Friday, July 24, 2015

Europe Tour - Rome day 1

Bonjorno! That's hello in Italian :D We got the back seat today! So much leg room!! And it's not bumpy! (Thanks Peter) Anyway, we're heading to Roma today. It's gonna be a long ride since we'll only be arriving at about 1pm where it'll be hottest, probably.
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Well, it wasn't so bad. It was hot, definitely, but it wasn't as bad as Venice. Venice was sweltering hot. The road to Rome was really windy and bumpy. I kinda felt woozy halfway through, but recovered after 15 minutes. We stopped by the first pitstop in the morning for a toilet break. I didn't go, and luckily I didn't as there were about 3 other coaches. A few of us chilled in the shade while the rest queued up for the loo. The next stop was 2 & 1/2 hours away so we slept. At the next stop, we had lunch. We had packed sandwiches from the hotel during breakfast and my mum bought a salad bowl (because we desperately needed greens). At least the toilet was free. So after lunch we went on our merry (albeit winding) way to Rome.
We arrived at around 3pm where we checked into our small but amazingly comfortable hotel and checked on the chocolates that were dumped into my luggage bag, hoping that it hadn't melted in the Italian heat. Anyway, at 4.30pm we assembled at the lobby and headed for the city central where we met up with the local specialist. She took us around the back streets, to the Prime Minister's Palace which was built 500 years ago, we went to the Pantheon and one of the old Roman temples. We visited a few of the obelisks scattered around the city and took pictures of the Spanish steps and the fountain of Four Rivers. Rome is a city bursting with history dating thousands of years. I expected myself to be entirely overwhelmed with the sights and sounds, but I admit that I was disappointed at my own mellow reaction to all these beautiful places. I suppose when you've seen one cathedral, you've seen them all. Indeed all cathederals are not the same, and vary in differenr sizes and architecture. I do think that one other reason for these feelings are the over abundance of tourists. You see tourists in every corner. Some times I don't even feel like a tourist anymore, except for when I'm snapping away at my camera. There's too much diversity happening, if you know what I mean. It doesn't make the place truely special anymore. You don't truely feel like an outsider. Well, at least I don't really. Maybe it's just me, I don't know.
The pantheon was a sight to behold. Truely the Romans who built this gigantuous temple 2000 years ago were absolute brilliant builders! It was the first building to be made from concrete. Even Michelangelo marveled at it for years, saying how the perfect sphere represents the sanctity of God (or something along those lines) The painter Rafael was buried in the pantheon, the marble columns that support the madona above his sarcophagus is made of a kind of marble then imported from Egypt typically only used for emperors and the like. Some interesting fact for you to read up on. The whole walk came to an end at the Fountain of Four Rivers, each 'river' representing something. One was Asia, the other was the Middle East? I'm not entirely sure. The other two I didn't really listen.
At about 6.30 the walk ended and we went to get dinner. I knew that tips was a thing in Europe, but we aren't used to such practices. So we had spaghetti and a pizza. The place where we ate, the food was so-so. There wasn't anything rather spectacular about it. I had Spaghetti ala Carbonara, it wasn't all that amazing. Oh well, I guess I had set up too high a standard. Haha! We had some gelato, which was quite sweet, as we waited at the appointed meeting place, then walked back to the bus parked near the Palace of Justice, where we hungrily snapped pictures of the sunset casting silhouettes onto the ancient buildings.
After arriving at the hotel, we took our showers and decided to hit the small bar just behind the reception (it's a really small hotel). We mingled with some of the other tourers and learned a little more about each other. All in all, I'd think today was rather fulfilling, despite spending half the day on the coach.
Tomorrow we're heading to the Vatican city and to the Sistine Chapel!

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