Friday, October 9, 2009

Our Trip in a Nutshell (minus my photos) Part I


The flight: Yay, air travel upholds it's negative image. Our flight was delayed by about 3 hours. Thank goodness we got to the airport early!

Rome: We got to Rome and were disappointed. Rome's Fiumicino Airport looks pretty much the same way Newark does on the outside. Our first words were "Are we back in Jersey?" It kind of smelled the same way too.

We eventually got to the Hotel Flemming, somewhere on the northern side of the city. We were told northeast then northwest, I believe it is in the northwest. Anyhoo, we hit a little place to ear called Cafe Flemming and learned about a little thing called a coperto. This, in case you do not know is a cover charge to sit at a table. The charge can be anywhere from 1 Euro up to 25 Euro in some of the fancier, bigger, more touristy areas. Some places use a "No Coperto" sign as a draw to their restaurant. In the early evening we finally saw the Rome that we've been looking forward to. We started with a walking tour at the top of the Spanish Steps then made our way down to the Trevi Fountain. The Spanish Steps were over crowded but very pretty. I kind of like watching the chaos and crush of people milling around from the top. At the bottom, not so much. It kind of felt like NYC at 5:05 pm. Everyone has somewhere to go and you're in their way. The Trevi Fountain was actually really impressive. I adore the way the thing looks. I really felt like I could spend a few hours there taking it all in. This was the first time Aaron threatened to rub Pony out. I had already taken a few photos of Pony and he couldn't believe I was serious when I said I was going to make sure I got fun photos of him around Europe.

After the walking tour we boarded the tour bus to a restaurant with our tour group and we ended up making our first friends. Two Australians, Michelle and her husband Wayne. These two really rank up there with some of the nicest people we have ever met. We chatted on the bus to the restaurant and ended up sitting with them. They're a few years younger. They had been living in Toronto for the last two or three months (she was working there and he took a break from his job and went with her) and were taking a long deserved vacation before heading back home to Melbourne. On the drive back to the hotel we drove by some of the many fountains, the Angel's Castle, Santa Maria Maggiore, Basilica of St John Lateran, Piazza Navona as well as the Colosseum, all lit up. Beautiful.

Day Two- Rome: Our wake up call was at 6:00. We left the hotel at 7:15am. Mind you, we're still pretty jet-lagged at this point so we were hurting a bit. We started off at Vatican City. Spectacular and a bit disturbing. The place is really marvelous, but we couldn't help but notice all the missing male parts on the sculptures. Apparently, back in the day a Cardinal hacked them all off to discourage thoughts of lust. Why he aimed for the penises is beyond me (that was the disturbing part). You can't help but feel pretty minuscule while walking through the Vatican museum to get to the Sistine Chapel. In a matter of minutes you are up close to some of the most priceless works of art in history and I'm talking about the sculptures they have in some of the open spaces. I lost count of how many sculptures I've only admired in art books and here they were, right in front of my eyes. It's really overwhelming. Then you get into the corridors. Good Lord! The place is bursting with priceless works of art. It's actually difficult to take in one thing at a time. What hurts is that even the borders around the frescoes, ceiling paintings and normal paintings are spectacular. I kind of broke the law a bit when we got to the Sistine Chapel.
I video tapped inside. I got tsked at by a guard, but I just played dumb. I got most of it on video though. Yay me the rebel. I couldn't help it. I really couldn't it was too amazing. I think our favorite part of the chapel, however, is Michelangelo's "The Last Judgement" painting on the far wall. At the opposite side there are a set of large wooden doors to a throne room. This is where the Pope holds private audiences. Wayne, Michelle and I were standing right at the doors when we heard a rattling. A priest came out of the doors, and gave the three of us enough of an opportunity to look inside. I saw the very corner of the Pope's throne room. Awesome. I immediately drew what I saw.

St. Peter's Basilica: What can I say, the Catholics KNOW how to make a friggin church. I never knew that this is where Michelangelo's Pieta was. Seeing it in person almost made me tear up.

I was astounded that it's tucked away in a corner, on the right-hand side of the Basilica as you enter. AS for the rest of it, I can't even describe it. You really need to spend days to get a full appreciation of the place.

The Colosseum: I really wish we could have spent more time here. Sure my feet were throbbing by this point, but we only spent about an hour here. I would have liked to climb to the upper parts but we just didn't have the time. Aaron threatened to throw Pony into the pit. Still, he was a good sport and held pony for me. By this point others in the tour group started asking about Pony. I explained. They laughed. The Australian's took a photo with Pony which will eventually be posted on Facebook. FYI, they want to befriend Pony on FB.

The Forum: This was really cool. I really wish I had come here when I was in high school. Although I did very well in history, I think being there would have made learning everything much easier. Still, it's a humbling experience standing in the areas where so much history occurred.

Villa d'Este, Tivoli: This was really cool. The Villa used to be a home for a Cardinal who later became a Governor of the area. But the fountains in this place are really outstanding. Later in the evening we had dinner at a restaurant at the very top of a mountain and got a beautiful view of the city below. We met our second Australian couple and a father with his two sons (also Australian.) The father (Paul?) took the sons (Alex and David) out for a three week-long vacation in Italy and the couple, Shane and Samone are on vacation for about three monts!

Tomorrow: Orivieto and Siena


Chele76 said...

The reason you list in the first paragraph is exactly why Rome wasn't my favorite. It's like being in jersey - but with beautiful buildings, statues and fountains sprinkled about! lol

I have to say that your account of the Vatican museum instantly transported me back there. I had COMPLETELY forgotten about the hacked penises! How could I forget something like that? And I agree - the last judgment is purely breathtaking.

can't wait to hear about the rest of it!

Optimistic Pessimist said...

Oh I'm so jealous!!!

Anonymous said...

V or I can get your friends into the FOP group. Just let us know who they are and we will take care of it.

Glad Pony got to you in time and had lots of fun on the trip!

Dizzy Vizzy said...

Hey - no Jersey jokes!! :-P
So glad that Pony did not get whacked on the trip and that he made other friends!!