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Published: March 6th 2011
We haven't been on here for a while now, we had intended to do a best of blog but that didn't come to fruition in the end partly through denial that the journey had ended and partly through being too busy. We couldn't however let it pass without documenting one of the most momentous events of both our lives... our marriage & honeymoon so this blog will give the full run down on the week which was truly one of the best we've ever experienced.
It's a bit strange writing this from the relative comfort of our lounge back in Northampton. Far away from those days spent in noisy internet cafes with a million children running around us playing COD or other equally high volume games, whether this will make this blog better or worse will be interesting to see...
Since our return from our trip just over a year ago now our plans have changed, changed a bit more then done a complete u-turn. We had originally thought we'd go away again in April 2011 then this got pushed back to November 2011 to allow us a little more time to save up. As part of this change
of heart Sophie also decided that we should review our plan to delay our marriage for a few years. This resulted in us deciding to squeeze it in before our planned departure in November so we started making plans for a February wedding, the date was set for 19th February 2011 and it was full steam ahead! We choose February because this is the anniversary of the month we met so seemed appropriate and reduces the number of dates we have to remember each year!
After setting the date plans were changed yet again at the start of 2011 and we will now be staying in the UK until late 2012. The reason being that Sophie is returning to the company she used to work for and will be helping them on their London 2012 work, something she couldn't turn down and it gives us a bit more time to plan & save for our next trip so we are quite happy with the way things have panned out.
So moving swiftly along.. The big day came before we knew it and on the Friday morning we both said our goodbyes to each other for the final time
as boyfriend & girlfriend and started to get more than a bit nervous about being the centre of attention the following day.
Sophie had been in her element planning the day, buying out most of the items on ebay, making all the stationery and generally putting her organisational and creative skills to good use.. she does love a project! Dale was quite happy to go with the flow and was given strict instructions that all he had to do was a) turn up and b) write a good speech.
Being a February wedding we were not disappointed at all that we woke up to rain & grey skies in the morning, we had opted for it to be as traditional & English as possible so this fitted in perfectly!
It was a small event with our closest family & friends in attendance in the little church. We both made it through the service without tears (only just!) and the setting of a traditional English Inn by the side of a canal for the reception could not have been more perfect. Both us and everyone in attendance had a great day and we really could not have wished
for it to have been better in any way at all.. well maybe it went by all too quickly so a couple more hours would have been nice!
Much like the above we changed our mind on our honeymoon destination many times in the months leading up to the day. We went from trekking to city break to a posh hotel and finally opted for a 4 night holiday to Rome which was a perfect choice. Neither of us have ever been to Italy so we were both really looking forward to a bit of history, strolling around arm in arm and most of all eating our favourite food in the world.
We'd opted for a 'tourist' holiday so flew out with BA and stayed in a beautiful 4* gold leafed hotel right round the corner from the Colosseum. To get to our hotel you have to catch the tube to the Colosseum stop and to step outside the tube station and be faced with this iconic building was pretty spectacular and a great introduction for what was to come for our next few days.
For those that haven't been to Rome before it's a wonderful city
dripping with history and you really don't have to walk very far to stumble across another Roman ruin or marble building. The city itself is quite compact and easy to walk around but don't pack heels as it's cobbles all the way. We spent our time being the typical tourist skipping from tourist hot spot to the next packed place. We've been to some of the most popular places on the planet in our time but we both agreed that this city packed in the most sightseers we've ever seen. We're not really sure we saw any locals apart from those that were working in the places we visited and we were there out of season!
We must have done something right as we were blessed with glorious weather for our 5 day sightseeing trip. It was bitterly cold but the sun shone every day and we were glad for a break from the grey UK skies we'd become so used to in the past few months. Those marble steps must be lethal in the rain so we were thankful that we didn't have to battle with that everywhere we went.
Probably our most enjoyable and memorable day
was the day we visited the Vatican and got to see the big man himself (no not God) but Pope Benedict XVI. Sophie had read that at 10.30am every Wednesday the Pope entertains an audience with his good self at the Vatican and tickets could be obtained on the Tuesday from behind the Bronze door to the right of St Peter's Square. To find the Bronze door is a bit of a wild goose chase with security doing the Asian trick of waving vaguely in the direction you need to go. What no one made clear was that the bronze door in question is the HUGE bronze door guarded by two Swiss Guards we'd photographed earlier. It looks very much out of bounds but after we'd walked up the fenced off stairs the guards were quite approachable and after speaking to them in part Spanish part French we had our red tickets to see the Pope the following day.
Because we hadn't seen anyone else getting tickets when we did we weren't exactly sure what to expect the following morning when we turned up at just gone 8am. We'd been advised to turn up early by the tourist information
and were quite taken aback when we had to join a huge queue; stupidly we'd imagined that it would just be us and the Pope in a very private audience.. it really is not like that! We went through the usual bag scans and followed the crowd to the conference hall on just inside the Vatican gates. The hall was already quite full but we got reasonable seats about half way back. Neither of us are Catholic but we were quite excited about seeing him, it's a bit like the excitement you get when you are about to see your favourite pop star and the rest of the audience must have felt the same as it was not the quiet sedate occasion we had also pictured in our heads.
We had to sit for an hour or so until 10.30 and this time was spent listening to the various choirs around the hall bursting into song every now and again. We half expected a Mexican wave to start but this never happened! As the Pope started to enter the crowd literally went wild all chanting and shouting and cheering, no wonder he does this once a week, the confidence
boost must be amazing! We won't go through the whole ceremony as it wasn't the most thrilling thing we've ever been to but the best bit was when the Cardinals who were speaking in each of the 7 languages called out the various schools and groups. When the names were called up sprang the group concerned who either cheered, waved or sang a song. Most people were from European countries but there were also a lot from Mexico, Japan and America.
Once the audience was over we made our way to explore what we could of the Vatican and Wow! that place is really something! We climbed to the top of the Cupola for panoramic views of St Peter's Square and Rome, we had our breath taken away by the beauty of St Peter's Basilica, saw the tombs of the old Pope's.. some were only Pope for 22 days so it must be a stressful job! The whole place is just awesome and although Sophie was again a bit disappointed by the size of St Peters Square we were both impressed with the place as a whole that we could ever have thought.
If you are going to
Rome you have to factor in at least a full day if not two to have a really good look round the Vatican. Also found here is the Vatican Museum which is home to the Sistine Chapel and the possibly even more incredible ceiling that is found in the Hall of Maps. Looking up at the detail of work in both these places you have to think about just how difficult it must have been to do.. let’s face it most of us find it hard work just painting a house ceiling white!
Our other days were filled with taking in the Roman architecture and history around this city. The Colosseum is incredible in itself and we felt quite lucky that we had to pass it at least twice a day going back and forth from our hotel. We were particularly interested in learning more about this iconic building and were fascinated to learn more about the games that were held there.. African themed hunts with emus, giraffes and lions... Ocean battles and good old gladiator blood and gut battles. Interestingly all the events were free and people didn't normally go to see limbs hacked off but more for
the theatre sets. Much attention was put into making these as realistic as possible so we guess that it was their version of Planet Earth and the only way civilians could learn about how life was in other areas of the world. We also learnt about how the gladiators, theatre sets and the animals were kept under the arena and were lifted up via lifts when it was their time to enter, just how big a lift was needed to get a giraffe up there we weren't quite sure! In true travelling tradition Sophie noticed the number of cats that lived there and went to great lengths to learn that there are in fact 200 in residence who are fed by a nice cat lady each and every day.
We have to say we found the Spanish steps a bit of let down. Neither of us had really high hopes of this being a life changing event when we saw them but we really did struggle to see why a set of pretty average steps is such a tourist draw? Perhaps we have missed a trick here so please feel free to educate us! We didn't linger long there
and headed straight over to the Trevi Fountain which in complete contrast was even more spectacular that we had thought.. and much much bigger too! Of course it was heaving here but it's a lovely place to sit down and relax for a bit taking it all in which is exactly what we did.. twice.. we loved it so much in the day we had to go back to experience it in the evening too and couldn't way which we preferred.
We can't end this blog without raving about the food.. Italian cuisine holds top spot for both of us and it was one of the things we were looking forward to most about coming here. We ate a lot of Pizza, some pasta and even some dishes we wouldn't normally have associated with Italy and every meal we had was delicious. We did have one bad experience in a restaurant where they blatantly tried to rip us off by not adding up the bill correctly and overcharging us for most of our dishes but aside from that we found everything else fabulous. Our favourite restaurant (sticking to our backpacking roots) was a little roadside place just round the
Tired tourists taking a break
corner from our hotel which served amazing pizzas, beer and wine and was cheap as chips. One of our favourite things to do is to sit down and let the world go by, something that is very easy to do here in Rome with so many Piazza and street cafes but not quite so comfortable when it's 0°C but this is easily remedied with a patio heater and bottle of wine.
Our Rome honeymoon was the perfect accompaniment to our English wedding and the two together will always be some of the most memorable and romantic weeks of our lives. We've a few more trips planned for this year to keep the travelling spirit alive.. a wedding in Vegas, trekking in Scotland and celebrations in Spain, then the excitement will start to build again for our next big trip planned for after the Olympics in 2012.
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