Marlee and Jayla at the Colosseum in Rome

While playing around with taking photos on a white background, Jayla and Marlee came for a visit and became my models. I then blended them into this picture at the Colosseum.

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Goodbye Rome

Lucia and StevenLucia an ShereeWaiting for the train to Rome airport

Goodbye Rome, a set on Flickr.

Leaving the B&B was special as we had both a photo with Lucia (at her insistence) & then we had the kiss kiss on each cheek & we were off (who said you can’t communicate with a lot of sign language).
Then we tried to get in the elevator. Unfortunately our back packs were to big, so back out and down the stairs to the Roma Termini train station to catch our train to the airport and pick up our brand new Peugeot for the rest of our trip.

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Rome day three

Inside the Vatican Museum 2The 1half hour line to the VaticanInteresting name and mission statementThis puppy fired some big ballsOn top of the Castle Saint'AngeloLayout of the Vatican
The old Vatican stair well entrancePost Office inside the VaticanThe Popes gardenSt Peters domeThe Popes garage 3
Bullet proof glassThe Popes garage 2The Popes garageThe Popes garageWhich chariot will I drive in today?Fountain basin
Statues inside the VaticanInside the Vatican MuseumInside the Vatican Museum 3Inside the Vatican Museum 5Inside the Vatican Museum 4Inside the Vatican Museum 6

Rome day thre, a set on Flickr.

Today was the Vatican tour. As we had already sorted out where it was we would meet our tour guide it was with military precision that we got back to the underground and walked the short distance to the meeting point. Angelo was there to meet us and our 3 and a half our tour began.
We are so glad we booked this in advance as it was a hot day and the que spiraling around the Vatican wall was already 1 and a half hours long even at this time in the morning (9:15am).
The Vatican is a separate city of 110 acres within Rome. It has it’s own laws, currency, police, army of 110 soldiers and the people who work with in it pay no tax’s. You go through customs to get in with scanners but you do not need your passport. It was so busy inside with wall to wall people but Angelo our guide quickly got us on our way with ear phones in to hear his amazingly interesting commentary.
The Popes garage was huge with all the elaborate coaches that had been used by Popes on special parades or for visiting wealthy people. The white bullet proof Jeep that you often see him in on TV can only travel at 6km’s per hr.
The art work and sculptures that are just every where are totally overwhelming in there quantity and quality. It is truly a site to behold and no photo could ever really do any of it justice.
The Sistine Chapel was started in 1508 by Michael Angelo who then spent the rest of his life from his 40’s painting at the request of the Pope. Other painters where Raphael who also spend a lot of his life painting but died young.
St Peters Basilica is cob smacking in it’s size. It is so big that you loose concept of size. If you look at the pictures you will see writing about a third of the way up the walls inside the dome. These letters are 2.8 meters high but only look small in the vastness of this place. This is the biggest church in the world and no other church is allowed to be built bigger.
At the end of our tour we walked to catch a bus back but on the way stopped for a pizza and a gelato (ice-cream) which are so creamy and yummy.
So what do we think of Rome? Well it has to be seen to be believed. It’s very busy and noisy with people & cars. What does a crossing & a green or red light mean – well nothing a far as we could tell. Some streets we saw had litter & the smoke butts have to be seen to be believed especially at the tracks where we waited for the train to take us back to the airport. Otherwise the history & buildings were amazing & definitely need to be seen but we wouldn’t want to live there.

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Rome day two

Rome day two, a set on Flickr.

After such a late night we actually sleeped in, not waking up until Luccia was knocking on our door at 9:30am. We hastily got up and had the same breakfast as yesterday with her in our PJs.
Today was a public holiday for Republic day the anniversary of the creation of the Italian Republic. so that means that Rome would be very busy.
So off we went to negotiate the underground for the first time. Our destination was the ‘Piazza di Spagna’ which are the Spanish Steps (1723). These are made up of 138 steps the fountain at the foot is called ‘Fontana della Varcaccia, (1629) The church at the top with it’s two cupollas (1495) is the church of the Trinita’ dei Monti (The Church of the Kings)
We then got back into the underground and proceeded to Otivani close to the Vatican were we are to meet our guide for our tour tomorrow. While we where here we took some photos of St Peters Square. Getting tired by now we decided to negotiate the bus to ‘Campo de Fiori’ market which was easier said than done, as we could not find the bus stop. However this was meant to be because instead we found the Castle Saint’Angelo where we got a magnificent panorama of Rome. There was an exhibition on here that was really interesting, with a large painting (that we can not remember the name of) that had been borrowed from the Belgium museum.
Then we bused to our original destination the ‘Campo de Fiori’ that has a daily market. By this time it was after 4 pm and they had started packing up and then the rain came down. We started walking in the general direction of home looking for a bus stop again. We jumped on a very crowded bus and packed in with all the other sardines to home. After tea we hit the sack looking forward to our Vatican tour tomorrow.

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Rome day one

The que that we avoided by buying a guided tour over the InternetAll the streets are paved like thisSanta Maria MaggioreSheree captured outside the Santa Maria MaggioreInside the Santa Maria MaggioreInside the Santa Maria Maggiore
Inside the Santa Maria MaggiorePart of the ceiling in a chapel in the Santa Maria MaggioreA chapel in Santa Maria MaggioreThe ColloseumResting our feet sitting on a chunk of marble
The only marble seats leftOur tour under the ColosseumUnder the Colosseum

Rome day one, a set on Flickr.

After a broken sleep we were up early to have breakfast organized by Luccia the owner of the Flower house B&B, who does not speak a word of english. Breakfast consisted of a croissant with a sweet filling that is about the same size and shape of a bread roll. The coffee was really dark and only warm so had to try and explain this with sign language. Next was getting our air conditioner working properly and then organizing a key to get in the kitchen to access the fridge. As you can imagine with the language barrier it made for a few good laughs.
Our first stop after breakfast was the Santa Maria Maggiore Church. This just looks like another of Rome’s big buildings from the outside but once inside all you can do is hold your breath at how awesome it is. The pictures give some idea but you really have to be there.
The sound of Rome is the constant sirens from the police who travel in packs of at least a couple of cars and a motorbike as they negotiate at speed through the bewildering mass of traffic. One officer has half his body hanging out the car window with a large red Lollie pop in his had waving it franticly and shouting to let people know they are coming. Motorists then need to find somewhere to try and pull over to clear a path, but that is easier said than done especially when it is busy. street crossings are like taking your life in your hands as green crossing signal does not mean that cars will automatically stop. If they thing they can get through they still will. Conversely pedestrians just walk out waving there hands and the traffic eventually stops for them. What’s amusing is that older people are really good at this. Some how though it all seems to work.
Next we walked to the Colosseum. This just loomed up at us as we came around the corner and again it was one of those OMG moments. It was with great relief that we walked passed all the lines (3 hour wait) and got our pre booked unique tour tickets that incorperated the newly opened lower and upper levels. This proved to be a great choice as we got well away from the crowds and had an amazing tour. Check out all the photos. With the ones taken underneath you have to imagine the entire floor covered in and how dark and smelly it would have been with oil lamps and animals every where to be slaughtered, hundreds of slaves and the noise. Slaves would spend all their lives here. The word arena comes from the Latin meaning sand because they needed so much of it thrown on the floor above the slaves to soak up all the blood.
Our tour guide explained to us how it would all have looked in it’s day and all I can say is that it was vulgar in it’s opulence, size and also in it’s cruelty. On the one day an Emperor killed 1000 animals all on his own. Many animals were made extinct because of this practice.
Next was the Palintino. This was were all the houses of the rich and famous of the time lived. Again it is a sprawling area that would have been a sight to behold. All that is left today are the fallen down remains of what once was.
Then down on down to the Roman Forum this was like the centre of their economic life at the time. It was here that we went inside a temple to see an exhibition on Nero.
Don’t let it be said we mucked around, as next we walked to The Vittorio Emanuel II Monument. Unfortunately it was closed when we got there so will try and get back later. From here we moved on to the Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi) built in 1735. This is one big and beautiful fountain. We also went inside a lovely church at the fountain.
After battling with the crowds you can see in the pics we decided to go and have tea at a little side street restaurant (3 courses for 15 euro each) and return to the fountain to see it at night. Again it is truly magnificent but oh my god the crowds, and this is not the busy time.
By this time we were getting a little jaded and decided to return home but as it was late the underground had closed and we could not find a bus stop to get back to our B&B so walking it was. This can prove awkward during the day let alone in the dark when it’s harder to see unknown and unpronounceable street names with a map that does not have a lot of detail. We were buggered with very sore & black feet when we finally arrived back. So at 12:30pm we finally turned the lights out and went to sleep with the air conditioner working & air plugs in place. It had been a long but amazing day that we would not have missed for anything.

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Rome arrival

Looking left out room windowOur room in RomeLooking right out room window

Rome arrival, a set on Flickr.

We left Andrew and Bex’s flat just after 11am and headed for Heathrow via the Tube. We got on the Northern line that leaves from the Kennington Station just a short 10 minutes walk and headed for Leicester Square where we switched to the Piccadilly Line. We rushed on to the train at Piccadilly only to realize that it did not go to terminal 5. A little bit of a panic prevailed and we decided to get off the train at the next stop and ring Andrew. He assured us that we had done the right thing getting off and a short wait later the correct train arrived. The moral to this story is ‘there is no need to rush. Check the trains destination first, just because it’s there you do not need to rush on. If it’s not correct the right one will be along in under 10 minutes.’
We arrived to a very busy terminal 5 with time to spare and boarded our flight with a sigh of relief. As I am writing this we are flying over Geneva and contemplating negotiating the train (Leonardo Express 30 Euro for 2) from the Rome Airport to Termini Station close to our B&B…
The train worked out fine although we did miss the first one and had to wait 30 min for the next one to come along and we where on our way to the Termini Station. Once there it was a short walk to the B&B thank goodness as my back pack weighed 20kgs.
As I right these two paragraphs we are sitting outside having our first taste of true Italian cuisine at Guseppes. The receptionist told us that this was good and it certainly is. Steven had a pizza and Sheree had spaghetti bolognese. With full bellies we will go for a short stroll on this lovely mild 20
deg evening and then get some sleep before the Colosseum tour tomorrow.

PS it’s now the next morning and we did not sleep that well. It’s hot and a bit noisy and our air-conditioning was not working. A few dark rings under the eyes.

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