Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Italy, Day 9 & 10: Rome Ciampino

My flight out from Ciampino with RyanAir was scheduled for Sunday at four in the afternoon. I got to the airport much earlier than I expected so I sat down to read my book. I decided after about an hour to get in line to get my boarding pass.

After maybe 30 minutes in line, I get to the front and the lady behind the counter tells me that my flight has been cancelled. I was stunned. She tells me to go to the ticket line around the corner.

I get to the ticket line and there are maybe seventy people in line. That evening, I stood in line for six hours straight. I have never been so miserable in my life. So I read my book while standing with my purse on my shoulder and my backpack at my feet. I tried to sit on the floor once by feet immediately started cramping, probably had to do with the fact that I had been walking around for the past week and had been standing for four hours already.

Getting a flight out the next morning was easy once I got to the front of the line. They also offered a hotel to stay at for free, but I had already decided to go back to my hostel (only 25 euros per night). The hostel also offered to pick me up from the airport, so I took them up on that.

My last day in Rome actually turned out to be a Monday, when I was supposed to be in class from 8:30am to 12pm. My flight was scheduled to leave Rome Ciampino at 9:45 but we didn't board until 11:45am. I was so thankful to be back in Bordeaux that afternoon. Bordeaux now feels a little like home, although it can't compare to being surrounded by the family I love and the friends I've made strong relationships with. 

Italy, Day 8: Rome

My last day in Rome!

My first stop was the Pantheon! But first I got lost. While on the bus to the Pantheon, I met some people from Salt Lake City. We all managed to get off at the correct stop but I felt like I had a handle on the area so went off half cocked. It was a bad idea. I found an area of Rome that is more like the old town with narrow side streets and lots of small shops. I actually found Campo de Flori, Palazzo Farnese, Palazzo Spada, and Largo di Torre Argentina. But I would have enjoyed all of that more if I weren't looking for the Pantheon specifically. The area was full of tourists and I could have asked any of them for help, but I was too stubborn. I did finally ask someone at a museum where I was on the map. Unfortunately, he didn't know English so could only gesture and say the names of streets. We figured it out.

I was on my way to the Pantheon! But I realized I lost my way when I found this buidling:

This is possibly Palazzo Madama or Piazza Sant Ignazo. Or maybe a random church. 

I turned back around and kept looking for the street I was supposed to turn down. This was my first sighting of the Pantheon:

The backside of the Pantheon.

As I was coming around the side of the Pantheon. 

Standing in front of the Pantheon looking out at the square. 

The Pantheon was closed due to weather.

I walked back to the bus stop and managed to find the one going back to Roma Termini for a train back to Ciampino to finish my dismal day. Along the way, I saw this building:

Possibly Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II. 

If you ever go to Rome, take bus 64 from the train station! I didn't know about this bus line until my last day but I was amazed at all the major land marks it stops at. The perfect public tourist bus. And it only costs about one euro for an hour of journeys. 

Leaving Downtown Rome for the last time during my stay. 

Italy, Day 7: Rome

This was my second to last day in Rome, so I was going to make the best of it -- even though I had to walk through a few inches of snow in tennis shoes for twenty minutes to get to the train station in Ciampino (a suburb of Rome where I stayed at a wonderful hostel). My first stop was the Coliseum to finish off my visit from the day before. Unfortunately, it was snowing: 

Snowing like crazy.

So the Coliseum (understandably) was closed. Don't want any lawsuits from tourists! So the less than an hour I spent at the Coliseum on Day 6 was the only time I had there. 

The snow was melting and I kept stepping in icy-cold puddles as I walked back to the metro station. I decided to go straight to the movie theater and watch another movie in Italian. I saw Hugo Cabret (it's just called Hugo in the US). I enjoyed the movie but the whole point of going to the theater was the bathrooms:

Bathrooms: not just for taking bad photos in a mirror. 

The bathrooms, I knew from previous experience, had pretty powerful air dryers. And my jeans and shoes were soaked. So I stripped to my leggings and used the air dryer on my shoes, socks, and jeans for about a half hour after the movie. And I wasn't caught!

I left the theater and was looking down the street for cars when I stepped off the curb into a giant icy puddle. All that work for only a couple minutes relief...

This was a pretty simple day for me, but I enjoyed being warm and relaxing for a little while.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Italy, Day 6: Rome

The week was getting colder and colder, but I still went out to explore the typical tourist sights. Here is Giardini Piazza Vittorio:

Giardini Piazza Vittorio.

The tower above. 

I am still amazed by the detail they put on the ceilings. 

There is a little downstairs area below the house thing from the picture above. 


I discovered Colle Oppio by accident. I was just walking around and then saw a park and wandered into it. Then found some ruins:

Colle Oppio.

And the main event: the Colosseo, or Coliseum

My first sign that I was on the right track. 

Me, awkwardly trying to take a photo of myself at the coloseum 
with my camera strap still around my neck. 

After the coloseum, I was tired of walking around and trying to find the tourist areas. Not to mention I showed up less than an hour before closing and the audio guide office had closed a few minutes earlier. So I didn't spend much time at the coloseum since I would be coming back the next day.

I went to a movie theater I found on my first day in Rome. Unfortunately all the films had been dubbed in Italian. So I saw Mission Impossible: Operation Fantismo (or something like that in Italian). It was quite good, I didn't understand much but it was much easier than the French translated movie I saw a while back.

Italy, Day 5: Rome, Part 3 of 3

The rest of the day was quite wonderful as well. Two of my friends and I went to Castel Sant' Angelo, but discovered that it would be closing very soon. The entrance fee was not worth it when the best part of the castle was the architecture, which is hard to see at night.

Castel Sant' Angelo in the distance. 

Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II (ponte = bridge). 

Piazza dei Tribunali in the distance, I think. 

Free bruchetta offered at Restaurant 39. 

My dessert was definitely picture worthy!
So yummy. I definitely gained a couple pounds while in Rome!

As were my friends'. 

We were exhausted after this day, or at least I was. That night, when I got back to my hostel, my luggage had finally arrived! RyanAir had sent it from Bordeaux to Belgium where there was a strike going on at the airport, then sent it to Paris and finally to Rome Ciampino Airport and on to my hostel. I was stuck in the same clothes while in Rome and Milan and I just had my iPad and a few essentials in my purse with me. Needless to say, I will never check baggage with RyanAir again! But they're so cheap, I will continue to fly with them.

Italy, Day 5: Rome, Part 2 of 3

Here are some of the museums we visited while inside the Vatican. My goal was to get to the Sistine Chapel, but it turns out the Vatican has about ten museums that you have to go through to get there. Then there are a few more left after the Sistina Capella before you can exit.

Dabin and me with some giant sculptured head. 

Dabin and me with a strange metal artwork. It's quite interesting and beautiful, in its own way. 

An acorn taller than a person. 

A small courtyard surrounded by wonderful works of art. 

These (I'm not sure what to call them) carvings in marble are beautifully done. The people and figures actually stand out from the sides of the (possibly) bathtubs. 

It's fun to be irreverent sometimes!

A view outside one of the windows. That's Rome!

Some of the ceilings were amazing!

One of the most beautiful ceilings I saw in the Vatican. 
And yes, I was bending backwards to get the end of the shot so the camera gets a bit wobbly. 

I was amazed at how each room is filled with paintings and murals. 

Our audio guides explained the creation, history and artwork of the Sistine Chapel. It was amazing. I'm not sure how long I stood in the middle of the room staring up, but it was long enough to give me a crick in my neck! There were guards yelling at everyone to not take pictures (apparently it's against the rules) but eventually they went and sat down in a portion of the room that makes it almost impossible to see what the tourists are doing. So I started taking videos, and snapped a couple pictures: 

Sorry about the camera angle, just tilt your head to the left!

The day wasn't over, so Part 3 is on its way!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Italy, Day 5: Rome, Part 1 of 3

I met with several friends in the morning when I got back to Rome from Milan. We headed straight to the Vatican by metro. There was a debate about spending 15 euros on the guided tour, but the 5 euro audio guide was a religious tour (and I'm Protestant, not Catholic). Three of us decided to go for the guided tour that was more about the history of St. Peter's Basilica. I don't regret it, and I recommend that everyone visiting the Vatican take the guided tour. The church is amazing, with so much history!

This was my first view inside the Vatican. 

Not a long line when it's close to snowing outside. 

The outside of St. Peter's, I believe. 

Just outside St. Peter's Basilica. 

Just one of the amazing ceilings. 
It is mind blowing how much detail is put into each and every inch of the church. 

Pilgrims to the church come to touch the cross. The black mark on the bottom is from the thousands of hands that have stroked the gold embossed cross. 

This is one of the saints. His tomb was opened and they discovered that he was perfectly preserved. 
This is an actual body and his face looks like porcelain. 

The piece below the giant dome to help the space feel less empty. 

The lettering around the bottom of the dome is over two meters tall (over 6 feet). 
This dome is one meter larger in diameter than the Pantheon's dome. 

A nativity scene still on display from Christmas. 

Sculptures of angels were not usually given masculine or feminine form, although the one on the left here looks slightly more feminine while the one to the right more masculine. 
The tour guide was trying to duck out of the way when i took this, but I still snapped the picture. 

Outside the Basilica, looking onto the courtyard. 
Yes, it was cold!

The Vatican was my favorite part of my entire time in Rome. Coming soon is our exploration of the many museums and buildings inside the Vatican, including the Sistina Capella!