Rome

So the nine of us that went to Venice arrived in Rome on the train on Wednesday June 21. It took us a little bit to figure out where we were going and our apartment owner guy eventually had to come and pick us up from Trevi fountain which wasn’t too far from the place. It was a super big apartment: three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, a dining room, and a living room. All nine of us were staying together this time, and that turned out to be super fun. One of the bathrooms had a weird bathing situation; it was just a tub but no faucet just a shower head that was attached. So you had to sit down in the tub and run the shower head all over. It turned out fine though. That night after we moved all our stuff in we just went out for dinner at a little restaurant near and talked to some Californians at the table next to us, and then we went to the supermarket to get breakfast food. Then we were in for the night.

Thursday we got up reasonably early at seven and were out the door by 8:15. We walked to the coliseum, which was like thirty minutes away and the rest of my group went to the meeting point for the coliseum tour they’d signed up for the night before. 

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I didn’t want to pay for that though so instead I just went on ahead to the coliseum and got the regular ticket to get in that also included the Roman forum and palatine hill ticket. Last time I was in Rome mom and I weren’t able to go inside the coliseum so this was pretty exciting. I explored it on my own and read a bunch of the plaques everywhere and also listened in to some of the tour guides to get some extra info.

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I finished about forty five minutes before their tour was scheduled to finish, so I went and bought a donut and a coke and sat on a rock and watched all the people walk by for a while. When they came out we took a group picture at Constantine’s Arch. 

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Then we looked at the line to get into the roman forum and palatine hill and saw that it was very long, so we decided to get lunch and then come back. Caleb Simpson (there were two Caleb’s with us) had looked up a place earlier, so we took the metro over to that area and ate at this little quick pizza place that was very good and cheap. My pizza and water bottle there cost less than my donut and coke from earlier. Someone had some stuff they wanted to drop off at the apartment so we went there for about twenty minutes before going back to the Palatine Hill area.  This is Trajan’s Column, just something we walked by on our way.

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Patrick had found a museum on the north end of the area that supposedly held Peter and Paul when they were imprisoned here, and we walked there and checked it out.

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The tickets for Palatine Hill were weird; you couldn’t buy just the ticket for that you had to get the combined ticket that included the Coliseum.  So I was the only one with a ticket to Palatine Hill because their tour group had some deal with the Coliseum where they could just pay for admission to that. So the rest of them ended up having to buy the joint ticket for like 12 euros.  Some of us wanted to go into the actual museum of Mamertine Prison (where we were with the Peter and Paul stuff), and some of us didn’t, so Madison, Trevor, and I walked around the forum area to get to the east entrance where they bought their tickets and then we walked briskly through to meet the others at the entrance by the Mamertine Prison.  It was another weird ticket thing; they could buy the prison + roman forum and Palatine Hill + coliseum ticket at the prison but we couldn’t buy just the roman forum palatine hill + coliseum ticket so we had to walk around.

Then we explored that whole huge area for a while.  They were pretty interested in everything but I knew we were sort of on a schedule and even though I’d told them it was huge I knew they didn’t completely understand me.  So I was trying to hurry us along while they were stopping to read every plaque.

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Eventually we got up the hill where we could see the entire Roman Forum and a large part of the city and the beginning of Palatine Hill in the other direction, and they realized how much more there was to see and how limited we were on time.  So they were on board with walking faster now.  We saw maybe half of Palatine Hill and then spent a while trying to find an exit towards the south because that was where we were going next.  Caleb Aultman pulled out a map after we’d been searching for twenty minutes and told us where the exit actually was, and we all bagged on him for not telling us he had a map sooner.

We eventually made it out and we didn’t have time any more to do both of the things that we’d wanted to, so we chose to go to the Baths of Caracalla.  None of them in their researching of things to do in Rome had come across this somehow, so they were all trusting my recommendation.  I knew that mom loved this place a whole lot so I figured they’d at least like it.  And they did.

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After that we took the metro back to our apartment and some of us took a nap.  There were four other guys on our study abroad trip that had gone to Geneva for the first part of our free time, but now they arrived in Rome for the rest of it.  They had their own rented apartment and all, but when they’d gotten settled in we went to meet them for dinner.  Then we all came back to our apartment and had some fun hanging out, and the four guys left around midnight when everyone went to bed.

Friday was the day we’d set for Vatican City.  Our group met the other four guys by sheer luck outside the wall between the main entrance to the city and the Sistine Chapel and Museum entrance.  We’d planned a time, but we never chose a specific location to meet.  We waited in line for around thirty minutes to get into the museum, and then since we had such a big group (13!!) we knew that we wouldn’t be able to stay together, so we planned a meeting time in the center of the main plaza and then went our own ways.  It was kinda cool to see more of the stuff that I hadn’t seen before, like an entire corridor that I’d missed the first time, but a lot of it was the same stuff and I got a little bored.  There was a statue that I’d taken a picture with the first time to send to my friend and I took my picture with it and some of my friends again this time.

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This was the first one:

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And this is the hall that I missed before.

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And a statue I found funny:

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I ended up with three other guys separate from the rest of the group and we saw the Sistine Chapel and all and they were as surprised as I was about the size of everything.  We knew this time that there was a way to get straight from the Sistine Chapel into Saint Peter’s Basilica, and we found what we thought it was supposed to be, but the sign said that passage was for tour groups only, so we took the normal route out of the museum.  Most of us ended up at the food court at the end at the same time, and we had some pizza for lunch and then it was time for us to go to the meeting spot.  But most of them weren’t done, so three of us went ahead to the spot to tell the other four who were missing what was going on, and two of them showed up and then went to grab a sandwich or something, but we never saw the other two.  Everyone got together to go into Saint Peter’s Basilica, and Dakota and Trevor still never showed up.  The line to get in was pretty long, but only half as long as I’d seen it here with my mom, and it moved pretty quickly.  The worst part was the sun shining down on us, but we made it through.  Once we were almost at the security checkpoints, Dakota and Trevor finally found us.  We figured out that they’d taken the ‘tour group only’ exit from the Sistine Chapel, and they’d already seen Saint Peter’s, so they just went to our spot and sat to wait on us.

We got through and I actually did enjoy seeing this again, last time I didn’t feel like I had enough time here. It’s just so huge and there’s so many things to look at.  There were like five in our group that were Catholic so they went and did their prayers and things in the separate area and the rest of us wandered around looking at everything.

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I didn’t want to pay to go to the top of the dome since I’d already seen it, and Drake had done it before too, so we went out to sit with Dakota and Trevor.  The rest of our group gradually came out, except for the Catholics.  I think we waited forty extra minutes on them.  It was fine though, we didn’t have much else planned to do that day.  I showed some of them the spot that mom had shown me where you can stand and the four rows of columns look like just one row and they liked that.  Once we got everyone back we took a group photo and then headed out.

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On our way back to the apartment on the metro, we actually lost one of ours, Alicia.  We’d just gotten down the escalator when a train was arriving, and I wasn’t sure that we would all be able to make it, but everyone started getting on, so I figured they were confident that everyone was here and could make it.  Then while we were on the train we counted and realized we’d lost her.  Got off at our stop and waited and hoped she’d be on the next train, and thank goodness she was.  Apparently she’d had trouble getting the machine to accept her ticket.  Anyway we took some nap time at the apartment and then when the guys messaged us that they were ready we walked to their apartment, which was like ten minutes away, and went to dinner together.  Then we all had fun together at our apartment again and the guys left earlier this time and a few of us went to McDonald’s for a late-night snack and then went to bed.

On Saturday we did some things that I hadn’t done before!  The other four guys were doing the Coliseum and Roman Forum stuff this morning, so we were kinda separate.  First we went to a World War II museum that was in some apartment spaces which was weird.  We had to ring the buzzer for the guard guy to let us in and then the exhibits were on three different floors.  It had been where the Italians imprisoned some people and there were still like markings on the walls and stuff.  It was pretty cool.

Then we took the metro to the Borghese Gardens, and at the entrance I realized that I came here with mom.  I took the others into the plaza near there to see the twin churches and then we left and went to lunch a little ways down the street.  Then we went back to the gardens and walked through those and saw some things.  There was this fountain set in a wall that we decided to climb into because it looked like we could.  There’s a statue of Poseidon reclining behind us but you can’t see him in this picture.  Honestly you can’t tell it’s a fountain very well either…

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We walked some more and found this large fountain and climbed into that too.  You can actually tell this one is a fountain.

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We kept wandering and found this museum, but someone had seen it online and hadn’t found it interesting, so we just kept walking.

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Came across a pond that had paddle boats for rent, and we thought about doing it, but we were sort of on a schedule again.

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We found our way to the other side of the gardens and there was this castle that we could see across a busy road and beyond a very large wall.  Alicia, Caleb Simpson, and Trevor went across the street to look for a way past the wall, and they kept walking down the street looking and got out of earshot from us, so Patrick, who had cell service like Alicia did, texted her and told them that we were going to go ahead back to the apartment.  We were supposed to meet the guys at three at the Pantheon, and we got to our apartment around 2:15, so it was a short nap time.

We went to the Pantheon and it was the same thing I’d seen before, and then after that we went to the cat sanctuary, which is what mom and I had come across before and wondered what it was.  One of us had found it online and seen that this area of ruins was actually set aside for these cats.  There was a program that had all the cats spayed and neutered and protected against diseases and all that.  It was pretty neat.  There was even an area where you could go down and pet a bunch of them.  After that we walked to Piazza Navona, because Drake had had his portrait made there years ago when he was here, and he wanted to do it again.

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We walked into a few of the churches there and then we left Drake with a plan to meet at the apartment for dinner later and walked to the Capuchin Crypt which was like this underground tunnel with a bunch of skeletons arranged into pieces of art sorta.  We didn’t actually go in, because it was almost closing, and then after that we walked to the Spanish Steps.

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Then we met everyone else back at our apartment and went out to dinner again.  It was Caleb Aultman’s last night because he’d booked his flight a day too early, so we had some fun together.  We were all singing ‘Take On Me’ by Aha up in our third story apartment and after that high note part we heard clapping from down on the street.  We also saw a wedding procession go by, and that was pretty cool.  Eventually the guys left and some of us said bye to Caleb because he’d leave before we woke up and we all went to bed.

On Sunday we got up a good bit later than usual because Jaycie had gone to meet the four guys for mass, and we hadn’t made much of a plan for the day.  Eventually we got moving and walked around the city a bit to see some things.  First we walked back towards the Spanish Steps to see this very large McDonald’s.  The guide book we had that was from 2008 said that it was the world’s largest, so that made it still pretty big for today.  Then we walked to this big round ruin that was someone’s mausoleum.  Not sure exactly what it was, but it was closed for restoration at the moment.  Then we crossed the river and walked along it towards Vatican City.  This is just a pretty church that isn’t super famous or anything.

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And this is the Supreme Court:

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Then we saw Castel Sant’Angelo.  They weren’t interested in going inside but they said it looked cool.

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And we took a picture from that end of Vatican City.  The lady that we pulled over to take it wasn’t exactly a photographer.  It took her a minute to figure out the button.

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Then we met the others back at our apartment and went to get a quick lunch at a take-away pizza and calzone place.  After that there were two more little things we wanted to see before the guys left for their flight back to Toulouse.  We went by the Mouth of Truth, which is the other thing that we were going to do after the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, and we saw that from the outside but didn’t go in to take our picture with our hands in the mouth because the line was so long.  Then we walked some more to find the Hole of Rome.  It’s just a keyhole in a door that’s in a big wall in this area that we were never in before, but when you look through you can see this view of St. Peter’s Basilica surrounded by hedges.  My friend Chris took this picture; you can sorta see what I’m talking about.  It was much better in person, but maybe not worth the long walk in the sun and heat.

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After that we went back to the apartment, and the guys took their bags and left for the airport.  Then we kinda chilled in our apartment for a while.  Jaycie, Trevor, and Drake went to find the Hard Rock Cafe because Jaycie has bought a t-shirt at one in each place we’ve been, and then Madison, Patrick, and I went downstairs to go gift-shopping.  After snacking for a while we went out to dinner at literally the closest restaurant to us.  It was just a pizza place, pretty simple.  Then we finally threw coins over our shoulders at Trevi Fountain, something that we’d walked past at least twenty times through the week but never actually experienced yet.

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Then we went back to our apartment and just enjoyed each other’s company for one more night before we went back to everyone else in Toulouse.  We played a few games and then at midnight they sang “Happy Birthday” to me.  I turned nineteen in Rome, which is pretty cool I guess.  Went to bed around one.

The next morning was pretty uneventful; we packed up and cleaned up the apartment a little and then made our way to the airport and then flew back to Toulouse to leave for Barcelona in a few days.

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