Friday, May 16, 2008

When in Rome...

In front of the Colosseum.

The Trevi Fountains.

Before I get started, let me tell you all that this is coming from Jared.
We had 3 crazy days in Rome. We came into Rome late Monday night. Tuesday morning we had to get up and return the rental car to the train station in central Rome. The traffic was a nightmare and we were more than ready to give the car back and get back on our feet.
We spent Tuesday seeing the Colosseum, The Forum, Capital Hill Museum, and the Parthenon. The Colosseum wall was visible from the exit to the subway before we even walked out the door. It was incredible to finally see it! It is such an icon of Rome. How many history books is it on the cover of? And we were there! Similar feelings of awe followed us through the other sites we visited that day.
When we went to tour the Capital Hill Museum, we were told that I needed to check my camera bag. And no, I could not carry the camera with me. So, I handed over the bag with $4,000 worth of Mike's camera equipment and we entered into the museum. Within the first room it was soon obvious that I was the only one touring the museum that day who was not allowed to carry his bag. Everywhere we looked people had bags larger than mine and people not only had cameras out, but they were taking pictures! I began to worry about the security of the camera. Also, it was rather annoying because the museum exit was in a different location than the entrance, so we would have to walk all the way back to the entrance at the end of the tour to gather the bag. I decided that I wanted my bag back. We returned to the bag check. When I requested my bag back, I was asked if I was finished touring. I said no, but that I wanted my bag back. They said, "Impossible!" I said, "Have you ever walked through this museum? EVERYONE has bags and cameras!" The guy grabbed my bag off the shelf and said, "FINE!" and slammed the camera bag back on the counter. Then, we continued our tour.
While we were touring the museum, we found a room that was closed, but you could still see inside. We looked inside and saw two armed police with automatic riffles on tripods. In one synchronized motion, they both picked up the guns, placed the tripods on the window seal and aimed the guns out the windows. We were panicked! None of the friendly museum staff would tell us what was going on. Finally, we decided there must be someone special coming and this was the added security. We exited just in time to watch the President (or whatever the number one guy in Italy is called) of Italy pull up and enter the museum. So, it turns out that I very aggressively demanded to take my large heavy bag into the museum at the same time the president was scheduled to arrive. And they LET ME!
Day two in Rome:

Today, we saw the Pope! This event was just as unplanned. We walked into the Vatican and there were thousands of people standing at the steps of St. Peter's Basilica. Within minutes the Pope-Mobile arrived. It was neat to see him give his speech to the crowd. While this was a pilgrimage for many, it turned in to long lines for us. Oh well, how often do you get to see the Pope?
After the Pope, we saw the Sistine Chapel and St Peter's Basilica. Both were amazing! We climbed to the top of the Basilica and had a fantastic view of the city.
Tonight, we did a night walk through Rome as recommended by Rick Steves. It took us past various squares, the Trevi Fountain, The Pantheon, and the Spanish Steps. While we were at the Trevi Fountain, we realized that we were going to miss the train back to our hostel. We tried to return via bus, but after being driven all over Rome (including some very scary neighborhoods) we found ourselves back at the exact bus stop we started from. Yes, we had taken 45 minutes to go nowhere! It was now past 1:00am. We finally gave up and caught a taxi for $40.
Our third day will be covered in a separate post by Reini. Thanks for listening!


B. said...

Great blog entry.