Tuesday, January 31, 2012

EUROPE!!! Part 3

Our second day in Rome began with the Vatican City and ended with a very long accidental adventure through the city (yes there was some yelling and also some crying -- but it was totally worth it [kinda] )

Here is the in between:
We got back on our bus and were soon whisked away to the Colosseum! This is something I was really excited for. The building was the largest in the Roman era and was completed before the first century AD.

Above ^^ you can see the Arc of Constantine to the left. It's pretty huge.

On a side note: I still haven't watched Gladiator since I've been back and I've been thinking about it ever since the moment we stepped foot inside this massive structure. Russell Crowe... Swoon!

me at the Colosseum ^^

We got so lucky with the rain. I mean, no, at the time I did not enjoy being rained on. But these photos are certainly better for it, right?

I thought this sign was too funny! "It is forbidden to introduce bicycles, animals, to eat food or write on things" Aren't these kind of obvious?
This was our guide on the left in the long black coat ^^ I can't remember her name but I remember kind of falling in love with her voice because her English was so perfect but she said every word with the perfect amount of enthusiasm and this little sound at the end of each word. It was freezing (if you can't tell) and very windy so we could barely hear her in our little earbuds. But! She was an archaeologist and very knowledgable so I liked her a lot.
The view from one of the windows overlooking the city ^^
Our guide told us that the section of the floor to the right of this photo above is reconstructed so that visitors can understand what the floor used to look like in the days when this place was used for the gladiator games. Everything to the left of that floor is lower down and is actually the bowels of the stadium. This is where the animals and the gladiators would hang out prior to being either brought through one of the main gates onto the stage or pushed skyward through one of the trapdoors in the stage floor. Pretty cool, right? So actually we're getting a view of the colosseum that people who were there long before us couldn't see.

I think I remember her telling us that women were not allowed into the games unless they were very wealthy. And even then they were given the crappiest seats at the very top. So basically they had to trudge up like hundreds of steps just to see tiny little dots run around a stage. I don't know about you but if my husband was going to go off to some gladiator games I probably would have been at home taking a three hour bath or something like.. "Go! Have fun! Don't come back!" haha. OK anyway...

Oh - also - everyone sat on huge marble seats but the women and very poor people at the top sat on old, wooden ones.

I don't know for sure why the large Roman cross is placed at the main gate (or what used to be the area where royalty sat during the games) but I'm sure it has something to do with a repenting for the Christian lives lost to imprisonment, fighting and eventual death in this place.

Outside the walls there are tons of guys dressed up as Centurions. We weren't sure if you paid them or just posed with them but none of us stopped to find out.

I kept finding these bottle caps lodged into the streets around Rome. They might show up in these posts occasionally ^^
After we left the Colosseum we walked just down the road to another set of Roman Ruins called the Roman Forum. I feel guilty that at this point I was kind of half napping, half walking, half wishing I had Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in my stomach, so I barely listened to anything our guide was saying. I just know that this area is where everyday life took place during Roman times. It's a little city all to itself -- now ruins.

Temple of Vespasian and Titus ^^
Ara di Cesare (The Altar of Caesar). Supposedly his remains are buried here. ^^
The Temple of Vesta ^^

Hey it's me in the Roman Forum ^^

Jenn, me and Jamie
The Temple of Romulus ^^

The Arch of Septimius Severus ^^ and below

After we finished at the Roman Ruins we headed back to our meeting spot in front of the Colosseum (isn't that tree not only magnificently huge, but also so beautiful?!) and broke off into groups. I grouped up with about ten other people and we headed off for the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain.

We immediately got lost and stayed lost for most of the night (Somewhere between 3 and 5 hours were spent just wandering.. but it was worth it in the sense that we realized there is always a way home, you just have to find it)

Here is me in a little doorknob ^^
We did find the Spanish Steps and they were beautiful!
Here is the view looking down from the top of the 138 steps to the Piazza di Spagna below. I guess the Piazza is a huge spot at night for the young people in Rome to hang out because it was packed. Don't worry about the huge orange coat that I borrowed from Brenda and wore all night. I was aware of the fact that it made me look about ten years old... but I was cold!
I caught this couple and they were totally into it ^^
Aren't all the Christmas lights so pretty? They are everywhere in Rome above the little side streets.
The Colonna dell'Immacolata ^^
The Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain) ^^. We saw the fountain at night and it was beautiful, but if I could go back I would definitely see it in the daylight as well. The fountain is absolutely massive and it's the largest Baroque fountain in Rome. It's pretty famous haha.

Brenda, Nakita and Crystal ^^

After we had wandered around enough our little group was super hungry so we headed to a little eatery just near the fountain. I had salad. Big surprise.
Claudia & Rutheigh ^^
Then we decided that gelato was a MUST! This guy has owned this gelato shop for years... See this picture below? That's him in B&W.

Yummy! Peanut Butter! Always a peanut butter fanatic!
Brenda, Mike, Deb, Nakita, Rutheigh, Claudia, Ann Marie and me ^^
Kate, Brenda, Crystal, Kay and Ann Marie ^^
Then.... we. got.lost.
for hours. This involved a lot of walking, metro riding, buses and well... frustration.
But eventually we found our hotel. It was like the golden arches of McDonalds when you just want that Big Mac so badly. Then we slept. It was awesome.
stay tuned for part 4... soon...