Monday, June 19, 2006

Six crazy Americans in Rome

Let me first include a warning to all travelers: if you are going with a group of people numbering four or greater, decide ahead of time that you will split up and where you will meet up afterwards. Because you will split up, and there is a good chance that some of you will be concerned about having lost someone, and unpleasantries may ensue. Just so you know.

Ok, here is my extremely brief summary of all the gorgeous and exciting things we did.

We got in on Friday at about ten and had a really hard time getting a cheap hotel, especially for five people so late at night. We found one really close to the train station, two stars, for 45 euro per person just for Friday. We got pizza and everybody but me got gelato, and we went to bed kind of early.

On Saturday we first went to get a hotel room for Saturday night, which wound up being the same place but for just 35 euro, and picked up one of the girls' sisters, who is studying in Paris and took a night train into Rome. We had croissants for breakfast and headed to the vatican, where we stood in line for about three hours before we got in.

The vatican museum was gorgeous and I had to keep myself from taking pictures of every single thing we saw. We lost one of the girls about fifteen minutes after we got in there, and didn't see her again for about an hour and a half. No pictures were allowed in the Sistine Chapel, so I bought a postcard book. We ate a very early dinner at a terrific restaurant and then went back to St. Peter's Basilica. It was a.m.azing. Really incredible. We spent a bunch of time in there but wound up being there till they closed at 7. Some of the girls had wanted to buy holy water, so we decided to go back the next morning. We walked back pretty much the whole way across Rome and stopped at this phenomenal gelato place we found by accident with probably sixty or eighty flavors of gelato. I had my first gelato since I got here- a tiny cup of half tiramisu and half chocolate. Delicious, but I couldn't finish it for fear of the gas. We saw the Trevi Fountain at dusk and it was really cool. We had to walk all the way back to the hotel on the far side of Rome from the Vatican. That was the night the U.S. played Italy for the world cup. Tie, 1-1, which means the guy who bet our teacher didn't have to wear polka dots tomorrow. (he did anyway, polka dot boxers which I saw because he was sagging a little. he said that since it was a tie he decided to wear them but under his clothes rather than on his head.)

Sunday morning we woke up kind of early, checked out of the hotel and left our bags at the baggage check at the train station, and took the metro back to the vatican. To get to the holy water you had to go to the treasury, but it turns out you didn't have to buy a ticket and go through the treasury. I'm glad we did though because they had some awesome stuff in there, including St. Peter's finger and a piece of the true cross. But we took too long in there. They finally figured out how to get the holy water and they suddenly had to kick us out of that area--for mass, as it turns out. Once that was over they went back in and one of the girls and I stayed outside. While they were in there mass started and we saw a huge processional with a guy who may or may not have been the pope. He was definitely someone important. We were feeling all cool and went to watch the mass, when the rest of them came up and said they'd seen the actual pope. Well, foo. I didn't get a good picture so I don't really know if it was him or not. (the priest in my class said probably not since he was wearing green) But I did get Ileana a nice keychain with pictures of John Paul II and benedict #whatever.

After that we saw the pantheon, a greek classical-style church where some couple was getting married, and the coliseum. Two of the girls had to leave earlier because they had a lot of homework, so we split off at that point and I wound up going off alone to enjoy the coliseum while the sisters and Allicyn went together. Much better for me. I joined a guided tour and learned so much AWESOME stuff about the coliseum but it took so long that by the time it ended I still hadn't even gotten inside and it was time to meet the other three girls. i decided to make them wait a little bit and ran through the coliseum, but I did manage to get some really cool pictures. I can't wait to show them all to you guys. I would post them now but I can't find the USB drive on this comp. Stay tuned though, there will be some rome pictures in the nearish future.

After the Coliseum the sister who'd come from Paris caught a bus to the airport for her return trip and we remaining three got on our train back to florence. In all, I think the Basilica was the coolest thing we saw, but I like Florence a lot better than Rome. The next time I come to Rome it will be with only one person (Dave? Mom? Ileana? Anybody interested?) and a good guidebook. The two person thing will make it much easier to get around without having to stop every time one person wants a picture or wants to check out the purses a street vendor's selling. The guidebook because seeing all this incredible stuff and not knowing what any of it was drove me batty.

When we got back to Florence we ate at this restaurant I'd been to before. I have discovered the world's most perfect pizza. A marinara pizza has tomato sauce, garlic and basil, and NO CHEESE! Hallelujah! Plus, it's the cheapest pizza on the menu! Absolutely friggin delicious.

Nothing interesting happened today except that I went to lunch with the cool Slovakian girl from my class and we had a trilingual lunch, switching between German, Italian and English the whole time. I also found some cheap postcards, so start checking your mailboxes. Ileana, what's your mailbox number?

Mom, Dad and Tom are on a cruise right now in the gulf of mexico. i hope they're having a kickass time.

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