Friday, June 1, 2007

Pics and more...

Hi! We just posted a bunch of pictures from our time in Rome and Florence and Pisa. There aren't many from Florence, because some of the pictures are still on the camera and we couldn't take any inside the museums. I hope these last you, because we are leaving for Venice in the morning and probably won't have computer access there. We'll post again in a few days when we get to Vienna.

Have a great weekend!!

Katie and Rose

Pisa - The Church and Tower

Pisa - The view from the tower

Pisa - Rose knocking it down little by little!

Florence - the Duomo

Rome - The Coliseum at Night

Rome - the best spaghetti and pizza in town!

Rome - Four more apostles

Rome - One of the 12 Apostles by Bernini Jr. in a church

Rome - One of the churches we had to rush through in 5 minutes...beautiful

Rome - Katie soaking in the castle

Rome - Making fruit salad in our B&B

Rome - Raphael Rooms in the Vatican

Rome - The Sistine Chapel...bad Rose!

Rome - This is why we didn't go shopping

Rome - A Room in the Vatican Museums

Rome - Moses

We are pretty sure that this is Moses. And we are pretty sure that it is by Michaelangelo. But there were no signs, so that is pure speculation.

Rome - A Great View of the Forum

Rome - The Founders of Rome: Romulus and Remus

Rome - The Pope

Rose and Katie awaiting the Pope

Awaiting the Appearance Pope Benedict.
Back to the Coleseum...might still be my favorite building to visit...

Back to the Coleseum...might still be my favorite building to visit...

Rome - People waiting to see the Pope

Pure Speculation

Well, the theme for our time, in Italy at least, is "Pure Speculation."

One day, while walking through the Uffisi Museum we wondered who painted a certain masterpiece. It was next to one by Leonardo DaVinci, so Katie said, "I think this is another DaVinci, because it is next to another one of his, and everyone is taking pictures of it, but that is pure speculation." This is comment comes up a lot. We guess at the meaning of paintings, sculptures, words, people, becuase there are no explanations. "I think he meant this, because of this...but that is pure speculation." "I think it is more difficult to sculpt hair, than the contour of a body, because it is so hard to make it look realistic with the minimulization of lines...but that is pure speculation." We are opperating on a lot of deductive reasoning. But its fun, it adds a certain mystery to the adventure! ha ha.

In line to see David

This is the "Happy" Line (customers with reservations)
We have seen WAY too many "Sad" Lines to stand in one of them...

This is a picture of Michaelangelo's David. This is one of MANY of Michaelangelo's works we have seen. It was completed in just FOUR years...durring that time he was alos working on other commisions. Incredible! He created this to represent the perfect man. And was in a plazza before being put in this room, constructed with this piece in mind. We were not allowed to take pictures within the museum at all, but I managed to take this just before entering..;)

Pisa Pizza

Well, yesterday we did not get a chance to blog, by the time we had a chance, we were too exhausted. But, the good news is: we found keyboards with normal arrangements! So, fewer typos for me! :) and more smiley faces!

Ok, yesterday we woke up and ate breakfast at the hotel. the normal Italian breakfast around here consists of any of the following: crisiounts, yogert, bread, nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread) coffee, OJ, fruit, and boiled eggs. not bad. we left and got on the train to Pisa. We were luky enough to get on the car with a class of middle it was nice and chaotic. I really liked walking through the streets of Pisa to get to the Tower, there was not very much tourist stuff untill we got to the Leaning Tower.

We found out you needed two tickets: 1 to climb the Leaning Tower, the other to enter any or all of the museums, the church, the baptistry and the cemetary. We got in line and told the lady behind the glass that we would like 2 tickets to clime the tower and 2 10 Euro tickets to see everything else. (it was the all included ticket) she interupted us before she heard the last part I guess, and said, "Ok, You go up at 11:20 and come here 10 mins before your time and leave your bags." We waited a second, no more than that, for her to give us the other two tickets, she right away started complaining to us that there were more things to see, and we needed to tell her what we wanted to see. She went off in fits of rage! Katie and I were speachless, the lady started pointing to the glass, Katie thought she was pointing to the wall that listed the other ticket opportunities. So when Katie looked at the wall too, the lady started being loud and sarcastic saying we were "sleeping" (i think she meant daydreaming) she repeated herself in a very loud voice, completely inapropriately. I was getting extremely irritated. She would not stop yelling and beign sarcastic, she just kept on going, finally I had enough of her making fun of us to her friend, and yelling at us to hurry and make up our minds. I said, in a rather raised voice, "WE WANT TWO, TEN EURO TICKETS!" She finally got it, and then started yelling at us saying we needed to repeat ourselves...unbelievable. If she had listened to us in the first place, instead of startign to yell after she interupted us, she would have heard us tell her EXACTLY what she needed to know for our transaction. It took me a while to get over that, for 1, we told her mulitple times by now that we wanted two, 10 E tickets to see EVERYTHING. and 2, this is her job: to work WITH TOURISTS. If anyone in this country has a responsibility to be calm and HELPFUL, it is the people who's JOB is it to work with them. I would give the citizens of Italy a right to be frusterated and upset with all these foreigners clogging up their streets, but not someone who is PAID to communicate and HELP tourists. So, that stared the day off, but it was ok after that.

As Katie mentioned, we did have a chance to have Pizza, in Pisa..;)

It was a beautiful day, and we climbed the tower to see the gorgeous Italian terrain. We will post pictures soon. I forgot my cd's to come to this internet cafe.

Good day in Pisa...for the most part

Well, other than Rose going off on a Pisa lady, we had a great day in Pisa! I'll let her tell that story.

We took the train to Pisa in the morning. It wasn't very crowded when we arrived, which was nice for pictures purposes. The day was beautiful. It was cool with a gorgeous blue sky. We walked around outside and took pictures first, and then climbed the tower at 11:20. It was quite a climb, but not as tough as St. Peter's Dome. We arrived at the first level, and walked around on a terrace to take pictures. We thought it was as high as we could go...but no...they soon let us keep going up! The next stop was the bell level. The tower was actually meant to be a bell tower for the church it is next to. We walked around the bells and took a few more pictures. Then, we went up to the actual top of the tower. Now, I mean the actual top. We weren't on a walkway, with walls behind us. We were on the top and could see across the top to the other side. It is a very weird feeling, especially with the tilt of the building. The only protection is an iron rail around the outside, that is about at chest level. It is amazing. The view is absolutely gorgeous, and the day was so clear, we could see all of Pisa and the hills beyond. It is a beautiful countryside.

After the tower, we explored the other buildings in the area. The church their is beautiful, as are most churches in Italy. They have Galileo's lamp, which he used in the church to conduct pendulum experiments. The only problem is that there are no signs or labels anywhere, so we don't know which lamp was his. We made sure to look at all of the lamps, so that we were sure to see it, but we still don't know which one it was. Oh well. There were other beautiful paintings in the church, but of course we don't know who painted them.

After the church, we visited the baptistry, which wasn't as exciting. It was beautiful from the outside, but most of the inside decor had been removed and put into the museum.

So, we went to the museum! But not until after having lunch at a nearby restaurant. We didn't want to spend too much money, so we split a pizza and had gelato. Gelato is much better than real food anyway, and we need the calories to sustain all of the walking. That is why we are eating so much gelato. It is the healthy thing to do!

We went to one museum that had a lot of items that were removed from the church and baptistry. There was a fire in the church at one time, so many of the paintings were damamged. They were still nice too look at, though. There was a lot of sculpture and a few tombs.

Next, we visited the cemetary. It was an enclosed cemetary, with many sarcophogi, sculptures, and the remnants of frescoes on the walls. A lot of the frescos had been removed, and you could see the chalk scetches behind the frescos that the painters used as a guide. That was kind of neat. There were also some remaining frescos that were being restored. We watched that painstaking process (picture people up on scafolding with tiny brushes) for a few minutes and then continued.

The next stop was the fresco museum which was supposed to have the frescos that were removed from the cemetary. We didn't find them though. There were a lot of drawings, but it looked like they were all the sketches behind the frescos, not the actual frescos. Maybe they were being restored.

All of that took up most of the day. We returned to Florence on a train at about 5:00. We took a little rest in our room before heading out for dinner at 7:30. Dinner was the best we have had yet. Rose had spaghetti for the first course, and I had some kind of Florentine soup that starts with an R. It has white beans, vegetables, and bread. It is a very thick soup and I thoroughly enjoyed it. For the second course, we both had roasted chicken and roasted potatos with rosemary. Mmmmm. It was so good. We ate every bite. We may go back there again tonight.

After that, we went to the train station to get reservations for Venice and to change our night train reservations from a seat to a bed. We have a europass for the trains, which is really nice. We just have to pay $5 for a reservation on a train, which isn't necessary, but is a good idea if you are on a tight schedule. For the sleeper train, we had to pay 25 euro, but I think it will be worth it. I'll blog and let you know! haha

Today is our last day in Florence! We had reservations to the art museum with Michaelangelo's David this morning. We arrived as they opened at 8:15 and walked right in! The David is amazing. I had very high expectations for this sculpture, but nothing could have prepared me for the awe of the sculpture. It is so large! It is realistic as well. I really can't describe the feeling you get when you walk down the hall towards David. It was quite an experience.

The rest of that museum was good as well. Thy had a musical instrument section with a Stratovari violin. They also had a series of unfinished Michaelangelo sculptures. We spent an hour and a half there, and now are ready for the rest of the day!

Well, my Internet time is down to one minute, so I have to post now. Moe later!


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Bad day in Rome...or...I hate guided tours...or...American Express travel services are pathetic

Hi! We are in Florence now! We left Rome this morning and enjoyed our first train ride. It was easy, and we checked in to our hotel with no problems. It is about 2 blocks from the station, which is handy. It is a short walk to everything we want to see in Florence, and so close to the train station, which will be helfpul for our trip to Pisa tomorrow.

Our last day in Rome was a little rough. Luckily, we had seen pretty much everything we wanted to see there in our first four days, so we didn't feel like we lost to much time. It is a little funny now, but we had a series of misfortunes that resulted in a very strange day! I hope we used up all of our bad experiences in one day. haha

We started out fine...we slept in until past 8:00! That is late for two Wallens in Rome. Anyway, our first stop was the Castle deAngelo, which is a castle near the Vatican. It is also near our hotel...but not near enough! We stopped at a corner cafe for a pastry and cappucino (which was delicious) and then it promptly started raining. Not the gentle drizzle of a nice May day. It was a torrential downpour. Being diehards, we put on our ponchos and started running to the castle. By the time we got there, we were soaking wet from our knees down, but happy other than that! The tour was pretty good. Well, it wasn't a tour, we just walked through ourselves. It was creepy, especially because of hte rain. I think it was worth the soak...Rose might diasgree.

Anyway, we then ran back to our hotel (still raining) and rested for a little while. We had stopped by a market and purchased fruit, cheese, and bread for lunch, so we ate that in our B&B. Then, we dried out in time to leave for our only tour of the catacombs, which we purchased from the American Express office.

On our first day in Rome, we stopped by the American Express office to get help booking a specific tour of underground Rome that I found and wanted to book. I didn't know if they spoke English, so I needed help with the phone call. AS an American Express customer with a travel card, I thought this would be no big deal. The girl at AMEX acted like it was the most inconvenient day of her life when we asked her to help us make the call in Italian. She wanted to sell us one of their tours instead. I explained that the tour I found was more comprehensive the the AMEX tour, so I just wanted her to help me make the call. SHe dialed and handed me the phone. I told her it was in Italian and I needed help. She said to keep listening and they would repeat the message in English. They didn't. I told her they didn't, and asked if she could listen and translate, and she huffed audibly (literally) and took the phone. She said that there would be no tours for the five days we would be there. I find that hard to believe, but there wasn't anything I could do, so I said okay. She then said that their tour included three different catacomb stops, and asked if I wanted it. Since it was only a few more euro than the one I wanted originally, we consented and paid 40 euro each for the catacomb tour. I asked her specifically if it included tours of 3 different catacombs, and she said yes. So, that was fine. It would have taken us all day to walk or try to figure out the bus system to get to three catacombs, so we figured it was worth it. THe tour was booked for yesterday, our last day in Rome.

Well, we showed up at 2:30 for the tour as we were told. They were 30 mintutes late picking us up, which was annoying. But, I got over that. Then, as we were driving, the lady giving the tour announced that it would be in English and in Spanish. Ok, I thought, no big deal. As the tour went on, though, we realized that this guide normally does only Spanish tours, as her English was not very good at all. Now keep in mind that we have had many little tours in various places in English by people who didn't speak English as their first language. Every other tour was great, and the English was fine for a tour. This girl, however, did not know many of the key words to give the tour. There were four spanish speaking people on the tour, versus 24 english speaking people. Since I speak Spanish, I could tell that they were getting about 50% more information that we were in English.

Then, at the beginning, the tour guide announced that we would have three stops...two at two different basilicas in Rome, and the third at the catacombs. I was surprised, since I was told that there would be three catacomb visits. Oh well, too late now.

We stopped at the first church, which was absolutely gorgeous. Since we were on a guided tour (which I HATE) we were herded through, with only about 4 minutes to actually look around. It was so frustrating. I usually need at least 30 minutes in a cathedral to take it all in, and we had 4 minutes! Then we had to sit on the bus for 20 minutes waiting for everyone to load up. It is such a waste of time. Then, of course, we rode forever in the bus, which made me carsick. (Did I mention I hate guided tours????)

The second stop was the catacombs. We stopped, the guide purchased our tickets for a standard tour, and then told us to meet her back on the bus when the tour was over. So, we paid all of that for the standard 5 euro tour given by the catacomb people! I have to say that the actual catacomb tour was pretty good. The guide was very interesting and had a lot of helpful historical and contextual information. We couldn't discuss anything on the actual walk through the catacombs, since they are so narrow and you can't stop for long, but he said we would gather after for a Q&A session. I was looking forward to that, but as we exited the tombs, our tour guide was there telling us that we didn't have time to stay and had to get back on the bus. That was even more frustrating, since that was exactly what we wanted to see on the tour. But, we obediently got back on the bus and rode back into Rome to the next stop, the second church.

This church was gorgeous as well. It was the official Cathedral of Rome, I belive it was San Giovanni of Laterno or something like that. It was breathtakingly awesome as well. But, like before, we entered and she told us to walk right through and not stop because we didn't have time. Well, I wasn't about to walk through that church in 5 minutes, so I informed her that Rose and I would be leaving the tour and would walk back to our hotel. She said fine so we stayed.

The church was so beautiful. They have 12 gigantic sculptures by Bernini Jr. (son of the famous Bernini) of the 12 apostles. They are magnificent. We ended up staying at the church for an hour to soak up the beauty.

By the way, I will be calling American Express to request a refund for this rip off. I don't get mad very often, but I was very mad at this. We have learned oru lesson though, and will not do any more guided tours through tour companies.

I will say that we have had some excellent tours of specific locations. Today we had a tour of the Duomo in Florence by a volunteer. It was excellent. The information was very thorough. She had us captivated for almost an hour....and it was free! Also, the tours of the Roman Forum, Coliseum, and Pallatine Hill were only 3.5 euro each, and worth way more. It is ironic that the only expensive (40 euro) tour that we took was through American Express and horrible. Never again. You can see so much more on your own, and have as much or as little time at the sites.

I think Rose covered the rest of our frustrating day! It was all worth it though. Now we are in Florence and having a good time. It is really pretty here. It is much cleaner and nicer than Rome. The people are nicer also. We went to the Duomo, as I mentioned earlier. It is another beautiful church. This one has a great story, as we learned on the tour. I'll let you google it if you want to learn more...the Internet is too expensive for me to write it all. haha

This afternoon we went to the Ufizi Gallary, which is a great art museum. There were several rooms of Donetello paintings, and a couple Michaelangelos. We had a good time, but all of that art makes my eyes hurt. We stayed for about 2 hours and then left for dinner. We had a quick delicious dinner. I had vegetable soup and lemon chicken, and Rose had......drum role please.....two beef dishes! Talk about major role reversal. :) Anyway, it was great. Now we are writing you, and then we will go reserve our tickets to Pisa for tomorrow!

I hope you are all doing well and enjoying our posts! We are having a great time, despite the occassional mishap. We have hurting feet. I think when Rose tripped yesterday it actually affected my ankle, since I'm the one hobbling today. She feels great!

That's all for now! Is the weather nice there? It is beautiful here! We haven't been hot since day 1. It is in the low 70's most of the time, and the sun is out right now. It is pretty nice. I'll sign off for now and write more tomorrow!

hello there! WE had a hard day yesterday, as Katie has already told you about. it was the first day i decided to wear my tennis shoes, the shoes i use for traveling and cold weather, because the only other pair of shoes i have are those Chacos- sandals. Within about 2 blocks of our hotel, I was pretty wet...katie managed to stay more dry than me..I do not know how. Within about 2 more blocks, my feet, socks, and shoes were completely soaked, and I was wet almost to my waist. I was wearing a pancho like katie, but I guess my pants just sucked up the water. I think there a some scientific law about that. Anyway, I walked around the castle in wet shoes which wasn't that bad. When we got to the bed and breakfast I changed and put my chacos on. It was still chilly, and got colder and colder througout the day. Later we went on a tour with Amercian Express to see Catacombs and 2 Basilicas. We were very disapointed in the tour, so we left the group on the last stop and hung out in Rome the rest of hte night. We were going to eat dinner and watch the sunset over Ancient Rome. Dinner was GREAT! It was the best spagetti and pizza we have had in Rome so far. (and the least expensive) We had dinner and then walked around the colleseum until the sun set. We found the right view for taking pictures at night, and waited..and waited...and waited. We saw people come and go and it started sprinkling a bit. Finally, another Amercican woman who was waiting on the lights sent her husband to ask someone if the lights were going to come on to light up the Roman Forum. We then found out that the lights were broken...BROKEN! In Rome, the lights to reveal ruins of 2000 years are broken, and no one has fixed them! There is something so wrong with this...we were quite upset, since it was cold out, and we waisted time we could have spent on the internet, or packing, or getting ready for our travel day today. To make things a little bit worse, when we got to our metro, to go back to the room to thaw out my toes...we found out the metro was closed! 10:15. This time we were not walking back. It took us a few minutes to figure out the bus system, since you use your metro passes on the bus too. Anyway, had to look at the map, and ask people to find out when to get off the bus, we guessed alright. We could have been closer, but we were fine. We RACED to the internet place to find out: it was closed. So we walked, slowly back to our room. My shoes were still wet.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Palatine Ruins

Us on the Coliseum

Our First Gelato!

Just call me Grace!

from the title, those who know me must know there is a good story coming up, read on!

to respond to my moms comment on my post about What Would Jesus Do: What Would Jesus Do is purely hypothetical..if Jesus WERE in Rome, He would wear Chacos. :)

I finally figured out what ROMANS DO!!!! They climb up and down stairs! yep...and its not fun. but, it keeps everyone in shape i guess.

I have been reading the book of Romans. I thought it would be a good thing to read, while in Rome. And, seeing as how the Romans were not exactly known for being Godly, and they climb stairs a lot, i have decided that i am going to give up trying to Do as the Romans Do. except, i wil lnot give up everything. i think i will keep having gilato.

WOW! There are a lot of people in Rome...i think most of them are tourists in the Vatican Museums. We saw so much artwork. We started with the Sistine Chapel. INCREDIBLE! It was even more amazing than all the pictures..of course, that is all you can see because we are not allowed to take pictures while we are in the chapel. do to ill planning and misdirection, Katie and I found ourselves in the crowd to go through the "Capella Sistina" twice. But hey, if that is the worst thing to happen to us while we are in Rome, we are fortunate! is not the worst thing to happen it us. (here comes the funny story) as we were exiting the Vatican Museam we had to walk down, "a magnifican ramp" which is really just a veiled staircase called a ramp to confuse and misguide starts as a ramp, but very soon after words turns in to wide, shallow staircase. I did not realise this soon enough because as i was walking down it, i was looking at some pictures on my camera (a picture i snuck while in the sistin chapel to be exact..shh!!) and OUCH! there it is! if there was no warning, i would have gotten upset yet again at the lack of signage in Rome (there are no signs), but seeing as how I walked AROUND two gates, both with signs saying "whach your step," I had no reason to be mad, just regain composure and continue down the winding staircase. I did not fall badly, only a twist of the ankle, thanks to my Chacos (mentioned in previous post).
Dont worry I did not fall badly. later in the day i was able to RUN back to an internate cafè where katie forgot our USB key. Here is another addition to our game, "i am sitting on stairs, and there is a girl in red and black running across the base of them, she looks familiar, as if she just walked the other way five minutes ago. Where are am?" The answer, The Spanish Steps!!!!!!!!

we ate at a really authentic place today for lunch. it was 2:30 and we were on our way to the train station to reserve our tickets for leaving rome on wednesday. we saw a place that had no english on the menu, so we went in. it was realy good. we had a fixed price meal, 5 euros for two small helpings of a main courses, and a side. i had a vegetarian stuffed eggplant, i think and chicken and rosemary potatoes. it was really good! the potatoes were a bit old...probably a couple hours sitting out. o well. the vegetarian thing was really good. i am just hopeing it was not wraped in chicken skin or something like that...katie had a meat and tomato sauce pasta, chicken and the same potatoes.

Well, I learned a new phrase, Bona Serra! (good evening)


Day Two - Ancient Rome

Well, this isn't exactly in order, but here is Day Two. I didn't have a chance to write it until now.

First, let me explain that everything in Rome is crowded. This has to be the most visited city in the world. Now, I’m sure I’ll feel the same way about the rest of the cities we visit, but for now, lets just say that Rome is the most visited city in the world, and that all of the people who visit visit in May. There are lines and massive amounts of people EVERYWHERE.

Thanks to some research before hand, I knew that you don’t buy tickets to the Coliseum at the Coliseum…you buy them at Palatine!! So, we purchased tickets at Palatine Hill, for both Palatine and the Coliseum. We booked tours and were good to go for the day! We went to the Coliseum first. It was a good thing we didn’t try to buy tickets there, because there was a 2 hour ticket line. We walked straight to the front, and entered right in time for the 9;15 tour. The tour was pretty good. There is so much history in the building that you really have to go on a tour to understand what you are looking at. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, depending on your view) I don’t remember all of the history we learned, so I cannot repeat it here.

We wandered the Coliseum and then went to Palatine Hill. That was amazing. These ruins are thousands of years old. Most of the remaining ruins belonged to a Roman Emperor, I think named Dionysian or something like that. The ruins are of his palace. The buildings were impressively large. They were impressive to us, and we are used to big buildings. I cannot imagine how impressive they were to people visiting Rome in the first century AD (or earlier, in the case of some buildings.)

After the tour of Palatine Hill, we took a tour of the Roman Forum. We walked down Via Sacra, which was the main road in Rome for a while about 2000 years ago. Most of the stones are still the originals. It is pretty humbling to realize that you are standing on stones that have been there for 2000 years, and have been walked on by who knows how many people throughout history. That is why I titled my post the other day “I feel young.” If any of you out there feel old…just spend a day at the Forum.

I cannot even begin to tell you what was there. There were several temples and basilicas from the earliest centuries AD. The guide did a great job describing what the buildings where like originally. Now, of course, they are ruins, so you only get an idea of the size by looking at them. I’ll post a few Forum pictures for you to see.

I do have one complaint about Rome. There are no signs on any tourist attraction!! It was a good thing that we had a tour of the Forum and Palatine, because otherwise, we would have absolutely no idea what we were seeing. They don’t even have maps available. I have no idea why they can’t put up a few signs to tell you what things are. Even in the museums, there are no signs next to paintings and sculptures. You just have to guess. It is just slightly frustrating.

Anyway, we were amazed by the ruins and spent the entire day in them. In addition to everything above, we went to the Caracala Baths. It was basically a huge bathing area, that catered to 3000 people daily. It was gigantic. The pools were filled by the aqueduct system.

That night, we ate at Rosa Rosa restaurant, which I think Rose already mentioned. After dinner, we were exhausted and looking forward to an early night to bed. Much to our ( and our legs’ ) dismay, it didn’t happen. We walked several blocks west toward the nearest metro station (which wasn’t so near) and found it closed!! It was only 9 at night! We didn’t know what to do. We didn’t want to pay for a taxi, and we didn’t know how the busses worked, so we decided to walk. Our walk took as back toward where we ate, across most of Rome, across the Tiber, through the Vatican, until finnaly we arrived. It was a long walk. I think it was at least 4 miles…at night…in the dark…with crazy people everywhere. Ok, maybe they weren’t exactly crazy. The good thing, is that we crossed the Tiber at night, which was very pretty. We also stopped for gelato…again… Mmmmmm. It was so good. I think it was worth the four mile walk.

We were so happy to take a shower and go to bed that night. Then…up for St. Peter’s!

Sisters at the top of the Dome!

Mass at St. Peter's

this is from the first level of St. Peter's Dome, looking down into the Basilica.

The inside of the Colleseum

Katie in the palatine Ruins

Rose and Katie with a Roman Guard

We saw two guards actually. They said their names were Jack and Daniel.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

From Rose

Well, i do not know if you realised i did not post last time katie did. i was wrestling with the computers here in italian...trying to figure out how to get my pictures on a cd and then onto the blogsite. i lost. i have not figured it out, and so i stuck katie on it. and it looks like she got it to work!

hey! i thought of a great game katie and i can play at the end of our trip..its called, where am i? this is how it works, i will describle a scene of what something we went through in a certain city, and katie will have to guess what city it is. example: go through the arch, right at the traffic light, and ask the guy in the little green box. (answer is rome of course, cause that is all that we have experienced so far) but we are going to have some pretty interesting experiences! today we saw a sign, with enforcement that said, "absolutely no speaking or sitting on the stairs." (in front of the Capitolini Building.) i am tired of hearing wistles...

I would venture to say that most of our walking today has been up or down steps....that is the kind of problem you run into when you build a city on 7 hills. this morning our steps consisted of what katie told you of, about 7 million curving winding steps up to the TOP of the st. peters cathedral. it was amazing...and it wasnàt realy that hard...but when we left there, we kept having to go up more..and more, and more steps! we were on our way to the capitolini museum and decided to take a certain way, to avoid stairs, and the dirt of the roman forrum, instead i think we ran into twice as many stairs becuase of the capitol building. it was not thrilling. our legs were begining to feel the effect of the 1600 stairs we climbed that morning at st. peter's.

we had gilato for the third time. last night i had kiwi, mango and mixed berry. it was amazing! today i had one called, creme cream and something else. it was good, but not as good as the kiwi i had last night! for any kids from Freed who might be reading this, it rocked my socks off. .

i think i am begining to feel at home in rome. i slept all night last night. katie and i were going to to email after our last thing today, but the computer that burns cds was in use. so we decided to come back later. when we arrived in our room, we just laid down for a short while...ok, that turned into a two hour nap! i guess we needed it...we felt really good when we finally woke up at 7:30. i tihnk we were still tired though, becuase everything was funny...thats when i thought of the "where am i?" game.

we are not very hungry tonight, so we are going to have some coffee and crepes..if we can find any. ciao!

Climbing the Dome

This is Katie climbing the Dome! It was a tight squeeze. Note the angle of the walls! It had a slight dizzying effect. ;)

St. Peter's Dome

We climbed thd dome at St. Peter's Basilica while a mass was going on. this is the view of the mass from the first level of thd Dome. We could hear everything perfectly. It was beautiful.

Trevi Fountain at Night

Trevi Fountain is a beautiful fountain in Rome. The legend is that if you throw a coin into the fountain over your shoulder, you are guaranteed to return to the eternal city. We didn't bother wtih the coin (we prefer to use them to buy ice cream), but it was nice to see the fountain. It would have been better if you there weren't so many people, but hey, I can't say I blame them all. It was crazy. Rosa Rosa Restaurant...mmmm

Circus Maximus

This is Circus Maximus. It is right behind Palatine Hill. Palatine Hill is where the Emperor (Dionysian, maybe??) built his Pallace. The Circus Maximus was right behind the Pallace, so the Emperor could watch events from his terrace. This is where the famous Chariot Races were held. (think Ben Hur) Hundreds of thousands of people could attend events here. It was much larger than the Colleseum.

Rose overlooking the Roman Forum

Katie Sitting on 2000 Year Old Ruins

View from Our Window

Sunday at St. Peter's!

Hi everyone! Right now it is Sunday afternoon in Rome. Rose and I are taking a break from the hot day to write news to you! Rose is trying to get pictures off of her memory cards onto cd's so that she can take more. If all goes well, hopefully we'll get some posted.

We had a great morning. We woke up at 7,00 AM after sleeping well all night. We have not had much problems sleeping! I think Rose was awake a little while our first night, but last night (our 2nd) was great. The key to sleep is....walk for miles and miles and miles, eat a good dinner, and lie down. It works every time.

So, this morning we made our way to St. Peter's Basilica for our first Vatican experience. The plan was to explore the Basilica in the morning, and then stay in the square for the Pope's appearance at noon. All worked splendidly. we arrived a little after 8;00, and there were no people in line for the Basilica. We walked right in! The first sight on the right is Michaelangelo's Pieta. wow. It is so beautiful. It is a marble sculpture of Mary holding Jesus after he is taken down from the cross. Pictures honestly do not do it justice. I never thought I would actually see the real one...but there it was in front of me!! The entire Basilica is full of beautiful Christian art. Plus, the building is overwhelming. At 9:30, one of hte Sunday masses started. The Basilica is so huge, that the mass is held in one section, nad the others are still open for viewing. You can hear the mass as you walk around looking at everything.

After seeing everything in the Basilica, we climbed to the top of the Dome. yes, climbed. 530 steps up, to be exact. The stairway gets narrower and narrower as you get close to the top, making it difficult. At some places, you cannot even stand up straight becasue the Dome shape makes you have to lean over to one side. It is hard to explain. Trust me though, it is not fun to climb. The work is worth it! From the first level, you are inside of the top of the Basilica. We could see all of the artwork of the Dome close up, and look down into the sanctuary and see the mass, which was still going on. The sound was great as well, so we could hear everything going on hundreds of feet below us.

We continued to the second level, the Cupola of the Dome. This is outside, where you can see the entire city of Rome, plus all of the buildings and gardens of the Vatican. It was crowded, but gorgeous.

As we descended the 530 steps (which isn't much easier than climbing them), we stopped at the first level. Guess what? There were restrooms there!! Those are scarce in Rome. And, these didn’t even have lines. We took a welcome rest and continued.

At the bottom, we exited into the Basilica, right by the baptismal font. There was a baptism happening, so we watched that. That was pretty amazing. I don’t know many people who have attended a baptism in St. Peter’s.

We then went down to the grottoes to see the tombs. John Paul II’s tomb is there. It was kind of a hassle, though, because they herded everyone past so quickly you couldn’t really see much. Oh well, it was worth it.

Then, we went outside to see the Pope, which was an awesome experience. We had arrived at the square at 8;00 AM. It was empty. At 11:00, we exited the Basilica and went to find a spot in the square. There were a lot of people there, but still plenty of space. We were smart enough to ask a guard where the Pope was going to appear, so we knew where to stand to get good pictures. By the time he appeared at noon, the square was packed with people from everywhere you could imagine. I don't have any idea how many people were there, but it had to be more than 10,000. It was a massive amount of people. He spoke for about 15 minutes. First he talked for a while about Pentecost (in Latin, so I don't know exactly what he said) and then he sang a song, and then he blessed everybody in about 7 languages. I know he did French, English, Spanish, Polish, Italian, and German. i couldn't figure out a couple. It was pretty amazing.

After that, we left the Vatican, took a quick stop in our room, and now we are writing you! We are going to go get some lunch in a little bit, and then go into Rome to see a museum.

That’s all for now! We are having a great time!

By the way, we have really been blessed with great weather. The first day was miserably heart. Yesterday, though, was gorgeous. It was overcast all day, and sprinkled just a few times. There was always a pleasant breeze, and the temperature was perfect. Today was warmer, but the sun has stayed behind clouds and there has been a breeze. It could be so much worse! We are drinking plenty of water and staying safe.

I am going to eventually update my previous post, since I got cut off. I don’t want to continue with a new one, because that would be quite confusing. So, if you are interested, go re-read that. ;) It might not be today, though.

See you next time!