29 May 2009

Roma At Night And Another Full Day

I’m having a great time in Roma. Last night at dinner I ended up meeting and hanging out with 5 other people and we decided to take a stroll around the city at night. We went to the Trevi Fountain to see it lit up, and not only were the fountains actually on but I was able to make my way up to it to throw in a coin. Woo! We wondered around to the Colosseo as well, and just kind of strolled along as we tried to make our way into a park to get a view of the entire city at night. Unfortunately the gates were all locked and there was no way to get in, but the stars and the city were beautiful.

Today I got up early again (whoa! Two days in a row!? Save the shock, but that’s probably going to be the trend) and first thing I did was go down to the Colosseo with one of the guys I met and hung out with last night, Dan. We wondered through the Colosseo then went to the Palatino and the Foro Romano. They were both huge, but after looking at ruins all day it got to be a bit repetitive. Still excellent though. Oh, and I couldn’t help but feel like I needed to fight a lion while I was in the Colosseo. Too bad there weren’t any. (Also, you know what's lame? They wouldn't give me a student discount! I showed my student ID and my France residency permit, but apparently you have to be an EU citizen. Boooooo!)

After that we wondered around some more and ended up at the Pantheon. That was pretty cool. I especially liked Raphael’s tomb. After that it was a quick jaunt up to Piazza Navona where there were tons of artists sitting about selling their work. The central fountain is incredible, and is representative of the four major rivers in the ancient world. From there we went to the Campo de Fiori where there is a big open-air market. I tried some dried limes that were a bit tough to eat but still tasty. And, because Mom told me I needed to try it, I bought a tiny bottle of Lemoncello (also known as Lemoncino) for only 1€. I haven’t given it a try yet, but I’ll let you know how it is! After that we walked to San Pietro in Vincoli (Saint Peter in Chains), which is another basilica. This one has Michelangelo’s Moses in it. After spending a little bit of time there, we walked up to Santa Maria Maggiore. So much art and so much gold inside. My jaw literally dropped when I saw one of the side chapels inside it.

That was about all the walking I could do for today. And I feel like I’ve seen everything I wanted to see in Rome, so I came back to the hostel and chilled out, which brings me up to the present time. I don’t know what my plans are for tonight, but I leave at 10:30am tomorrow for Firenze (Florence)!

Ciao, Roma!

28 May 2009

Buongiorno Roma!

Hooray for safely arriving in Rome! I didn’t sleep (well, maybe an hour) the night before leaving; I was like a little kid on Christmas Eve. I was just way too excited. I left Poitiers at 6:30am, got to the airport in Paris for my 11:40am flight, and I was in the center of Rome by 2:30. I was exhausted but I knew I must see some things, so I decided to start to wander in a direction and see what I came upon. I walked a little bit past the train station (my hostel is close to it) and it wasn’t long before I came upon a basilica – Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli. The outside wasn’t much too look at, but I decided to go in and boy was I glad to have done that. Unfortunately you’re not allowed to take photos inside, but trust me when I say it was ornate. And wide open. AND there weren’t a lot of people inside (which is an exception to the rule in this city). And to top it all off (I just found this out), Michelangelo was one of the architechts. After that I walked down Via Nazionale until I got to the Colonna Traiana, Foro Tralano [and other foros close by (foro is Italian for forum) (man that was a lot of for sounds in a row)], and eventually Monumento a Vittorio Emmanuele II. I went into the museum there because it was free and while it had a lot of interesting stuff there weren’t many signs I could read. There’s another church pretty much attached to it, which was also very ornate and had lots of gilded items and gold on the ceiling. I can’t remember what it was called. After that I was right next to Campidoglio (Capitoline Hill). There were also tons of archaeological dig areas near by as well. (I say “tons,” but what I mean is there was one pretty large dig and a couple of smaller ones) that I saw a bit of as I made my way down to the Colosseo. I didn’t go into the Colosseo that day, but I plan on going tomorrow. I was impressed. I’ve seen plenty of pictures and learned about it in history classes for as long as I can remember, but there’s something about actually being there that makes it seem more impressive, or I guess real in a sense. After that I made my way back up to the hostel and had some (free!) dinner! I bet you can’t guess what it was! I met some cool people in the hostel and chatted with them for a little while, but I had an early night because I was exhausted.

Oh, and apparently there was a huge soccer final going on. I had no idea, but that would explain why the one night of my hostel was so much more expensive than the others. There was a multitude of people in the streets! Everywhere was jammed pack. And, in a measure to keep people under some control I guess, supermarkets weren’t allowed to sell anything with alcohol in it on the day of the final. I was hoping to celebrate the start of my trip with some Italian wine, but I guess I’ll just have to push that off until tonight or some other time.

Today I got myself up early (7:30am! I know, don’t everyone have a heart attack now) and decided that today would be the day I go to the Vatican and to Basilica S. Pietro. All I can say is WOW! The Basilica was incredible, and it was the first stop for my day. Luckily I got there early enough and I only had to wait online for maybe 2 minutes while going through security. I took some photos, but I’m not positive how they came out. (Oh yeah, speaking of photos, I’ve been here since 2:30 yesterday, it is 5:15 as I’m writing this, and I’ve taken 245ish photos. Yeah, I guess I got a little shutter happy). I don’t like the flash on the marble and I couldn’t be bothered to try and manually focus. I’ll take a look in a moment when I add some photos to this post. But yeah, I was impressed. I did get a talking to by one of the “guard” people inside though...I forgot to take off my bandana. Oops. Oh well, actual security didn’t care at all.
After that I walked to the Vatican Museums. I was surprised – I didn’t have to wait on line for more than 5 minutes, and that was when I was at the student line to pay for my ticket (8⁄€ for students, yay!). There was so much inside! I took some photos inside when I could, but a lot of the time I was herded through quickly, or pushed through quickly, because there were SO MANY PEOPLE inside; lots of tour groups and lots of individuals. But I went into every room that was open (some were closed, and some exhibits in rooms were closed for restoration.) I was surprised to see some pieces by Dalí in the Modern Religious Art section, but I liked them a lot. The Sistine Chapel was of course great, but at the same time I didn’t like my experience there. You get so packed in with all the people there it’s tough to move around, let alone sit and appreciate the work. The official rules are no photos and be silent, but everyone was ignoring both those rules (so it got really loud as well). I managed to take a couple of photos; we’ll see how those turned out, but they’re probably dark. There were too many people bumping into everyone to even attempt to manually focus and set up a shot.

After the Vatican area I walked to the Spanish Steps (Trinità dei Monti), then to the Fontana di Trevi. Both were incredible, but packed. There were so many people at the Trevi Fountain that I didn’t bother to go down and throw a coin in. I guess my return to Rome isn’t ensured. OH NOES! I’m sure it’ll be fine. :P After that I walked back past the Spanish Steps and up to the Villa Borghese with the intention of sitting on the grass and lounging about for a little while (since at this point I had been walking around virtually nonstop for about 6.5 hours), but the grass was dead and there was some sort of equestrian event going on, so I took a quick jaunt through and made my way back to the hostel to sign up for free dinner and rest a bit.

And that’s the end of this (longer than I intended) entry. Who knows what tonight has in store. I’ll update again when I can (woo free wifi in the hostel!), be it in Rome tomorrow or in Florence the day after. And don’t worry, it’ll most likely be a shorter update.

Con amore, da Roma (With love, from Rome. I hope that’s how you say it, I used Google Translator)

*photos to come later* Voila, some photos. I'll post a link to an album when I have time to make one.

23 May 2009

Introduction and Cerbère

Hello Friends, Family, and anyone who got here by accident!

Welcome to my travel blog. As many of you know, I will be traveling around Europe this summer. So I figured I'd do away with the e-mail updating system I had going on and just do a blog. It's the easiest way to keep everyone up to date on what I'm doing.

So here's how it's going to work: I'm going to try and update as often as I can, at least once per city. If I miss an update, I'll make it up as soon as possible. This way you all can stay up with what I'm doing, thinking, where I am...etc. and you can leave me comments!
And that's basically it. Most of my images will be hosted on Facebook, but I'll leave a public link for the photos here.

Without further ado, I'll catch you up with my latest trip:


Hannah and I recently went to Cerbère, which is located on the Mediterranean coast near the Spanish border. We've went just the two of us, and it was like a honey moon but without all the crap of being married! The bay was beautiful, and the water was freezing (although Hannah disagrees), and the town was tiny but really nice. We took a four kilometer walk to the Spanish border, then walked along some trails in the mountains there to overlook the bay. The lighthouse was nice, but weird. It was like old stone structure meets new metal. The views were incredible, and really that was what the town had to offer. We had a nice hotel on a small road in the Centre Ville area of Cerbère (which was also really tiny).
We hung out on the rock beaches a lot, and did a lot of exploring. It was nice, and the photos are really what you need to get a feel for the place.
OH, there was an abandoned building. It was incredible, and there were some great views from up there.