Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Roman Holiday

Day 2 in Rome was a bit more exhausting than Day 1 (which we thought would be impossible, especially given the amount of walking we did the first day). But when you deal with queues and dead phones and heat and crowds and all sorts of people, exhaustion piles on. (But again, gelato saves the world. As do nice people who tell you how to fix your phone.)

On our second day in Rome, Dani and I decided to go to the Vatican. Which meant dealing with crowds. Ohhhhh, did we deal with crowds. I was a bit overwhelmed with the crush of humanity. And the lines. Man. I've decided that Italy is basically like the Disneyland of Europe.

But, we made it to the Vatican. And got to see those beautiful sights and paintings by Michelangelo.


[And maps! So many maps. The Map Room was cool.]

[Can you see the exhaustion in my face? It was so hot in the Vatican Museum.]

[More beauty, more splendor.]

[School of Athens, Raphael]

We weren't allowed to take pictures of the Sistine Chapel, but it was stunning. 

After the Vatican Museum, Dani and I went over to St. Peter's Basilica. 

[A nice Ukrainian girl took this picture for us. She spoke Russian. There have been so many Russian speakers in Italy.]

I know what you're asking now. "Megan, where are those iconic pictures of La Pieta and the inside of St. Peter's?" Well, funny that you should ask. That was the point of the trip where my phone unexpectedly went black. It wasn't out of batteries (it was charged to 93% or so when I had checked it while in line for the Basilica), but it was just black. Dead. And my phone was the one getting us around Rome because Dani's isn't getting any WiFi or data. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. *START PANICKING NOW* 

And there was a bit of panic (Dani and I both went into panic mode at different times on this day and we both talked each other down, so again, we're doing pretty well), but Dani heard some Americans and asked them if they could look up an Apple Store, and the Americans told us what was wrong with my phone. It had overheated, and so I had to press the power button and the home button simultaneously. So I did and it came back to life! *End panic mode and be grateful for those who are willing to help damsels in distress.*

Unfortunately, this episode also meant that I didn't get to fully appreciate St. Peter's the way I might have. But. I did see La Pieta and it was beautiful, and St. Peter's Tomb was also impressive--it's incredibly impressive, even if you are panicking about smartphones. 

[After my phone was alive. This pretty much sums up my inside state during that episode now known as the "St. Peter's Phone Catastrophe of 2017."]

So, of course, after a lot of stress, what do you do in Italy? You get gelato. And then pizza. 

[Proof again that gelato saves the day.]

[Pizza by the cut.]

[Yayyyy for food.]

After lunch, we decided to go down to La Trastevere, which is a lovely neighborhood in Rome which looks like something out of Roman Holiday. But, of course, we had to have another stressful moment before that, which took the form of a creepy man harassing Dani and then me scaring him away by yelling at him. It worked. I scared everyone in the general vicinity and Dani and I made it safely away. Hooray for Ukraine instincts kicking in. 

But after that experience (which wired up both Dani and I--and I went on a very long feminist rant to Dani, and she was kind enough to listen to it), we had a very relaxing walk along the river and to La Trastevere. Which really does look like something from Roman Holiday

[The Tiber]

[After I successfully scared away a creeper. Glad things worked out the way they did and that we were kept safe.]

[La Trastevere. It really is this charming.]

[Inside a cool church.]

Going to La Trastevere was a perfect way to wrap up the day and made us be happy to be in Rome again. Getting good Italian food didn't hurt either. 

[So much good pasta here.]

[My hair always seems to be up when we eat here. Eating is serious business.]

So, yes, our second day in Rome was a bit crazy, but nothing was disastrous, and all-in-all, it was an enjoyable and certainly a memorable day. 

[Can you see the relief and exhaustion in my face after a long day in Rome? Yep. Was definitely happy to be back in the hotel after our day out.]

As one of my friends recently said, traveling in Italy is not for the faint of heart. But all the same, I am glad I can be here and experience the culture, the people, the landscapes, the history, and the food of this area of the world. 

The rest of the bumps and mishaps and travel just make for more interesting stories. :) 

"Oh Look! It's the Colosseum!"

I've been wanting to do some Italy updates for a couple days now, but WiFi has been spotty for most of our time here. I finally was able to upload my photos and I have some time to relax, so that means that you get a photo dump of Italy! I'm sure that's the one thing you were wanting most in life today, and I am so happy to oblige.

[Ancient Rome. It's not like home.]

[Romulus and Remus]

I've been traveling in Italy with my friend Dani, and it's been really fun. We discovered that we are both "go-getters" when it comes to travel. That means that we are quite efficient in what we see and do in a day--much to the chagrin of our feet. But, we've been making sure to drink lots of water and eat lots of gelato in Italy, so things are going very well.

When Dani and I got into Rome, we dropped our stuff off at the hotel (the receptionist's name was Luigi, which was pretty perfect, imo), and then hit the ground running to find the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.

One of the things I liked most about Rome was how you have ancient Roman ruins alongside 19th-century government buildings, Renaissance churches, and 21st-century shops. It's really cool. And you'll just be walking along the street and then, BAM! There's the Colosseum.

Seeing the Colosseum and the Roman Forum in real life and walking around ancient Roman ruins was a dream come true for me. It was surreal--it still feels surreal. I am so incredibly grateful and humbled that I got to do something that so many people do dream of experiencing. 

[With Dani! One of my favorite photos from the trip.]

[Walking into the Forum]

One of the best things about Rome is that they have public water fountains everywhere and you can drink from them. This is especially good when you are wandering the streets of the city and it's just so hot. The water from the fountains is clear and cold and amazing. 

[Fresh water, courtesy of SPQR]

Dani and I made sure to hit the major tourist spots--the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, etc. 

[The Pantheon]

[Look at that dome.]

[We both threw a coin behind our shoulders into the Trevi fountain--means that we'll come back to Rome someday.]

[Another day of sun.]

[Spanish Steps]

And, of course, we made sure we ate plenty of gelato and delicious Italian pasta. 

[My first real Italian gelato. Also. We were exhausted by this point. But then we got gelato and everything looked brighter. But really. Gelato saves the world.]

[Yay for Italian food! And it was so, so good.]

One of my favorite parts of that first day in Rome was getting to see the Borghese Gallery.  We lucked out--all the presale tickets were booked until Friday, but we asked the man at the information desk and there were some tickets still available for the last hour of the day. So we took them. And oh, I was so happy that we did. The Borghese Gallery has become one of my favorite art galleries in the world. 

[That ceiling, though.]

[Um. This is how I stand sometimes.]

[The original man bun]

My main reason for wanting to go to the Borghese Gallery was to see the sculptures by Bernini. I was not disappointed. They are absolutely, positively, stunningly exquisite. The way that Bernini was able to make these sculptures seem alive, full of emotion, and touchable is just incredible.

[The Rape of Persephone] 

[Apollo and Daphne]

[This one was just incredible. It's beautiful how Daphne's fingers turn to branches and her toes to roots--and how her body turns to bark. Apollo thinks he has caught her, but he just touches a tree.]

And now, the real, REAL reason I wanted to come to the Borghese Gallery. Bernini's David. Everyone talks about Michelangelo's David, and rightfully so--but for me, this David is even more striking. I love how he's in the moment of battle--his forehead is furrowed, his sling is taut, his lips are pursed, and every muscle in his body is ready and going in for the kill. It's absolutely fantastic. And I fell a bit in love (or a lot bit in love) with this statue. But it's just a crush, I promise. 

[Isn't he beautiful?]


[One more look.]

The first day in Rome was exhausting, but also extraordinary. Hooray for great traveling companions like Dani who are willing to take it all on and all in with me.