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Published: March 14th 2016
Sooooooo lazy this morning. I didn't bring my hiking boots and I can totally feel my walking from yesterday. My sad back.
Anyway, once I got going - I got going. I started at the Colosseum which was a must see for me. While waiting for my entrance time, I somehow found myself in a German walking tour..? I love hearing other languages.
I booked the Underground and Third Ring Tour so I had access to those two areas which are otherwise off limits. Really glad I paid extra for that because that's what made the visit amazing because to be honest, the outside is far more impressive than the inside... I mean still worth the visit, but inside it's kind of like any old ruin. Any old ruin with 2,999 of your new friends that is 😉
Ok so the tour! I went to the meeting point and had a good laugh. So... a British tour group had booked this tour and I guess they were one short of a sellout which is how I got in. The British tour guide looked really confused that I was standing there - "you're not one of mine are you?" No, I don't think so. "No, not with that accent you're not." Cue the laughter all around lol. They were sweet though - because it was a proper tour group, they all had headsets so they let me borrow one for the tour ("You're Canadian, I'm sure you'll give it back.")
Ah, the perks of solo travel - you get adopted all that time. I don't know why I tend to be adopted by British groups... off the top of my head I can think of 2 other times that was the case. I fit right in I suppose.
Anyway, so we started off on the re-built stage area - so like where the stage/sand-pit used to be during the shows/fights/etc. Great view of the building itself and all the levels going up, but also of the underground. Looking around the building though, it's crazy that it was built in ~80AD. We could also see some of the renovations and cleaning being done - they've apparently just recently finished cleaning the outside which is why it's a nice light almost white now, meanwhile the inside is dark grey (pollution). Apparently it's one guy who's paying for it all... talk about some serious money.
The tour guide talked a lot about the history - dispelling some myths along the way. (No, Russell Crowe's Gladiator didn't really kill Commodus... or however you spell it.) She also talked about the shows they'd put on, about the social classes and how it went from sitting on marble pillars with pillows all the way to standing in the nosebleeds on the 5th level. Also, I had no idea how many different uses it had over the years (burial ground, sporting events, WATER sporting events, etc.) and that it used to be that tall and had a roof of sorts. Very interesting.
Then it was down to the hypogeum - the underground where they used to keep all the animals and the gladiators would get ready and all that jazz. I can't imagine what it was like back then - for starters, super dark and claustrophobic I'm sure since there was a full roof (the "stage"), never mind the roaring lions and all that. It was cool to see an example of the "elevators" they'd use to lift the animals (or props or whatever) to the stage - it would take 8 people to lift! Crazy.
I also liked hearing about the gate of life vs. gate of death... as we then proceeded to walk out of the gate of death haha. But my absolute favourite story though was one of the emperors liked to fight gladiators naked...???!!! In front of like 50,000 people haha. Weird.
(Sidenote: there was a cat sitting in the middle of the underground. He was a beauty! No idea where he came from. Maybe he's mouse patrol?)
We then made the oh so long trek up to the 3rd floor. So many steps. So many steeeeeep steps. Well worth the view though - not just of the Colosseum floor itself, but great view overlooking the Forum and Rome itself. So yes, the extra tour price was well worth it.
Next I went to Forum and Palentino which were marvelous. I don't even know what to say about them because I didn't get an audio-guide so not quite sure what most things were... but they looked interesting! Haha. I started at Palentino because the line was like 5 people vs. at least 200 at Forum. I really don't understand their system... it's the same site, and yet one entrance's security is a cop that looks at your bag for all of 2 seconds, and at the other entrance 2 cops check your bag and it goes through an x-ray. Odd.
Anyway! I'm very glad I went to Palentino first because that meant I started at the high end. By the time I got down to Forum and looked waaaay up to where I'd been before, I could have cried tears of gratitude that I wasn't going up all those kazillion steps. So yes, Palentino - great views of the city again, great view of the Forum and it smelled AMAZING because of all the orange trees. Forum was nice too but I was starting to lose some steam so I don't think I quite saw it all. It's just amazing to see all these old buildings and pillars and everything... amazing how old they are and that they'd still in decent condition.
(Another sidenote for the day - I wish more places banned selfie-sticks because I feel like if I saw one more today, I would have snapped it in two myself. They are EVERYWHERE and people don't know how to use them. Boggles the mind.)
At this point I figured I pretty much hit my walking quota for my back. I lazed around, had some gelato (FINALLY), and decided to bus back up towards Trevi. My walking quota apparently wasn't there as I then decided to walk down to Pantheon and to go find this pasta place I'd heard about. Both were well worth it.
Trevi was a total zoo - oddly enough, probably the busiest place I'd been to yet just in terms of people packed in like sardines. It is a nice fountain though.
I had no idea what the Pantheon was and that was a pleasant surprise! First off, talk about imposing structures... from both the outside and once you go in. It's beautiful! I had no idea it was a religious site. I had to laugh that they'd come on the intercom every 10 minutes or so and literally shush the crowd with a harsh "SHHHH". Love it.
So, that was that. I found my pasta place, stuffed my face with some pretty good pasta and then made the long trek back to the hostel where I'm now completely and utterly done. At least most of my walking will be indoors tomorrow.
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