Monday, September 07, 2009

Roman Holiday - Day 1

One of my best friends here in Sicily will be moving back to the states soon, really soon actually.  She has busy during her time here - she traveled to Egypt & Germany, and had 2 babies, but hadn't been to Rome.  The craziest part? She is an archeology major!

I knew that seeing Rome was important to her, but she just had her second child two months ago and traveling with little ones would be difficult.  I offered to have Les & I watch her babies while she and her hubbie made a quick trip up.  She said she'd think about it.  I mentioned to Les that I had offered to watch the kids, not just for a couple of hours but for a couple of days and after the "deer in the headlights" faded from his eyes he suggested that the kids stay home with their dad and that my friend and I go up to Rome for a weekend.  I mentioned the idea to my friend and she jumped on it immediately!

We left very early this past Friday morning to catch our flight out of Catania.  We had to stop for gas on the way....and that is where the trip started to become "memorable".  My friend and I went inside to grab cappuccini to-go and when we came back out to the car my husband told me the car wouldn't start.  My friend and I laughed...this is exactly the kind of thing my husband would say as a joke.  Only after he said it again with a really straight face did I think maybe he was telling the truth.  I actually believed him when he asked me for help steering the car so he could push it out of the way of others who were wanting to fuel up.

We tried in vain to push start the car with no luck and it wasn't going to start by turning the key.  My friend called her husband and asked if he would come get us.  Within 20 minutes he was there, with both kids still in their PJs (he had to get them out of bed to come get us).  He had hurried so fast that he had even forgotten to put on shoes, but he was there!  We piled into their car and I kissed Les goodbye.  He was going to stay and try to figure out what was wrong with the car, get a tow truck if necessary and get the car to our mechanic.

As I was saying my final goodbye to Les my friend closed her door to the car and the next thing we hear is startling "OW, OW, OW!!!  The door had closed, all the way on Les' fingers.  Again, my husband being the joker that he is we thought he was kidding at first!  But no, not kidding.....My friend felt horrible, and I didn't want to leave him hurt.  I jumped out of the car, made sure he was going to be taken care of, others had seen and were getting him ice, and he kissed me goodbye again and told me to go, that he'd be alright.  It was tough but I got back into the car and we raced for the airport.

We made our flight in plenty of time, about 10 minutes before it started boarding.  I finally started to relax once we were on the plane.  It had been in insane morning.  There were still a couple of issues to deal with though.  1. because we ended up being late we didn't stop on base to get money.  Neither my friend nor I had any euro.  2. the one thing I forgot was the phone number to the person who would be meeting us at the apartment we rented.  I'd stayed there before so I knew vaguely where to go, but couldn't remember the exactly street number. I would need to find some way to access my email before we could actually find where we were staying.

Once we landed in Rome we set off in search of an ATM and internet kiosk.  We found an ATM quickly but no internet kiosk.  We decided that we might have to wait until we were actually in Rome Termini Station to find an internet connection. We retrieved our bags, grabbed panini for lunch, and headed to the trains.  Luckily Les got the car working with the help of our mechanic and a new battery so he was able to get on a computer to get the needed info out of my email and texted it to me.  BIG SIGH of relief.  Now we could relax a bit.

Once we made it to our rented apartment we were exhausted.  We took a bit of a rest and then set off to explore.  We took the metro to Piazza del Popolo and then walked to the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, and Pantheon.

Piazza del Popolo

 Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

As we were wandering the narrow, pedestrian only streets of Rome we came across several shops with fun, unique wares.

A Wooden Motorcycle


The Oculus of the Pantheon

Inside the Pantheon



We left the Pantheon via taxi to the Vatican Museum.  They are having extended hours this summer, by reservation only, and were open until 11pm.  Our reservation was at 8pm.  We made it with 20 minutes to spare and grabbed a nice, cold, refreshing gelato before we headed into the museum.

Visiting the Vatican Museum at night was a neat experience. It wasn't nearly as crowded as it normally is during the day, which was nice, but it is not well lit for evening viewing.  It was hard to take in all of the details around me in the dimmer lighting.  It was also incredibly stuffy.  There was no air conditioning except in the tapestry hall.  All I can say is at least we were there in the evening.  I can't imagine being in there during the day with no A/C and the crowds!

St. Peters from the Museum Terrace

Vatican Museum Courtyard with St. Peters in the background

One of the many ornate ceilings of the Vatican Museum

Another ceiling painting

I didn't take all that many photos inside the museum because I've been there twice before.  Check out the photos here and here.  We finished up our museum visit with a visit to the Sistine Chapel.  It was phenomenal, as usual.  All I want to do when I'm there is lay down in the middle of the floor and look up but I doubt the security personnel would let me.  Oh well.

Once we were finished in the museum we found a place to sit down outside for a bit.  I talked to Les on my phone and my friend talked to her hubbie for a bit.  Once our feet were rested we made our way back to our flat.  We popped open a bottle of wine and relaxed for a bit and then hit the sack.  The next day we planned to get up early and get to the Colosseum around the time that it opened.

More pictures and stories to come later.  For now I'm off to base to get some groceries. Ciao!

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