Hello to all! We finally found a steady source of Internet in the “lobby” of our quaint little hotel and I feel like a new woman with the ability to access the electronic world.
We arrived here only 3 days ago and I feel as if it’s been a lifetime. No matter how many tiny streets we walk down, there is never a time when we’ve walked down the same street twice. They’re endless, crowded, sweaty and beautiful!
Before I update on today’s activities, here’s the backlog of the past few days:
June 3, 2010
As we boarded the plane from O’Hare, I certainly believed I would sleep maybe half of the 9 hour and 15 minute flight to Rome…. wrong. The man in front of me performed calisthenics once an hour, but mostly just waited until I had fallen asleep to wriggle around in his chair as if he were salsa dancing. So, no sleep. Instead, I completed 3 novels (yes, as the man noted next to me, “how many books do you have in that bag?) and watched Brothers (which caused my blood pressure to rise considerably).
After flipping through the channels and landing on the handy screen that shows the flight’s progress across the globe, my blood pressure rose again when I noted we were nowhere near solid land. So, I avoided that channel.
We arrived in Rome at 10 am (4 am in Texas – sorry for the phone calls people), went through customs quickly (apparently, you decide if you want to walk through and declare or not…guess W’s policies didn’t make it over here), found a very nice man who only charged 15 euros a person to take us to our hotel and found it OK. Other than awkward communication issues, Alison, Claire and I were relatively calm and collected.
After checking in and getting a lecture on proper lift policies (Claire), we walked around the area our hotel is located, which is basically Central Rome. Our hotel is smallish and there is no A/C, but we’re in the heart of Rome, so who is complaining? We ate lunch at a café, walked around a farmer’s market and ate our first round of gelato (I recommend the peach flavor). Dylan explained he’s on a budget of 50 euros a day, which I realized maybe I should budget out money myself…..yeah, I’ll work on that.
After eating, some of the members of my group decided to attend 5 o clock mass at St. Peter’s. Alison and I decided to sleep…..unsure who made the best decision there, but the nap seemed to put my body back in order. It’s currently 9 pm, and we’ll probably go to sleep soon thanks to Tylenol PM. Tomorrow starts the real portion of our trip…I’m so excited to get into the history of this beautiful city. We’re trying to work on our Italian as well…..but I have a better shot at pointing and smiling.
June 4, 2010
Today was our first official day on Journey to Italy! A few of us got up and “roamed Rome” for a few hours before meeting our Professor/Tour Guide, Kirk! Kirk explained a few rules of the trip, mainly don’t get drunk or go to jail and don’t be a moron, then we proceeded to walk 8,000 miles.
OK, exaggeration but we literally walked for a solid hour uphill to reach the Borghese Villa/Museum. It was a beautiful walk, albeit hot, sweaty and painful. Kirk explained it was to condition us for what apparently is going to be The Biggest Loser: OU in Rome edition. My sneakers were a bad choice, fyi. But we toured the Borghese and received our first art history lesson from Kirk. I know little to nothing of art or art history (wish I had listened to you ever, Kate), but I’m finding that I’m picking up basic principles.
On the way to the Borghese, we were stopped by Italian filmmakers and asked to be background tourists in a commercial for some sporting goods/outdoor wear store. Cool, right? We can’t remember the name of the store for the lives of us, but regardless, we played our tourist parts well.
We had a group dinner, which was nice then we decided to revisit the Trevi Fountain with individual bottles of wine to bond as a group. If you were wondering, we were definitely the obviously loud Americans clustered around the outside of the fountain. Regardless, it was a wonderful time and we spent our first real night here together, loud and in beautiful Italian spaces.
On the walk back to our hotel, I got my tarot cards and palm read!!!! Don’t freak out Mom, I don’t believe in it (I know it’s the “devil’s work”), I just think it’s fun. She told me I was going to make a new best friend soon, I had 2 real friends, I fight alot with my boyfriend right now but we’ll work it out and I am going to live a “Long Life, Happy Life” … WHAT A TREAT! Derek was secretly hoping she’d say something bad just so I’d freak out, but obviously my life is going to rule. It was wonderful.
We went to bed early because we knew today was going to be long. Which brings us to:
We visited the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Church. We walked through the Painting sections and received our art history lessons from Kirk. It’s hard to write notes on a little notebook while death-gripping your purse so pickpockets and gypsies don’t swoop in for the kill. We make it work though!
We ventured into the Sistene Chapel and listened about Michelangelo’s millions of dollars he hoarded throughout his lifetime. What a jerk.
We had a free hour for lunch and of course, ate Salami sandwiches and gelato. There’s three options for food here in cafes and bars (which aren’t the same as American bars, a bar here is a sandwich shop/little grocery store), either: pizza, pasta or sandwiches. Basically carb overload, but we walk 50684 miles a day so it works out well.
Then we got to go underground to the hidden parts of St. Peter’s grave and the foundations of the older churches. It was very tight spaces with little oxygen, but a privilege cause not many people get to go underground to those portions. Being Lutheran, I felt semi-guilty (I mean, Martin Luther hated the stories I was being told and therefore formed his own branch of religion, right?) but the history, architecture and stories are breath-taking to learn about.
Regardless, I’m having the time of my life. Miss you all! We are in Rome until Tuesday, when we leave for Florence. Below are pictures!