Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas From San Angelo

Christmas Lights along the Concho River. Every year there are some favorite activities in San Angelo, Texas that we would like to share. First, the bicycle club hosted a Christmas Lights Bike Tour along the Concho River. The next week we participated in the Run Rudolph Run hosted by the San Angelo Road Lizards (rumming club), and then we were among the hosts for the annual "Sierra Lights" on our cul-de-sac. 

This year I got to portray Santa in each of the events.
First try at Santa costume. Next event we added a moustache.
And Mrs. Claus.

At the bicycle event, first I handed out candy to all the kids (and big kids), then when it was start time, led the kids past the light show. The city blocks traffic from the tour while we safely ride our bikes to the end and back.

After the ride, hot chocolate and cookies were available for all. It was good wholesome family fun.

When we participated in the Run Rudolph Run event, I was so busy handing out jingle bells for the shoes, later candy, and then letting the kids (and big kids) sit on my knee for photo ops (and to find out what the kids wanted for Christmas). They wanted cute things.

I had only one break at the run event, and the excitement for some of us was that a little fox we disturbed ran atop the building and then along the railroad tracks. I was able to take only one shot as he wanted to be away from all the people.
There was a big crowd for the run. I had 120 jingle bells, gave them all out, and people continued showing up. Good turn out San Angelo!

Next we went to our own annual event-Sierra Lights. Every year our neighborhood decorates and then invites the public to our cul-de-sac to listen to a bell choir, have hot chocolate or coffee, eat cookies and other goodies made by the neighborhood ladies. One neighbor had a chocolate fountain with marshmallows. And I was in a white beard and moustache!! Dilemma--do I stay in character and get chocolate in my beard/moustache or forgo the goodies this year. San Angelo, you owe me!! 

And then to the street party.
Ho Ho Ho
Part of the cul-de-sac with Mrs. Claus.
Instead of the bell choir, this year a choral group from Midland came down and sang for about two hours. Thanks.
And thanks to Dr. Allen who once again from our front yard played Christmas carols on his sax.
Neighbors Sherri and Bill with Mrs. Claus.
From our street to your street;
Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Verona, Italy C

Verona, Italy
City of contrasts. From modern art
to ancient art.
From modern buildings
to ancient buildings
Put them together and you have

 Castelvecchio Museum.
Castelvecchio (old castle) was built in the 14th century, by Cangrande della Scala to protect Verona from rival bosses/city states. The castle houses a fabulous museum of sculpture, art, beuatifully frescoed rooms, and weapons from the 12th century onwards.

To get there, we crossed the ancient Roman bridge  Ponte Pietra (Italian for "Stone Bridge").

The Roman arch bridge crossing the Adige River was completed in 100 BC.
One of several courtyards.

From a distance, the embattlements looked small. Up close, they were huge.
A sampling of the various artifacts in the museum include:

A frescoed wall Christine thought was beautiful.
 Now the exhibits got a little more interesting.
Leaving the museum via the Roman bridge, one can see the other bridge that was built after the original was destroyed by a flood in the 4th century.
And so ended another day and the end of our stay in Verona. Next stop, Florence.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Verona, Italy B

Verona is a great study of contrasts. Our hotel, just outside the city wall, was an old establishment. It was magnificent in decor yet updated to include an elevator. But look to the right and just behind the awning to whom they sold half of their establishment--yes, it is a McDonald's. No, even though it was lunch time, we chose a traditional sidewalk restaurant.
And Christine chose traditional Italian food.
It was a beautiful afternoon, and just down the street from out hotel was a small, restful park.
Our hotel being close to the park and right beside a McDonald's worked out fine as Christine was able to satisfy her Diet Coke fix and enjoy the park at the same time. 

Humans were not the only ones out enjoying the peace and beauty of the park.

What happened next was one of the most moving things of the stay. A lady from across the street came out to her balcony  

She sat, seemingly contented, and observed people milling around on the street. 
After a relatively brief time, she slipped back into her world. I would love to talk with her and listen to her life story. 
The following day, we had the choice of a side trip to Venice, or be on our own and do what we wished. On a previous trip we had visited Venice, and while we thoroughly enjoyed the experience, it was sad to see the slow deterioration of the buildings and island. And there were a lot more things to see in Verona, so we chose to stay in town.  

Breakfast was on our own, so I went downstairs to get Christine her morning Diet Coke fix. Just a few stores away was a traditional coffee and croissant establishment. I thought I would have an Italian breakfast and ordered a coffee and a sweet roll.
As I said, I ordered a coffee and this is what I got. After I ate my sweet roll and ate my coffee, I went back down stairs to McDonald's and got a large non-traditional "American-style" coffee. There is a limit to my "going native".
There was a light drizzle, but we headed out to the Roman arena downtown.
The arena was built in AD 30 and is one of the best preserved ancient structures of its kind. "Games" and "animal exhibitions" (the bloody Roman kind) and plays, were part of the entertainment presented. The amphitheater could hold up to 30,000 spectators.

The round facade of the building was originally composed of white and pink limestone from Valpolicella; but after a major earthquake in 1117, which almost completely destroyed the structure's outer ring, except for the so-called "ala", the stone was quarried for re-use in other buildings.
The first interventions to recover the arena's function as a theatre began during the Renaissance. Some operatic performances were later mounted in the building during the 1850s, owing to its outstanding acoustics. Restoration continues to this day. The sign is explaining that they are sealing the steps using natural materials such as lime and river sand.
One of the many entrances leading to the
present day arena.  A performance had been held the night before and workmen were busy disassembling the stage. 
Present day progress and visions of the future.
Forgot to mention. While we were being annoyed by an off and on drizzle, the group who went to Venice was experiencing a heavy downpour. They had to go around the famous St Mark's Square as it was flooded. They had to walk around in the heavy rain, and after all else, ran out of time to ride in a gondola. Only hindsight let us know how well off we were that day.