World Trip 03/04 travel blog

Surpise Danna!

Danny and his girlfriend Satvir (Sat) stand in front of the fountain...

A closer look at the two lovebirds.

The fountain itself.

The outside of the Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli.

The grand interior of the church.

Another look at the interior.

A bizzare looking statue.

The piazza.

How wonderfully Italian - statues and Alfa Romeos, lovely!

What a character this guys was!

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as seen from a distance.

Getting closer...

The old and the new: everywhere you look there's some kind of...

Amazing scenes everywhere you look.

A typical Roman street scene.

The famous Collosseum!

The famous sight.

More ruins.

The Arch of Constantine.

The Arch from a distance.

Rome's ancient Hippodrome, the Circus Maximus.

Yup, we're tourists!

Everywhere you look there's a photo opportunity.

A statue in Palazzo Nuovo.

Danny and Sat relax in Palazzo Nuovo.

We were not sure what this statue was, but it made an...

Looking up at the monument for the Unknown Soldier.

Rome is a truly beautiful place to walk around.

The Piazza Venezia.

A sillouette of one of Rome's million statues.

Two guards pose for a quick mugshot.

The rightfully famous Trevi Fountain - absolutely stunning.

One picture is never enough.

After almost 300 years (built in 1732) it still looks amazing.

Danny and Sat play (for those who are single) the role of...

Looking down Via Condotti from the top of the Spanish Steps.

The Spanish Steps with its fountain in the foreground.

The magnificent interior to one of Rome's many churches.

Danny and Sat relax in Piazza del Popolo.

Our Kiwi friend Chris.

Chris, Sat, Danny, and Martin relax for a while.

Two very happy German tourists.

Sunset approaches over Piazza del Popolo.

The Piazza with the dome of St. Peter's Basilica in the background.

Balloon rides over Rome in the springtime; what can be better?

Sarah and Erin, both from the States, and Martin.

The whole crew - good times yaar!

Erin and Jessica, both from Chicago, along with two Taiwanese girls whose...

Kiwi Chris, doing what he does best.

Laughter all round!

Sarah, Colin (from Oklahoma), Erin, and Chris.

Go Colin go!

An awesome Japanese guy whose name we can't spell.

An ancient building at the Four Fountain's corner.

Another beautiful Roman street.

Looking across the Ponte Umberto I at a stunning building.

Looking down the Tiber River towards St. Peter's Basilica.

Castel Sant'Angelo.

Piazza San Pietro (St. Peter's Square) is bounded by two of these...

Martin in front of St. Peter's Square and the Basilica.

Sat and Danny stand their ground in the Square.

A closer look at the absolutely stunning Basilica.

The Basilica's entrance foyer.

Looking up at the magnificent dome.

Looking into the cavernous Basilica from the dome's viewing platform.

A closer look at the dome's artwork.

Not sure what it says, but it must be powerful.

One of many mosaics in the dome area.

Looking towards some tranquil gardens from the top of St. Peter's Basilica.

St. Peter's Square from atop the Basilica.

Martin.

Danny.

Danny and Sat.

The grand and bolbous dome from the Basilica's roof.

The Basilica's interior.

One of the Basilica's four domes.

The treasure that is Michelangelo's "Pieta," sculpted when he was just 24,...

A closer look: magnificent.

The Basilica's splendid interior.

One of literally hundreds of sculpted masterpieces.

St. Peter's tomb.

Oh view!

Magnificent...

More works of sculpted art.

A member of the Pope's bizzarely clad but highly trained guards.

Johnny and Walid run an internet cafe/laundromat across the street from our...

Johnny!

Two unidentified American girls who stayed the night in Rome.

Snowy and her 9 year old daughter Kateri.

We'll see this girl in a Broadway show soon!

Mihaelailea, from Romania but working in Rome.

Two of Rome's most friendly gardeners.

A guard stands at the ready.

The magnificent Pantheon.

The Pantheon.

The huge hole in the ceiling of the pantheon, evidence of the...

The beautiful interior of the Pantheon.

A nice looking Roman building.

Piazza Nuovo.

One last visit to Trevi Fountain.

Cheers!

Katie, a very cool girl from Minnesota.

Kateri?

Party time y'all!

Oh jester!

Ah the good times...

The first of many incredible halls inside the Vatican Museum.

A room full of treasures.

A magnificent, but unidentified, work of art along the ceiling of a...

A visually STUNNING hallway ceiling absolutely covered in artwork from beginning to...

Art, from floor to ceiling; simply mind-blowing.

Painstakingly restored in all its glory.

The aftermath of the March 20 peace demonstration...

... where Rome's riot squad was out in full force.


NOTE: WE APOLOGIZE IN ADVANCE FOR THE NUMBER OF PICTURES WE HAVE POSTED FOR ROME, BUT IT IS JUST ONE OF THOSE CITIES WHERE ONE CAN NEVER PUT THE CAMERA AWAY.

After a relatively uneventful journey from Istanbul to Rome, we arrived at the airport looking forward to this leg of the journey immensely. It was Rome, after all, the place that has been the center of the western world for so, so long. We had heard it was a walking museum, and certainly the drive from the airport proved this; we sat there in the taxi with out mouths wide open as we passed the colosseum and other ancient marvels. Incredible.

One thing Martin was really looking forward to was the surprise that lay in wait for Danny. Without his knowledge, his girlfriend (from Canada but studying in England) had made the trek over to Rome to surprise him. The two backpackers were supposed to take a train in from the airport where she would then proceed to give Danny a heart attack. As it turns out, however, we met a friendly Italian opera singer who insisted that, as her welcome to Italy we share the taxi with her. So we ended up getting dropped off somewhere else and missed meeting up with Danny's girlfriend.

Regardless, we did, in the end, meet up, and the look on Danny's face was absolutely priceless. It was one of complete and total utter shock. He walked around for the rest of the evening with a goofy grin on his face and tried to piece together how the whole thing was orchestrated. He was still shaking at the end of the night. The phrase has never been so apt: good times yaar!

The following day, we set out at about 10am to do some hardcore sightseeing, and never have we walked so much. We set out from our hostel near the Termini Station and walked past the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme (The National Museum of Rome) to the Piazza della Repubblica. We then turned down Via Nazionale and walked towards the Largo Magnanapoli and the Piazza Venezia, site of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. From there, we walked down the famous and ancient Via dei Fori Imperiali, a magnificent street straddled on both sides by old Roman ruins.

At the foot of this street is the wonderful Colosseum, Rome's most famous attraction. Right next to the Colosseum is the Arch of Constantine. Says Martin's friend Max: "It is a victory arch erected to cerebrate the emperor Constantine's victory at the battle of Milvian Bridge. As the story goes, Constantine was struck from his horse by God, who told him he would win the upcomming battle. Believing the vision, Constantine told all of his men to paint the Chi-Ro on the their shields (a funny looking latin symbol simular to a treblecleff). Constantine won the battle, and Christianity was declared the official religion of the Roman Empire, thus ending some 400 years of persecution (and as Gibbon would later argue lead to the fall of the Roman Empire). Other scholars, not buying into this whole Chi-Ro business have argued that Constintine was being much more of a pragmatist, realized that christians were forming the majority of Roman citizens, and that the official policy of persucution had to end otherwise he would face massive internal violence." Good man, Max!

From the Arch, we strolled towards the Circus Maximus, looking the entire time to our right towards the famous Palatine ruins. We made our way back up to Piazza Venezia, then walked up to Rome's magnificent Trevi Fountain and stood in awe of Baroque sculpture at its finest. After a bite to eat, we walked past the Giardino del Quirinale to the Spanish Steps. The steps were historically where beautiful people went to be selected as models by the region's artists, and today that trend remains: it's a great place to people watch. Leading away from the Steps is Via Condotti, one of Rome's most expensive shopping areas. We immensely enjoyed window shopping. Right...

Just to the north of Condotti is Piazza del Popolo, where we stopped for a rest for a while. We met a few really cool people, and it is here that we really realized that Rome is a true artist's city. Everywhere we looked, we saw people toting sketch books and paint supplies, not to mention the hordes of people actually drawing and paining throughout the city. It is not difficult to understand why they flock to Rome - have a look at the pictures.

As sunset was now approaching, we walked up Pincio Hill, through the Piazza le di Canestre, and past Villa Borghese, all in a large and very beautiful park. We eventually made it back to the hostel, and were soon sipping wine with all the people who called Ariana's B&B (hostel) home while in Rome. More good times!

After a sluggish start on day two, we trekked over to Vatican City. None of us were prepared in the least for the show we were in store for. Everything in the Vatican is more stunning, more grand, more opulent, and more magnificent than one could ever imagine. We stood around for hours in complete awe of the architectural and artistic marvels that together make up the world's smallest country. There is no way that we can adequately explain the interior of St. Peter's Basilica; it is the center of the Roman Catholic world, and through it's amazing Basilica, Museum, and the famous Sistine Chapel that the Vatican adequately fulfills this distinction - no easy feat.

As we spent too much time in and around the Basilica, we were out of time to see the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museum, so we headed home with the aim of returning to the Chapel and Vatican museum the following day. We ended up going back two days later because we saw Danny's girlfriend off. It was an interesting experience to walk towards the Vatican Museum late on a Saturday morning. We noticed as we approached the entrance that there was a rather long lineup. OK, fair enough. We followed it to the street corner, where it stretched to the following corner. When we reached that point, we the line continued for as far as we could see. After a few minutes of walking, we reached the point where it bent, and luckily from here it continued on for "only" another half a city block. After wondering for a while if we would actually get in before the exhibits closed, we realized that the line moves relatively quickly. While standing around, we did some math, and came to the conclusion that the lineup to enter the Vatican Museum stretched over one third the way around the entire country!

After just one hour, we entered the Museum, and were continually shocked as we strolled it's lengthy corridors. Everywhere we looked was renaissance artwork by the western world's most famous painters, sculptors, and architects. Not a square inch of hallway was bereft of decoration, and the exhibits could not have crammed in one more priceless relic. We were told that the climax to any trip to the museum was the Sistine Chapel, reached at the conclusion to a walking tour of the museum. This is where Michelangelo so famously painted two gigantic masterpieces, done 24 years apart. After an extensive and brilliant restoration, the Sistine Chapel is one place where one should take no pictures (you aren't allowed to anyway, but that's not the point); standing in the Chapel and letting the experience sink in and sweep you away is by far the most rewarding thing you can do. It was - and this will sound repetitive - absolutely breathtaking, and a wonderful experience.

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