Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring Break Part Six: A dramatic ending to our Rome trip

Our last day in Rome was on the official 150th anniversary of the country . . . so almost every Roman had the day off to celebrate.  Unfortunately, it meant a lot of shops and attractions were closed.  Luckily, Vatican City does not count as Italy, so we went there for a while.  We walked around St. Peter's Square and Basilica.  The Basilica was full of an amazing amount of art, statues, and Popes' tombs. Afterwards we had some gelato (a good lunch if I do say so myself).  We tried to go souvenir shopping, but weren't having much luck.  Then, disaster.  The cobblestone streets were very slippery and in all the rain I slipped and fell and sprained my ankle.  I heard it pop and knew it would not be good, so a kind waiter let us sit in a cafe for a while until a taxi took us back to the hotel.  We ate dinner at the hotel, had delicious gnocchi and watched some Italian TV (didn't understand a word but still fun).  The next day we almost missed our flight, literally running through the airport on a sprained ankle made me feel like I was in a reality show or something.  No thanks to the badly organized airport and United Airlines, we managed to make it home.  We didn't get any souvenirs, but that's just an excuse to go back someday!  The videos of our last day are better than the photos, but I will have to save my movie editing for another day.

St. Peter's Square
The statues looking down on the square

The statues looking down on the square
We were excited to find a Space Invader tag, it was on a building facing the Spanish Steps
oh the sprain

Spring Break Part Five: Ancient Rome

Wednesday we decided even though it was a little rainy to buy an umbrella and walk down to tour the Colosseum and some of Ancient Rome.  We joined a tour and the Roman guide was pretty fun, he showed pictures of what everything used to look like and listed all the inaccuracies in movies like Gladiator.  The tour then walked over to Palatine Hill, but the rain was really starting then.  We still strolled along the ruins.  When we got hungry we left for lunch in a tented cafe and had more pizza, this time more brick-oven style.  We went back to the hotel for a nap and to make dinner reservations.  We got a little lost finding Ristorante Maccheroni but it was so worth the trouble! This was the best meal of the trip so far.  We had bread, a mozzarella appetizer, then pasta and grilled vegetables.  We tried our best but couldn't finish it all, it was sad to leave the delicious food behind.  We hadn't realized it, but that night was La Notte Tricolore, the 150th anniversary of Italy as a country.  The city was lit up, people with flags everywhere celebrating till 2am or later.  We finally found Piazza Navona and spent some time enjoying the fountains.  The day was great, I am just disappointed in the scans of my black and white photos, I will have to have them re-done soon!

We passed this Opera house on our walk

The Colosseum

The Colosseum

Inside the Colosseum

The umbrella-d crowd walking the ruins of Palatine Hill
The statues of the Vestal Virgins
The statues of the Vestal Virgins

I love a statue missing something

Tom under an arch

The Arch of Constantine
The most delicious dinner we couldn't finish

Tom took a photo for these folks at Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers

Another fountain in Piazza Navona
Another fountain in Piazza Navona

The streets were full of flower shop carts which seemed to be open all night

The crowds gathered around the buildings lit up for La Notte Tricolore

Spring Break Part Four: Leaving London for Rome

Tuesday we got up and had to pack and say goodbye to the lovely city.  I think I forgot to mention, our hotel was not only very nice, but had an art exhibit of bunnies and was right next to the Tate Britain to boot, very us.  The show in the hotel was called "Rabbits and Snow Angels" by Ania Tomaszewska-Nelson.  After breakfast and packing we had just about an hour to walk around the Tate.  No photos were allowed, so tried to scribble down a few names of the best work I saw there.  Mike Nelson's Coral Reef, Susan Hiller, and Cerith Wyn Nelson stood out.  We took two trains to the airport and flew British Airways to Rome. If you think I was impressed with Air Canada, I was equally impressed with BA! They are more expensive though, so we only used them for the small flight.  We lost an hour traveling so it was late when we got to Rome.  Fortunately, they don't even start the evening till 8pm there so it was no problem.  We checked in to the Hotel Napoleon, a big change from the modern hotel we had, it was old-fashioned but very nice.  I had been worried about not learning any Italian before going, but quickly found that Buna Sera (good evening) and Grazie (thank you) were the only terms needed, everyone spoke English. Being in London had felt like a vacation, it is a big city but everyone is so nice I could live there, though it would be hard to not start impersonating the accent everywhere.  But Rome! Rome felt like a movie.  Cobblestone streets, fountains, old buildings. . . there is a treasure around every corner and full of a feeling.  We took the Metro to the Spanish Steps and had pizza and crepes.  Walked around a little and decided to try and find Piazza Navona.  Instead we wandered right to La Fontana di Trevi.  If there hadn't been the crowd there it would have felt like "La Dolce Vita" in that we turned a corner and here was this gorgeous fountain tucked in around apartments.  We threw in a coin and did some people watching.

"Brian" by Ania Tomaszewska-Nelson

The garden across the street from our hotel in London.

On the banks of the Livenza, silvery willows are growing in wild profusion, their boughs dipping into the drifting waters, vuurwerk, Idroscalo di Ostia, 1998-Cerith Wyn Nelson

The lounge in the Hotel Napoleon

The hotel still used keys, with giant fancy key rings!

Tom loves him some Italian pizza

I love me some Nutella crepes

The Spanish Steps

Trevi Fountain

The pictures can't show how gorgeous the floodlit fountains were

Trevi Fountain

A happy couple

Spring Break Part Three: Busy Monday in London

So Tom and I had the best intentions of getting up early Monday but over slept just a little. I dashed downstairs to grab some  breakfast (they looked at me like I was a little silly since they were closing, but I wasn't going to miss out on free croissants!)  We started out the day walking to the river Thames and took a river cruise up to the Tower of London.  There we were regaled by stories of death and torture by the Beefeater tourguides, saw the crown jewels, and armor of Henry VIII.  I could have spent all day there, but we wanted to try and fit in as much as possible.  We got to the British Museum only about a 1/2 hour before they closed, just enough time to see the Rosetta Stone, Egyptian art, and Korean ceramics.  Since they were closing we had time to find Abbey Road where Tom tried his best to walk where the Beatles walked.  Unfortunatley, it was dark and a very busy street so we couldn't get the full picture imitation.  I was feeling a little tired and starving so we went to a little diner called Munchkins, I wasn't expecting much but they had the best veggie burger I think I've ever had!  After all this running around I was glad we had tickets to sit down and see We Will Rock You.  A musical written by the remaining members of Queen. The show was silly, the music was great. After about the 4th encore I was thinking "alright already" when Queen suddenly came on stage.  It turns out the night before they had won an Olivier award and came to thank the audience.  Pretty lucky night to be there!

walking down to the river

the whole city seemed to be under construction getting ready for the Olympics next year

Cruising by the Tower Bridge

Our Beefeater (or Yoeman Warder) guide telling stories

The Armor of Henry VIII

The White Tower

Mmmmm, a nut and maple syrup treat for me!

At the British Museum

I love Egyptian art, I took a few classes and it was nice to see in person!

The Original

Tom doing his best stroll down Abbey Road

Some kids were taking pictures too, busy street!

Freddy Mercury statue outside of We Will Rock You

(not my video, borrowed from YouTube)

Back to sleep at the Mint