Saturday, April 14, 2012

A walk in history's footsteps

Note: I have been attempting to write this blog for a week now and keep having technical difficulties.

I do not enjoy sitting down and reading a history book. Most of what I read I forget soon after a test. But I love being able to walk through a place where history happened. Recently I walked through place (although I am currently living in a place that was under that same empire) with a lot of history. I was walking in a city where people such as Julius Caesar, and St. Peter had been (just to name a few). And of course, what would a trip to Rome be without seeing the Colloseo?

One of the first major attractions I saw in Rome was Circus Maximus, the old chariot racing grounds, and nearby the Roman Colosseum. I wish we had payed extra for an audioguide or a tour guide. Later we went to Palastino  and the Roman Forum. The entrance to all three of these places was paid for with the same ticket which was valid for two days.

I wished I had remembered more about the history of the Roman Empire from high school. I remembered very little from the text book. And unfortunately I did not have a lot of time to research the background of Rome before going. Instead I would have to look it up when I returned to Huelva.

The second full day I saw the Vatican. The journey began about 8:45 in the morning, standing in line to visit St. Peter's Basilica. Cost to climb the stairs: 5 euros. After descending the stairs exited into the Basilica. After walking around for a little bit there was a door with museum written above it. Thinking that was the Vatican Museum where the Sistine Chapel is located I paid another five euros only to find out it was the treasure room. Not something I wanted to pay for when I had seen the same stuff in other basilicas for free. After leaving the treasury and walking through the bible history museum (free) it was time for lunch. Very small amounts of food still cost a lot of money in Rome. Two of us ended up sharing food meant for one person so that we could bring the lunch cost down to 40 euros. A small plate of lasagna, green beans, potatoes and a bottle of water cost a fortune.

After lunch, it was time to seriously find the museum. It didn't take long and soon I was paying another 8 euros to enter. It was already 1 p.m. by the time I was seeing the museum. I just wanted too see the Chapel and look around quickly before leaving to see more of Rome. But they wouldn't have any of that. Although signs said, "Sistine Chapel this way" and pointed down a hallway, the path was always blocked. Instead they forced visitors through every one of the 7 kilometers of galleries. Or just about every one of them I guess. It was about 3:30 before finally getting out of the Vatican and heading back to Rome. Which brings me to a quick side note.

The first night in Rome I threw two coins into the Trevi Fountain. The legend has it that if you throw a coin in over your shoulder you will visit Rome again. And indeed, I left Rome to go to the Vatican and once again returned to Rome. But I hope that doesn't count because there is so much more that I have yet to see there.

Anyway, after heading back to Rome I wanted to see a film which was advertised on the tourist map and told some of the history of the Roman Empire. It would be nice to see the re-creation of some of the buildings I was seeing throughout the city. It was hard to imagine what the ruins I was seeing might have actually looked like 2,000 years ago. The movie helped and was definitely interesting. It answered some of my questions and left me with new questions. After the movie I made my way to several other locations but unfortunately it was after 6 p.m. and they had closed. As I said above, I hope I can go back to Rome some day. The following morning it was time to catch a flight to Milan.

The biggest attraction for me there was "The Last Supper," yet another famous painting. However, upon arrival I found that they only allowed 25 visitors per hour. That was about 10 a.m. and they had already sold out of tickets for the day. I was not able to see the painting but I guess I can say I have stood in the same building. The rest of my time in Milan wasn't of much interest. At about 9:30 p.m. I was getting off a train in Venice. And three hours later finally arrived at the hotel. Venice was a maze at night.

The next day is when I got my first real glance at Venice. This is the city I had seen in so many movies and had come to have a romantic connotation with it. I didn't know of a lot of things to do in Venice except for St. Mark's Square. I also wanted to find at least one geocache and visit the Hard Rock Cafe. And once again, what would visiting Venice be without a ride in one of the gondolas? Even better, I got a 40 euro discount from the normal 100 euro cost.

Thursday evening after sightseeing I got to witness a live concert. The tickets only cost 20 euros. The first piece was Vivaldi's Four Seasons. I had heard "Spring" many times before but never the entire work. It was nice.

Then Friday came and it was back to Spain where it was raining on and off, of course. But it was a great trip. Once I returned to my appartment in Huelva I was able to upload pictures and finally do a little more searching about the Roman Empire.

Here are two videos I found and enjoyed on Youtube:

And finally, here are a few other videos from Rome and Venice.

1. Musicians and other street performers are in no shortage in the plazas.
2. Venice has a "metro" made up of boats.
3. One of many street performers in Venice

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