Monday, September 24, 2012

I am ready to tell of far-away adventures! (Remember: Click on images to see the full size)

     Wow.  A lot has happened since my last blog post about Korey and Sabina's wedding party--that was about two weeks ago.  After the party, Korey's sister invited me to tag along with her (and her mother, and three of her friends, and Korey and Sabina) on a four-day trip to Rome.  I was not sure if they would be able to find the room for me/etc. until I got a call on Sunday night to see if I was still coming, and I said yes!  So, the next morning at 6:00, I was driving to Brescia with Korey to get on a four-hour train to Rome.  The entire group was split up, so on Monday evening, everyone had made it to the apartment and me and the rest of the girls walked around Rome and saw some really cool sights.  Just walking around the town you can see a lot of ruins from the ancient city--many of the sights do not have any plaques or explanations, but it still quite interesting to see these very old pieces of a different civilization.  

     Above is the inside of the Colosseum which we toured on Tuesday morning.  It was huge!  Stephen and I have visited the arena in Verona, but after seeing this, they cannot be compared.  As you can see in the center of the picture there is a very small portion of a stage--we were unable to go down there, but we got to stand right above it and see every intricate detail of this building.

     Later in the week, we walked around the city at night and I got this nice shot of the Colosseum lit up.  By this time many of the street vendors had vanished, and the area was much more quite and peaceful.  

     After touring the inside of the Colosseum, we went to the ruins that are directly across from the Colosseum which is how I got this shot.  As you can see from this picture, one half of the Colosseum's wall's stand above the other side--and its quite a difference.

     Later that day we visited the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon.  This was a day of a lot of walking, but we all got to hit a lot of the big sites in Rome.  We saw so much and I cannot even begin to recount everything we were able to do, but I definitely enjoyed this day the best!  Below is a picture looking out over the city from the ruins which were high above the rest.

     On Wednesday, our last full day in Rome, the girls and Korey and I all took a subway train to Vatican City because we were staying next to the Colosseum and to walk to the Vatican would be probably over 40 minutes.  Upon first arriving the piazza (plaza in front of the city walls) we noticed a very, very long line to enter into St. Peter's Basilica, but we got in line to go through security anyway and it ended up moving very fast.

      Inside, the church was amazing--very big and extremely detailed in every way.  In the very center of this panorama, you can see the tomb of St. Peter; it is covered by the black shrine (there are four black poles holding up a black and gold roof).  While this is the main attraction of the church, there are paintings and sculptures lining the walls.

     The actual tomb (or what is believed to be the tomb) is underneath the shrine with stairs leading down towards another area that cannot be accessed.  In the picture above you can see the black shrine legs with the symbol for the tomb in the white casket, but below is the sepulchral chamber.  I found a better image on the internet which is on the right.

     After a long time of confusion, we found out that the Sistine Chapel was located in the Vatican Museum, so we had to walk around the entire city (it is completely enclosed by walls, and there might have been another entrance through security, but we were not sure because the Pope was talking, and they had closed off the entrance.  Anyway, the museum was a complete maze, but a very pretty maze at that.  In order to get to the Sistine Chapel, visitors have to walk through a series of hallways, all of which are adorned with beautiful artwork and the ceilings are all very intricate.  And that was Rome!  The next day (Thursday) we cleaned up the apartment (which by the way was equipped for eight--four bedrooms, two bathrooms, laundry, and a grand kitchen complete with dishwasher!) and headed to the subway to get to the main train station where we would get on a morning train to Florence.  

     I was supposed to go back on Thursday with Korey and Sabina to Montichiari, but there was a mix-up with the tickets, and as a solution, I traveled with the girls to Florence for Friday.  With only one day (not even 24 hours) in this city, we did not get to do very much, but we immediately checked into our hostel.  Yes, hostel, and let me say that it has forever spoiled me!  While sharing a room with two other girls--at the last minute we could not get a room for all five of us, so we had to split into groups of three and two--which means six girls in one room was definitely different than a hotel, overall, it was very nice.  The beds were fine and the bathroom was spacious and very clean.  The hostel itself organized a lot of events and I would definitely recommend Hostel Plus to anyone wanting to spend €24 on one night in Florence!  Anyway, we visited the famous bridge over the river Arno (above) which is lined with very expensive stores which are the buildings you see built onto the bridge.

     While we were not able to go inside, we saw this church while walking back from the bridge and looking into the shops.  The main stop for us in Florence was to see the David statue which is in a little museum tucked away on a side street.  The line for the museum was very long (over two hours I believe), and without tickets, we found out how to get around that!  Across the street (and down a block) from the entrance where you buy tickets, you can get reservations for about €5 more.  Getting reservations meant that we only waited about five minutes to get in.  Of course we found out, once inside, that you cannot take any pictures whatsoever, but that made the experience much nicer.  Instead of photographers crowding to take millions of pictures, groups moved rather quickly around and I found myself enjoying the art much more.

     And the night I got back from my week of traveling I found out I had the stomach flu.

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