Posted by: jodester87 | March 3, 2009

Roman Holiday

Roman Holiday….Hollins Style

Friday

The beginning of the weekend that I had been waiting for since the start of the year. Everyone who was going on the trip had to reach Stansted Airport on their own, and the best way to do that was to go to the Liverpool Street Underground and get on the Stansted Express. This being me I got the 9:10 am train (just barely), meaning I got to the airport really really early, and on this train there was this rather humorous delay. The delay was an injured swan on the track and when we got going again the driver sid it was cold, which to me means dead.

We flew via RyanAir and its a free-for-all when it comes to seating. So I ended up sitting next to two men who were drinking a big bottle of brandy and kept offering me some. There is nothing on the flight that you don’t have to pay for.

Anyway we all land in Rome and get these mini-buses to take us to our hotel, Les Chambres d’Or, which is quiet literally around the corner from the Vatican and within walking distance of St. Peter’s Square. The people there were great and when you check in they’ll fix you a welcome drink and pastry. The pastries were to die for I wish I could have stolen a whole box of them to take back with me. Can you tell I really liked them?

After we dropped our bags off in our rooms we jumped on the 81 bus, aka Pickpockets R Us, to Campidoglio and the Capitoline Hill. There we saw the huge bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius on a horse. While in that museum I had to do a double take of a Roman bust because it looked like my friend Phil. Following that we took a short walk to see the Forum. Meaning the ruins where we could also see the Colessum and the Arch of Constantine. Unfortunately it was dark so I couldn’t get any photos at that moment. Looking at the ruin I could almost see how amazing they once were during the height of the Roman Empire and suddenly I was asking myself how could people let these go to ruins? I still don’t have an answer to that. Then we took a different bus to St. Peter’s Square and saw the lights on in the rooms where the pope lives. By this time we were all getting fairly hungry so we walked back to the street where the hotel was and ate at a restuarant called Lingua Lungua. I had a marinara pizza and it was delicious. Eventually, Joyce and I went back to the hotel while the other Hollins girls went out to buy snacks and dessert.

 

Saturday AKA The Marathon

I couldn’t ask for a more perfect day, the weather was sunny and warm. Perfecto. The day started out early because we were going to the Vatican and Sistine Chapel. It was a power walk to and through the Vatican, where Sara nearly got hit by a car driven by two nuns. Surprisingly eough we had the Sistine Chapel to ourselves for about five minutes. It’s really hard describe the feeling that overcomes you as you are looking up at one of the most famous paintings int he world. I was slightly disappointed because there was just so much artwork in such a small space that they only thing I really looked at was the Creation of Adam and I did notice a ton of painted goat skulls. I thought it was a crack at the devil. Shortly after we discovered what felt like every aspect of the room I was able to buy some rosewood rosaries for my mom, sister, and myself. They smell like roses. We then went into several rooms painted by so many famous painters that I’ve forgotten who painted what. I was rather upset that we couldn’t see more of the Vatican but alas we had to leave.

At 10 am the group left on a mini-bus tour of several sights. We went to a Renaissance villa called Villa farnesina, which holds several paintings by Raphael. There was no photography allowed. Then we went to a small church called Santa Maria, where a small wedding was taking place. The place had a lot of gold mosaics. When we were going into the church there were gypsies asking for money. We then went to Santa Sabina, which is one of the earliest Christian basilicas. Sabina had this lemon and orange orchard with an amazing overview of the city. It was very surreal. One could see at least 85% of the city from that view. Kelly Hollins tried to climb one of the trees to get and orange while Sarah Beth tried to s hake a branch to get one to drop. They didn’t succeed.

While on the minibus we drove past the Roman palace ruins, Constantine’s Arch, the ruins of ancient market, and the Colesseum. We didn’t go into the Colesseum because one of the lady’s was like ‘I don’t think people realize just what the Colesseum was used for.’ My thought was ‘Yeah, I know because we got several saints out of it and I want to pay my respects to the dead.’ The bus stopped at the Spanish Steps. Unfortunately it was at the top of the steps so it didn’t seem as grand as it would have from the bottom, but did give another beautiful view of the city. by this time several of us were practically begging for food.

Luckily shortly after the Spanish Steps the driver dropped us off at the Piazza Navona for a long leisurely lunch. The Hollins girls ate outside since the weather was just a glorious spring weather. The piazza was where chariot races were once held. After I ate my spaghetti lunch and the girls finished theirs we had some gelato. I went daring and had a coconut one. It was really good and we all ended up eatting them on a curb near the fountain. The fountain itself had this gap in it and over that gap was an obelisk with heirogylphics on it. Then there were a ton of artists trying to sell their work as well as the guy singing American songs trying to earn a few euros.

The group then walked to the Pantheon. It was built in 125 AD as a temple to all the Roman gods. However, when Christianity became an official religion the building was refashioned to suit Christianity. The outside looks rather unassuming but until the 20th century the Pantheon had the world’s largest dome. The building is also circular. When you walk in there is a surprise, the ceiling is beautiful with this giant hole in the center. There’s no glass so should it rain hard enough then the rain would get into the area.

After we took in the tomb of Raphael the group split for the rest of the evening. The adults went to another church while us Hollins girls did our own thing. We ended up walking to the very crowded Trevi Fountain. Where I threw a coin in for luck as did several of my peers. You know you’re suppose to toss the coin over your shoulder…well we kinda forgot but we were all concerned with getting the photos of us tossing the coins. And I’m not telling about my wish either so don’t ask. We all then walked back to the Forum on Via Del Corsa road and past the wedding cake building. As well as avoiding several drivers because there aren’t that many traffic lights, no lanes on the road, and they tend to drive at the speed they want to. I didn’t walk amongst the history of the ruins but it was still really nice to be as close as I was.

At this point Joyce and I broke off from the rest to go back to St. Peter’s Square. The problem with this is that we didn’t know where the 81 bus picked us up near the wedding cake building or the bus we had taken the previous night. Not to mention the fact that neither of us spoke Italian. When trying to communicate with bus drivers proved to be a bust we walked to the square. If you can find a map of Rome and take a look at the distance between point A and point B….its a distance that you really shouldn’t walk. Thank god we had a map to lead us to the Square otherwise we would be Lost in Rome and on posters in police stations. Along the way we saw three American guys trying to find there way as well and I was doing a quick prayer in hopes that they were headingIt took use roughly 45 minutes to walk there with a couple of near misses thrown in there from those Roman drivers. By the time we reached it I did a movie where I acted like a big dork.

With tired feet and headaches forming we did the short walk back to the hotel where we rested a while before attempting to find a place to eat. We ended up at a pub near the river (meaning another long walk). Needless to say everyone got to bed early that night.

Sunday

Everyone got up early again so we could get to the Borghese Gallery. There we saw several Bernini sculptures such as his David, Apollo and Daphne, and Pluto and Persephone. All of our cameras were taken before we were even allowed into the gallery. The gardens there had lemons, I kid you not, the size of a baby’s head. What do they feed those things? Following that we went to Bernini’s Cornaro Chapel in Santa Maria della Vittoria. The big thing with this church is of St. Teresa in Ecastasy, where you have to put a euro into this machine to see her in all her lighted glory. We then did a very short walk to the San Carlo alle Quattro Fountaine. On the coner of each is a fountain. The ceiling was this beautiful white dome at at the top was a white dove a gold background. Very pretty. Then in these confessional things there were all seeing eyes above it, which was humorous for me because it’s not something you see in churches because it is associated with the devil and pagan rituals.

We then found a place to eat near the Via Del Corsa. Once us Hollins girls were done eatting we struck out on our own again. We did a little souvenir shopping where I bought a baseball cap that has Roma Italia on it. I wanted to get one that had Ciao Bella but it didn’t fit right across my forehead. Waiting ont he 81 bus from there took awhile but once we reached the square that the hotel was near we got our last gelattos from Blue Ice. After I finished my cookie gelato I quikly bought some postcards with my last two euros. By then it was time to catch our cars to the Fiumicino airport that took us back to London.

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