Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Colosseum and the ruins

So our plans for the Vatican today were quickly put to a halt when we realized that it was closed on Sundays... Good thing we checked that first! So we slept in... or tried to anyway. Our little cabin thing has 2 cabins in one building separated by a very thin wall. We can hear them talking plain as day. And when they walk around the entire thing shakes. HAHA! Plus yesterday when we hung half our laundry on the lines to dry, we didn't leave it there until it was completely dry because we wanted to catch the bus to the metro. So my pajama pants were slightly damp when I put them on to go to bed, so I didn't sleep the best. Anyway, so we slept in until 10-ish and then got breakfast here at the camp and headed into town.

We walked to Rome's "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier", which is a LOT bigger than the one at Arlington Cemetery as I remember it. It was pretty impressive. The Colosseum is about 1/3 of a mile from the Tomb monument and on either side of the street between the two are these AMAZING ruins. It's interesting because the ruins are a good 20 feet lower than the road (and everything else) is, which makes me wonder why everything is so high now. There are huge parts of pillars all over the place, some are still standing, most are laying on the ground though. There are partial walls and arches all over the place. It was really neat to see.

Next we went to the Colosseum. It's really big also. It just amazes me that they could build things that big 2000 years ago. It's made mostly out of bricks that are close in size to our 'normal' bricks now, except their only about an inch thick. You can still see some of the steps going up and down the different levels. They're really steep, but really short steps. I took lots of pictures and I'll post them on here when we get home. (Lots could be an understatement.... I've taken close to 3000 pictures so far...) I wish they'd have signs all over the place with pictures of what it looked like back in the day from the angle you're looking at it. It's sometimes hard to imagine what it would have been like for the Romans 2 centuries ago.

After the Colosseum we went to Palatino, which is like a huge park that covers a big hill with LOTS of ruins. And it has Augusto's house on it, so we looked in there. It was just 3 rooms (that you could tour anyway). They were pretty small, but had high ceilings and they had ornate paintings all over the walls and ceilings. Some of the paintings had fallen off the walls though so you could see the rocks behind it. It was really cool in the rooms and they smelled like clay. It's hard to believe they're still standing. We walked all over this hill and looked a LOTS of ruins. It was probably bigger than 20 acres - full of foundations and partial walls.

On our way to the metro (there was no way I was going to walk all the way back to our train stop...) we went to check out Circus Maximus, which is where they used to have chariot races back in the day. We were a little disappointed because you can only see a little tiny bit of the ruins on one end that was probably seating and a small tower thing and the rest of it was all covered in grass. It was a long valley though with pretty steep sides and then a median in the middle that was probably 8 feet wide and maybe 5 feet tall. Maybe that separated the lanes, but we really weren't sure. It said that sometime between then and now they had vineyards planted on it, which explains why it's now just a grassy field. I just read on Wikipedia that it could hold up to 12 chariots!

We just got done eating at our campground and I'm ready to go to bed, even though it's only 8:20pm here. We're (again) planning on getting up early to go to the Vatican City and see the Sistine Chapel and the square and museum. It opens at 8:30am so we want to get there early.

We're having a lot of fun on our trip and we're seeing so much and learning a lot, but it gets tiring being out of your own country for this long. A lot of people know bits and pieces of English, but not enough to have a conversation. We've had a few conversations with Americans that we've met mostly waiting in lines for things and our time in Spain with Mercedes and Gonzalo was nice because they both spoke English. But we're ready to go home and see our weinas and eat food that we're familiar with and watch TV in English and be able to understand what they're saying on the radio. I am excited to see Austria though and Bavaria. I've heard that part of Europe is beautiful.

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