Colin, I’m not really a crazy koala bear lady, really ….

Barry, Barry quite koalantrary, how does your eucalyptus grow?
With river red gun, and tallow wood, and
Small leafed peppermint all in a bowl!


I really am not a crazy koala bear lady. Really.

It might have seemed that way though, recently at Comic-Con in San Diego. I had been looking forward to the autograph session with Colin Morgan and Katie McGrath from Merlin, for which I was so lucky to get tickets two days previously. I love the show, and to meet Colin and Katie was just over the top for me.

So, for the past six weeks, while I was in Italy, and again, in Comic-Con, I am doing the project with the Australian Koala Bear Hospital’s Barry the Koala Bear, titled “Where’s Barry”.  I take pictures of Barry in various poses and situations to help raise awareness for koala bears. I have been having so much fun, that I thought it would be great to get a pic of him with Colin who plays Merlin on the show. When I got there, I was told I could have either an autograph or a picture and I knew I had maybe twenty seconds if I had a horseshoe somewhere on my person ….

So when I am in front of Colin, who has beautiful blue eyes, and who was sitting beside Katie, who is so gorgeous in person, I blather on about the Koala Bears in Australia. Faintly I could hear someone say, “Ma’am, Ma’am” as I rush through to the end about Barry being an Emperor in Rome, and being shot out of a cannon and well would he mind if we took a picture too and by the way here is where he can see other pics of Barry as I smack my card on the table with web info on the Where’s Barry project.


Poor fellow. I am sure he must have thought I was nuts.

No, I’m just an artist.

And at the end of that autograph session, I felt that I fit right in at Comic-Con.

Colin Morgan, Barry and Julia Trops
Colin Morgan, Barry and Julia Trops

To see the rest of the Barry Pics, please click on this link, it will take you to my facebook album.

Edited August 5th. I’ve changed my mind. Yes, I am a crazy koala bear lady. I’m a crazy animal lady. I have 9 cats. I stick up for animal welfare. The Sled Dogs, remember them? I haven’t forgotten. It would make me the happiest if the world decided that – you know, animals shouldn’t be abused, or treated unfairly, or slaughtered the way they are, or kept in those horrible pens … that the people of the world realized that our actions, our humanity is a joke, when we don’t respect other life forms. Animals have souls, they have feelings, they have everything the same as you and me, except that their mode of communication is different – not non-existent. Are any of you aware of the plight of the koala bears, or of other species? Or are you happy in your complacence, your nintendo, your tv shows. Barry was a small thing, but I enjoyed it, and I felt that I was doing something. You know a bit more now too. What are you going to do about it?

Rome Day 3 – The Modern

Another walking day but this time focused towards the north western part of the city, near the Villa Borghese. I was unable to get tickets for the time I was there, so tried to get them on the internet the night before. That was unsuccessful, and the result was i went to visit the museum to purchase them in person. Apparently, you can only reserve in excess of two days in advance by phone. Because I did not want to put the call on my cell phone, I used the pay phone. Thank goodness as I was on hold for about five minutes. Ticket reservation obtained for July, I left and carried on to the Gallery of Modern Art not far away. I would go to this one again for sure. The glass floor in the entrance was mind blowing. So many amazing paintings of the 1800s and the sculpture of that time is fabulous and intricate, and just gorgeous. The urinal signed by R Mutt is also housed here amongst some other history making pieces. Unfortunately there was no catalog of works in English, so I do not have a copy.

Not far away in the park is the Art Gallery of Carlo Bilotti. It’s claim to fame is the de Chiricos. The guide book Frommers Italy 2012 did not say there was one Warhol, one Larry Rivers, one Dubuffet – I think if it had, I probably would not have gone. I like de Chiricos’ work but the others, I don’t know if I would make the effort. There was an artist in the lower gallery whose work was minimally interesting but I do not remember his name, and did not make the effort to try.

It was still fairly early so I took the metro from Flamino to Vittorio Emanuele and walked through the Piazza to Santa Maria Maggiore. Quite beautiful, the church. So much opulence, so much grandiosity. I understand that much of what the church did was good in that it has helped people to give more form and structure to their lives, but I do wonder how much of the money spent on buildings would have been better served in actually aiding the people, rather than being in judgement of them. So many confessionals line the inside of the building, so many people giving confessions. To be human is to “sin”, it is just a fact of life. If you didn’t sin, you wouldn’t be here, I don’t know, it just seems like confessing sins and seeking absolution is almost a denial of what it is to be human.

Barry had fun here.

Barry at Santa Maria Maggiore Rome Italy
Barry at Santa Maria Maggiore Rome Italy

The park was beautiful to walk in, and it was a very pleasant day. I am looking forward to coming back with my husband and visiting the Borghese, and the Etruscan museum. I think we will also go to the Modern once again.

Rome Day 2 – The Doria Pamphilj, the Pantheon and the Palazzo Altemps

Not yet acclimatized, I was up early, and the bed was horrid. I went and asked for a new room. The night held a lot of noise from the street, and I had the windows open not knowing that there was air conditioning in the room, or where the controls were. It just never entered in to my mind that there would be air conditioning. Anyway, I got a new room, and a topper on the bed, which helped considerably.

I bought a Roma Pass. Word of advice, don’t spend your money on one. It is good for only two visits to attractions, not three as described in other places. Don’t take the metro if you can avoid it (i.e. less than three stops). Why spend all the time traveling in the dark underground when you can walk around top side and see more?

I walked around Rome the first day planning on seeing gallerias within a specific area. It didn’t take as long to walk to where I was going, the Doria Pamphilj, so I arrived early. Looking at the map to see what else was in the area, and open, I went to the Pantheon. Amazing building, I am sure that it functioned as some sort of time piece, a reverse sun dial. The picture you see here is about 930 or so. The Doria Pamphilj was first on the list, (would not go again), the Palazza Altemps (would go again), and sites such as Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain, del Popolo and the Barberini (would go again).

I loved seeing the depictions of the females in person. There is nothing to compare to seeing them in person.

From Palazzo Altemps
From Palazzo Altemps

I left the hotel at about 745 and returned at about 1630. The whole day was spent on foot.

Arriving in Italy

The flight was long. I was so glad though that I took the flight that left JFK at 530 pm and arrived at 8 am in Rome. My husband will be taking the other flight at 930 pm, so it will be interesting to compare the two. I upgraded with Alitalia to Classica Plus, and I am so glad I did that too. A bit extra room, extra attention, definitely worth the money.

I was very concerned about going through customs as I had heard horror stories from other people. In fact it was very easy. I did not have any paperwork I had to fill out, instead they seem to rely on the honour system. The fellow at the gate just looked at my passport and gave it back, again, no stamp. What?? I said, “that’s it?” he said Ciao! Ciao! Ciao! translated meaning, get the hell out I got more people to get through. I was okay with that!

Getting from the airport to the downtown Roma Termini was so simple. Bought a ticket at one of the offices, and waited for the train. Once at the metro though, I spent an hour trying to figure it out and where to go. Got to practice my first italian phrases, Buonoserra. The metro guard looked at me, very oddly and said Buonajourno. I was still on Canada time, and the metro was dark, so of course! I asked him directions for a specific stop Dove Castro Praetori, pe favore? Rebibbi he replied and pointed, down then up. So many stairs! i did not realize there were elevators, and going up the escalators with my two 50 pound bags, and my 30 pound back pack was a bit tiring.

Once on the metro, I had one stop, and another phase of the journey was complete. It was a block and a half walk to the hotel on cobble stone streets for part of it, and I had nightmares of the wheels on my suitcase giving out. What on earth would I do then? Hire a taxi at a huge rate, no doubt.

The hotel was quite nice, in a good neighbourhood. Front desk people were superb, and I staggered (almost literally) up to my room. I actually did have an elevator. With relief I settled in, and tried to lay down for a bit. The bed was very hard, and gave me sore hips (I am a side sleeper). I was up in an hour, and it was 1 pm, so decided to wander around the area becoming familiar with how the streets worked/laid out, how they were labeled and such. I also returned to the metro to learn how that was set up, where the shops were, and bought a map. Glad I did that, it was to serve me in good stead later.

To give you an idea of how far down the metro was, I took an escalator down and walked the entire time on the escalator, it was 65 steps of continual walking. Each step was the average 10 inches high/wide, and it took 80 seconds for the time I started walking to the time at the top. How far down is that?