Sunday, October 2, 2011

Day 27


I know we are a little behind on the blog. Our apologies for that.. but Chris promises to get us caught up as long as I start clean and fresh with Roma!

Day 1 in Italy.

We are staying at the TwinCities Hostel, which is on the very outskirts of Rome. I know that this means actual Italians live here. Why? Because there is laundry hanging from every window. We have a 3 bedroom dorm with a cute little balcony that overlooks the neighborhood street. The only downfall is that we don't have air conditioning and it was 86 degrees, but I can't complain since dear old Salt Lake must already have frost in the morning.

In our hostel, there are two bathrooms. That's it. They both have bidets, which Chris admitted this evening that he turned on out of curiosity.. but didn't admit to trying it.. Pfft ;) One has a shower curtain; however, the shower curtain is attached to this metal contraption on the ceiling that acts like a slinky so it really only covers about a foot and a half of space.

This morning when I woke up, I jumped at the chance to grab the bathroom before anybody else. I grab my stuff, run to bathroom and rip open the door. What do I see? Some guy going #2 while reading the paper. Oh. NO.

I hid in my room until that poor man left for the day and went to grab breakfast. I noticed they had a little 1 cup coffee percolator and I thought, why not? I have yet to have good coffee in Europe so my hopes weren't too high. I make the cup of coffee, take a sip, add about 2 tablespoons of sugar, and drink up :) Talk about an energy boost! I was speedwalking to the train station and poor Chris (who hasn't had D. Mountain Dew in over a month) was lagging behind like the chubby kid on a hike.

The first place we decided to go today was the infamous Colosseum. We took the metro to get there, which is too easy. They only have two lines, A and B. You practically cannot get lost. When we got off at our stop, the beautiful structure was literally across the street from the metro station.

The Colosseum.
Talk about huge. It was completed in 80 CE, can seat 50,000 spectators, and it is estimated that the games played in the Colosseum have taken the lives of over 500,000 people and over a million wild animals.

Here's our little video:

Right next to the Colosseum is Constantine's Arch to commemorate Constantine's win over the army of Maxentius in 312 AD.

Then there was the Roman Forum, or Rome's old city-centre where ancient Romans dealt with politics, business, and everyday life until 46 BC when Julius Caesar decided to build a new one because of the rapid population growth. Since then, the debris has caused the current city to be 25 ft. higher. There is a huge fenced outline of the ancient city and it's an amazing sight to see.

There is a huge road that leads from the Colosseum to the Vittoriano. This street is the equivalent of Grafton St. in Dublin with street performers working hard for their money and passersby taking it all in. This was a little unusual though - there were the regulars that you see everywhere, but here there were two different Native American flute bands battling for crowds and little asians carving things out of carrots.

Our native american flute players.

The Vittoriano is, by far, the biggest building we have ever seen. Pick any building and times it be at least two. Construction of this building was completed in 1935. Some of our favorite things: the huge equestrian statue centerpiece of Victor Emmanuel II (for whom the entire building is dedicated), the Eternal Flame which is guarded by soldiers and burns to mark the grave of an unknown soldier from World War I - and also to commemorate all of the soldiers who perished but were never identified, the two fountains on the sides of the building that are meant to represent the two seas surrounding Italy (Adriatic and Tyrrhenian), and last but not least the two enormous bronze structures that represent the roman god Victoria which symbolizes unity and liberty.

After all this sightseeing, we were craving a SNACK. There are these little carts full of food everywhere and we stopped at one to get one of those small cans of Pringles and a Gatorade. Guess how much? 6.50 Euros! My heart about stopped.. we said no thank you sir and he scolded us in Italian until we were out of sight. It was then that we realized Italians are loud, blunt, and not very polite.

It was my special day, because Chris had a date night planned and stop one was none other than a pizzeria.. italian style. We've learned a couple things from that experience though. 1) The basket of bread they place on your table is NOT complimentary. If you eat the bread, you will have to pay for it. 2) We ordered the Bruschetta for 5.70 Euros and what we received was four little pieces of crispy bread on a saucer 3) And "regular" water = 4.50 bottle of agua.

BUT that wasn't even the best part. He got me a little surprise. I finished the book I bought in London and I've been searching every bookstore in both Greece and Italy for the book, One Day. Nowhere has it and if they do, it's not in English. When we were at dinner, Chris made me shut my eyes, promise not to peek, and then layed out my ipod on the table with none other than One Day downloaded and ready to read :) How did I get so lucky?

When we left the pizzeria, it was already getting pretty dark but we had two more stops to make before heading back. The first stop was a gelato shop. Not just any gelato shop.. the Il Gelato di San Crispino. If anyone's read Eat Pray Love, that's the same shop in the book. The name supposedly roughly translates to "The Gelato of the Crispy Saint". Haha.

Il Gelato di San Crispino

We took our gelato and walked down to the Fontana di Trevi.

The very central figure of the fountain is Neptune, God of the Sea, with two tritons that flank him on both sides. One triton, is struggling to control an unruly "sea horse" while the other is controlling a docile animal; this is meant to depict the two contrasting moods of the sea. Legend has it that if you throw one coin into the fountain, it guarantees a return to Rome. If you throw three coins with your right hand over your left shoulder, it guarantees either a marriage or divorce. We both kissed just ONE coin and threw it in. We're too poor for three ;)

When we were taking pictures of ourselves and being silly, a guy came up to us and offered to take our picture. We said "no thanks" about three times before finally saying, "sure". He takes a few pictures and then asks us how long we've been dating, that we look happy, that he'd like to take a picture with his instant camera for us. We say, "no thanks.. that's ok". He insisted and he snapped the two photos. After he hands them to us, he says that we owe him money. Chris pulls out 1 Euro and says that's all he's got. The man said he had change if we have a bigger bill. We say we ONLY have the 1 Euro. He starts yelling at us, explaining that this is a business. I offer to give the pictures back and he says that is pointless. We start walking away and he storms over to us and demands the pictures back. Haha.

As we walk away, the first thing Chris said is "I bet he won't use that sales pitch again".

All in all.. he took about four awesome pictures of us in front of the fountain and we officially realized how naive we are.

We took a few more pictures by the Colosseum on our way home.

We thought one of the Colosseum by itself would be nice. When we got back, we noticed something strange about the lower right hand side. Haha. 

Ope.. before I forget. Here's our new hostel, TwinCities.

We're back at the hostel now - sleepy and ready for a good nights rest.

Alicia & Chris

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