Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Holiday: Rome

Nothing sums up Rome like a good Italian restaurant _

Monday morning saw us pulling into port at Athens and heading for the airport. Fortunately we had no real trouble with this and were soon winging our way to the Eternal City. When we arrived a driver sent by our hotel was waiting for us. To describe driving (and riding) in Europe, here is a short quote from Dave Barry.

Driving In Europe
Europeans, like some Americans, drive on the right side of the road, except in England, where they drive on both sides of the road; Italy, where they drive on the sidewalk; and France, where if necessary they will follow you right into the hotel lobby. If you have a valid U.S. driver’s license, you may drive in most European countries, but it’s more efficient to simply leap off a cliff.

You might be tempted to think this is a joke. If you do, please go visit these countries.

Fortunately we survived the ride to our hotel and immediately began our exploration. We decided to start big and in Rome there's nothing bigger than the Colosseum. I've talked about this before so I won't go into too much detail. Suffice it to say, it just as awe-inspiring the 2nd time you see it.

By this time in the early evening Mom was getting pretty tired (and no wonder. We were keeping some very irregular hours this trip) so we headed back to the hotel. Dad and I however, still had some energy so we walked about 10 or 15 minutes to the Trevi Fountain for some gelato (DELICIOUS Italian ice cream) and evening sightseeing. The fountain was picturesque at night and had a more relaxed feel that it does during the day. We sat, ate gelato, talked, ate gelato, took some pictures, ate more gelato and generally tried to soak up the atmosphere.

Our next day's adventures began bright and early with a trip to the Vatican and the Basilica of St. Peter. Again I've discussed this before and again this is still the most marvelous church in Christendom. Unfortunately the line for the Sistine Chapel was 2 hours long and since we had to be at the hotel ready to leave at 2:30pm, we decided to go the Pantheon instead.

This turned out to be a great choice. The Pantheon was the largest dome in the world when it was built (100BC) and it retained that title for 1600 years until the Renaissance and the building of the Florence Duomo. Its dome is so mathematically perfect that it still astounds engineers to this day. It's basic design is the basis for nearly every major dome in the world today.

Our final stop, after getting severely lost (stupid inaccurate maps) was a return visit to the Trevi Fountain in daylight. It was a bit more crowded but still a fun sight to see. Before leaving I flipped a coin backwards into the fountain. Legend has it that if you do this, you will return to Rome one day. And hey, it's already worked once :)

Thus ended our Roman Holiday. And even without Audrey, it was still a great time.

We're getting close to the end. Next up, The City of Lights....

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