Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Europe Day 3 - Rome (September 24th)

Today was our only full day in Rome and we were exhausted from all the walking the day before so we decided we would one of the hop on hop off bus tours of the city. We just picked the Rome Open Tour bus since there happened to be someone selling tickets near the Vatican.

Rome Bus Tour

We started the tour near the Vatican and planned to ride to the Colosseum and spend some time there.

Vatican

Vatican

We really enjoyed the bus tour after all the walking we did the day before. The bus tour included an audio tour in English that pointed out the highlights we were seeing as we drove along.

Near the Vatican was the Castel St. Angelo. With the passing of the centuries, it is one of the few buildings to have been transformed from a funeral monument into a fortified outpost, a dark and terrible jail, a splendid renaissance residence, a prison of the resurgence and finally today, a museum.

Rome by Day

Our spot on the bus wasn't that great for taking pictures, this crazy lady decided she needed to stand at almost all points of the ride and consequently is probably the eye sore of everyone's Rome pictures.

Rome by Day

Here is the same street we walked down the night before to get to Piazza di Spagna.

Rome by Day

And the Bernini Hotel by day.

Rome by Day

Rome by Day

Next on the tour we saw the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore which is the largest church in Rome dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Rome by Day

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

On the tour we also saw the Piazza Venezia which is dominated by the the large statue of Victor Emmanuel II.

Piazza Venezia

Then we finally got to the Colosseum. And it was ridiculously hot and crowded, so we decided we would come back later when it wasn't so hot.

09.24.11

Colloseum

We decided we would try to find something to eat since it was lunchtime. On our way to find a restaurant Patrick's co-worker recommended we saw quite the variety of mimes.

Mimes near Colloseum

Unfortunately, the restaurant Pizzeria Est, Est, Est was not open for lunch so we settled for the restaurant next door, Pizzeria Leon.

IMG_3143-156

Our lunch at Pizzeria Leon was really good. We got the meal deal option to try a variety of items. The meal included a margarita pizza, bruschetta, a risotto ball, a coke and espresso for dessert.

Lunch at Pizzeria Leon

Pizzeria Leon

Pizza

Pizzeria Leon

We learned after lunch that the reason that the Colosseum was so busy was one it was Saturday and two it was free that weekend. The line was still really long and we ended up deciding to take a paid tour and basically bypass the line. Our tour guide was very Italian, but we did still manage to get some good information. It was really interesting to learn the crazy things that happened at this place.

Here is the inside of the Colosseum. The Roman Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology.

Colloseum

Colloseum

Colloseum

Patrick and I at Colloseum

Colloseum

After the Colosseum we also got a tour of the Roman Forum. Our tour guide for this was actually an American who came to Rome a couple years ago and has just never gone back. She was much easier to understand and was a really good guide.

Romulus and Remus are Rome's twin founders. This area of the Palentine Hill was the personal entertainment area of Romulus, basically like an exclusive Colosseum.

Roman Forum

And here is the view of the Roman Forum and the Colosseum from Palentine Hill.

Roman Ruins

Roman Ruins

Roman Ruins

Roman Ruins

We even found an olive tree on the way out.

Olive Tree

The sun was starting to set at this point, so we decided our plan for the night was to ride the bus around one more time so we could see all the sights at night. We ended up getting a sweet spot in the front seats and were really enjoying the ride until the workers decided they were done working for the night. When we stopped at the Termini we were told we had to get off the bus and no real explanation was given as to what was happening. After we got off we had to wait other 10-15 minutes until the next bus picked us up. And after all that they didn't even go by the Colosseum, so we didn't get to see that all lit up which was pretty disappointing. I am not sure if we just got an off night with this company, but I would not recommend this bus company.

Here are the things we did get to see our shortened bus ride.

The Vatican

Vatican at Night

Rome by Night

Piazza Venezia

Rome by Night

After our shortened bus tour we needed to find something to eat. We decided we were going to try to use these Burger King coupons we had since we were already kind of sick of spending money. We didn't end up finding the Burger King, but instead had chicken sandwiches at McDonald's. Definitely not that good or worth what we paid. I guess it was a good lesson to learn early in the trip.

Even with all the bus riding we still ended up walking 19,602 steps or close to 10 miles today.