Exploring the Roman Forum in Rome, Italy

Located adjacent to the Colosseum in Rome, Italy are the ruins of the Roman Forum. As with many other ancient ruins, when walking the grounds of the Roman Forum, one can’t help but imagine all of the individuals who influenced the history of the world walking those same steps. There are so many historic ruins that come from a variety of centuries that purchasing a guide book to fully understand the history of the site is highly recommended. Although they are all located next to each other, these ruins span thousands of years of history.

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View of the Roman Forum from Above
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Walking the Grounds
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Centuries of History
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So Many Ruins
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Ancient Columns

The Roman Forum grew organically over time, so it’s layout can seem a little haphazard compared to other historical sites. It is well worth looking at the grounds of the forum from both eye-level as well as from above. Seeing the ruins from above provides the opportunity to understand the complexity of the historic site. It can be overwhelming to view it as a whole, but focusing on each individual location will help you gain an appreciation of how each generation added to the entire Roman Forum.

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Impressive
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Looking Up at the Temple
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Some Buildings are still Standing
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So Much to See
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Another View from Above

We found the ruins of the Roman Forum to be some of the most interesting archeological sites that we have had the pleasure to visit. Too many people only visit the Colosseum and don’t take the time to walk through the Roman Forum. It is truly a fascinating site and is not only well worth visiting, but should be a highlight of anyone’s visit to Rome. You should expect to spend at least a couple of hours visiting the Roman Forum and there are guides available if you would like to learn even more about its history.

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In the Middle of the Forum
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Dominating the Skyline
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Such a Fascinating Sight to See
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Line of Statues
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The Roman Forum

 

Making the Most of Your Time in Cairo, Egypt

Egypt is definitely a fascinating country for many reasons and there are so many incredible sights to see. For most people, a trip to Egypt will start or end in the capital city of Cairo. While there are many wonderful places to visit throughout Egypt, there is much to see in and around Cairo itself. To make the most of your time in Cairo, it is best to spend at least 3 days in Cairo. These are the top things to see during your time in Cairo.

  1.  The Giza Pyramid Complex – No visit to Cairo in Egypt would be complete without going to see the Great Pyramids. Although the Pyramid of Khufu is officially known as The Great Pyramid, the entire complex is often referred to as the Great Pyramids of Giza. The Pyramid of Khufu is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the World and also one of the most intact wonders and stands 481 feet tall (146.5 meters). There are actually six pyramids that make up the pyramid complex as well as the Great Sphynx.

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    Pyramid of Khafre
  2.  The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities – Taking time to tour the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities is certainly a highlight of any trip to Cairo. As with many other sites in Egypt, having an Egyptologist as a guide is extremely helpful if you want to learn as much as possible during your time in the museum. There are so many items on display within the museum that it can be quite overwhelming. In addition to the sarcophaguses, papyrus hieroglyphs, and pieces of art, there are several dramatic statues housed within the museum.

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    Enormous Statues Inside the Museum
  3.  Dahshur – We enjoyed seeing a wonderful variety of pyramids during our time in Cairo, but visiting Dahshur was probably one of our most interesting experiences. First, we were virtually by ourselves as we walked around the pyramids as there were less than a dozen total other visitors there during the time that we spent there. Also, since it is the site of the first smooth sided pyramids, one successful and a couple of others that weren’t successful, it is an interesting look into the learning that occurred by the ancient Egyptians to create what would later become the Great Pyramids. Dahshur is located out in a remote area of the desert, which was purposeful as they wanted the pyramids to be away from any well-traveled area.

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    The Red Pyramid
  4.  Historic Old City Cairo – Wandering the narrow streets of the Old City of Cairo is an amazing experience that is worth making your way through the crowded streets to see. Just wandering the streets is quite exhilarating, but the highlight was taking a tour of an Ottoman era house that was built in 1648 and is in excellent condition as it was refurbished in 1997 as part of restoration project for the entire area. It can also be combined to see several historic mosques, synagogues, and churches.

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    Courtyard of Historic Ottoman House
  5.  Step Pyramid in Saqqara – The Pyramid of Djoser, or Step Pyramid, is an ancient pyramid in the Saqqara Necropolis. It is located about an hour outside of Cairo and we toured it as part of trip to the Giza plateau. Although most people associate the pyramids of Egypt with the smooth sided Great Pyramids, step pyramids were the predecessors to such technology. There are other temples and burial grounds to be seen around the Step Pyramid, but as with Dahshur, there are not nearly as many visitors as at the Great Pyramids.

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    Step Pyramid
  6. Mosque and Madrassa of the Sultan Hasan – We took a tour of Islamic Cairo that included the Mosque and Madrassa of the Sultan Hasan, which was truly fascinating not so much for what we saw, but more about what we learned from our guide. We wouldn’t recommend visiting without a guide unless you are familiar Sunni Islam, the history of Cairo , and the influences of the surrounding countries. Also, it is not currently a working mosque, so without someone to provide clarity on the features, it might not be as easily understood.

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    Inside of the Mosque
  7.  Sailing a Felucca on the Nile River – One of the best ways to escape the hustle and bustle of Cairo is to enjoy a ride on a felucca on the Nile River. These sailboats have been used for transportation for hundreds of years in the region and are still quite popular today, although mainly for tourists. There are plenty of other tour boats that you can take, but if you want a truly relaxing experience, then a felucca is the best choice. It takes skill to navigate the river using these unique sails, especially since they are at the mercy of the wind.

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    Sailing in a Faluka
  8. Abu Serga Church  – Saints Sergius and Bacchus Church, also known as the Abu Serga Church as well as the Cavern Church, is an important historical and religious landmark in Cairo, Egypt. The church is supposed to be built on the spot where Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus rested at the end of their journey into Egypt. The church is dedicated to Sergius and Bacchus who were soldiers in the 4th century that were killed by the Roman Emperor Maximian and achieved martyrdom and sainthood.

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    View of the Church

 

Achiote Marinated Salmon

We love the tastes of Mexico and have enjoyed a variety of special dishes throughout our many trips to the country. One of the things that we enjoy about Mexican dishes are the various spices and peppers that they use in them. This dish has spice, but it isn’t at all spicy. Achiote is made from a hard seed that is ground up and provides a deep red color to whatever it is prepared with. We made a simple paste from the Achiote, which comes as a thick block with the consistency of clay. Using fresh lime juice brightens up the dish and makes it even more savory. We chose to marinate salmon, but it would work well with any other firm fish and even pork or chicken. It is definitely a simple meal to prepare.

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Fresh Ingredients

INGREDIENTS

  •  2 Salmon Filets – about 6 ounces each
  •  1/6 cup Fresh Lime Juice
  •  1/3 of a 3 1/2 ounce package of Achiote
  •  2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
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Achiote Paste

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine the lime juice and the achiote paste in a food processor and mix it until it creates a smooth paste. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the paste onto both sides of the salmon, making sure to coat it evenly using the back of a spoon. Let the fish marinade for about 15 to 20 minutes. Heat the vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Place the salmon in the pan, skin side down, and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes until the skin gets crispy. Flip the fish and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes until the salmon is cooked through. Serve with your favorite side dish.

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Marinating Salmon
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Seared Salmon