Thursday March 27-Saturday 29, 2008
Our train from Venice left at 9 and we got to Rome around 3. We had booked a hostel in advance, so we had to go find it. We stayed at the Walter's Guest House, and surprisingly it was close to the train station AND anything we would want to go and see. Finally, we had another city that was sunny and not raining! We were pretty excited about that! Our hostel was really nice actually. We stayed with an engaged couple from Australia, and had 2 bathrooms and a full kitchen. After we got settled in, we looked at a map and wanted to go see something while it was still light out so we went to the Republic. It is pretty much just a plaza square with a museum and an incredible view of the city. You could see everything! We didn't want to go see the coliseum or any of those things until we had a full day, so we mainly just walked around to other churches and plazas. We walked into a few book stores and just mainly looked around the city so we could devote our next 2 days to seeing the Vatican and then the coliseum. We ended up going to bed fairly early because we wanted to be at the coliseum by 830.
We woke up early on Friday and went to the coliseum. It was one of those things that was just randomly sitting there and looked almost out of place because the city had been so built up around it. We ended up finding a tour, which is what we really wanted to do. The tour was great! We found out that the coliseum was really only used 10 days out of the year and the other days, the Circus Maximus was used. Each gladiator fight cost about one million euros so that's why they could only use it so few days! It was really pretty crazy to see and it was huge! After the tour, we walked to Circus Maximus, which is where the other games were played and chariots were raced. It really didn't look like much anymore, but you could see the track where the chariots would go around. We took another tour of the Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. It was also very interesting! We saw the city hall (which is still used as the city hall today), the birthplace of Rome, Caesar's house, and lots of temples and ruins from the beginning of Rome. It was really hard to believe how old it was! I kept trying to imagine what it would have been like and couldn't even imagine! It was pretty cool to see for sure!
Eric's 21 birthday also happened to be Friday so Caitlin and I gave him our birthday present (pink furry handcuffs, suspenders, and a British handkerchief from Munich) and he loved them, of course. We all hung out for most of the night and then we went to a local bar with the Australian couple. We had a lot of fun, and I am sure he didn't even really need to go out on his 21st because he could say he celebrated in Rome, but who doesn't go out on their 21st birthday?! So we went out. We were about the only ones in the bar and me, Caitlin, and Jodie (the Australian girl) pretty much were the only ones dancing! But we had fun!
Saturday morning we got up and going to the Vatican around 10. It was actually a pretty long walk, so we got there around 11 or so. It was by far my favorite day! While we were waiting for our tour, we were sitting outside a coffee shop and saw Rachel Trampel, the girl I visited in Swansea from my high school! We didn't even know we would be there at the same time! It was so crazy to just run into her on the streets of Rome! But anyway, we took a 4 hour walking tour and was by far the best tour I have ever been on! We started in the Sistine Chapel and our guide told us it would take 12 years to go through the whole museum leading up to the chapel if you looked at each piece for 60 seconds! That is crazy! But all of the artwork and sculptures were beautiful! We saw a lot of Michelangelo's work and Rafael's as well. We also found out that Michelangelo hated to paint but was forced to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel by the pope! Who would have known! Michelangelo was Rafael's teacher, so Rafael often painted Michelangelo's face in his paintings and also DaVinci's because he admired him as well. I can't really describe the Sistine chapel. It was incredible! It was huge and you could probably spend a year in there itself! It was unbelievable! After the chapel, we saw where the pope lives and the window you see him out of on TV, and also the Pope apartments, which were pretty intricate in themselves. Then we went to St. Peter's Basilica and it was by far the largest church I have ever been in! It was enormous and full of statues and beautiful paintings! It was so big that on the floor, they had marking where other significant churches would fit inside the basilica! It was very cool! I really have not seen anything like it! There were letters near the ceiling that were supposedly 6 feet tall, and they looked maybe a foot tall from where we were standing. People were walking around on the balcony at the very very top and you could not see them until they were pointed out by the tour guide! It was crazy!
But after the Vatican, we went to see the Spanish steps, which are just huge steps and look like they should be in Spain because of the style of them. And then we had one more gelato stop before Caitlin and my train left for Switzerland.
But Rome was fascinating! I absolutely loved it. I actually loved Italy in general but Rome definitely was one of my favorites-especially the Vatican. It was incredible! Pictures really won't do justice! But it was so much fun!