A Travellerspoint blog

April 2014

Days 8 and 9: Rome, Italy

all seasons in one day 65 °F

Hello blog readers,

I am sorry for the skimpy and sometimes nonexistant posts recently. This is due to a lack of birds and a temporary camera malfunction.

Yesterday was devoted to sightseeing the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.

Today we toured the Vatican City and the Pantheon. Again, I sadly do not have any photos so in order to experience a much more in-depth rendition on the past few days, visit my family's blog:
http://gryphonglobetrotters.travellerspoint.com

Thanks and hopefully my camera issue will be solved by tomorrow when my family and I travel to Florence.

Stay tuned,
Henry
World Life List: (715 Species, 1 life bird: EURASIAN BLACKCAP)

Posted by skwclar 13:31 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

Day 7: Sorrento to Rome

rain 65 °F

Hi all,

Today was a rainy travel day. I am sorry but this will be another boring post with no photos because there was really nothing to photograph (no good birds today).

The morning was devoted to catching the train to Naples and visiting the Naples Archaeological Museum, which stored many amazing artifacts from Pompeii that are too precious to have them exposed to the elements in the actual ruins. It was a very interesting place.

Then, after grabbing a quick bite to eat, we caught two trains, the second one being a super fast 100+ MPH train, to Rome. After quite a bit of a walk, we made it to our rental apartment and dragged our heavy luggage up four flights of steep stairs.

Whew! We checked into our room and then it was off to the Galleria Borghese via the city bus. The gallery was stunning; it was almost aesthetically confusing there was so much beautiful artwork and sculptures at which to look!

After a good amount of time there, we waited for a bus to take us to our dinner restaurant for an entire forty minutes and then finally hailed a cab. Upon arriving at the restaurant, we found that it was crowded with people and there was a huge line of Girl Scouts waiting to enter. We were desperate so we figured that any restaurant in Italy is fine so we headed into the one across the road.

It turned out to be a lovely, quiet meal, with my little sister (again) getting buttered up by the waiter.

Then, after a quick walk and a long hike up the stairs back to the apartment, we retired for the evening.

It was a tiring day and one of the less interesting days on out trip, but I suppose that these types of days are necessary in order to link more interesting ones together.

Again, I promise for a better post tomorrow!

Henry
World Life List: 714 Species (no life birds today)

Posted by skwclar 12:13 Archived in Italy Comments (2)

Day 6: Last Day in Sorrento

rain 65 °F

Hi all,

Today was my second and final day in the cute Italian town Sorrento. I am very tired and it was overall a rainy day so I will only list the highlights of the day: getting my life bird CITRIL FINCH (no photos), going on a pretty walk along the sea, and eating a fancy Italian pizza dinner and gelato.

Sorry for the brief post, I promise a longer one with more photos tomorrow when we will travel to Rome!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 714 Species (1 life bird today: CITRIL FINCH)

Posted by skwclar 13:17 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

Day 5: Capri Island

semi-overcast 70 °F

Today my family and I took a day tour of the beautiful Capri Island.

From our rental apartment, it was a short walk down to the quay in Sorrento where we grabbed a quick bite to eat.

Then, we quickly boarded a large hydrofoil boat that left promptly at 9:15am for the gorgeous nearby Capri Island.

As we approached the island, I came to realize that huge, magnificent cliffs and mountain peaks towering thousands of feet over the ocean guarded most of the perimeter of the island. The ship came into the one place where cliffs didn't meet ocean, at a nice little tourist town. It wasn't our favorite place because it was crowded with tourists, although we soon walked out of the main artery of the village.

Soon, we took a nice stroll up a road on the outskirts of the town that led up a beautiful hill. The view from the top was definitely worth the small grunt:
06BCB5CE2219AC6817A0EA6F2218D5DF.jpg

Here is a picture of the beautiful yet deadly Mt. Vesuvius from the top:
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On the way back down I got my life bird EUROPEAN SERIN, a beautiful male specimen:
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I also attained two more life birds that I didn't manage to photograph on the walk, EUROPEAN PIED FLYCATCHER and BLACK REDSTART.

I also saw this lizard:
06CA88FA2219AC6817D6C9825EFDF9F0.jpg

After a lunch of very thick panini sandwiches I felt a bit sick to my stomach so my family and I relaxed on the bench, and soon I miraculously felt better!

Then, we purchased four tickets for a boat tour that circumnavigated the island, and we were soon on the boat. Most of the ride was admiring the cliffs and mountain peaks that towered above us, some of which were so high that they were covered in the clouds and mist only found at high elevations.
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At one point I even spotted a fruiting cactus hanging on to a cliff. Who knew?!
06D672B22219AC6817214035D72D3B8A.jpg

Half-way through the boat ride it became unbearably hot and I was miserable because I forgot to bring my hat and sunglasses, and all of the shady spots on the boat were taken up! (The boat was scarcely any larger than a typical motor boat)

I was hot and sweaty, and my feeling of queasy-ness had returned thanks to the rocking motion of the boat. The second half of the boat ride was, for the most part, a negative experience for me.

Thankfully, a stop that broke up my nausea was when everyone got out of the main boat and we all boarded little row-boats with our own personal guide. We all headed towards the cliff and the guide instructed us the lay down on the floor of the boat

Suddenly, an ocean current picked us up, the boat was pushed through a narrow opening in the cliff, and we were soon in a marine cave. The water color was a beautiful greenish blue and it was a very special place, even with many tourists in with us.

The rest of the boat ride, the ferry back to Sorrento, and the remainder of the afternoon and evening was rather uneventful with the exception of another fantastic Italian pizza dinner (I got a four cheese pizza this time).

It was a good day and nice to cherish the outdoors because it looks like we have a rainy week ahead of us. Bird-of-the-day to the photographed life bird EUROPEAN SERIN and runners-up to the non-photographed lifer EUROPEAN PIED FLYCATCHER and BLACK REDSTART.

Good birding and stay tuned!

Henry
World Life List: (713 Species, 3 life birds today)
Life bird species:
European Serin
European Pied Flycatcher
Black Redstart

Posted by skwclar 12:35 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Day 4: Turkey to Italy! (+ Pompeii)

overcast 65 °F

Hi all,

Today my mom, Pearl, and I traveled to Italy to meet my dad and continue our journey with him.

Our Turkish Airlines flight, on a B737-800, left Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport at 11:45AM. The flight was extremely turbulent (made worse by my mom gasping every time the plane hit a patch of unstable air), and we had a bit of a wacky pilot, although the airline service was superb.

After a frightfully steep ascent from the airport, the service on board was deluxe (even though we were in economy class) with plenty of legroom and a great lunch. The airline offered us a menu for lunch, a complete, delicious meal, and even a chocolate afterwards, despite the fact that the flight was less than 2 hours in duration! Great service; no wonder Turkish Airlines has won the #1 airline in Europe for three years in a row now.

Then, we had a quick descent into Naples, Italy, and as we were coming into the airport, both my mom and I grasped our seats and...

BANG! Our plane hit the ground so hard that the noise was deafening and our gorge rose substantially (thankfully, no one became sick).

There was a moment of silence, and then everyone in the jet broke out in a loud, excited chatter about the extremely rough landing they had just gone through.

It was a weird flight. Since the airport service in Naples put stairs leading both to the front as well as the back doors of the plane, we got off the jet extremely fast (we were in the penultimate row of the plane) and got great seats on the bus. Because we got great seats on the bus, we were able to hurry off the bus first and we were the first ones in the non-existent line for customs.

Suddenly, I looked to my right, and there was my dad peering through the glass at us and laughing his head off because I had made it my personal task to make sure we didn't have to wait in any lines (cue evil laugh).

After the quickest immigration check of our life, my mom, Pearl, and I greeted and hugged my dad and we were on the bus out of there within an hour.

Before going to our hotel, we stopped at the famous Pompeii and took a forty-five minute Rick Steve's audio tour of the place, which was a great decision because Pompeii is huge and we wouldn't have known where to go if we had not done the audio tour. I took many photos, but here are my favorites:

The ruined town with its destroyer, Mt. Vesuvius, looming in the distance:
D4DA48302219AC6817474B6B18C70994.jpgD4DC1E182219AC681708561A481BFF58.jpgD4DDB2D72219AC6817585934F113165E.jpgD4DFA36D2219AC6817542B34C27E484A.jpg

I also saw a few birds there, including the ones pictured below.

Today I had a "Eurasian trifecta!" You'll see what I mean:

First I had a few EURASIAN TREE SPARROWS which I didn't manage to photograph.

Next, I had this EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE:
D4E1AD232219AC68178D7F000D58931D.jpg

Then, to complete the trifecta, I photographed this dashing EURASIAN MAGPIE:
D4E7C8A12219AC681738613E5659CC62.jpg

I also saw a bird species I haven't seen since New Zealand: a COMMON BLACKBIRD. They were introduced to New Zealand from this part of the world.
D4E9AF932219AC68176B2775EA37B439.jpg

It was amazing touring Pompeii, which was something I had wanted to do my entire life.

Then, my family and I took a city train from Pompeii to the lovely village of Sorrento. It was a perfectly Italian ride, because the train passed through beautiful orchards of lemons and oranges and an accordion player even came aboard and serenaded everyone in our lucky train car with Italian-sounding accordion music.

Finally, we arrived in Sorrento, and after searching for a while, we finally found our apartment which we will be staying in for three nights. We checked in and then had our first Italian meal--a wonderful symphony of fantastic pizzas in a fancy restaurant (margarita pizza for me, of course), followed by an encore of delicious gelato purchased from a local vendor. It was bliss.

The rest of the evening was spent practicing and relaxing.

I gained only one life bird today, a SUBALPINE WARBLER at Pompeii (I didn't manage to photograph it), so that will be the bird-of-the-day. Runner-up to the "trifecta" of Eurasian Collared-doves, Tree Sparrows, and Magpies.

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 710 Species (1 life bird today: Subalpine Warbler)

Posted by skwclar 13:14 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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