End of London Trip, Part of Italy Tour

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April 8th 2005
Published: April 8th 2005
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Cool light shining on the original door-- Rome
(Okay, so I'm really frustrated because I just bought a memory card reader that was supposed to let me upload my pics onto the computer here in the computer lab, but since I don't have 'administrative privileges,' I can't install the stupid files off the driver CD and thus have no access on this computer to my London and Rome pictures. I didn't want to post anything new until I got my photos up, but evidently that might take awhile. So, in the mean time I'm going to just transcribe some things that I wrote in my regular journal while in London and Rome, and put the dates of when I was there and such. Hope that works for everyone, and I'll get the pics up ASAP.)

I'm sitting here in the Circus Maximus in Rome awaiting the funeral of the Pope. It's hard to believe I'm really here. Surrounding me is a myriad of languages, nationalities, and histories-- it's simply incredible. People are waving their nations' flags, setting up tents, and singing. Two big screens are set up on opposite ends of the circus, and a wooden cross is set up in the middle. People are lining the hills
The GlobeThe GlobeThe Globe

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre--London
and more are coming every moment. What a tremendous occasion!

Finishing up London:

Tuesday: I tried to find the Rose again, but to no avail. Instead, I found it wasn't open for viewing until the summer (and April 23 for Shakespeare's birthday!). Along the way, I found the Southwark Cathedral, which is beautiful and very, very old. Then, I checked out The Temple complex and then found John Wesley's house and chapel. That afternoon, Karla and I saw the Wellington Arch/Monument, Hyde Park, Harrod's (where we also found a Krispy Kreme factory with glazed donuts that were FRESH!), and the Imperial War Museum, where we saw a great Holocaust and D-Day exhibit. That evening, we went to the newest Andrew Lloyd Weber musical "The Woman in White." The set design was fascinating and the music, of course, was gorgeous. Quite a fun and eventful day!

Wednesday: We slept late and went for a noon lunch at a place called Giraffe (I think) with all kinds of world cuisines. Then, I grabbed a bus to the airport where I met Rose and Sara for the second leg of my journey. The flight to Rome was uneventful, and when we landed it was rather strange to emerge in a non-English-speaking country. A woman tried to talk to me in Italian in the restroom-- didn't work so much. Ah, well. Somehow, we found our way to a bus that took us into the city centre, and there we found our hostel (after taking a few wrong turns). The hostel was called "Hostel Guy's Paradise," and it truly was. They fed us pasta for dinner (as much as we could eat!), giant breakfasts, and everyone was sooo incredibly nice, it was amazing. So, we finally settled down to a nice rest after a great dinner and conversation.

On to our touring here in Rome so far!

Thursday: Tried to tour the majority of ancient Rome and other parts in 1 day. Here's what we saw:
1) The Colosseum
We walked there and, as it did every time we approached it, it seemed to sneak up on us and came out of no where. We got a good view of that and the Temple of Venus from atop a hill, and then we descended to take a look inside. Of course, that also gave us a good look at the massive Arch of Constantine just in front of the Colosseum.

Going inside, we toured the upper floor first. It was fascinating to look at this place that had once held so many crowds and even emperors. After a look from up top, we descended to the ground floor where we stood at the floor of the arena near where the gladiators may have entered. As I looked around at where all the seats had been and heard the tourists' voices around me, I couldn't help but imagine entering the arena and hearing the cheering and jeering crowd, knowing you faced the possibility of death-- it was quite an interesting rush!

2) The Roman Forum
After the Colosseum, we entered the Roman Forum by the Via Sacra and began our tour of that expanse. First, we saw the Arch of Titus, then the Basilica of Maxentius, which had gigantic arches and alcoves. Next, we saw the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, which had a marvelous set of columns. Then, we made our way further down the Via Sacra, checking out the Basilica Aemilia, Vestals' House and Temple of Vesta, Temple of Castor and Pollux, Basilica Julia, the Curia (where the Roman Senate met), the Tabularium (where they held all the legal records and such), the Arch of Septimius Severus, the Golden Milestone (proving that all roads really do lead to Rome), the Umbilicus Urbis Romae (a hole in the ground where the Romans talked to the dead-- crazy Romans!), and... and...

Well, that's basically the Forum! Needless to say, it was really cool. I remembered learning all about that stuff in my History and Latin classes, so it was awesome to finally be able to see it all! What a historically rich place!

3) Capitoline Hill
After the Forum, we hiked up onto the Capitoline Hill and saw the Piazza del Campidoglio (designed by Michelangelo). We also saw the replacement bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius in the center of the square. Then, we descended from there to go look at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (NOT from ancient Rome!) in an impressive building on the side of the Capitoline.

Following our visit there, we made our way up the Via Corso, branching off to see The Pantheon. The Pantheon was big and beautiful, with a nice fountain out front and old, strong doors-- it was marvelous! The inside was gorgeous, with the light shooting in through the circular skylight in quite a stunning manner. Just looking around it filled me with amazement! After looking around there, I had my first gelatto while in Italy. I had tira misu gelatto, and I quickly realized that in Italy they use a lot more alcohol to flavor tira misu than we do in the US. Needless to say, the next gelatto I had was a less exotic flavor.

5)Trevi Fountain
While finishing our gelattos, we headed toward the Trevi Fountain where we had a nice sit-down. Rose and Sara threw pennies in and I took a quick drink of the water, both of which rituals are supposed to assure our return to Rome one day, according to legend. The sculptures there were gorgeous, and the sun on the water (yes, it was a beautifully sunny and mildly warm day!) made me so happy!

6)Spanish Steps
Following a brief rest, we started toward the Spanish Steps, which were crowded beyond belief! A bride got her pictures done on the steps and everyone clapped for her (in Italy, clapping is actually a sign of respect). It was
London SkylineLondon SkylineLondon Skyline

From St. Paul's Cathedral
way cool. We rested there for awhile, too (this time in the shade) and then took the Metro to the Circus Maximus.

7) Circus Maximus and Palatine Hill
After a nice ride to the Circus Maximus, we jumped out and found ourselves face to face with the old racing center (as featured in Ben-Hur, I believe), which already had two big screens set up on it. We then walked through the Forum again and up to Palatine Hill (where all the Roman aristocrats used to have their palaces). There we saw the House of Livia, the Domus Augustana, Domitian Stadium, and the House of Septimius Severus, among other ruins. It was really cool, and they had a beautiful garden there, and it was fun to imagine all these half-houses in the splendor they likely held before. Again, as it was an absolutely gorgeous day, we sat around there for awhile, too, and took it all in.

8) Imperial Fori
Once done wandering the Palatine, we walked by the Imperial Fori on our way back to the hostel (more cool ruins that are better in pictures than my words can describe) and then had a second round of gelattos
Roman ForumRoman ForumRoman Forum

Rome, Italy
(this time I had chocolate chip) and got lasagna at the hostel. Delicious! I met a guy at the hostel from Clemson who was in one of the guys' a cappella groups there, too-- how crazy is that! He'd actually been the Cocktails' guide when we went there to perform for ICCA. So we talked shop (he's studying in Scotland this semester), and I enjoyed seeing a familiar face.

This morning, we got up early, I got us a little lost, and we finally ended up at the Circus Maximus for the funeral. We didn't make it to the Vatican, but this is incredible as it is!

Okay, time approaching for the ceremony. More later!

Additional photos below
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