Monday, December 20, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love? (October 24, 2010)

We're off on a long cruise (56 days) on a small ship, the Ocean Princess. The cruise will start in Rome, go through West Africa to Cape Town, and head towards Singapore with a stop in Mumbai, India. After that, we are heading to Bali, Indonesia to meet up with Jim's sister for Christmas, so I think that covers all of the Eat, Pray, Love! This will be our first time on a small ship, so it will be interesting.

The bears at home were sad to see us go, but we’re off!

Jim in the Paris airport. I am actually ogling the pastries behind him!

The Italian flag. You know, I think that by including the flags in the blog that I might actually remember some of them, but it doesn't seem to work!

Here we are leaving the airport in Roma...

The view from our hotel window. We are right beside the Pantheon in Piazza Della Rotonda, a perfect location for walking everywhere, and a great location for people watching.

The Pantheon, which is partly obscured by scaffolding, from our window. It was built as a temple to all gods in 7 BC, and then rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in 126 AD.

The building is circular with an entrance of three rows of columns. Almost 2000 years after it was built, it is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. Absolutely amazing!

We popped in for a quick visit. I wish I could have taken a picture that shows the interior entirely, but that is beyond my little Canon’s capabilities! Unbelievable to think it is that old…

The oculus is open to the sky. The floor of the building has been sloped so that rain runs off to the sides. The height from the beginning of the dome to the oculus and the diameter of the dome are exactly the same at 142 feet. Amazing!!

It is the best preserved of all Roman buildings and has been in use throughout all history. Since 7 AD it has been used as a Roman Catholic church. This shows the shape of the original bricks as they were made by the mason.

Jim and Kim at the Pantheon.

Here is our hotel, the Albergo Del Senato. Albergo means hotel in Italian. Now if I could just stop saying gracias, instead of grazie...

Look at the shaggy vines on this building. And the parking of the cars…it’s crazy! They have one word for tourists driving in Rome and that is “don’t!”

We were jetlagged and thinking of a nap, but decided to go for a walk and get something to eat. We headed towards Piazza Navona, where a lot of artists display their works. Piazza means square and there are lots of them in Rome!

Piazza Navona is long and its shape has been determined by the ruins beneath it. Beneath the buildings surrounding the piazza are the ruins of Circus Domitianus (Domitian’s stadium) where chariot races would have been run.

One of three fabulous fountains in the piazza…

We finally decided  to stop and have lunch…and a bottle of wine. Now that will surely help the jetlag!

Our waiters… don’t they look happy! They only spoke Italian to us, although I am sure they could speak English. We’ve heard they can be quite arrogant, but what the heck!

Here come the polizia…

Fontana dei Quattro erected in 1651…each of the gods represents one of the four rivers known at the time—the Nile, Danube, Ganges and Plate.

The Nile has his face covered as the source of the river was not known at that time.

The piazza is also known for its buskers…the headless guy made squeaking noises when you walked by.

This guy was quite entertaining…

He had four guys from the crowd all intertwined…and then took the stools away.

These two guys helped him up onto the unicycle. The guy on the left didn’t know at this point that the busker had already picked his pocket (in his right hand)!

Carabinieri…military police.

We headed back to our hotel, where this busker was performing in the Rotonda. His shtick was simply to follow whoever walked by, imitating them in some way. It was hilarious (if you weren’t the one being imitated!). That’s one way to get the crowd to stay!

By 7:00 we were pooped and went back to the hotel. The next morning shortly after breakfast, we ran into Nancy and Joe in the lobby of the hotel. We have been chatting with them on Cruise Critic for the last couple of months and have several private tours booked with them on the cruise. I think it was the amount of luggage they had that gave them away. Their room wasn’t ready yet, so they headed out to walk around. We spotted them from our room…

We do love Roma!

We decided to go find the Hop On, Hop Off bus to get an overview of the city. This is the Gesu church, constructed in 1584.

This Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II was built to honour the first king of unified Italy. It is, however, quite controversial as a large part of Capitoline Hill that contained a medieval neighbourhood was destroyed to make room for it. It is also made of pure white marble and stands out garishly with its brown surroundings. The base of the structure contains the Museum of Italian Reunification, and in 2007 a panoramic elevator was installed to allow visitors to ride up to the roof for 360 degree views of the city. Mussolini is said to have given speeches from the balcony. How the heck did they get those statues on top??

Castel Sant’Angelo on the Tiber River was built by Hadrian as his mausoleum in 100 AD and was converted in the Middle Ages into a fortress for the popes. It is now a museum.

Unique statue on the bridge facing the castle…

The Tiber River was the waterway for early Rome…

Twin churches of Piazza Del Popolo built in the 1600s…

Piazza Del Popolo…

The Egyptian obelisk of Ramses II is the second oldest and one of the tallest obelisks in Rome. It was brought to Rome in 10 BC and was 2000 years old at that time! It was originally set up in Circus Maximus and was then re-erected in 1589 in the piazza.

Not sure what he is pointing at, but it doesn’t seem to be to his liking! “Go pick that up!”

Fountain in Piazza Della Repubblica…this is a new fountain, built in the late 1800s. The statues were originally lions but were replaced in 1901 with sculptures of Naiads (nymphs which presided over fountains or water).

Driving by the Colosseum…wow! We're going to visit it tomorrow with Nancy and Joe.

Colosseum with ruins in background.

One of the many narrow streets…I don’t know how they all find places to park!

Stairs going up to the church on top of Palatine Hill. Now that's a workout!

Circus Maximus in the foreground of the ruins of palaces on Palatine Hill. The circus is an ancient Roman chariot racing stadium.

Temple of Hercules Victor built at the end of the 2nd century BC. It is remarkably well preserved with 19 of the original 20 columns remaining.

Loved this light sconce…

We stopped for lunch at Miscellanea, a café known for feeding hungry students and a recommendation of Rick Steves.

One of their paninis…nutella (I was thinking of you, Heather!).

After a rest in the hotel, we decided to eat dinner in one of the many restaurants in a small alley beside the hotel. What is incredible is that cars were driving down this alley while we were eating. We have also noticed that although people say the Italians are very impatient, you never hear them honking their horns at pedestrians or each other. They just wait until people move out of the way.

Last, but not least, Italians and tourists love their gelato. So we headed to the Cremaria near the hotel.

Dark chocolate gelato…mmmmmm…

Tomorrow we are off to see the Colosseum!

1 comment:

Natalie Smith said...

Amazing pictures. Thanks for sharing them because I am looking forward for more. Regards from hotels in Rome