Dec 29, 2006

Roma - Part 2

I'd be lying if I said that Friday morning was Vatican friendly. We knew that in order to make it inside at a decent time and be able to see everything, or to even make it in at all, we'd have to be there early. That being said, early did not happen Friday morning. Much to Trevor's dismay, we just couldn't get up. And then even after we got up, we had problems meeting up. We finally called the other hotel and agreed to meet at the Colosseum. How that was going to work... well, who knew. But we were ready to leave, so off we went.

We hop the metro and get off at the Colosseo stop which just happens to be the stop for the Colosseum. Who'd of thought? Anyway, you walk out from the metro and there it is. It brings new definition to up close and personal. The building is GINORMOUS. And of course, you are immediately mobbed by people trying to sell you a group tour for an extra fee so that you can "skip the line" and get in quicker. I swear we must have had "tourist" written across our foreheads. Anyway...

We consider this option, but first we all need some cash. Plus, we figure there's got to be a better way. We're also missing half our party and don't want to jump into a group tour without all of our group. We wander around the Colosseum to find an ATM and to admire it's enromity from all sides.

After grabbing some euros we walk back towards the main enterance and just happen to run into the rest of our group. Jen busts out the guidebook and we find out that we can buy tickets for the Colosseum at nearby Palatine Hill. What's more, all the people standing in line are just standing in line to buy tickets, not to get in. If we've already got a ticket, we cruise right by them. So we walk to Palatine Hill, buy our tickets that are good for both there and the Colosseum, and we make our way back over to the throng of people. This was definitely an instance of work smarter, not harder... and it was awesome. I can still see all the tourists standing in line nearly dying in the heat. And of course there's their looks that are a cross of admiration and hatred as you walk by them to the enterance.

Did I mention that there is no point showering in Italy in July? There is no point whatsoever. NONE. Sure you're nice and clean inside. But the second you step outside it is so hot and so humid that you sweat straight through your clothing in a matter of minutes. And then, in certain places like say, the Colosseum, or Palatine Hill, or the Roman Forum... you're walking on cobblestones and dirt. Lots of dirt. And it's dry, so it sticks to your sweaty legs and from the knees down you look like you've tanned about 30 shades in a matter of 20 minutes. It sounds funny now, but just wait til it happens to you. You'll want that shower so badly, but you know it'll all go to waste five minutes later.

But back to the Colosseum. I walked inside and basically just stopped. I'd seen pictures before, but no image has ever done it justice. I walked around the outside first before taking the stairs up to the second level.
The stairs to the second level were quite possibly the sketchiest and most difficult stairs I've ever walked in my life. They were huge, and they were angled downward so much so that you felt like you were hiking up a mountain instead of walking up a flight of stairs. Romans must have had calves of steel. They also must have fallen down those stairs a lot... I swore I was going to topple head over feet on the way back down.
Obviously I didn't climb those stairs, but you get the idea.
But the view from the second level made the climb totally worth it. They also had a statue exhibit and another giftshop up there as well.

I'm not sure at what point or why we decided to leave, but we left the Colosseum and went back up to Palatine Hill. We passed the Arch of Constantine as well as saw the Arch of Titus. See... look!
Above, the Arch of Constantine which is closer to the Colosseum. Below is the Arch of Titus which is closer to Palatine Hill and shows the sack of Jerusalem.
We kept walking and eventually were fortunate enough to find a fresh water spring to fill our empty water bottles with. Antony also decided to bathe in it, but we all knew how successful that would be.

The Palatine Hill walk led to the Roman Forum. Unfortunately, by this point numerous people were tired and or hungry, and we rushed through the Forum at an alarming pace. I was rather disappointed... but I did drag my feet enough to get a few shots.

Our walk through the Forum spit us out at the top of Capitoline Hill and into the middle of the Piazza del Campidoglio, complete with equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius.

We walked down the Cordonata and found a place to eat. All I remember is someone ordering straight lemon juice, and everyone deciding they wanted to try it...
After a bit of a break and some more gellato, we retraced our steps from the day before and saw the places Kat and Venise had yet to see. We went from the monument of Victor Emmanuel II to the Pantheon, to the Trevi Fountain, to the Spanish Steps.
Here's a clip: Blame Kat for the above, and below we have the interior of the Pantheon, occulus and all.

And then this is the tomb of Raphael. Yes, the painter.
Moving on to other famous landmarks we have Trevi from the right...

And Trevi from the left... Followed by the infamous coin toss. Our group shot was included in an earlier post, but this one is just too good for me to not throw it in. And this was when we knew it was time to leave.
Basically, we started to take more pictures of each other than we were of the fountain. But isn't it a beautiful candid?
Next stop, Spanish Steps.

Yep, still under construction.

Now, at some point we decided it was getting to be dinner time and we wanted to eat something. But what to eat and where to go?

Leave it to the college kids to come up with a great idea.

"Hey Antony, why don't you spin in circles, and whichever direction you're facing when you stop, that's the way we'll go."

I'm not joking...

Somehow, Antony ended in a fruitless direction so we tried something else. Hey, what about taking a horse drawn carriage to Campo di Fiori since we never made it back the night before. We ask, and the driver gives us some outrageous price like 100€ so we drop that idea and settle for petting the horses instead. Someone was afraid we'd be charged just for touching them, so we kept moving. Jen's handy guidebook told us about the fanciest McDonald's in Italy that was just down the street, where we got gelatto. But we wanted real dinner, so we found a little resturant along one of the nearby alleys.

We sit down, we order... but here comes the fun part. Both Antony and Kat order mimosas. Kat finishes hers rather quickly, and just before she's done, Antony excuses himself to the restroom. Jen decides it would be funny to act like she drank all of Antony's mimosa, so she puts his drink down on the bench next to her, and puts Kat's empty glass on the table in front of his seat. The glass barely hits the table and Antony shows up, but somehow he honestly believes that Jen just downed his drink. It was absolutely hilarious, see for yourself.

Before... And After... We laughed until we cried and our stomachs hurt. It was awesome.

Full from dinner we took off to find a bus stop that would get us all back to our respective hotels. We agreed to meet up early the next morning before heading off to the Vatican. As expected, day 3 was going to be a long one...

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