Headed for Rome? You don’t need tickets to attend Papal Audience in August

Normally, you need to have tickets (free) to attend the weekly Papal Audience held almost every Wednesday in Rome.  There is an exception for the entire month of August every year, when no tickets are issued. Therefore you DO NOT NEED a ticket to attend the audience.

It is suggested that you just go to the audience early. It will probably be in the Paul VI Audience Hall at 9.30 or 10 AM. But you should plan to get there by 7 AM and stand in line. You will have free access.

For this year, tickets will be issued beginning in September, with the exception of Sept 13, 2017, when the Pope will be visiting Colombia.  

To get tickets for the weekly Papal audience click here.  Tickets can also be arranged through Saint Patrick’s Church in Rome ( the American Community parish in Rome) by clicking here.

 

Valuable Resources for Traveling with a Special Needs Child

Guest post by Rebecca Moore

5 Valuable Resources to Make Traveling with a Special Needs Child Less Stressful

kids-playing-863613_960_720Traveling is stressful regardless of circumstances, but traveling with children can be even more so. When your child has special needs, you may feel that traveling is overwhelming. Fortunately, programs and resources are available to make traveling with your child easier and more enjoyable for the whole family.

1. Kids Fly Safe: Reassure Yourself of Your Child’s Safety

Worrying about whether or not air travel is safe for your child is a concern many parents share, particularly with very young children. CARES is a company that produces a special aviation harness, not unlike the buckles found on a child’s car seat.

With children between 22 and 44 pounds, typical airplane seatbelts do not offer the range of protection they offer adults. This can be nerve wracking and may add to your stress. With CARES’s line of products, flight can feel much more secure for both you and your child.

2. SpecialGlobe: A Travel Site with Your Needs in Mind

SpecialGlobe is a site that allows you to book custom tickets and hotel rooms with special needs children in mind. Their custom itineraries include such things as nearby hospitals, suitable activities, where to find trained aides, or even what destinations provide special equipment you may need. Furthermore, the site allows parents to share experiences and tips so you can get a firsthand account of a destination from a parent like yourself.

3. Special Needs Travel Mom: Bloggers with Experience to Share

The most reassuring type of resource is one written by someone in your position. A vast number of parents write blogs about life with special needs children and, often, there will be a section on travel. One such blog is Special Needs Travel Mom, which offers tips, experiences, and links to further resources. Reading someone else’s successful experience can often be the best way to reduce the anxiety and stress of an upcoming trip.

4. Family Vacation Critic: Find the Best Vacation

Websites like Family Vacation Critic can provide lists of ideal travel destinations for children with special needs. With the research already done for you, the only stressful thing left is to pick a place. These lists often include places that host specific organizations. Splore, for example, is an organization in Moab, Utah that aims to provide outdoor fun for people of all ages and abilities. It is not the only one of its kind. Groups like this are cropping up everywhere with a goal to make the world a more fun and accessible place.

5. Basic Planning Sites: Don’t Forget the Basics

When caring for a special needs child, those needs are likely your top priority. While those are extremely important to consider when traveling, the basics shouldn’t be overlooked. Find the website of your airline; learn what useful features it has for you to ease your journey. Look at a seat map and be sure you are seated with your child, as some flights may not book seats together. Find a site with packing tips so you can feel confident that you haven’t forgotten anything. And lastly, research your destination. Knowing all there is to know about where you are going will resolve much of your travel anxiety. Arriving in a location armed with a mental map of the nearest hospital or ASL travel guide is guaranteed to diminish your anxiety.

 

Traveling is both stressful and exciting. With the rapidly advancing world of special needs accommodations, travel with your child can be fun and rewarding rather than nerve-wracking.  With the right resources and preparation, you can focus more on the excitement.

 

Rebecca Moore fractured her ankle in a bike accident in March 2015. Temporarily disabled, she soon felt isolated from her peers and was crushed to realize this is a common problem for people with disabilities. She went on to create AbleRise.net with a friend in an effort to provide more disability resources and make the world a more caring place.

 

 Image via Pixabay by marianaviolante950

Delta Airlines new service Minneapolis to Rome

Delta Airlines has announced new seasonal service from Minneapolis/St. Paul to Rome beginning at the height of the tourist season on May 26th and continue with daily service through August until Labor Day.  

It offers non-stop flights, leaving Minneapolis/St. Paul at 5:25 p.m. and arriving in Rome the following morning at 10:00 a.m. local time. 

Return flights will leave Rome at 11:45 a.m. and land at MSP at 3:45 p.m. local time.  

As of today, they show a price of about $1900 round trip, but we expect that to come down a bit as time draws closer.

Hilton Hotels drops pornographic in-room movies

Many priests will tell you that viewing pornography is one of the most heard sins in the confessional….from both men and women.  Often pushed as “harmless”, it is anything but.  Pornography destroys relationships, fosters the objectification of women, contributes to the sex trade and a host of other evils.  Many hotels, unfortunately, offer on-demand pornographic movies in their rooms….billed as “adult entertainment”.  

We want to applaud Hilton Hotels Worldwide for making the decision to discontinue “adult” content movies in their rooms.  Here is confirmation that we received from Hilton:

We are making immediate changes to our global brand standards to eliminate adult video-on-demand entertainment in all our hotels worldwide. While the vast majority of our properties already do not offer this content today, this content will be phased out of all other hotels subject to the terms of their contracts.  We believe in offering our guests a high degree of choice and control during their stays with us, including  Wi-Fi on personal devices.  However, we have listened carefully to our customers and have determined that adult video-on-demand entertainment is not in keeping with our company’s vision and goals moving forward.

With that in mind, we encourage you to choose chains such as Hilton when making your travel plans.  Most businesses will listen to their customers if they vote with their wallets.  

Note that in most cases, pornographic movies were a money-maker for these hotels in the past, but with easy access online, the income from paid in-room movies has tended to decline over the last few years. So not having them available is as much a factor of declining revenues as any great moral concern.    Still, we need to applaud those chains that drop pornographic in-room movies, regardless of the their motivation.  

Omni Hotels, owned by Dallas business man Robert Rowling, was the first chain to drop pornographic in-room movies in 2001, due to his moral objections after he took over the firm.  This was followed by Marriott Hotels in 2011.

Concerned about addiction to pornography?  Check out Integrity Restored, a website for those struggling with pornography.

Looking for a Catholic Guide in Rome?

We are often asked for recommendations, especially for tour guides. One of the problems when you arrange for a tour guide in a city like Rome, is just how Catholic are they? Do they practice the faith, or are they just Catholic in name only?  

Here is a response we had from one tour operator.  We pass this along for your discernment.

“Hello from Rome!  Thank you,  thank you very much for your e-mail.

Yes, most of our tour guides who cooperate with us are practising Catholic.  I am running this company since years and the one who takes care of most of the Tours.

My family and I are strict Roman Catholics and we are well known for this too. It does not mean only going to Church every Sunday but a way of living
which is according to what our Faith recommend.

I wish you all my best and God Bless you. Buona Domenica ( Happy Sunday!)”

Cristiano Pellegrini
Rome Travels Srl
IT Mobile: +39-328-474-1982

 

 

Rare opportunity in 2015: The Shroud of Turin exhibit & Passion Play of Soredevolo

There are two things that are going to coincide for part of 2015 that are rare opportunities.  

The Shroud will be on display for the longest time ever in history.
The Shroud will be on display for the longest time ever in history.

One you have probably heard about: The Shroud of Turin will be on public display in Turin, Italy from April 19th through June 24th.  This is a rare opportunity to view the Shroud, which is not normally on public display.  And, it is longest period that it has ever been on display.  

 

Another event in this area that may not be familiar to you is the famous Passion Play of Sordevolo, held in this tiny hamlet not far from Turin.  It is similar to the more well-known Oberammergau Passion Play, but is held every 5 years rather than every 10 years as is Oberammergau.  And one of those years is 2015.

The scene where Peter denies Jesus three times before the cock crows
The scene where Peter denies Jesus three times before the cock crows

The huge outdoor set gives you an idea of how Jerusalem looked  at the time of Our Lord’s Passion, and has 29 different scenes.  About 400 actors take part in the 3-hour performance.

There are also two children’s performances.

The 2015 performance is most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from June 7th through September 27th, so some of the June dates will be during the Shroud display.  Click here for the exact scheduled dates.

The Shrine of Oropa
The Shrine of Oropa

And, also nearby, is the Shrine of Oropa, a favorite of Blessed Pier Giorgio and Saint John Paul II. With its chapels, stations of the Cross and serene setting it is a must-see in this area. 

So there is a quite a bit here in this area that can be seen without a great deal of travel. We recommend you stay a week in this area if you can.  At this time, we are not aware of any tours that include both the Shroud of Turin and the Sordevolo Passion Play, but we hope that some companies will offer this combination.

Photos courtesy Sordevolo Passion Play, Shrine of Oropa, Wikipedia

Sailing from Galveston…Dickens on the Strand Dec 5-7

Galveston, Texas is a popular cruise ship port for many.  If you will be sailing from the port of Galveston the weekend of December 5, 6, 7 then you will have the opportunity to participate in the Dickens on the Strand celebration that takes place that weekend.  

 

Handbell concert at Saint Joseph's Church
Handbell concert at Saint Joseph’s Church

One of the most interesting activities is the handbell concert held in Saint Joseph’s Church.  No longer a Catholic church, it was was de-consecrated in 1968 and many of the interior items auctioned off; however, the Galveston Historical Foundation bought the building and many of the statues and other features so that it now closely resembles the Church that it was before.  

For more information about Dickens on the Strand click here.

Traveling on a budget

Traveling on a Budget

With so many great Catholic destinations around the world waiting to be visited, you can be sure that you have many trips ahead of you if you want to see as many as possible. However, making so many trips does mean that you’ll have to spend big money on the usual travel expenses.

Fortunately, there are ways to save money while traveling. Some require thinking a little outside of the box, but they generally just involve being creative and seeing how far you can stretch your money on your travels.

Traveling 

The actual act of transit is an unavoidable expense; you are going to have to get there one way or the other, after all. However, unavoidable expense doesn’t have to mean unavoidably expensive.

The first thing you can do when planning your trip is to be flexible. Costs of travel vary significantly depending on what time of the year, what day, and even what time of day you’re traveling, so being open will give you the best possible chance of snagging a deal you’re happy with. If you are flying to one country, open up the search parameters and see if there are any other nearby airports that you can fly to as you can always get a connecting bus or train to your eventual destination once you land in the country.

Alternatively, if you are planning to visit several Catholic destinations during a single trip, then a cruise that stops at multiple ports is the best way to travel without spending money on many flights. This works particularly well around the Mediterranean, as the destinations are close by and there are plenty of cruises that go around there. Cruises vary in destinations and who they cater to ( i.e. retired couples vs. young families) so do your research to determine which is the right trip for you.

Accommodation

After travel, accommodation is the next biggest expense you’re likely to have. With hotels in the most popular tourist spots running at up to hundreds of dollars a night, it’s important that you think smartly about the standard, location, and type of accommodation you book. One of the best ways to avoid spending big money is to travel the modern way and rent a vacation rental from a private individual; there are a number of websites that have such listings available, so see what’s on offer to find a place that is perfect for you. These types of accommodation typically give you much more space for much cheaper than traditional hotels, so you can make big savings if you’re lucky.

If you would prefer to stay in a regular hotel, then one of the best ways to save money is to keep an eye out for any deals the hotel is offering (kids staying for free, free dinner/breakfast) and, again, to stay flexible (hotels will be more expensive on the weekends and during holidays/events). If you’re feeling adventurous, using a website that allows you to book a room in a “hidden hotel” can save you up to 70% of regular booking prices. The only catch is you don’t know which hotel it is you’ll be staying in until you’ve booked it, but that’s also part of the fun.

Seeing the Sights 

Sightseeing is another expense you need to account for. After all, there’s no use travelling all the way to the Vatican, for example, and not seeing all the great sights that are there! One way to save money is to see if your destination has a version of Citypass, or an equivalent, that gives you access to a number of sights for one fixed price. While the initial cost can seem steep, you’ll easily save a lot of money if you plan on visiting all the sights that it lets you in for. Also keep an eye out for any free entrance days – some attractions will not charge admission at specific times/days. The Vatican Museums, for instance, can be visited for free on every last Sunday of the month.

Eating

Another compulsory expense that doesn’t need to be as expensive as you’d think; all you need to do is think about where you’re eating. Meals in heavily tourist areas will cost a lot more money than meals in a restaurant a little bit away from the center of town, in a place where the locals typically eat. If possible, try to buy basic breakfast and lunch supplies in supermarkets and make them yourself.

Blog article  contributed by Susie Main

 

Restaurant “Le Train Bleu” to be closed this summer

Those who travel to Paris are sometimes amazed to find this gem of a restaurant inside a train station.  

A flashback to elegant dining, Le Train Bleu can make you feel like it is the early 20th Century and you are waiting to board the Orient Express.  

Located in Paris’ Gare du Lyon station, it is known for its elegance.

It is currently closed for renovations and will remain closed until September 15, 2014.

Gardens at Papal Retreat now open to the public

For many people traveling to Rome, the Vatican Museums are one of the highlights, and for some that includes a tour of the Vatican Gardens.  

But there is another garden that has, until now, been off-limits to the public. That is the Barberini garden at the Papal Summer Retreat at the town of Castel Gandolfo.  This garden are also part of the Vatican Museums, and equally magnificent.

The Museum has announced that, at the instruction of Pope Francis, tours will now be available for the general public.  There are tours, for individuals or groups, that last about 90 minutes.  A mandatory guide is required, and there is a fee of € 42,00 for a full ticket and € 34,00 for a reduced ticket. There is a special offer for Saturday visits that combine a visit to the Barberini Garden with a visit the following Monday to the Vatican Museums.

The opening hours are Monday to Saturday at 8:30 a.m and 11:30 a.m. in Italian and English.  There is an additional tour offered on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. in Italian.  There are also other languages offered by special request:  French, Spanish and German.  

To make arrangements or get further information click here for the official Vatican Museums website