Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Roma!!

Oh, Rome. I must say, Rome by far is my most favorite city and when we were looking at cruises we definitely wanted to make Rome one of the stops! I studied abroad in Rome in 2008 and Forrest came to see me (well, he came to propose while I was in Greece for the weekend and THEN he came to Rome for a while) and we both fell in love with the city! There is so much history, culture, and FOOD, how could one not love it?? When we finally decided on a Mediterranean cruise for our "big trip" for this year, we were so excited when we picked a Holland America cruise that departed out of Rome because that meant we could spend extra time there! After weeks of planning and packing (yes, for real, I was working on our packing scheme since April 1 and we left the 25th) we were off to the airport 2 weeks ago today! We found that it was more cost effective to fly from Birmingham to Atlanta and then to Rome, and even though that isn't the most convenient, we decided we'd rather have the extra cash to spend on the trip (on food, mainly). My granddaddy took us to the airport in Bham and before we knew it we were in the ATL airport eating at One Flew South!! My pulled duck sandwich was delightful!! Thanks Julie and Lance for introducing us to this place!

I was thrilled to get on the plane, despite the 9 hr 40 min flight, but I couldn't wait to watch movies and take a long nap! Well, that dream was crushed almost immediately. I was unfortunately seated next to a larger woman who got air sick the WHOLE way there! I was super uncomfortable and couldn't sleep a wink. Forrest offered to switch with me but he was on the aisle and his long legs need that extra space so I tried my best to deal with it. I felt so badly for her because I knew she was miserable!! When we landed in Rome I was literally running off of the plane!!
I am kind of glad that she made it into this picture!

 We took the train into Termini (main train station) and I had booked us a hotel right near it so we could drop our bags and go go go!! It was about 8am and we were exhausted but off we went!! It felt great to be back in the eternal city!! Our first stop was San Giovanni in Laterano (St. John Lateran), a church I hadn't gone to the last time we were there! It was truly magnificent! I started crying once we got inside and yes that sounds a little nutty, but I always get overwhelmed when we visit these monstrous churches. People had so much faith that they spent YEARS, even decades, building these glorious places of worship, and that magnitude of that faith always makes me emotional. This place was truly breathtaking and was a great 1st stop on our Rome tour!

We liked to take pics with one of us in them so you could see how large the places were!

Next we wandered around the area for a while and stopped for a snack (ham and cheese panini and coffee), on the way to see the Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. This also was a beautiful church that holds actual pieces of the cross Jesus was crucified on!! Unbelievable!! We stood in line to view the relics and the group in front of us started singing in German (or something like it). It was totally cool!!

We found a dog that could be related to Ruffles!

Santa Croce

Then we walked through a lovely park (dedicated to St. Francis) and boarded the subway (super easy to navigate) to take us to St. Pauls Outside the Walls. Forrest had never been there and I knew he would want to see its enormity. This was one of my favorite places last time I was in Rome!!
St. Pauls has mosaics of each Pope. This is the current Pope and a light shines on him to indicate that. 

Out of order, but this is St. Francis at the dog park!

St. Pauls!!

After St. Pauls we headed to the coliseum, probably the most iconic location in Rome. We didn't go in but we took lots of pics and wandered the forum.
Aren't I cute in my tourist wear?

Then we walked up to Piazza Venizia, or to Wedding Cake Square. I love how this "modern" building is juxtaposed with the Coliseum and Forum!!
Wedding cake!

Next we walked to the Pantheon, but on our way ran into this elephant obelisk!! What a fun surprise!
Even Romans know Bama is number 1!

RTR!!

We made a quick stop at the Pantheon (how can you not just marvel at this place!), and then went to Piazza Navona for lunch. It was nice to rest and take in the scenery!!
Pantheon


Lunch at Navonna

We then headed to the Campo del Fiori, a little market that we had learned about on an episode of House Hunters International, and the walked back past the Pantheon to see the Trevi Fountain.

Campo
You cannot miss the Trevi when you go to Rome because the legend is that if you throw a coin into it, you will return to Rome! It had already worked for us once so we were determined to seal our fate again! On top of that, the BEST gelatto is at the corner of the Trevi so we were dying to have some. It did not disappoint!!!
Pistachio and Nutella gelatto? Yes please!

Throwing in our coin!!

Enjoying my gelatto at the fountain!

Next, it was onward to the Spanish Steps and OH GOOD GRIEF were they crowded!! It was like being at a theme park! I would have loved to sit on the steps and watch the world go by but it was so crowded it was uncomfortable, so we just snapped a quick pic and headed on to less crowded pastures at the Piazza del Popolo.
Me and the rest of the world at the steps!
Last time we were there, the church had scaffolding on the front so we were anxious to get a good pic, but alas!

This is Forrest's favorite place in Rome and rightly so! It boasts an Egyptian obelisk, twin churches, statues, and you can climb above it for one of the best views in Rome!!
Worth the climb up the Popolo
Resting in the Borghese gardens

After the Popolo we headed to the Vatican.

We wanted to climb the cupola of the Basilica since we didn't get a chance to the last time. We decided that walking the stairs would be more fun that taking the elevator (bad decision!!!) so we started up the staircase. No trouble at first! Then we hit an opening and we had to walk around the dome of the church. We were still inside but we were over the people!! I am no fan of heights and literally had a panic attack right there in the Vatican. I was sweaty and shaky but once you start, you can't go back down, so I just pressed up against the wall (100s of years old mosaic!) and closed my eyes. I left all of the picture taking to Forrest!
Many of the following pics are slightly embarrassing but you can't understand where we were if you don't see them!
This is during the panic attack!!

OLD mosaic


This was above us! People were below!

I thought I would be better once we got back inside the dome but then the ceiling started leaning! Then the stairs case got so tiny and small we had to use a rope to get up! I was so stressed out!!! Thank goodness I couldn't see outside!
O..M..G

It is for real rounded like this! I felt like I was in Alice in Wonderland!

A ROPE!!???
Can you see the fear on my face??

When we finally made it to the top, the view was really amazing. I took one peak and then sat up against the wall until Forrest was ready to go down. Didn't we make a great team???
Wow!!

Hiding against the wall

1/2 way down


Only pic I took up there--Forrest taking pics!

On the way down I realized I had hurt my foot! I think I pulled a muscle or something but all I know is that it was really hurting! Determined to persevere, we tried to find a restaurant that we went to while we were there the last time but to no avail. I am pretty sure it was karma getting us for saying that we had kicked Rome's but while we were leaving the Vatican. Now, Forrest was only saying that to make me feel better about my hurt foot, but we did feel like we had done a great job on our tour!! We ended up taking the subway back to our hotel and eating at a cute little trattoria. I was dying for some lasagna!!!
Heaven!

Forrest's anti pasti platter!Yummy!

We made it back to our hotel about 9 and by 10 we were showered and ready for bed. It was such a great day and a wonderful start to our trip!!!

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