We arrived at the foot of Via della Conciliazione in later afternoon. The sky was gray, and the air held a cold moisture. We followed the masses of people up the road towards the giant stone gates. On either side of these gates, giant Roman columns stretched off endlessly. These marked the border between Italy and Vatican City. Perched on either side of the entrance were Italian military outposts manned by heavily armed but very bored-looking soldiers.
Crossing into Piazza San Pietro, though an international boundary, was decidedly anti-climactic. However, what we found on the other side of this plaza blew us away.
It was a long and unfortunate series of circumstances that delayed our flight from New York to Algiers for 2 full days, but they say that when God closes a door, he opens a window. And for us, this window came in the form of a extremely long layover in Rome. This would give us just enough time to sneak out of the airport to go into the city, so that's exactly what we did.
Even if you know Rome only by reputation, you can probably guess that it's far too big a city to see in a single day, so we decided to break off a single bite-sized piece: a neighborhood called Trastevere.
Travel plans! This time we'll be exploring Sicily, as well as the North African nations of Algeria and Tunisa. We will also be stopping through one other mystery Mediterranean location, which will be revealed shortly. In the coming articles, you can expect to hear about cities like Algiers, Tunis, Catania, Syracuse, and Palermo, among others.
LET'S DO THIS!
Madison is the second largest city in the state of Wisconsin, behind Milwaukee. Although it has a population of about 253,000, its metropolitan area is closer to half a million. It's also the capital city of Wisconsin and the home of the University of Wisconsin's main campus. UW is actually a massive university, so it is absolutely defining to the topography of this city—Madison is largely a college town. However, there's quite a bit more going on here than just Badgers games.
In Boston, things move fast. The city is lively, dynamic, and ever-changing. However, there are some pieces of the Bostonian puzzle that are quintessential, and eternal. No matter what's going on around them, somehow, they never seem to change.
Today I'm going to single out a couple of those places: Bay Bay and Beacon Hill.
The time has finally come. It's time to talk politics. But before that, I'm going to take 2 minutes to make sure that everybody is up to speed on the Cuban Revolution.
The Cuban Revolution was one of the most unlikely success stories in modern history. Although fighting had been going on intermittently since 1953, it wasn't until 1956 that Fidel Castro (you've heard of him, right?) and 80 of his fellow rebels sailed a small yacht called the Granma from Veracruz, Mexico, back to their home country of Cuba...
It's been decades since Sublime first sang their hit song, "Santería," but today, few of us have any idea what Santería actually is. Well, on our last trip to Havana, we decided to find out, and what we discovered was completely unexpected....
Something like 90% of all tobacco in Cuba comes from the Pinar del Río province, and Viñales is the cultural center of this province. That means that, if you have ever had the pleasure of smoking a Cuban cigar, this is (probably) where it came from. But Viñales has a lot more to offer than just agriculture; it's also a UNESCO World Heritage site, as well as a national park in Cuba.
Matanzas is a small sea-side city that sits 56 miles (or 90 kilometers) east of Havana, on Cuba's northern coast. It's located in the Bay of Matanzas and is the capital of a province that is also called Matanzas, and it was definitely one of my favorite places in Cuba.
We arrived in Matanzas via camione, and then our adventure began...
Spoiler alert: this was one of my favorite places that we visited during our time in Cuba.
It was the culture and the politics that originally drew me to Cuba, but that didn't mean there was no time for relaxation. If you've already read Peter's Guide To Traveling To Cuba As An American, you know that relaxation is not *technically* even allowed for Americans in Cuba... but we're punk rockers and we broke the rules. Cuba has some of the Caribbean's most pristine beaches, so we decided to take a couple days to enjoy them.