Monday, July 27, 2009

Rome is AMAZING!!!

We started the trip by taking a 12-hour train ride from Karlsruhe to Rome. I am absolutely scared of flying and after taking the plane last week. I decided that I wasn’t taking another plane anywhere, unless it was headed back to America! We left Karlsruhe around midnight on Thursday and arrived in Rome around lunchtime on Friday. The train was very uncomfortable on the way there! We paid for the cheapest seats on the train, thus the uncomfortable ride. I was sitting between two random people on the train and had nowhere to lay my head for 12 hours! We definitely learned our lesson and upgraded our tickets on the way back from Rome to beds. (They were a lot more comfortable!)

As soon as we got off the train, we headed to the Colosseum. I love the Colosseum! This was the site I wanted to see the most out of all of our weekend trips. My favorite movie of all time is the Gladiator. Being able to see where so much history took place was almost surreal. I couldn’t believe that the Colosseum has been able to survive longer than 1900 years! We took a tour through the inside and saw where the Romans use to keep the trap doors for the animals to come out to attack the gladiators and learned some interesting facts about gladiators from our tour guide. Most people think that all of them were forced to be gladiators (slaves, captured homeless people, prisoners, etc.), but some made a choice to pursue the lifestyle because they were looked upon as heroes if they were successful (not killed). For some reason, many men volunteered to fight in the battles to become heroes of Rome. I don’t know of many people who would volunteer for that today!

After the Colosseum, we took a tour of Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. Our tour guide for these sites was a local history professor who was very knowledgeable in the subject. We learned all about the ancient history of both of these places. It was a very weird/cool feeling to be thinking that Caesar had walked where I was walking. Later, we went to the Pantheon. This was built as a temple to all of the gods of Ancient Rome. In the center of the dome-shaped ceiling, there is a huge hole cut out that is the only source of light for the building. It was really neat to see all of the paintings, architecture and burial sites of past kings in a building, which is central to the hearts of many Romans.

Afterwards, we enjoyed some real gelato! It was so good! If you got pineapple, it actually tasted like a pineapple! If you got peach, it tasted like a peach! It was seriously the best ice cream I’ve ever had — way better than any ice cream in America. That night we went to see the Spanish steps. It was so pretty at night. There are all sorts of lights, music, food and drinks, making it a perfect spot for “people watching!” It was the perfect end to a very fun day!

On Saturday, we went to Vatican City, which I learned is actually the smallest country in the world! When we decided to tour St. Peters Basilica, we all had to make sure that our shoulders and knees were covered before we went inside. They are people at the front of the building checking to make sure everyone is in proper attire to enter. We walked around inside the basilica then headed up to the top of the basilica. Because the elevator only goes halfway up, we had to walk over 300 stairs to get to the top, but the view was well worth all those stairs. It was a beautiful view from the top. Next, we went to see the tombs of all the previous popes. There were popes buried in tombs dating back to the year 1200! We also went to visit the Sistine Chapel. The artwork inside the chapel was gorgeous. Michelangelo was truly a master at art. All of the paintings were breathtaking! That night we went to see the Trevi Fountain. It was huge! Legend has it, that if you throw a penny over your shoulder into the fountain you will have good luck. I had to try!

Sunday was our last day in Rome. We didn’t really have much time to look tour around because we had to catch our train back to Karlsruhe that afternoon. For lunch, we ate at a little cafĂ© that served over fifty different kinds of pasta! I tried the spaghetti carbonara. It had bacon, eggs, pasta and cheese in it. Sounds kind of gross, but it was really good! Then, we caught our train back to Karlsruhe.

* Mallory is participating in a study abroad program in Karlsruhe,Germany, organized by Valdosta State University's Langdale College of Business Administration and International Programs.

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