Friday, January 31, 2014

A Rare Afternoon Off

{The beach in Cannes with the cliffs in the background}

     I laugh when I hear people ask the question about what we are going to do after basketball, you know 'when we have a real job'. They must not know that teams often practice 2x a day (for 2+ hours each time not including any treatment needed before or after, stretching, extra personal work, shooting, lifting etc…). All that factored in, and Shaun can be gone 8-9 hours a day. Oh and all this happens 6 days a week, not 5. Don't know about you but that sure seems like a real job to me. Not to mention, unable to call in and take 'vacation' time when wanted. Sure, they have 2 months off in the summer, but so do teachers, right? As if that is not argument enough, take for example, the 'ever changing' schedule. You are expected to be available at all times, because after all, this is your job. The team decides to change practice time to later/earlier, you gotta be there. The team decides to add a practice, you gotta be there. The team decides to tell the players that they are leaving in 12 hours to spend the week up in Belgium for no reason besides the President living up there, you gotta go. For us to get an afternoon off with out a change of plans or something else random happening, is rare. So last week, on a beautiful sunny day (which is also seemingly becoming more and more rare here since we have had rainy day after rainy day), we headed to Cannes to eat outside and hopefully catch the sunset from the cliffs past Cannes. We lasted until about 6 minutes after the sunset because it got cold and let's face it, pictures of watery eyes and runny noses aren't flattering for anyone. Or as I like to say 'ain't nobody got time for that' (I'm sure my mother is so proud of my education level after reading that). We had actually visited these cliffs last year in this post but since it was overcast, it seemed like a completely different place as opposed to this time. As I'm sure it will be even more striking when it warms up since for some reason, it seems that the water is clearer in the warmer months when the sun is shining. And the water is clear here, let me tell you. I can only imagine the contrast of colors (blue waters/red rocks and the abundant greenery) being more prevalent in summer/spring. Now if only the sun could could make an appearance, we'd be on our way.

*Disclaimer: I am not complaining about an athlete's life, after all I was one myself. More just attempting to enlighten those who think it's a walk in the park since most have zero idea what the 'behind the scenes' look like. Having said that, it is never a bad thing to be paid for doing what you love, no matter what it may be.

{The contrasting colors of the rocks and the water}

{Even the sand is red}

{Don't know why this picture looks fake, but I promise it's not}

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A New Years in Rome/ Felice Anno Nuovo!!!

{The Colosseum as the sun sets}

      Yes, I realize it has been many moons since the New Years and this post seems a little 'late to the party' but instead of sending pictures individually to family and friends, I figured this would save time. And although I have nothing but time on my hands, I like to think of myself as being efficient. (At least that is what I would like to think, I'm sure my old professors would beg to differ). So for New Years we decided to get outta dodge, not because we don't like dodge, but because who doesn't need a change of scenery from time to time? Nothing like having multiple days off in the season and feeling like you did nothing with that time…(see... back to that efficiency thingie). We contemplated London but she turned out to be such an expensive b@tch and since neither Shaun nor I have the 'at all costs' chip embedded in us, we looked elsewhere and Rome it was.  Fast forward a few days and voila, the lodging, the flight and a loosely based 'itinerary' was in the books. We decided to rent an apartment smack dab in the middle of one of Rome's most famous squares, Piazza Navona. What drew us to it was the accessibility to everything (we walked everywhere) and the fact that we could somewhat blend in as locals. Don't know why, but the whole 'walking into an apartment building as opposed to a hotel lobby' makes me feel…more authentic. If that makes sense? Truth be told, that 'authentic' feeling flew right out the window as soon as we realized that we were 'geographically' challenged and turned a 2 block walk to the Pantheon into a 20 block excursion complete with arguing, multiple beads of sweat and some minor cursing at our map. All in all, we spent 5 days in what could possibly be my new favorite city (sorry Paris and NYC). We hit all the major sights; Colosseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Vatican City, the Spanish Steps and tried as many authentic restaurants as possible. Unfortunately for Shaun, he came down with a nasty head cold that left him unable to taste food for a good day or so. Instead, he would eat and ask me how it was which I'm sure humored anyone with-in ear shot as I described in detail how good it was. We spent hours at the Colosseum where the words 'are you not entertained?' passed Shaun's lips more than once and lingered in the Roman Forums admiring the amazing architecture all done with out the modern technology that we know now. We ogled the opulence of St. Peter's Basilica and giggled at the fact that Vatican City is the country with the smallest birth rate…zero (or at least should be zero.) And just as we are pondering life and how much of this vast world we have yet to see, we run into a fellow Georgia Tech basketball alum playing overseas in of all places…The Sistine Chapel. (He is not actually playing in the Sistine Chapel, we just ran into him there…) The only semi-bummer was due to a time mix-up, we missed Pope Francis papal speech, which I'm kicking myself for. Fortunately, Shaun was just as disappointed so I guess we will just have to make another trip…..

{Inside of the Colosseum. Still hard to believe that people were killed for sport all the while spectators cheered and celebrated. The cross on the left hand side represents where the Emperor sat and gave the thumbs up/thumbs down that Joaquin Phoenix did so well in the movie Gladiator}
{The floor is no longer there but you get the picture with the replica floor on the far side, with the underground part being cages for holding the animals and gladiators before the fights}

{Entrance to the Roman Forum, the heart of ancient Rome, located next to the Colosseum}
{View of Roman Forum from entrance}

{View of Castle Sant'Angelo from the across the Tiber} 
{St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City}

{Gold guilded entrance to St. Peters}

{Amazing interior of the Pantheon…which I found out can be used for weddings…could imagine sending out invites with the address of the ceremony being The Pantheon}

{Taking a break from the Vatican Museum to get a pic with the dome of St. Peter's in the background}
{One of the many beautiful frescos in the Vatican museum}

{Trevi fountain..we did the obligatory throw the coin in the fountain with your right hand over your left shoulder so supposedly…WE WILL BE BACK}