Friday, December 25, 2009

Rome 12/2/09

We ate breakfast, as usual, on the back deck outside the Garden Cafe. It was especially brisk this morning, so we ate quickly and then went back in to warm up before heading off the ship. We exited the ship and got on the shuttle bus that dropped us off at the edge of port. From there, it was about a 10 minute walk down the street to the Civitavecchia train station. We rode the hour and a half to Rome, got off at the Rome Ostiense station, and took the Metro to Circo Massimo. When we got to ground level, we came face to face with ancient Roman ruins! It was so neat to see them and think about just how long they have been there!
We walked just a few blocks and came to the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine. Very cool!!!
Next we walked past the Roman Forum. It was really neat to see the combination of old and new in the city!
Just a few steps away we found the "Wedding Cake Monument." It is a monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of Italy.
Next, we meandered our way to the Pantheon. We thought we had passed it and were just about to stop and consult a map when we looked up and found ourselves right beside it!

We went inside and got some pictures, and then we found a friendly McDonald's just across the plaza to go to the restroom! We were scheduled to meet Natashia's friend, Luke, in front of the Pantheon at 11:30am. Luke is a seminarian in Rome, and has been there for a couple of years. He offered to be our private tour guide for the afternoon! While we waited for Luke to arrive, what did we do? That's right, we got gelato! This particular place had some interesting flavors... (The blue one is called "Viagra.")
When Luke arrived, he immediately led the way to the Trevi fountain. We stopped briefly to toss in our coins, and then headed to the Spanish Steps. We also got to walk through the first McDonald's built in Italy! Lol! It was really nice to have Luke with us. We moved much faster because he knew exactly where to go without looking at a map. We also felt a bit safer having a man (and a seminarian!) with us! After the Spanish Steps, we took the metro straight over to the Vatican. I knew it would be cool to be at the Vatican, but I was not prepared for how emotional my reaction would be! As soon as St. Peter's came into view, tears sprang to my eyes and I got choked up! It was such a powerful experience!
There was not a line to get into St. Peter's, so that is where we went first. Again, it was such an emotional experience! It is soooooo beautiful! There aren't even words to describe it! And Luke was an AMAZING tour guide! He was so knowledgeable about everything from the floor tiles, to the artwork, to the relics and tombs in the church. It was a priceless experience! Here are just a few of the pictures I took. (I think I probably took 300 in St. Peter's alone!)
After our venture through St. Peter's, Luke took us down into the catacombs. There were tombs of past popes, including Pope John Paul II. Luke also told us about how the existing St. Peter's was built on top of the original St. Peter's that was built by Constantine. You can see some of the original structure beneath the catacombs...if you know where to look! There is a little hole that you can look through, but you have to practically get on your hands and knees to do it! It was worth it, though! Pretty cool! On our way out of the catacombs, we stopped to take pictures with the Swiss Guards and to mail some postcards back home!
By then, it was about 2:30pm, and Luke had to leave us to go to class. We went our seperate ways, and Natashia and I started walking towards the San Pietro train station. We stopped on the way at a cute little restaurant for lunch. Our waiter was adorable...we didn't get his name, so decided to name him Marcello! :-) We caught up with some of our new cruise buddies on the train back to Civitavecchia. When we got to the station, we called our moms, got our last Italian gelato, and then walked back to our shuttle bus stop. We went back to our room to rest, wash some clothes (there was a clothesline in our shower...very handy!), and clean up for the evening. We went to the show called "Colorz." It was put on by the ship's singers and dancers...we were not too impressed. I think years of singing and dancing combined with watching shows like So You Think You Can Dance has spoiled us both as to what real talent is! :-P At 8:30pm, Los Locos Ole performed an encore of just their music in the Crystal Atrium. They stuck around after their performance for an informal meet and greet!




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We went to dinner at Magenta, and then got a little bit gussied up and headed to Bliss Ultra Lounge a bit before 11:00pm. We were already tired before we went, and as a result, we were acting pretty goofy! When we got to Bliss, it was pretty much dead, so we decided to call it a night!

See more pictures from "Rome 12/2/09" HERE and HERE

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