Archive for the 'Places' Category


Beijing 2008 Olympics Preview

We’re 14 days away from the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics and Beijing is still smog covered, though the monumental buildings are finished, athletes are wrapping up their training, and the performers are doing their final dress rehearsals. Being the avid Olympics follower that I am, I’ve compiled a list of links that are interesting/informative:

First and foremost, the schedule of events/finals/cermonies can be found here. My favorites and probably the most popular are the Swimming, Track, and the less popular Hockey events. Michael Phelps aims to break several Olympic and World records in swimming so watch the events he’s participating in.

New Buildings/Venues
Here’s a Reuters article on the new venues that were built in Beijing especially for the Olympics, of which the only one I’m thrilled about is the Central China TV Building that a picture of can be found here. The aquatics center is awkward looking and the “Bird’s Nest” looks like an accidental pile of steel and crap.

Here’s a link to a photo gallery provided by the Olympics. There’s a couple interesting shots in there you may be interested in.

That’s about it for now. Have fun.


Firenze, Italia

Basilica Di Santa CroceKnown as Florence, Italy in English-speaking countries, Firenze has by far the best collection of dead people on the face of the planet. In the Basilica di Santa Croce (pictured at right) alone are the following, some of which make up the ‘Sons of Florence’:

  • Dante
  • Galileo Galilei
  • Niccolo Machiavelli
  • Guglielmo Marconi
  • Enrico Fermi
  • Michaelangelo
  • Julie Clary, wife of Joseph Bonaparte, and their daughter Charlotte NapolĂ©one Bonaparte

And those are just the most notable in that Basilica alone- there are far more that under any other comparison would be very notable indeed. I was very fortunate to be able to get to see this and take pictures of all of these amazing tombs.

After a five minute walk you can be at the door of Vivoli Gelato tucked away in a back alley just a couple blocks from the basilica. I was referred to this place by a former teacher that had been there and tried the Rice Gelato. It sounded like a bio hazard to me but I went ahead and got it; of course, I loved it. I recommend it to anyone that can make it out to Florence, which I also recommend as a tourist location.

If you don’t like to visit churches/basilicas/cathedrals, then Italy probably isn’t a great place for you to visit. Sure there’s plenty of other things to do, places to see, etc., but you really can’t get the cultural and historical experience without looking at the religious places. The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, better known as ‘The Duomo’ (‘duomo’ is Italian for cathedral), is an absolutely astounding work of Renaissance architecture. It is still today the largest free standing masonry domed building in the world. You can climb the stairs all the way to the top of the cupola where, needless to say, you have a view of the entire red-roofed city. What astounded me the most was that it took 140 years to build, meaning that not a single person was alive both when it started and when it finished.

One last feat of Florentine architecture that amazed me was the Ponte Vecchio bridge. This is by no means an ordinary bridge. On both sides of the bridge are buildings, now shops, that are supported on stilts off the sides of the bridge. They are mostly jewelery shops and people, mostly tourists, can walk down the center street and shop. All of this occurs on a bridge (over troubled waters… I’m not kidding the water is disgusting).


‘Ave Maria’, Florida

Ave Maria's City CenterThere’s a new township in Florida called Ave Maria that, hence the name, is widely Catholic. This new development is being built in conjunction with Ave Maria University- and according to the Ave Maria Website it is the first modern town to do so. The layout of the 5000 acres includes an oratory (a cathedral that isn’t technically a cathedral) at the town’s center with both commercial and residential buildings in the immediate circle around it. Residents, although non-catholics are welcome (but will probably get beat up and have their lunch money stolen), are predominantly Catholic and can live in a single family home, condominiums, or apartments.