Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saturday - Rome

This morning came too early for both of us. We had to wake up at 6:00 am in order to be on time for our departure to Rome. We arrived into the port of Civitavecchia which is just over an hour outside of Rome. We met our escort who was a very chipper young Italian woman named Laura. As we rode into Rome on the motor coach she filled us in on some history and more importantly the “dos and don’ts” in Rome. Our tour guide Alessandro joined us when we reached the city center. He spoke English, but I’m not sure that mattered because his accent made it almost impossible to follow all he was saying, but we did catch about every fifth word. You could tell he was very knowledgeable and was very excited to be taking us around his city. We arrived at the Colosseum from the opposite direction from where we were last year. It was a fairly short walk, but still much uneven terrain over the many cobblestones. We saw the first of three “Arc de Triumphs” that are in Rome, this one immediately in front of the Colosseum. The second is just down a road (which is now a pedestrian area) that approaches the Colosseum, and the third is in the Forum.

From there we were able to go inside with no waiting, unlike the queue for those not on a group tour. The view from the outside is wonderful but it’s once you get inside that you feel a real sense of the history. You really have to stop and pause when you think that you are walking on marble steps that Senators and even Emperors once strolled upon. For a structure that is just over 2000 years old, I would say it’s still in remarkably good condition. The Colosseum was closed in 536 A.D. Most of the “destruction” occurred when they quarried it for stone to build St. Peter’s Basilica. I suppose they were into recycling very early on. They have reconstructed what the floor would have looked like – it was wooden with sand and gravel on top. One really has to use one’s imagination when exploring the Colosseum.

I think Mom and I could have both stayed there for a few hours just taking it all in, but it was time to move on to the Roman Forum. It was a fairly decent hike even though it looks very close. Once there we entered into the Forum area and were filled in on lots of the history, unfortunately most of which I missed. I will have to look it up online as a refresher. There are still many columns remaining and the foundational structures of ancient buildings. One of the things about Rome is how the old and new are side-by-side and in some cases built right into one another.

We then had to hike about another ½ mile to get back to the bus and on to the Piazza Navona where we would have our free time. We had about 3 hours by the time we were “let go” and we were definitely ready for some lunch after all of the walking. We heard we should really go near the Pantheon for lunch as the food and prices are better. Mom needed a well deserved break by the fountain, and then we were able to head in that direction.

We rounded the corner and I gasped at the sight and Mom’s reply was “Wow, there are a lot of restaurants” and I said “No, look up” and of course right in front of us was the Pantheon. We ended up having lunch at this little Taverna and we were seated with a perfect front row view of the Pantheon. It felt like something out of a movie. While we enjoyed our lunch of bruschetta, pizza and of course a little wine we enjoyed sitting down and the view even more.

After a very leisurely lunch we went down and walked into the Pantheon – since it is made out of concrete it is in extremely good condition. The inside is beautiful with marble work, paintings, etc. and is now where many important Italians are buried.

We couldn’t leave Rome without a little Gelato, so we went to a Gelateria and had our “fix”.

We had a little ways to go back to meet the group, so we started our walk. While back at the Piazza Navona we were able to give Dad a call. We also ran into our neighbors from the dining room that were there with another group. At 4:00 it was time to head back to the bus and back to the ship. We had a few issues getting our group all together, but we managed to not lose anyone. We did get to drive past Vatican City as we left and saw St. Peter's Basilica.

Mom and I both had a little nap on the way back and by 6:00 pm we were back on the ship. Mom was completely exhausted and having a bit of trouble walking by this point. However, for someone who isn’t used to this level of activity, I would say she did great – probably walking over 2 miles! Our room was a very welcomed sight. I had to run down to turn in our passports since they need to register them with Egyptian authorities to get a quick visa for our visit next week. By the time I returned Mom was napping again. At 8:30 we decided to go down to the dining room and get a bite of dinner. We both had the crab cakes which were fairly similar to what we’re used to. The best part was Mom’s dessert – she had an iced Grand Marnier soufflĂ© with chocolate sauce. It is by far our favorite dessert on this trip. I do have to mention part of the “decoration” on my dessert, it was this ball of spun sugar that was just slightly smaller than a tennis ball. It is so unique I had to bring it back to the room to get a picture.

As we left the dining room tonight everyone was reminding us that we again lose an hour over night. As of tomorrow (Sunday) we will be 7 hours ahead of EST. I think we will lose an additional 2 hours from then until Dubai. Mom has already gone to bed as I sit and type. We haven’t set an alarm and do not have breakfast plans so we plan to sleep in tomorrow and enjoy!


Kasey said...

The Pantheon is my favorite building in the world, since Carter Finley does not count as a building. Where all the cats at the Forum? Glad you are having fun. Miss ya K

LEFThompson said...

Looks like a lovely but exhausting day! Glad Miss Trudy got a few naps in after all of that. The pics today were great but can't wait for you to get to Egypt. Safe travels my friend!

Courtney Kaefer said...

Those look like the same pictures Jon and I took when we were there! :) Hope you are having fun in Egypt today!