Friday, January 31, 2014

Faithful Foodie Pilgrimage to Israel - Part One - Chefs for Peace

I have just returned from a power packed ten days of faith and food in the beautiful country of Israel where I enriched both my heart and tummy.   I experienced so many wonderful things I want to share that I have decided to break the experience in to bite size sections sharing one slice at a time.
Chefs for Peace
Chefs Nabil Marcos Aho, Ibrahim Abu Seir, Founder Kevork Alemian and Chef Moshe Basson 

Our group was blessed to have several of our events hosted by Chefs for Peace, a group of multi cultural chefs with one goal, creating peace through food.  Chefs for Peace is an organization founded by Kevork Alemian in 2001, along with chefs of Muslim, Jewish and Christian backgrounds they infuse their flavors to bring forth the message of a peaceful coexistence.  The discussion of politics is put on a back burner and they work together to unite others though food.  Their hope is to someday bring the leaders of both Israel and Palestine together at one table to share the food of peace.  These award winning chefs opened their doors to provide us with four memorable events during our time in Jerusalem. 

Our first foodie cultural event was hosted by Chef Nabil Marcos Aho, head of Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center College for Hospitality Management and Co-founder of Chefs for Peace.  The culinary school was established in 1990 and provides students with professional training to enhance their prospects of securing employment.  Chef Nabil and his students demonstrated the making of the traditional Middle Eastern dish Falafel.   Once prepared our group shared in the deliciousness which made our taste buds sing with joy.  
Our next adventure was a night of biblical foods at The Eucalyptus, a Kosher Restaurant owned by Chef Moshe Basson also a member of Chefs for Peace.  The practice of The Chefs for Peace is to always have a Christian, Jewish and Muslim Chef at their events, Chef Moshe (Jewish) was joined by Chef Ibrahim Abu Seir (Muslim) and Chef Nabil Marcos Aho (Christian) along with the group founder Kevork Alemian.  Our meal began with Genesis 25:30-35 “Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of red lentils; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright”.   Thus our first course was red lentil soup, thick and tangy, served in a small soup cup similar to a coffee cup.   The second course was **Stuffed Jerusalem Sage Leaves, I believe this has to do with the passover.  These nuggets of green were simply divine!   With a drum roll on the top of a HUGH pot our third course of  Maklubeh (an upside-down chicken and rice dish) arrived. I was so involved with the presentation I missed the explanation of the dish.  The meal ended with a scrumptious desserts where I fell head over heals in love with Basbousa/Harisa

The best of the best of our food adventures was our time at Mahane Yehuda market, with alley ways of vendor booths filled with brilliant colors and smells it engulfed our senses with wonder and awe over the beauty of the foods!  We were divided in to three groups, lead by a member of the Chefs for Peace, the goal, to pick up fresh ingredients for the nights dinner.  The most entertaining booth was Uzi Eli Juice Stand, owner Uzi Eli Chez,who has a contagious laugh, provided us with samples of his fresh squeezed juices including a lighthearted explanation of the healing powers of the drinks.  Mr. Chez invited Father Leo behind the counter where he proceeded to spray and rub products all over him.  Being a great ambassador Father Leo allowed himself to be the product tester making for an amusing, fun experience.  The day ended at Bulghourji with a lovely meal prepared by the Chefs of Peace which included middle eastern salads, rice, couscous and balsamic strawberries for dessert. 
Father Leo and Uzi Eli Chez


I truly appreciate the experience Chefs for Peace provided us.  The smiles on these mens faces show the kindness in their hearts, the desire to for peace and acceptance of all people  regardless of  politics, religion or skin color.  Please include their vision in your daily prayers and show support for their group by liking and promoting their Facebook page.

*Note links are recipes that closely resemble the foods we were served and not the actual recipe.
Recipes not included in links -
**Stuffed Jerusalem Sage Leaves. Other leaves to use include grape leaves or any other edible leaf.  Chef Moshe Basson has also been known to, use beet leaves when visiting in the United States, Chard is also an acceptable substitute.
Approximately 100 Jerusalem sage or other leaves
2 cups round or short-grained rice, rinsed with water
2 finely chopped onions
3/4 cup each: fresh mint leaves, parsley, and celery leaves, all finely chopped by hand
1 teaspoon thyme
3/4 teaspoon each: black pepper, nutmeg, allspice
1 1/2 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups ground beef or (for vegetarian version) cubed mushrooms, sautéed in olive oil and black pepper
2 tomatoes, sliced
2 potatoes, sliced
17 unpeeled garlic cloves (optional)
8 lemon wedges per diner
1) Combine rice, onions and meat, herbs, spices, 1 tablespoon of the salt, and olive oil together in a bowl to create stuffing.
2) Remove stems of the leaves. Lay the leaves down with their inner sides facing up. Save the stems.
3) In batches of up to 10 leaves, soak leaves in boiling water for 1 minute to soften them and make them easy to work with.
4) Place approximately a teaspoon of stuffing in the center of each leaf. Fold the leaf like an envelope, then roll with filling in the middle, so it looks like a thin cigar. Leave room on the ends — do not overstuff.
5) On the bottom of a wide pot around 8-10 inches in diameter, create a layer of leaf stems plus leaves that were rejected because they were too small or asymmetrical to stuff. Add the potato slices and half of the tomato slices. Lay the stuffed leaves on top in a layer, with the”seam” of the cigar facing down. 3-4 tomato slices on each layer and some garlic. On top of this layer, place the remaining tomato slices and unpeeled garlic cloves.
6) Add another layer of stuffed leaves. Continue layering stuffed leaves and tomatoes and garlic until all of the stuffed leaves are in the pot.
7) Into the pot, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt mixed with water until the water touches the top layer of leaves.
8) Bring to a boil. Continue to cook at a gentle boil, covered; over medium heat for about 25 minutes or until liquids evaporate. Check the doneness of the rice in one of the stuffed leaves to decide whether to remove or leave covered and heating for another 10 minutes.
Serve with lemon halves to squeeze on stuffed leaves. For pretty presentation place the lemon wedges in a circle in the center of the plate with the stuffed leaves spread out like a flower around the lemons.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Camino de Santiago seed has been planted!

The Camino de Santiago is calling my name!  I have tried to iqnore the calling yet it keeps coming at me stronger and stronger.  I surrender, the seed is planted,  a plan is slowing being formulated.

What is The Camino de Santiago?

El Camino de Santiago, in English “The Way of Saint James,” is the pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, where legend has it that the remains of Jesus’s apostle Saint James the Elder lie. The Camino has existed as a Christian pilgrimage for well over 1,000 years.  Throughout the medieval period it was one of the three most important Christian pilgrimages.  It was believed Pilgrimages to Jerusalem, Rome and Santiago de Compostela could result in a plenary indulgence, which frees a person from the penance due for sins.

The Calling:

Fall 2011 a post pops up on my Facebook wall from one of my travel peeps they are doing this thing called the Camino.   Several months later another post is on my wall, another travel peep is sharing a blog or something about this Camino thing.  Time passes and one boring afternoon my mind says search Facebook for that Camino thing,  I find the Camino de Santiago Forum, I read some of the posts and gave the page a "like".   Thanks to the like more and more Camino posts start popping up on my wall, I find myself reading the posts.   I become intrigued,  many of the forum members appear to be "mature" if you know what I mean.   Memories of past times start floating around in my mind, I wish I had known about the Camino when I was young, mentally strong, daring and determined.  I then reminded my self those attributes belong to a personality so I am still all of those things!   A second thought enters my mind, I am a physical  nightmare!  I am a knock kneed klutz, I wither in the heat and  I have limited stamina.   I wondered, could I walk this Camino thing?   Searching Amazon I found books by pilgrims (peregrinos) who have completed the Camino.  One title jumped out at me, Grandma's on the Camino.  The author was 70 years old when she walked The Camino Frances solo.  The Camino Frances, The French Way stretches roughly 500 miles and is the most popular of the Camino de Santiago's.  She claimed to be overweight and out of shape, if she could do this surely I can!

The Decision:

Grandma Mary's book brought life to the Camino de Santiago.  I  knew this needed to be on my bucket list.   I started reading blogs of other peregrinos and my mind became more aware that this could become a reality.  Then it hit me, I retire in the spring of 2017, what better way to celebrate the start of a new phase in my life.   So there it is, the Camino de Santiago is in my future.

The Camino begins:

I feel my Camino began before I had even heard of The Camino de Santiago.  I have been fortunate to visit Rome, I plan to visit Jerusalem in January 2014.  Indulgences or not it only seems fitting that I include The Camino de Santiago in my pilgrimage adventures. 

In the few weeks since I decided to make "IT" happen I have gone through a mixture of emotions.  The walk will be physically challenging, I fear crossing the Pyrenees will be more than I can manage. The mental walk has already began.  I am sure the next three years will bring more self awareness and self doubt.  The constant I will need to remember is success is the trying, failure is not attempting the dream at all.    

Blessing till the next post!
3 months and counting down till I leave for Israel!

Sunday, September 29, 2013


Occasionally we have a visiting priest celebrate mass at our parish.   My favorite is the brown bag priest.   Father "Brown Bag" has been retired for 11 years but he has not lost his touch, he is still one of the most captivating speakers I have ever heard.   His schtick is "what do I have in the brown paper bag".  He walks up and down the aisle shaking a brown paper bag quizzing parishioners to guess what is in it.   Our flock is always at a loss, 10 or more yell out a guess but never a "winner winner chicken dinner".   Father "Brown Bag" is pretty sly as the bag contents is always related to the gospel readings and by the time the bag contents is reveled we have been reeled in to his homily hook, line and sinker!  What was in the bag this week you ask?  His wallet.

As I look back on my walk towards maturity I see the path zig zagging, priorities ever changing.  The question that lingers is have I followed the path God planned for me or have I attempted to pave the path I wanted? One can always get back on the right path.  It is never to late to plant the roots of life, allowing them to run deep bringing forth strength and tenacity, opening our hearts to kindness, generosity and love.

Now is the time for all of us to look in to our hearts and find the beat that skips judgment, let the beat of caring, love and joy be the strength of our hearts.  Let this be what represents you as a Christian.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Reliving the past

The Catholic Guy Crew and Mountain
Lou, Maureen, Mountain, Lino, Ryan and Father Rob
Florence Italy June, 2010

I began this blog in 2010, my intent was to write about my adventure to Italy with  host  Lino Rulli "The Catholic Guy"  and pilgrimage planner extraordinaire Mountain Butorac.   My attempt at blogging this trip was a successful fiasco!  Early to rise, late to bed left this traveler very brian dead.  I did have the adventure of a life time - Rome, Assisi, Siena, Florence and a Papal Blessing.  I ate fabulous food, drank luscious wine, enjoyed stunning pieces of art and thoroughly enjoyed the company of my pilgrim peeps.  The one disappointment was I did not feel I had grown as spiritually as I had expected.
The Best and Worst Pilgrims ever!
Italy pilgram peeps
Assis 2010
The following year I join up with the same host and the ever compentent planner Mountain (who does't love saying that name!) for another Pilgrimage.  With no thoughts of blogging or expectations for spiritual growth I was off to Greece with a side stop in Turkey.   With a last minute change to our plans, we gave up two days of our three days in Santorini Greece for a 38 hour whirlwind stop in Rome to attend the Beautification Mass of Blessed Pope John Paul II (canonization plans in process as I write this).   I told you Mountain was the MAN!  I cannot even put to words that experience but lucky for me I can link you to a blog of two warm and inspiring pilgrim peeps who articulated this blessing in a very lovely way.  The site name is  The Practicing Catholic, the link will take you to one of several stories they wrote about the Beautification.
Waiting with millions for enterance to Saint Peters Square
I am the tired one behind the bald guy (sorry Joel) - 2011

The goal is now within sight as the sun rises - 2011

The Surviving 14 of our group, we were the last to gain admittance in to  Saint Peters Square.
The Canadians, The Doctors, The Sisters, The Ulsh's, DaSchmidt's,  Mark, Dee, Jeff and Mountain.  We were blessed.                             May 1, 2011

Exhausted our Pilgrim group was quietly headed to Greece.   This group of pilgrims were the loudest pilgrims ever.  There was laughing, crying, karaoke, and Daily Mass held in a Cruse Ship Disco.   I was in awe that I was walking in the steps that Jesus had walked.  I was brought to tears visiting the House of our Blessed Mother Mary. I visited the cave where the Book of Revelations was revealed to Saint John.  I was overwhelmed by the Ancient Greek Architecture.  I was stunned by the greek sunsets and tantalized by greek food.  I enjoyed a chilling salty swim in the Aegean sea and was thrilled to climb the active volcano of Nea Kameni.  

The Loudest, Craziest Pilgrims ever
Partheon-Athens Greece 2011
Lino Rulli, Father Rob Keighron, Dee (me), Ryan,Maureen

House of Mary - Turkey-2011
                          Picture of the inside of the House of Mary- 2011

Cave of Saint John-Patomos Greece - 2011
   smoke = volcano-Santorini Greece -2011
Sunset over Mykonos Greece-2011
Notice the cross in the rock formation-2011
Greek Appetizers -2011

I returned from this pilgrimage again feeling I had not grown in my faith as I had hoped.  I returned to the dayin - dayout life of work.  I allowed my job to overwhelm my day, my thoughts and my worth.  I went on a trip to London, took my niece on a cruse with no release of the anxiety that had been building up in me.   Tired of this gray cloud floating over me I began to evaluate what was driving this low self worth, I became aware I was allowing unrealistic expectations to rule my thoughts.  I have moved work to a less prominent place in my life hierarchy and am striving to Work to Live not Live to Work.   I have come to understand the growth I was looking for in my spritual life was within ME all along.  I was looking for these growths to come from an experience and was not nourishing the growth from within.   I am back to jumping in to life feet first, I am opening my heart to listen for my calling, I am feeding my soul with more relevant experiences.  Don't get me wrong my travel adventures are not over, just the unrealistic expectation from them.

My final memories of the past I wish to relive are the fond memories of the animals who crossed my path during this trip.  After all they are creatures of God also!  Till the next post God Bless

Dog joining us for Mass at  Ancient Corinth
Father Rob did not miss a beat! 2011
Riding my Ass
(did I really just say that!) 2011

Burros of Lindos Greece - 2011

Camel of Kudasi Turkey 2011

Never have I seen so many dogs without homes. But they appear heathy and well  fed

 For the Finale  - my favorite things of Greece:


Friday, July 16, 2010

Italy written by third party!

__2013 update_______________________________________________
So I am going to be right up front here, the lower words are not mine, yes I admit they are plagiarism at  its best!  Back in 2010 I wanted to post my amazing trip to family and friends on Facebook, being exhausted at the end of each day my mind was blank.  Mind you I said it was blank but it was still full of ingenuity so I stole, I mean borrowed a fellow pilgrim peeps words and dropped them in to my blog. I made it clear that these were the words of another but I thought it was time to clean it up a bit and add photos to go along with Kevin's very well written words.  The lower words can also be found where they originated on Lino Rulli's Fan page and Facebook page if you can scroll back to 2010   __________________________________________________________

Kevin and Norvina Sage reporting from the hotel here in Rome, a stone's throw from Vatican City (well, maybe not with my arm...). We volunteered to send in some reports from the Italy pilgrimage with Lino and crew. And after only two days, there's already so much to talk about. I'll try to be brief, but probably won't be. After all, we are talking about Lino.

Let's start off in New York... We were told by Mountain (our tour guide) to meet up at the gate at the JFK airport (which was sweltering hot due to weak air conditioning). But since Mountain was already in Rome and none of use knew each other, he basically said "look for Lino". As I suspected, Lino arrived kind of late, not too long before our scheduled takeoff time, and stopped by just long enough to say hi to the small group of us that were already there. I jokingly said that I was surprised he wasn't in the VIP lounge. His reply: "That's where I'm heading if I can find the rest of the crew!" He also told us that Father Jim was not coming anymore because he had "other commitments" and that Ryan Stewart - ex-producer of the Catholic Guy Show and current producer of Fully Alive - was taking his place. Exit Lino. Lou dropped by a few minutes later looking for Lino, said hi, and took off looking for Lino. All I could think was that this seems really organized...

As we were waiting, the loudspeaker started calling for an "Angelo Rulli". They had bumped him to first class. The listeners...and crew...were all in coach of course. When he arrived back to us common-folk again, Norvina and I gave him a couple bottles of Purell, which he loved and immediately used since he'd just shaken hands with everyone. As we boarded the plane, I saw Lino sitting in the back row of first class and asked how come he didn't save us a seat which point the flight attendant turned to Lino and said, "wow, everybody hates you!" I guess others were giving him grief too. Flight was uneventful (though late), but Fr. Rob was "running hot" because he had a window seat and the dude next to him wouldn't move to let him get into or out of his he stood for an hour in the aisle.

Fast forward something like 14 hours later, and we were all standing outside St. Peter's Basilica, ready to do the Scavi tour. This is a tour which is very hard to get onto, which takes you below St. Peter's to the old pagan necropolis underneath. Wandering through the old tunnels and tombs, you get to see two major spots: the original tomb of St. Peter, and his current resting place, where you can actually see fragments of his bones sitting in a hole in a dirt wall, underneath the original graffiti wall which reads "Peter is here."
Photo added by Dee in 2013

The Scavi tour was REALLY cool. Actually it was horribly hot and humid, but totally worth it. They split us up into two groups and Lino and crew were not in our group, so I can't really say much about what it was like to tour the Scavi with them, but as for our group, we enjoyed it but were all working on 0-2 hours of sleep and were trying really hard not to pass out. Lou interviewed us afterward to get our thoughts on whether St. Peter's bones were real...we both said yes, but I totally blanked talking about other aspects of the tour. I hope he edits that out! He seems cool so I'm sure he will. He's also very easy to talk to and a great partner (hey-oh!) for Lino on the show.

We went to dinner as a group the first night. Maureen gave a quick toast and Fr. Rob gave the traditional blessing...because Lino had complained about his improvised prayer earlier in the day! End day 1. I think it's safe to say everyone crashed hard when they got back to their rooms.

(Photo of me added 2013) first dinner In Rome

photo added in 2013 -Street music, first dinner in Rome
Day 2: In addition to the unexpected treat of the Scavi tour on day 1, we had also learned a couple days before the trip that we were going to visit Castel Gandolfo (the Pope's summer home outside Rome) and would get to see the Pope for The Angelus at noon. We were all carrying bags of religious items (rosaries, crucifixes, etc.) to be blessed by the Pope...Lino's bag contained a pair of his pants! We all teased him about having his pants blessed, but he wittingly replied was "my pants are blessed everyday!". (Hey-oh!) Actually he only brought the pants in case he needed to change out of shorts later for mass at St. Paul's...

One of the funniest moments happened 5 minutes after boarding the bus. Lino got on the mic to explain that they were going to draw two names out of a hat each day, and the lucky winners would get to have a private (or in Maureen's words, "intimate") lunch with Lino. About 10 seconds later, Lino announced Maureen had forgotten the hat of names....then covered with "this tour is about as well-produced as the show!" They improvised by picking seat numbers instead. After announcing that "Lou just grabbed it for me" (hey-oh!), Lino read out the numbers that Lou had grabbed. And nobody answered for a few seconds. A defeated Lino complained that nobody wants to eat with him and retreated to his seat. Of course someone eventually realized they'd won and started yelling joyfully. Congrats Dee!
My roommate Mindy, Lino "The Catholic Guy" and Me - Lunch at the plaza outside Castel Gandolfo
Castel Gandolfo was's up in the hills about an hour East of Rome set on Lake Albano. Not a bad place to spend the summer. The Pope makes his appearance for the Angelus in a small courtyard, packed to standing room only with sweaty Italians and other pilgrims. While waiting, we got to spend a lot of time talking with Ryan. He's a very friendly, funny, hard-working guy. To our surprise, he told us that not only is he helping Lino and crew with getting material together for next week's shows, he's also actually still producing Fully Alive this week from his Rome hotel room! So much for vacation!

The clock hit 12:00 and out came the Pope, to a thunderous applause, cheers, song, and chants of "we love Papa!" in numerous languages. It was great to see so many Catholics from so many countries all there to show their love for the Pope and the universality of Catholicism. I (Kevin) being the token non-Catholic of the entire group, found it really moving to see such enthusiasm and joy for the Vicar of Christ. After the Angelus, he addressed us in a number of languages to welcome us and bless us. It was great.

Norvina and I were standing with Ryan in the middle of the courtyard. Lino came by before it started to tell us we should move to the side for better pictures so we could see the Pope's legs... creepy. We figured the middle would be better so said no thanks. Although I didn't tell him to his face, I should say it here (since Lino Rulli is #1 here): he was right. Not about the legs, because that would be weird. But you could see better from the side because the Pope's face was not blocked by the podium there. Lino: 1, Kevin: 0.

We wandered around Castel Gandalfo individually for a while, had lunch, and checked out the parish Cathedral of St. Thomas of Villanova. And we took a group shot with Lake Albano behind us. Priceless. On the way back to the bus we got to chat with Fr. Rob quite a bit... he's just like you imagine him. Funny, honest, has a tendency to "run hot", and is just great fun to be around. (Did I mention he didn't wear his collar at all the first day? We all clapped in the bus when he showed up in the Roman collar on day two.) Anyway, he's a great guy and is a tremendous source of information about Rome (and Catholicism of course).
The group at Castel Gandalfo (added by Dee 2013)
Later we visited the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls, located over the tomb of St. Paul, where you can even see a piece of the chain that imprisoned St. Paul. Inside, Fr. Rob celebrated Sunday Mass with the group in a small chapel inside the church. Contrary to what Lino has hypothesized on the show, Fr. Rob is a great homilist...he's engaging, to the point, and relates it well to everyday life. And he's quick, which is a true blessing when it's 100 degrees and 90% humidity. We fist-bumped Lino during the sign of peace, which he appreciated...and immediately after mass, out came the Purell. So no, the Purell comments on the show are not a joke! (lower photo's added by Dee 2013)

We also visited the San Callistus Catacombs before St. Paul's...however, you should tune in next week to the Catholic Guy broadcasts from Vatican Radio to hear about it, because I can guarantee that there will be much discussion of the visit to the catacombs. There was an absolutely hilarious, um... incident... involving Fr. Rob (the priest in the group of all people) that you MUST hear to believe! I'll stop myself here before I divulge any of the details...let's just say Maureen has some audio from the catacombs of the incident... So tune into Sirius 159/XM 117 next week!

Hopefully by our next report we'll have gotten to have lunch with Lino (if I can win something for once in my life).

Monday, July 12, 2010

I am the guide look at me when I speak!

The flight:

The flight from DFW to JFK was full and over weight, after 45 min of shuffling things around they requested two stand by people to disembark and finally we departed! I was a nervous wreck that we would not make it to JFK in time. The plane only held 76 people, I expected a much larger plane for this flight. Once at JFK I learned the flight find the flight to Rome was also delayed so all was good. Fellow pilgrim's began to arrive and we introduced ourselves and visited. Lino (Host of the Catholic Guy show on Sirius/XM) introduced him self and headed off to the sky club till it was time to board. Lucky dog.
The eight hour flight from to JFK to Rome was smooth but I was not able to sleep a wink! This lack of sleep turned my Friday and Saturday in to one very long day! Our late departure put us in to Rome several hours late but we finally landed in Italy, I thought this day would never come. The good part about the late arrival was we were able to check in to our rooms and drop of our luggage and rest a few minutes prior to starting the days activities.
Our hotel is located up the hill from the Vatican. Hotel Alimandi is a family operated hotel, they are treating us very well. After a few minutes of rest we headed off for our first tour, The Scavi Tour which is a tour of the Vatican necropolis ( a burial ground that is not above ground). This tour must be planned in advance as few spots exist for enterance. This is the site of where Saint Peter was buried. At the end we passed an area where they have the remains of Saint Peter. Above the burial ground is Saint Peters Basilica. The necropolis very hot and humid BUT very worth it. Sunday we will see the Pope so we had a few hours to shop foe items we may want blessed. Dinner was a group adventure this evening and was delicious. The meal consisted of Pasta with cheese orange sauce, yum, a stuffed fried olive,OMG!! And roast chicken and potatoes. Finally to bed!

Day two:

Even though I set the alarm for 8:30pm my roomie and I made it to breakfast on the hotel roof prior to our departure for the day activities. The coffee was wonderful, tomorrow I hope to be up early enough for cappuccino. After I scarfed down scrambled eggs with sauté mushrooms and this wonderful sliced chicken with tomatoes and olives we hopped on the bus and headed to Castel Gandolfo the Pope's summer village to attend the Noon Angelus. This was more than I could have ever expected! We were so close, you could see the warmth in his eyes. The crowd was excited and joyful. the spontaneous singing echoed in the court yard and was so beautiful. The feelings I had at that moment were indescribable!
My roomie and I "won" lunch with Lino and crew. Lino ordered lunch for us and it was good. We had this wonderful rice ball (I forget the Italian name) with cheese in the middle and fried, we also had Pizza. Lino had gnocchi, he even let us all have a bite. After lunch we headed back to Rome and the San Callisto Catacombs. We were lucky enough to get the Italian nazi tour guide! The fun began in a small building the guides use to explain what we were about to see. Appears at one time the building we were in was a church, Father Rob had the nerve to say something and the guide informed him this was a church and he should show reverence and be quite. Mind you Father Rob did have his Collar on! This was the beginning of the end for Father Rob and the tourist guide. There are over 40 catacombs in Rome, this one had an estimated half a million Christians buried in it some being Popes. The sepulchres, now empty, once contained the remains of 9 Popes and of 8 Bishops of the 3rd century.
the last room we viewed Father Rob was looking up at the ceiling and the tour guide stopped and yelled "Father, I am the tour guide you are to look at me when I speak" OMG she lost the crowd, it was so hard to keep focused, to be respectful of the burial site and not just start laughing at Father Robs surprised reaction to this call out. Father Rob asked if he was not allowed to look around and she said "NO I am the guide, the speaker and it is respectful to look at me when I speak!"  When were out of the catacombs she asked where we were from and when she found out we were Catholic she went "momma Mia" and kept her hand covering her mouth till we boarded our bus! What bad Catholics are we! LOL

Our day ended with Mass at Saint Paul Outside the Walls. We BYOP (brought our own priest) and was able to use one of the beautiful chapels at the Basilica.
During the 4th century, Paul's remains were moved into a sarcophagus, except for the head, which according to church tradition rests at the Lateran. Paul's tomb is below a marble tombstone in the Basilica's crypt, at 1.37 metres (4.5 ft) below the altar. The mosaics works here are breath taking. The perception and depth are truly amazing.

Evening free time groups went separate ways some dinner others world cup and yes finally bed!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

2 days . Preping. Check.

So many things to think about to make the trip go smoothly, short hair? Curly hair? What shoes to take? What does one wear it Italy?  How many bags do I need to pack. Me oh my whats a girl to do!

Had the short hair last year on the cruise to Alaska.  Going with the perm this year.  Was hoping for wash and go, seems I ended up with wash and Bozo!!  Thank Goodness for all those 3oz hair products!

On to the important issue of packing:

I have searched internet land and have found  if one does not wish to look like a tourist while touring Italy do not wear white tennis shoes.  Okay do you really think that a group of 40 people hanging around each other is not going to look like a group of tourist! LOL.  Following the non tennis shoe recommendation I found a great pair of Keen Katie Strap Sandals.  LUV them!  Comfy, very supportive and cute.  Thank goodness I feel secure in not needing to pack a shoe for every outfit!  I also feel confident I will not have tired feet no matter how much walking I do.  

My other great purchase was a CitySafe 200 shoulder purse.  Not a day to day stylish purse but it will make a great travel purse.  Has steal meshing in the  front and bottom to protect you from purse slashings. The adjustable shoulder strap is  also wire-reinforced.  I will feel quiet secure carrying my IPAD and Camera.  The bag boasted a pocket to carry a water bottle, I have not found a small enough bottle for the pocket.  My camera will fit nicely in the bottle holder though.  Speaking of water bottles I found a great bottle with a filter that I can refill throughout the day, unfortunately it will have to roll around in the bottom of my purse.

Our Travel planner, Mountain (cool name huh), made several great recommendations for us.  The first one is to use a waist travel belt to carry our passport and money.  A Great tip that should be shared with anyone who plans on competing on Amazing Race!   Note to Brother Dan, sorry this is not a Fanny Pack, this goes unnoticed under your shirt.   The second suggestion sounds un-do-able BUT is very do-able and the suggestion is pack carry on only!

The airline 3-1-1 can be intimidating but with a little creativity IT CAN BE DONE.  Go for the natural look, powder make up such as bare minerals is just the trick.  Solid Deodorant does not have to go in the zippy bag. Woolite individual packets, great item to wash the quick dry clothes you packed.   Finally, purchase toothpaste and other cream/gel items in the airport or your destinations.

I think I have checked and double checked everything.  Flight from DFW to JFK departs Friday July 9th at 10:00an.  Can't wake up late as I have a two hour drive to DFW.   Pray for no delays as I only have 2 1/2 hours from arrival at JFK to catch my 5:35pm flight to Rome.   Good Luck has already been placed on our group as we recently found out the Scavi Tour (Saint Peter's Tomb) has been added to our agenda.  This tour is very hard to get, only 250 people a day are allowed on the tour.  I am very excited.

Will start my updates Saturday nite or Sunday morning Rome time as long as I have no technical difficulties.

See you then.