Sunday, August 19, 2012

Roma Recap!

 Rome. Oh I loved Rome. I ate some of the best food I have ever had in Rome. I loved almost everything about it, except it was pretty hot. BUT. The whole experience was amazing, albeit hot. I tried to minimize my picture sharing...but...well there is still a lot of them. Rome is so full of architecture and ancient ruins. The Piazzas are the social areas where lots of bars and restaurants are. The Piazzas are literally squares, many with fountains in them, where people congregate. These things are old too. Like centuries old. We spent a lot of our time just wandering the streets of Rome and turning corners to see where we ended up next.

Here's what we did in Rome:

Day 1:
  • We woke up and went to Pizza Navona (where a Bernini Fountain was), grabbed a cappuccio and croissant on the way. 
  • After exploring for most of the morning, we grabbed some pizza to go and then went to the Vatican. We went in St. Peter's Basilica (which was breath-taking, BTW) and then through the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. Let me just say this was so crowded. It was hard to take it all in because so many people were there. I felt like a cow being herded, which really wasn't far from the truth. We couldn't take many pictures due to the people and the restrictions on taking pictures. 
  • After the Vatican, we got some gelato. It was amazing.
  • It was very very hot, so we went back to the hotel to cool off and take a bit of a rest. When it was dinner time we headed toward the Pantheon, where we checked it out and then ate dinner. This meal was one of the best we had the whole trip.
Fountain of the Four Seasons in Pizza Navona

These fountains were all over Rome. Fresh, cool water readily available. We never had to buy bottled water, it was awesome.

The Pieta-- St. Peter's Bascilica

 Day 2:
  • Took the bus to Ancient Rome stuff. We saw so many ruins including the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Took a good part of the morning and by the time we were done with Lunch it was so hot, so we headed back to the hotel for a rest and regroup.
  • When it was a bit cooler, we went to Castel St. Angelo, which is basically an old fortress/castle that the Popes used, and at one point it was a military outpost. It was very very interesting, and very cool to go in. It also had a very awesome view from the top.
  • That evening we made our way to the Trevi Fountain where we tossed in some coins and explored, ending up near the Spanish Steps and in another Piazza.
  • we ate dinner at a pizzeria, and they had the best pasta of the whole trip. So tasty and so delicious. I will remember that one for years to come.
  • We went back to the Trevi Fountain to see it lit up at night and to see if it was any less busy at 10:30pm (it wasn't). We were both worn out so we headed back to the hotel for the night.
The Colosseum
The Arch of Titus- this is a depiction of the Sack of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

This is apparently a very very well preserved temple. That bronze door is apparently original to the structure and that's amazing because most other ruins had the bronze absconded for money long ago. They think this one got left because it's very thick, very tall, and pretty impossible to move.

St. Peter's Bascilica from the top of the Castel St. Angelo

Trevi Fountain

At the Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps!

Trevi Fountain at Night

Day 3:
  • We headed toward Campo Di Fiori, which is an outdoor market, for breakfast and to do a bit of shopping just for fun. It's in the middle of a Piazza and surrounded by lots of resturants and such.
  • Took the bus up to Repubblica, to go see the Ecstasy of St. Theresa (in a tiny little church). It ended up being closed when we first stopped by, so we went and took a bus tour until it reopened. Let me just say...skip the green bus tour. It was terrible. TERRIBLE. But it did get us off our feet and took us out to see a few things we might not have seen otherwise. After the bus tour we went back to the Ecstasy of St. Theresa. I didn't photograph it because it seemed very irreverent to do so. The church was tiny and there were people praying, so I didn't want to disturb the sanctity.
  • After that we went back to the hotel to cool off (it was so hot) and get everything packed.
  • Later, when it had cooled down and we were packed, we went to Trastavere to get dinner and take one last long walk.
Outdoor dinner in Trastavere

A picture of a side street near where we ate dinner in Trastavere. Very very picturesque.
View from a bridge. I thought it was pretty.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Paris ReCap

 Alright, this post is way picture heavy. I couldn't decide which pictures to post and which to not post.

We took the train from London to Paris. It was awesome and I highly recommend the Eurostar; very smooth ride, and two hours later we arrived in Paris.
 After arriving, dropping off luggage, and taking a walk, we met up with our bike tour. We loved the tour! It was a great mix of big touristy stuff and quirkier little things that are just fun to know.
 See that black dot above the window? Yeah, that's a cannon ball from the French Revolution.
 There is a street artist who puts up these Space Invaders all over Paris. They've just left them up. Mostly because they're cool.
 Back end of Notre Dame. It got Photo Bombed. Sorry about that. So the first half of the tour was amazing. But then it started pouring rain and it got a bit miserable. We finished it, we went off to Musee d'Orsay, where many Impressionist Paintings are housed. We couldn't take pictures there, but I definitely recommend it. 

View from our Hotel Balcony

 Our second day in Paris, we went out to Versailles. It was very busy, but very cool. So much history and art there, but I won't put up a bajillion pictures of everything in Versailles.
 After returning from Versailles (which was about an hour outside of Paris), we walked around and did some shopping in St. Michel (see the above fountain. It's St. Michel).
 During our walk, we found a sweet crepe place right by the Pantheon. After enjoying a wonderful crepe, we went to the Pantheon.
 The Pantheon was unexpectedly cool. Voltaire and Rousseau are buried there.
 That evening, we saw the show "How to become a Parisian in 1 hour". Unfortunately, we had lots of trouble finding the theatre and we missed the first 15 minutes of a 1 hour show. It was very funny though, so I'm glad we eventually found it. After the show, which was in the Montmarte area, we walked to the Opera Garnier (the Paris Opera House). Did you know this is the Opera House that the Phantom of the Opera takes place in? We didn't go in because it was late at night, but it was still awesome to see.
Stained Glass in Notre Dame
 Our Third day in Paris we went to Notre Dame. The church is very beautiful, but I was disappointed in the lack of reverence in it. I did enjoy myself and very much enjoyed seeing all of the beautiful stained glass and sculptures inside.
 After Notre Dame, we went to Sacre Couer, which sits up on a gigantic hill. It is a very beautiful church, and there was still some reverence in this one. No pictures inside, but we took lots of the outside. We went all the way to the top to get a great panoramic view.
top of Sacre Coeur
After climbing to the top, we just walked around Montmarte, got some lunch at a crepe place, did some shopping, and just...strolled. We spent a lot of time just enjoying the quaintness of the neighborhood.
 That evening we went to the Centre de Pompidou, which houses lots of Modern Art. We didn't have a ton of time in the museum, so we took a ton of pictures. I love modern art, so this was one of my favorite stops.
Our last day in Paris was spent doing some last minute exploring and shopping. The way our travel fell, we had until 3pm before we had to get to the airport to fly to Rome. Brad really wanted to go to the Arc De Triomphe, and I'm so glad we did. Not only was it just cool to look at, but it had a great view of the city. We still had time to kill, so we went and looked at the Moulin Rouge (we did NOT go in). Then we went back near the Arc De Triomphe and did some shopping before heading back to the hotel and off to the airport. Stay tuned for Rome!
View from Arc De Triomphe