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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Home Again, Home Again...

We survived that whirlwind of a trip! Italy was beautiful and everyone enjoyed it! I was particularly proud of my student's who could answer many of the questions pertaining to the history of many of the many different places we visited, and recognize the mythology and literary ties that surrounded us.

I will be setting up a slideshow of pictures soon, so travellers, you will be able to click on the pictures you would like and download them into your own files.

I would love feedback from the trip from everyone so when I write up the forms for explorica I can include your opinions! Just e-mail them to me!


Monday, March 21, 2011

Bologna, Venice, Verona and Milan!

Internet has been sketchy for the last few days while we stayed in Jeselo, so here is the update!

After leaving Florence we headed North to Jeselo along the Adriatic Coast. It is a beautiful resort town, and would be super fun to stay in during the summer. We walked around, went to the beach, watched the brave souls jump into the cold winter water and basically just took it all in.

On our way to Venice we stopped in Bologna. It is a University town, so quiet hip! It's little stores and open markets were wonderful and we basically just wandered and sat and ate.
The next day we headed to Venice to spend the day. After seeing the main sites we took a Gondola ride. Expensive, but well worth it as the city looks completely different from the water. I strongly suggest getting away from the crowds after seeing San Marco's Square (Piazza San Marco), the churches and palace, and getting 'lost' on the rest of the island. It is truly beautiful and quiet in all the small courtyards.

Venice is actually a string of islands (~120 of them). We had to take a boat to the city and visited a glass blowing shop on the island of Murano. Murano glass is manufactured here and can't get any more athentic than this!

Today we stopped in Verona, visited Juliet's (Guillietta) balcony and courtyard, and touched her statue for good luck. There we had lunch and wandered around before heading for Milan.

There are all sorts of things to touch throughout Italy. In Rome it was the Trevi Fountain (to come back), in Florence it was a Boar's snout (to come back), In Verona Juliet's breast (for luck in love) and a mosaic Bull's testicle's with your right foot in Milan (for good luck and fertility).

In Milan we saw the major sites and then shopped! All through Italy one can find the major European designers, but Milan is the capital of fashion for much of Europe - it's even bigger than Paris. It was awesome to window shop (because that's all we could do realistically).

Tomorrow we head home! It has been a whirlwind of a trip, but we saw SOOOOO much! This was different than what I'm used to when I stay in basically one area and take trips from there, but it was an awesome taste (literally) of many of the Italian regions. We basically ate our way from Rome to Milan. Every calorie was worth it!

Friday, March 18, 2011


Florence was beautiful. After a walk around the city and a visit to a leather maker's workshop (afterall, Florence IS known for it's leather), we were able to spend all afternoon exploring and shopping on our own. Since the sun came out today it made it even more enjoyable!

Some saw the David, and some just the replica.Some walked to the top of The Douma and looked out over the city. It was fantastic.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


On our way to Florence today we stopped in Assisi. It was a small, rustic town on the top of a large hill. It was beautiful. We had a chance to eat lunch, shop a little and explore the Medivel Churches in the town. This is where St. Francis founded the Franciscan Monastic Order in the Middle Ages. It was great history lesson.
We also visited a ceramics workshop and store where we bought our weight in hand painted ceramics. This area is known for it's ceramics, chocolate, truffles and lace - all of which are traveling home with us as well.

Afterwards we headed to Florance for an awesome pizza dinner that ended with Cream Puffs!!! MMMMmmmmmmm!!!! Everyone is celebrating both the 150 years of Italian unity and St. Patrick's Day. It's awesome.

We also had a chance to check out the awesome leather that Florence is known for. Tomorrow we get to go shopping!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

When It Rains in Rome...

...Buy an Umbrella! There will only be about 500 people asking you to buy one on the streets. May be the best 3 Euros I ever spent.

It rained a lot today, but everyone was a great sport and we saw everything we set out to see. The morning was spent at The Vatican Museums, The Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. The architecture and artwork is breathtaking.

We then went to the Colliseum and Roman Forums before heading out to the Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and other major stopping points along the way. Rome is large city and there was so much to see!
The Pantheon is one of the greatest architectural wonders of the world with its giant dome and open ceiling. The rain was running through it today making it look even more awesome than it aleady is. It's amazing to think that this was built over 2000 years ago when modern building conveniences didn't exist, and yet today with all we have, there are prolems with keeping roads paved.

Everyone made wishes at Trevi Fountain. If you throw a penny in the fountain and make a wish you will one day come back to Rome. I certainly hope that is true because there is so much more to see in this beautiful city. The city is filled with fountains, most fed by the ancient aquaducts that run from 10 miles outside the city, built thousands of years ago to carry water into Rome. Kind of a cool concept to comprehend since it is very fresh, cold and sweet to drink!

The Colliseum is amazing. Trying to imagine it filled to capacity is hard to do - it's that big. There are so many new things happening with it, such as figuring out how the trap doors worked and where they were located, how the canopy was set in place, boggles the mind.
Tomorrow we head to Florence, stopping in Assisi along the way!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


We arrived safe in Rome this evening! It was about 10 am MST, but much later here. After dinner everyone is crashing!

Italy is celebrating 150 years of unity this Thursday so Italian pride is very noticable everywhere.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Buon Viaggio!

We're off! Next post: Rome!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Before We Fly

If you visit the American Airlines website, you can go under Travel Information, click on Flight Status Notification, and recieve updates on our flight.

Please be at the airport no later than 2 hours before departure. I have the e-tickets and we all need to be in one spot when we check in.

Each traveller will be allowed 1 carry on, 1 personal and 1 50 lbs checked luggage for free. There are fees associated with bags wieghing over 50 lbs and bags over 70 lbs will not be accepted. I strongly suggest you limit yourself to 1 personal and 1 checked bag as your stuff also needs to fit into the bus. If you are travelling with family, share space and pack accordingly.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


We need a meeting next Tuesday (March 8th) at 4:30 pm! At least one member of your family (if you are travelling as a family) must attend. I also need at this point a copy of your passports and IDs as well as your tip money.

Please also have your travel plans to and from Denver in mind so we can collaborate. I will need contact info for you all as well so I can get in touch in case you go missing and the plane is leaving!

Please share this website with your friends and family if you would like them to be updated on our travels while we are in Italy!

Monday, February 14, 2011


The Emergency Number for Explorica while we are overseas is:
Provide them with the Tour Number: McLeod-1872

24 hours before departure check with the airlines to be sure they have not changed any flight information (times, gates, etc...)

Check with airlines concerning check baggage fees and what luggage is allowed. I will try and post on this later as well.

I need from all of you:
1) Copy of your passport and ID
2) Medical information if you have not provided it yet
3) Tips for the Tour Guide and Bus Drivers

Please have this to me by day 15 (before departure).

I have been informed that we will have a bus driver almost every day that is specific to our tour and will do the loading/unloading of luggage, driving, etc. Because we do travel from city to city we do need to provide a tip for this (as it is common courtesy).

Adding the bus drivers in is not that much more. I have worked out which days we travel to what I had asked for the tour guide. Tips should average $47 per traveller to cover for both for the entire trip. You are welcome to add to this add the end of the tour for the guide if you want to. Please pay this in advance so I can exchange it.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Been Meaning to Update...

..and now I have good reason to!

There has been some new hotel info so listed below is all the hotel information over again:

03/15/2011 - 03/17/2011
Hotel Parco de Medici
Via Cesare Giulio Viola 19
Roma, 00100
Phone Number: 011 39 06602331

03/17/2011 - 03/19/2011
Autopark Hotel
Via Valdegola 1
Via Lippi e Macia 22
Florence, 50127
Phone Number: 011 39 055431771

03/19/2011 - 03/21/2011
Hotel Da Bepi
Via Vicenza, 2
Lido di Jesolo, 30016
Phone Number: 0039 0421 972410

03/21/2011 - 03/22/2011
Holiday Inn Rho
via Alessandro Volta
Milan, 20017
Phone Number: 00 39 029399861

We also have our Flight info! We do have two layovers, but one will go very quickly (basically get off the plane and get onto the other). We will depart Denver in the evening of the 14th and arrive in Rome the evening of the 15th and meet up with the rest of the group. It sounds like we'll get dinner pretty much right away, have time to walk around the city if you want and then crash for the night to start fresh the next day.

Heading to Rome:

DENVER (DEN) on 03/14/2011 6:25PM
CHICAGO (ORD) on 03/14/2011 9:40PM

CHICAGO (ORD) on 03/14/2011 11:25PM
LONDON (LHR) on 03/15/2011 12:00PM

LONDON (LHR) on 03/15/2011 2:10PM
ROME (FCO) on 03/15/2011 5:35PM

Heading to Denver:

MILAN (MXP) on 03/22/2011 8:05AM
LONDON (LHR) on 03/22/2011 9:15AM

LONDON (LHR) on 03/22/2011 12:05PM
DALLAS (DFW) on 03/22/2011 5:35PM

DALLAS (DFW) on 03/22/2011 6:55PM
DENVER (DEN) on 03/22/2011 8:00PM

I will post again Monday with some more info and reminders!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


When looking for Florence, Italy on an Italian map, you most likely will be unable to find it - unless you are aware of it's Italian translation: Firenze
Florence is considered the "City of the Renaissance" and has been both the birthplace and chosen home of many famous Italians; Dante, Boccaccio, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Niccolò Machiavelli, Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, Donatello, Galileo Galilei, Catherine de' Medici, Luigi Cherubini, Antonio Meucci, Guccio Gucci, Franco Zeffirelli, Salvatore Ferragamo, Roberto Cavalli, and Emilio Pucci (to name a few).

Don't know who they all are? Look them up!

Michelangelo's famous statue David is also located in Florence. Having seen other works of Michelangelo in The Louvre in Paris, and been completely entranced by the detail carved into the marble, I can only imagine what this statue, hailed as one of his greatest masterpieces, looks like.

If you click on the link at the top of the page you can visit a virtual tour of Florence, as well as download a free audio guide for your iPod, iPhone or MP3 player.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Other Fun Information

While in Italy we will be spending our time in the Central European Time Zone, which is 8 hours ahead of us here in the Mountain Time Zone. On the right is a digital clock that records the time in Italy. Please be aware of this when communicating with friends and family!

The electricity is also different in Europe than here in the States. Italy runs on a 220V (50Hz) system and has it's own unique 3 prong plug. Please purchase a converter specific to Italy in order to charge your electronics or power anything else that may need to be plugged in. If you fail to do this you are running a VERY LARGE risk of burning out your property, and/or starting a fire.

If you would like to follow the weather forecasts more closely, please visit the following link:
Roma Weather Forecasts

From this link you can also visit forecasts for the rest of Italy as well.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Vatican Museums

Visit the Official Museum Website for information on exhibits and services.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


As the departure date creeps closer, I'd like to meet with all students and parents to review a few items.

Wednesday, Jan. 19th @ 4:30

Please attend as I will be going over some important information!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Colosseum

A little history!

Visit The Colosseum to whet your historical appetites!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Exchange Rates

Italy uses the Euro like most European countries. At the moment one US dollar equals about 3/4 (or 75 cents) of one Euro. This is a pretty decent exchange since I've been in Europe when it's been closer to half of one Euro. The current trends show a significant increase in the dollar's value worldwide, so it would make sense to continue watching this closely.

I strongly suggest watching these rates to find your best exchange. Please visit an exchange rate web site to follow the current trends if you plan on exchanging money in advance.

Money can be exchanged while there at the airport, banks and kiosks, but the rates are often more costly to the exchanger as the business will take a percentage as a fee. Exchanging in advance also will do this, but rates are usually nominal and there are companies that will deliver the money to your house. I've done this in the past and been happy with it. Depending on where you bank, they may also change over money.

The following are links that provide this service:

Travelex -They have both cash delivery as well as pre-paid cards in Pounds, Euros and US dollars that are accepted Worldwide. It just exchanges it like an ATM card would. The perk of this is great exchange rates. These CANNOT be delivered, but Travelex does have branches in Denver and I'm sure the branch can deliver it too you. They are through US Bank in Denver at three different locations: (303) 333-5713, (303) 771-5010 and (303) 260-7433.

Wells Fargo - They do not have pre-paid cards, but do have cash delivery for a cheaper rate than Travelex.

Foreign Currency - Used it and loved it!

I do not suggest traveling with traveller's checks. Fees for exchange have gone up in recent years and it is much more cost effective to use your credit or debit cards which will give you the best rates at the time. Be sure to check that your credit/debit cards are accepted overseas, although most are!

I typically travel with my Debit card and a minimal amount of cast. ATMs are available in Europe also!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Words to Live By!

At least while in Italy! Here is a list of some common phrases and their pronunciations!

yes - si - (see)
no - no - (noh)
excuse me - mi scusi - (mee skoo-zee)
hello - buon giorno - (bwon jor-noh)
goodbye - arrivederci - (ah-ree-vuh-dare-chee)
thank you - grazie - (grah-tsee-eh)
yesterday - ieri - (ee-air-ee)
today - oggi - (oh-jee)
tomorrow - domani - (doh-mah-nee)
what? - quale? - (kwal-eh)
where? - dove? - (doh-ve)

The Shopping Phrases - You cannot go to Italy without a little shopping. After all, Italy is one of the leading fashionable countries in the world.

How much does this cost? - Quante’e, per favore? - (kwan-teh pair-fuh-vor-eh)
What time do you close? - A che ora chiude? - (ah keh or-ah kee-yoo-deh)
I am just looking. - Sto soltanto guardando. - (stoh sol-thahn -toh gwar-dan-doh)
I would like... - Vorrei - (vor-ray)
Do you accept credit cards? - Accettate carte di credito? - (ah-che-tah-the kar-teh dee creh-dee-toh)

The Restaurant Phrases - Naturally, you will want to dine out to taste authentic Italian cuisine while you are there, so these phrases should help you order and decode the menu.

breakfast - colzaione - (koh-lah-tsee-oh-neh)
lunch- pranzo - (prawn-tsoh)
dinner - cena - (che-nah)
waiter - cameriere - (cah-mair-ee-air-eh)
dessert - il dolce - (eel dole-che)
carbonated water - l’acqua minerale gassata - (lah-kwah mee-nair-ah-leh gah-zah-tah)
non-carbonated water - l’acqua minerala naturale - (lah-kwah mee-nair-ah-leh na-too-rah-leh)
garlic - aglio (ah-lee-oh)
steak - la bistecca - (lah bee-steh-kah)
coffee - il caffe - (eel kah-feh)
cheese - il formaggio - (eel for-mah-joh)
ice cream - il gelato - (eel jeh-lah-toh)
milk - il latte - (eel lah-the)
bread - il pane - (eel pah-neh)
knife - il coltello - (eel kol-tell-oh)
fork - la forchetta - (lah for-ket-tah)
spoon - il cucchiahio - (eel koo-kee-eye-oh)

Numbers - If you know any Spanish, you may see many similarities in the way the Italian numbers are spelled and pronounced.

one - uno - (ooh-noh)
two - due - (doo-eh)
three - tre - (treh)
four - quattro - (kwa-troh)
five - cinque - (cheen-kweh)
six - sei (say)
seven - sette - (seh-teh)
eight - otto - (oh-toh)
nine - nove - (noh-veh)
ten - dieci (dee-eh-che)
twenty - dodici - (doh-dee-chee)
thirty - tredici - (treh-dee-chee)
forty - quattordici (kwah-tor-dee-chee)
fifty - quindici - (kwin-dee-chee)
sixty - sessanta (seh-sahn-tah)
seventy - settanta - (seh-tahn-tah)
eighty - ottanta - (oh-tan-tah)
ninety - novanta - (noh-vahn-tah)
one hundred - cento - (chen-toh)

Time Phrases

one hour - un’ora - (oon-oh-rah)
one minute - un minuto - (oohn mee-noo-tah)
Monday - lunedi - (loo-neh-dee)
Tuesday - martedi -(mar-teh-dee)
Wednesday -mercoledi - (mair-koh-leh-dee)
Thursday - giovedi - (gee-oh-veh-dee)
Friday - venerdi - (ven-aire-dee)
Saturday - sabato - (sah-bah-toh)
Sunday -domenica - (doh-men-ee-kah)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Important Contacts

Below are the hotel contact information during our travels. In emergencies we can be reached through explorica, but it never hurts for others to know where we will be. Plus now you can all look up the info and see where we will be staying!

03/15/2011 - 03/17/2011
Hotel Cascina Palace
Via Attilio Benigni 7
Roma, 00153
Phone Number: 011 39 0682002283

03/17/2011 - 03/19/2011
Autopark Hotel
Via Valdegola 1
Via Lippi e Macia 22
Florence, 50127
Phone Number: 011 39 055431771

Lido di Jesolo (Near Venice)
03/19/2011 - 03/21/2011
Hotel Da Bepi
Via Vicenza, 2
Lido di Jesolo, 30016
Phone Number: 0039 0421 972410

I believe there may be one more stop as we do spend a full day in Milan before we leave. I will update as soon as I get more information concerning this.


The weather in March in Rome averages in the high 50's for the highs, and low 40's for the lows. Obviously as we move North into Florence, Venice and Milan the weather does cool down a little, but not very drastically so be sure to pack accordingly. It should also be sunny! I suggest a light jacket to layer over a sweater or fleece instead of packing a heavy coat. As we have witnessed warmer than usual weather here at home, Italy also has been experiencing warmer weather as well, so we may have some balmy days during our stay!

Our Tour Director is:

Karen Helmig
Karen is a New Yorker transplanted in fabulous Rome, Italy (which she now calls home). She did an overseas study program there as a sophomore in college, then moved over after graduating and never made it back to NY! She loves to spend time with her family, travel (of course!), running, yoga, and relaxing with a great book or movie.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


This blog has been created to provide useful and pertinent information leading up to our trip to Italy! I also will be keeping it updated while on our trip for those who would like to keep track of our travels!

First off, I would like to remind everyone that this is NOT a school sponsored trip. It is a trip through an educational company sponsored by myself, the individual teacher. All insurances and liability are covered by the company.

I am very excited to be able to offer this opportunity as the sponsor! As a teacher I believe that educational tours are important to bringing meaning to our studies, and in Italy I hope that meaning is brought to much of my taught curriculum; such as mythology, Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Julius Caesar and Romeo and Juliet, and many other references that are found throughout classical literature and history.

At this point you all should be sure to have ordered your passports, and be double checking that the personal information you provided on the explorica website matches your passport and ID information EXACTLY! We definitely don't want to be held up due to identification issues!

More deadlines and info to come!