Ottawa 2017

Ottawa 2017

In 2017 Canada is celebrating 150 years of confederation. In this peaceful city, the capital of Canada, something unusual is happening.

Parliament buildings, library, and Peace Tower.

This beautiful city on the Ottawa River has reconciled differences between French and English issues.

The City of Ottawa on the Ottawa river

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The problem came from France under the name of “La Machine” and first showed up between the towers of this Roman Catholic Church, Notre Dame Cathedral, surrounding the golden statue of Mother Mary.

Ottawa’s Notre Dame Cathedral

The Police were prepared.

Police are standing guard to protect the people.

The threat came from this giant spider found resting in a parking lot. The cranes were brought in to take it away.

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Fortunately nearby, Long Ma, a dragon horse also rests in preparation for a battle with Kumo.

Long Ma the dragon horse

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The battle Sunday evening resulted in Long Ma defeating Kuma. The production team from France packed up and left for another city.  Search Google to learn more about “La Machine”.

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Herculaneum, like Pompeii was buried by ash from the 79 A.D. eruption of Mount Vesuvius. However the ash must have been cooler since there was not as much burning of the timbers as in Pompeii.

a chard timber

The city was rediscovered in 1709, and excavations began in 1738.  Since few bodies were discovered in the excavations, it was assumed that most of the residents escaped. However in the 1980s while excavating the ancient shoreline, (now inland) about 120 bodies were found in caves that may have been boat houses.

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mosaic tiled bath

A base relief wall plaque

A work place with ovens and water jugs

some sculpture fairly well preserved.

Interior walls were well decorated like this Mosaic of Neptune and Amphitrite.

Mosaic of Neptune and Amphitrite

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Naples and Herculaneum

From the Gulf of Naples in the northern Mediterranean Mount Vesuvius is a prominent feature of the skyline as it rises to 1,281 m (4,203 ft) . Three million people live around the base of the mountain which last erupted in 1944. Naples is the third largest city in Italy and its suburbs surround the base.

Mount Vesuvius and the surrounding homes and roads.

The mountain was declared a national park in 1995 and roads lead up to its peak.

life in Naples Italy


The city is very old dating back to the second millennium B.C. Today it is a blend of the old and the new and offers beautiful  sights as one drives along the coast.

no space is wasted between the road and the sea

A short drive from Naples is another site where excavations of an ancient city are taking Place. It is called Herculanium and was also buried by the ash from the 79 A.D. eruption. Herculanium appears to have been a richer city than Pompeii. The homes were larger and more lavishly decorated.

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The entire site is below the level of the surrounding land. It is accessed through a long tunnel and access ramp.

Access through the tunnel

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Nature is reclaiming the land after excavation.

sunset on Naples, Italy

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Pompeii Artifacts

Pompeii Artifacts

In addition to the stone walls, columns, and statues, there were many other artifacts found in the buried city. Imagine all of the pots, jugs, and jars that would be left behind by those who managed to flee the destruction.

Gymnasium near the bath house.

Behind the fence on the right of the picture above is a new roof which is sheltering many of those items found.

Pots and jugs and urns found here.

more pots, jugs and urns.

During the excavating they found cavities in the solidified ash. By carefully pouring plaster into these cavities, they were able to make casts of their shapes. The results are both surprising and disturbing.


sitting, praying or holding his nose?

Not all casts turned out to be people. Here is one of a dog.

The cast of a dog.

A dog in distress.

There is so much more to see.

Would you like the guided tour?

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Pompeii Baths

Pompeii Baths

Since Pompeii is a Roman city it has become a preserved sample of what the baths were like. Most private homes did not have their own baths because of the complexity of heating them and the amount of space they required.

Furnace for the bath

The water was heated on one area and directed to the other parts of the building through ducts in the walls and raised floors that allowed water to flow underneath them.

fire pit above raised floor

Hot water flowed under the floors

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There were separate dressing rooms for men and women, and three different temperature bath areas; cold, warm and hot. The lady’s dressing area was more plainly decorated than the men’s.

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Exit from bath house


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Pompeii Remains

The City of Pompeii was buried under the ash and cinders of Mount Vesuvius for 17 centuries before excavations began. The homes, shops and streets are well preserved and give us a better understanding of life in 79 A.D.

Artistically planned and carefully constructed.

All wooden beams and anything flammable was destroyed.

Notice holes where beams would have been supported.

some reconstruction

Some reconstruction has been done to give a better sense for what was. Records must exist to indicate who originally lived at this address. The gates are used to keep tourists away from areas that have not been made safe for the busy traffic.

nature returns to claim its land

In this Mediterranean climate it must have been a beautiful place with flower gardens everywhere.

a garden? a temple?

gathering around the green monster

Put on a pedestal and honored again.

How grand these statues must have been.

Columns still remain.

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Ancient Pompeii

Near Naples is the well known Mount Vesuvius.  In 79 AD a volcano erupted and buried the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Before the eruption Rome’s wealthy vacationed in Pompeii. Think summer homes and entertainment.

Google Satellite view of Naples, Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii.

Naples is in the top left corner. Mt. Vesuvius is top center and Pompeii is bottom right before the Google Earth credit. (About 35 km from Naples.) The map below shows where these places are in Italy relative to Rome and the surrounding countries.

Southern Italy showing Rome, Naples and Pompeii.



A central part to the life in Pompeii was entertainment in the Amphitheater.

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Walking around the amphitheater, we could see parts of very large bronze statues.

Solving the 3D puzzle of putting the head back together.

front view

rear view

with a surprise. Peek a boo!

From the arena we started to explore the excavated streets and buildings of the ancient city.

Excavated homes

excavated streets


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Inside the Roman Colosseum

Almost 2000 years old and they are still charging admission to this broken down theatre. Repairs were not started until 2013 and were reported as the first cleaning in the history of the Colosseum. Although they were scheduled to have been completed by 2016, these pictures taken in May 2016 show the progress.

Colosseum – Flavian Amphitheatre in Rome.

Some of the items inside do not look like they are part of the original plan. These columns are not like the others and can you explain the forerunner to the mechanical bull?

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scaffolding still in place

Different construction techniques were used.

old construction, irregular bricks.

later construction with regular brick.

A plaster facade was applied over the rough work.

The entrance arch is in good shape.

Impressive, metal bands hold the top of the arch together.

The arch makes a nice frame for the brighter scene outside.

Look at the size of the people in these pictures. They are regular tourists, not miniatures. The ones in the foreground with umbrellas at lower right appear so much larger than those halfway up on the right. The ones at the far side of the upper level are only noticeable by a pixel of color.

relative size of people show the expanse of the structure.

There were two levels below the arena floor. That space was used to cage the animals and gladiators. The current repair work is adding a wooden floor over that space. The original wooden floor was covered with sand. (Latin for sand is harena or arena.)

was there a roof?

It is believed there once was a fabric strung over the seating area to provide shade and shelter from the rain.

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freestanding backdrop

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Vatican’s Sistine Chapel

Just like the walls and ceiling of your home need to be repainted from time to time, imagine having to repaint the Sistine Chapel. Well, it happens. Most recently between 1980 and 1999. The soot from the candles had reduced the color so much that the fresco colors were looking monochrome. The correct term is restoration not repainting. The process removes the surface dirt without damaging the original pigments, textures, brush strokes and bristles of the original.

Our tour was not allowed to take pictures inside the chapel, and we were hustled through in a mere twenty minutes. (measured by the time stamps on the last picture before entering and the first picture after leaving.) Fortunately the web has many excellent pictures and virtual tours of the interior.

I can deliver a few pictures from outside. Between the chapel and the basilica is a small courtyard with a fountain on the extreme right.

A small courtyard off of St. Peter’s Square

On the left is the Sistine Chapel, through the arch is Saint Peter’s Square and on the right is Saint Peter’s Basilica.

Saint Gregorius the Illuminator of Armenia created the first official Christian nation in 301.

An 18 foot statue of Saint Greorius Armemiae  the Illuminator  sits in a niche in the side wall of the basilica. In the year 301, S. Gregorius converted the Armenian nation from Paganism to Christianity and they are recognized as the first Christian Nation. The sculpture was commissioned 1700 years later in 2001. 


a less seen fountain

Looking up at the side wall and roof of the Sistine Chapel for a chimney.

The Sistine Chapel is used for more than just displaying famous artwork. It is used by the popes and cardinals for meetings such as the Papal Conclave which gathers the cardinals to elect a new pope. At the end of each vote the ballots are burned after they have been counted. Sometimes several rounds are required before a vote yields consensus  on who the next pope will be. To signal when a new pope has been elected, the smoke emitted from the chimney is a different color than when the non successful ballots are burned.

White smoke for a new pope. Black smoke for failed attempts.

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St Peter’s Square

Saint Peter’s Square

The main entrance to the Basilica is through St. Peter’s Square. However, our tour began in the museum, proceeded through the Sistine Chapel, then down through the Basilica, and finally out into the square.

St Peter’s Square from the Basilica.

St. Peter’s Basilica

The Vatican is called a City State. The Trivia game calls it the smallest country in the world. It does not have its own army to defend all of its treasure, but is guarded by the Swiss Army Guard.

Swiss Army Guard.

Here is a map of the Vatican City State within the City of Rome. At the top center is the Musei Vaticani (museum). These buildings lead straight down to the Cappella Sistina (Sistine Chapel). Then through the basilica and out into the Piazza San Piedro square.

Vatican City State

Here is how it looks from Google’s satellite.

Vatican satellite view

There are two colonnades and two fountains, one on each side. So many people want to mail a post card to get a Vatican post mark on it that the post office has set up a trailer to process all of the outgoing tourist mail. Many people are mailing the post cards to themselves back home. Watch for it in one of the next two photos.


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And one obelisk in the center.


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Looking back as we leave the square to find our bus.

leaving the square

Doug looks happy with what he has seen.


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