because instead of leaning to the side quickly and then falling over, the leaning tower slowly leaned inch by inch and didn’t fall over. Now days the tower has supports in the ground so it doesn’t fall over. It is really cool because you can walk right up to the base and see how tilted it is. The second important place we went was Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre is a group of five (Cinque) villages (Terre)
built into the side of the mountain right next to the Mediteranean Sea. It makes a great picture spot (or so I’m told) because I’m pretty sure that was the day that I was dying from the heat. The final thing we did was going to the Lucca town center which is surronded by a wall that is 12 meters high……and about 12 meters WIDE! The wall was built by Napolean’s daughter and has survived until now.
The final place that we went to in Italy was Naples. The one important place we went to in Naples was Pompeii.
Pompeii is a city that was covered by ash when Mt. Vesuvius erupted. I thought it was really cool because you could see the houses and shops that were there. Most of the roofs caved in because of the weight on top, but a few are still standing. It was actually a really well organized city with everything including raised crosswalks. At the end we got to see the bodies of the people. We didn’t actually see their bodies but because they were under a lot of ash their bodies made an impression in it so the excavators excavated that shell they made. You an also see their skulls sticking out of the shells. And that is the one noteworthy thing we did in Naples.
Those are some of the fun things we did in All of Italy but one thing we did all over Italy was eat some really good pizza and pasta.
From Italy we went to Athens and then to Mykonos (both in Greece). Then we went to Egypt which is where we are now. I’ll tell you about those two places in my next e-mail. Now that you know what I am doing please write back and tell me what you are doing.
P.S. To see a video of those jellyfish in Turkey look on my dad’s blog.
P.P.S. For more pictures look on my dad’s blog also.
P.P.P.S. Check out these funny street signs from Italy: