Today the Colosseum, Tomorrow the Vatican

Buonasera, or Good Evening!

Apologies for my lack of a blog entry last night, it’s totally Shauna’s fault. She got me hooked on a new book series and I went a bit overboard yesterday. I must say, I love my e-reader!

So let’s catch up… it’s been an entire day! I know! Crazy! Have you missed me? I got to thinking about this today… I’ve actually been pretty good at blogging! Not to toot my own horn, pat myself on the back or otherwise glorify myself in any way, but this is new for me. I’ve never maintained a consistent blog, journal, or whatever other medium of daily reflection you can think of before. Mind you, nothing was that terribly interesting to record daily in the past, but still – this is impressive.

And with that, I got to thinking… how many blog entries have I actually made? I know you’re dying to know too – so I took a second to look it up. 76 posts! Wow! That’s not too bad! It’s not exactly daily – keep in mind that I wouldn’t have blogged from Vancouver, I think I did more or less in Hawaii, the cruise was pretty difficult and I only got a few in there, and then I didn’t blog too often when I was staying with Shauna’s family. But the rest of the time – it’s been pretty consistent!

I’ve been traveling for a total of 126 days now (or, as my little stats site tells me, 1.34% of my life so far), hit up 19 different countries, 67,918 kilometers (or 42,204 miles), with the total distance roughly equaling me circling the earth 1.7 times. How’s that for cool? So anyway, I’ve blogged a good 60% of this trip.

Cool!

Other random thoughts (this might be a long one… I’m so sorry… you don’t have to read it, really)… I’m so happy I got laser eye surgery! I’ve been meaning to put this in for a while, but it’s just totally second (first?) nature now… I can see! I really can’t imagine how irritating it would have been to do this trip with glasses and contact lenses, and how much more comfortable I feel with that simple little fact… I can see!!! I also should mention – the TLC centre was so nice, they waived the requirement for me to get checkups for my first year since I’m traveling. Originally I was going to have to seek out a few eye doctors along the way, but they were very kind in doing that for me (if I didn’t do the mandatory checkups I would have lost out on my lifetime “warranty”… I know, warranty for your eyes, weird).

Annnnnd we’re back. Italy. Rome. We’ve landed.

I can’t really remember where I left off… I think I was still in Greece when we last spoke. Typed. You read what I wrote. Whatever.

Flight was good – Aegean Airlines again. I could get used to these short little flights. Airport on both ends was perfectly nice, landed in Rome and had no problem finding the train to get me where I needed to go. A little expensive – 14 euro, but it was a no stop direct train to the city centre, which is exactly where I was off to, so I guess it was worth it. There were so many little goodies and snacks kicking around, it took a lot of restraint not to eat them! (remember I’m on the euro now – not cheap!!)

Anyway got to the Termini station, which might just mean terminal in Italian… but whatever, that’s what it was called. Roma Termini maybe? I think it was only about 35 minutes, and it was a nice ride. It was drizzling a bit but not too bad, this is the central train station for Rome so all the eurorail trains go out of there, there’s a local metro, etc – busy place. Found my way out of the station – limited directions were provided, so I made my way to the left and straight etc… it said to turn left at some square, but there seemed to be multiple squares, so it took me a few minutes. I used whatever credit I had left from the Greece SIM card to quickly point me in the right direction with Google maps, and bam! I found it.

The hotel is terrific – not only is it super duper cheap (about $200 for 5 nights – really good for an actual hotel, not hostel), it’s also pretty much in the centre of everything. Shopping all along the street, food everywhere, and all the major landmarks within walking distance, the Vatican about a 20 minute bus ride away. So I’m pretty thrilled with my pick here. Worked out very, very well.

That night I didn’t do too much, I got out and looked around a bit, found a place recommended by the front desk for some pasta – which, to be perfectly honest, wasn’t great, and returned to read one of the books Shauna told me about before heading to bed.

Got up in the morning and checked out my free breakfast that came with the room – not impressed. No plans to return. Not a lot of stuff there. Granted it’s free, but still… it’s gotta be worth me getting out of bed for lol.

Yesterday I claimed as my “weekend”, or the second day of my weekend anyway. This is hard work, ok?

I explored a bit of the surrounding area, I got myself a SIM card, a new toothpaste and some deodorant (wouldn’t want to fall into the backpacker stereotype here), I lazed around throughout the day reading, spend a couple hours reading outside on the steps of one of the buildings overlooking the grave of the unknown soldier – an absolutely beautiful sight (more later), and then I took a free walking tour at night to acquaint myself with some of the city and it’s sights.

The walking tour was pretty good – I was introduced to the wonder that is the roman churches… and what a wonder they are. Wow is the only appropriate word here. The artwork… just stunning. When the guy casually mentions that Michaelanglo painted the ceiling here, you have an idea it’s going to be good, but… wow. Some of the statues… the beautiful things inside… it was actually breath taking. The buildings in general… so beautifully built. And so cool… inside one of the churches was a “3d” style painting on the ceiling that made it appear as if the flat painting was an actual dome. This was done HOW MANY YEARS AGO?? These guys were good! The buildings… were built kind of as a mind trick. You step out not expecting anything special and BAM there’s this huge, beautiful building. It was a good tour, and a good intro to the wonder that is Rome.

Even talking about the water system that they built here before most people even knew what was up and what was down…. mind blowing.

So I’m impressed with Rome. And the people. And the history. I’m looking forward to going to more museums.

The tour went on a bit long – about 30 – 40 mins long, which is the only negative thing to say. It was getting a little nippy out, I was hungry, and I was getting a little impatient. But overall, a good tour. As soon as it was over I ran out and got myself some food – picking the place myself this time. Much better spaghetti. Oh I may have forgotten to mention – had great pizza for lunch at this little place I found and love called Caesar Pizza. It’s just tons of different pizza types in little square slices for about 2 euro each. So good. I had a salami slice and some other meat… both very good.

Anyway the dinner was good, everything is pretty expensive tho… I’ve got to stop having soft drinks when I eat out. It’s not cheap.

After dinner I ran out to do a little shopping, returned to the hotel, read one more book in the series and got to bed around midnight.

This morning I rolled out of bed at a decent time – managed to sleep in a bit, I think I got out around 9:30am. Shower here is decent, certainly better than the last hostel, and it is nice to have a bathroom to myself. I decided today was the Colosseum day, the only decision I had to make was to buy this Roma Pass or not. It was 30 euro, gets me in free to two places then discounts at a bunch of others, and free public transit for three days. The Colosseum is 15 euro, so I gambled and went with the pass. Hopefully it pays off… I find I generally have bad luck with these things.

Anyway I went to the Colosseum… wow. Very cool. Very, very cool place. I was there for about 2 hours, rented the audio guide, walked all the way around, learned about the history of the place, some of the past rulers, and the amazing stuff that they had going on here. I mean on their “stage” they had mechanisms similar to theatre TODAY. The building… and the construction, the thought behind it – mind blowing. These guys knew what they were doing. And I’m pretty sure they taught us.

So it was a very cool experience.

After that I went over to the two other places that you get to go in for free with the Colosseum admission, which is the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. Both marvels, and truly amazing history. I spent another hour or two there just walking around seeing it all. Quite amazing.

At this point I’ll be honest in saying I was all history’ed out. Walking for a few hours, tired, hungry, etc I found my way out and went for a gelato. YUM! So good. 5 euro, but so good! Kept wandering until I hit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Let me just say, I’ve seen a lot of Tomb’s of the Unknown Soldier. Every country has one. I’ve come across a lot of them, and paid my respects, from Canada right out through Asia and Europe. I don’t think I’ve seen any one quite as amazing at this one. The building was stunning, two honour guards which seem to be there 24/7, holding the eternal flame. I was very impressed.

From here I walked, and walked, and walked around getting a little more familiar with the area, until I decided I was done walking. I used my handy dandy Roma Pass, caught the metro (which is a long way down…) two stations back to Termini. I was originally thinking about going to see the Jack Reacher movie tonight, since I noticed a movie place very close to the station, but it turns out that it’s not playing there, and the place it is playing is a bit far away, so I scratched that. Instead I did a little planning for tomorrow, lazed about a bit, had a yummy dinner at my little Caesar Pizza place and returned to the hotel.

And that… has been my time in Rome. So far. The weather has actually been very good with a lot of sunshine despite weather reports calling for rain. If it does rain it’s for a short period of time, and hasn’t bothered me.

Tomorrow, I’ve got an audience with the Pope! Or… I guess he has an audience with me? And several thousand other people. Wednesday is the day that the Pope addresses the people, and I’m going to go visit and see the craziness! It shouldn’t be quite as crazy as during the summer, but I still fully expect several lineups and lots of waiting. But I’m excited – it should be a great experience, and there’s so much to see and do around the Vatican. When you talk about history… it’s got it all.

So there will be much to report tomorrow, if I had to take a wild guess. I’ve still got a bit of research to do on when to leave and all that good stuff, so I’m going to do that now before bed. I truly apologize for the long read here, if you’ve made it this far – if not, believe me I understand. It’s not that interesting! WordPress tells me the word count is at 2050. So I should probably leave it at that.

Night!