Tuesday, July 30, 2013

All of Rome in 8 Hours!

Europe Trip Post #6
Our attempt at Rome in 8 Hours, Made Possible by Rome In Limo!

5/26/2012, Saturday

Rome, Italy: We woke up early and had room service on the balcony again. I'm telling you, I could get use to this morning feast on the balcony! Although I don't think my shorts would appreciate it!  We have been pigging, I mean, pigging out for breakfast. We figured a good, healthy breakfast would hold us over for a while. At least that is how I justified it! By this point we have decided we would book Celebrity Cruise Line again. Breakfast on the balcony has quickly become one of our highlights that you get with the Conerige Class staterooms. We are hooked on Celebrity, the food is spectacular!

Ok moving on from the food… for now

We met our Rome in Limo driver at 7:30 again, this time we were greeted by Roberto. Side note: if you have not noticed yet, we are obsessed with RomeInLimo, here is the link to check them out! http://www.romeinlimo.com/

Roberto had a surprise for us! We were in for a real treat he told us! Oooh I can't wait, I love surprises! We had arranged for a guide through RomeInLumo while we were touring Vatican City and the Roman Forum. Roberto informed us our guide would be Maura (I know I am spelling his name wrong, it sounds like Mar-A). And Maura happens to be well known around these streets, according to Roberto… which we would later find true. According to Roberto he was the best guide in all of Rome. However Maura, the Roman celebrity, was not our surprise. Maura would be spending the ENTIRE day with US! For NO extra charge! We got our own personal guide with us for the entire day! WOOHOO! Lets get this party started! RIL sure knows how to do customer service! Thank you again RomeInLimo!

Off we go!

Then Roberto had some bad news…. There is "something" going on in St. Peters therefore the Basilica will be closed. Nooooooo, let me repeat that "NOOOOOO"  I said out loud, very dramatic I know. There was ***rumor*** the pope was ill and this was the reason (we found out days later this was not sure). I was so dissented.

This is how I felt (That would be Laocoon behind me)

We are Catholic. As I have been to Vatican City before all I did was talk about how excited I was for my family to see the Basilica and now they will not be able to. Roberto could sense my disappointment so he promised we would try and come back at the end of the day to see if they opened it up. He kept his word.

Vatican City: We picked up our lively, charismatic guide for the day, Maura. He greeted us with smiles and enthusiasm. The love he has for his city was oozing from every pore in his body; we love him already! Our first stop would be the Vatican City grounds, museum, and Sistine Chapel. Maura was very knowledgeable about every single piece in the Vatican grounds and museums. I brought my notebook from my 2004 trip and asked Maura if we could see some of the same pieces I saw in 2004. As part of my 2004 trip I had to write my reactions to the pieces. I wanted to see how my view changed from being 18 to 26 (Hey, you can take the teacher out of the classroom but you can't take the teacher out of me). He tried his best to show me everything but because of our time crunch we could not see it all. Laocoon was my favorite from 2004. Others I saw include Apoxyomenous, Augustus of Primo Porta, and Doryphous. I also had fun recreating some of my pictures from 2004 (such as a sad face in front of Laocoon). 

Pictured below: Vatican. Bottom right is Laocoon, I was most excited to see this.

We started to make our way through the long journey to reach the Sistine Chapel. I remember from 2004 seeing the Sistine Chapel left a lasting impression on me and could not wait to see it again. We got a Michelangelo lesson along the way. The journey is long and anticipation build with every step you take down the long, tapestry filled hallways. Along the way you will walk on historic marble and see beautiful tapestries. Some of my favorite tapestries included the ones with maps of the world… or how they thought the world looked then. Those were neat to stare at for a while. The hallways are lit up by the glow of the gold and opulent curved ceilings. Hall after hall, we are almost there!

Video of walking down the halls leading to the Sistine Chapel:

I don’t know about anybody else in my family, but the closer we get the more I can feel it. The excitement is overwhelming. I remember you walk through this narrow, white-walled, little ally type section before BAM! entering the room, the Sistine Chapel.

Maura gave us instructions and etiquette about entering the Chapel. No talking, phones, photography, etc. He also told us where we would meet him when we were finished. Before long, we were dumped into the Chapel.

I am not even sure how to describe the feeling I felt seeing the Sistine Chapel. I get goose-bumps (or goosey goosey like Fredrik says from Million Dollar Listing: my new obsession) just typing about it. Tyler and I stuck together and the rest of us kept within eye-distance of each other since you are not allowed to talk.

When you first walk in naturally you look up. Then you are able to start soaking it in and can take in the incredibleness of the Alter Wall. And your eyes start to play tricks on you, is the ceiling 3D? Are the painted arches really sticking out? I do not know, still to this day and I have not goolged it. Because that is part of the magic for me, everyone sees the Sistine Chapel differently. The longer I stare at it the more it feels 3D and real to me, and very spiritual at that. Even after a year I still do not know if it really is arches and columns or just painted to look like it! Guess I have to go back to get a third look.

My wondering about the "3D" was immediately halted when I heard someone yelling. Yelling? Why would there by yelling in the Sistine Chapel? I turn to my side and LONE BEHOLD Brandon, MY brother, has his CELL PHONE OUT! What the H-E-Double Hockey Stick was he thinking! I almost tackled him right there. He is lucky you are not allowed to talk in there! But I sure made up for it once we exited- after I apologized to Maura. Phew, ok, glad we got that over. I feel my heart racing again just thinking about it! What was he thinking? Typical boy, not listening to directions! I told you, you can't take the teacher out of me!

Rome, Italy: After the excitement and escapades of Vatican City, we were hungry. Tyler and I saw on the Travel Channel from one of Anthony Bourdines (sp) shows him eating this amazing looking pasta called Caccio e Pepe. He described it as the "mac-and-cheese" of Rome. Well what American doesn’t like mac-and-cheese? Sign me up! I asked Roberto if he knew a place we could get Caccio e Pepe from. He knew just the place, of course he did. And as Rome in Limo is famous for, he called ahead and got us a table. He also informed the waiter that we were on a cruise so would not have time for a traditional Italian meal- which can take hours. Maybe when I come back one day I can spend hours on a Roman lunch, but not today, we have a tight agenda! Rome in Limo is also famous for maneuvering their car through any kind of traffic to get you where you need to go. They get the job done, move over cute little Fiat! See the picture below of Roberto literally parking his car in the middle of traffic for us.

We all ordered either Caccio e Pepe or Gnocchi. And both lived up to the hype! Of course I think a spell was cast on my, some kind of European trance that makes everything seem a hundred times better in Europe. However, for the first time in my life I got heartburn later that night. But it was worth the heartburn. See the pictures below of the food.

Pictured below: Our driver parking in the middle of traffic and our spectacular Roman lunch!

Next we did the usual Rome stops. And I accomplished the one thing I HAD to do before leaving Rome, throwing a coin in the Trevi Fountain; hey it worked last time!

My best friend Jane and I in 2004:

I came back to Rome so here is to it working again! More coins in the Trevi Fountain! We did the other stops, Spanish Steps, Wedding Cake building, etc.

After a whirl-wind ancient Rome drive-by, we went to the Pantheon, which is my favorite building in Rome. I will not tell you all the Pantheon secrets because I don’t want to spoil the fun! Make sure to ask your guide!

We would spend a good amount of time in the Roman Forum and Coliseum. Jane and I at the Arch of Titus in 2004:

Dad, being an engineer was very impressed with the Coliseum. Again I do not want to spoil any of the fun facts here for those of you that will be going to Italy one day. I will tell you one tid-bit- they said by 2014 the bottom area under the stage, where the trap doors are, should be safe enough for the public to tour! Ok, I am going to tell you one cool fact, believe it or not, but the Coliseum actually had a removable roof! The roof was made up of big sails that could be pulled in or out with pulleys. First convertible, perhaps?

I also noticed Brandon had been VERY quiet all day. Turns out he was just taking it all in and in awe of Rome. He hopes to come back to Rome one day and spend more time. Rome is very impressive and I am so happy he love Rome! I hope he can come back soon, maybe he will backpack Europe one day! Something I never got to do, but Tyler says I would bring too many shoes to backpack, true.

Vatican City, take II (I had to use Roman numerals since this a Roman post, HA!): As Roberto promised, we drove back to Vatican to see if the Basilica was open. Nope. However we did have some time to walk around the Square and here some interesting facts from Maura.

Stand in 2 countries at once, see the pic below of my feet. Columns in the square, me on the disc that only allows you to see one row, Sistine Chapel from the outside, and standing in 2 countries at once!

Also look at the picture of me standing on a disc, if you stand on that disc and look at the columns surrounding the square, you can only see 1 row of columns. However, there really are 3 rows but from that exact spot you can only see 1 regardless of where you look! Again, this impressed Dad, Engineer humor.

It was now time to head back to our beautiful home on the high seas, the Solstice. We were too tired tonight to take any more pictures. We ate dinner in the grand dining room again and called it an early night. We had another long but exciting day of sight seeing planned for tomorrow! I will give you a hint it involves group singing of "When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie...." come on sing it with me.... "That's amore!"

Other stops on our trip:
Barcelona Day 1 (exploring on foot)
Barcelona Day 2 (hop on/hop off bus)
Cote d'Azur and Monte Carlo, Monaco
Florence, Tuscany, & Pisa
Naples, Pompeii, Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, Positano
1st Sea Day
Kotor, Montenegro
Venice, Italy Day 1
Venice, Italy Day 2
Dubrovnik, Croatia

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