Nerdos iuvat fortuna

Thoughts from the life of a big nerd

The Ultimate Nerd Vacation

Every night brings a new, masterfully-crafted meal with 5-star service. Personal room attendants wait on your every whim. Mountains of food appease your appetite at all times. Now that is the perfect vacation, right?

Well, maybe for some people, but for the true nerds out there, a cruise to the Mediterranean means exciting piles of rocks and the chance to witness history come alive. To tread in the footsteps of Caesar, Cicero, Plato, and Paul. The first time I visited the Mediterranean I toted along my copy of the Iliad and read it there for the first time. Ever since that trip, the ancient world came alive, and this most recent cruise was no exception.

Since this trip was something of a geek-out for me, I thought it appropriate to share my 5 nerdiest moments from our vacation:

Take me to the bridge! Swisssshhhhh

1. Spaceship Equinox: The elevator control panels for all of the elevators on the Celebrity Equinox looked just like a hand-scanner from any number of sci-fi movies. I couldn’t resist the urge to use my hand to call an elevator, with the hope that security would recognize my unique handprint and not lock me out of the system for good. Unfortunately, I still had to press a button to go up or down, and I was left with the hope that on my next cruise there would be true hand scanning control panels.

2. The Narrator: We used our new video camera pretty extensively throughout the trip, and of course I had to add some pithy narration in case we forget 30 years from now where exactly we were. My personal favorite narration was in the Straits of Messina before we disembarked for the day when I gave special honor to the legendary Scylla and Charybdis. The mythical creatures have been linked with the straits because of its narrowness and difficulty for ships’ passage.  Fortunately, all of our crew and passengers survived the dangerous passage, and our video will forever commemorate our success.

It doesn't get any better than this

3. Gelato Heaven: When something makes your mouth water at the mere thought and stimulates your taste buds to the point that nothing will satiate them, you have encountered a taste of heaven on earth. Also known as Italian gelato. Twice a day at minimum was not enough to satisfy my deepest desires, so I had to savor every bite by making exquisite sounds and letting my face relax into extreme happiness. Bliss. Pure, unadulterated bliss.

An ancient library, now offering its own knowledge

4. Radical Ruins: We visited our fair share of ruins on our trip. The Acropolis, Ephesus, Pompeii, and the Roman Forum are just a few of the main events. Ephesus was particularly exciting because it was my first visit (the picture above is from the Library of Celsus in Ephesus). Setting me loose in ruins is like letting a kid loose in a candy shop. Unfortunately, in Ephesus we had to stick with our guide, but in some of the other locations we had sweet, sweet freedom.  Anything that can be explored will, and anything that can’t will merit as close a look as legally (and physically) possible. Something inside me does a dance whenever I’m around ruins, and it’s only with a sad puppy face that I am reluctantly led away by my gracious and understanding family.

Private fountain in Domitian's Palace on the Palatine Hill, Rome

5. Pining over the Palatine: This past semester I took a class on the topography on Ancient Rome, and I knew it would be helpful on our trip, but I never guessed how much I would remember. After a visit to the Colosseum we ascended the Palatine Hill, the home of Rome’s emperors, and walked around the ruins of the various royal residences. Without any knowledge of what to look for, the ruins are rather mysterious, but my stockpiled knowledge bubbled to the surface as I skillfully maneuvered the family around all the important spots and explained all the little details they might be interested in or might never have wanted to know in their lives. If there was any moment on vacation that I felt like a true nerd, it was on top of the Palatine Hill. It didn’t really help either that as I was explaining something about Domitian’s Palace, a small group of tourists was gathering around and listening in. Fortunately no Italian authorities were around to arrest me for illegal tour guiding. That would have been a good story!


July 4, 2010 - Posted by | Travel

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