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Trip Log 17.  Day 17. Great Stuff On a Very Full Day

Friday October 29, 2010.
Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, The Vatican.

Jerry took some photos to document our stellar convent rooms, and may I present them now:

Jerry and I go up to the top floor and find a kind of museum to the Ukraine, including these wonderful decorative eggs.

I go into the little church attached to the convent for this picture. {The second day we were here, as we came into the convent after a long day, I could hear beautiful voices. I started into the stairwell to look for the source and eventually found my way to the choir loft over this church. There was a priest there and one other woman but they didn't look like I couldn't come in so I did. Down in the church was not the choir I expected to find (the voices were so beautiful, I got chills) but the congregation singing. As I stayed to watch I could see that the entire service was being sung! The priest was behind these grills you can see in this picture, he would sing something and the congregation were all standing and singing along the responses. It was one of the most moving experiences I have had in a church. It was all in Ukranian so I couldn't understand anything they were singing but there was much incense and bell ringing and of course the singing that made me feel as if I had been transported hundreds of years into the past of the Catholic church. That people over the generations have been singing their praises in small churches like this. We guessed that the local Ukranian population of Rome comes to this church every day for services.}

Then it's time to start our big day. We make our way up to the top of the hill. From here, there are concrete steps down, then a dirt trail further down to the Colosseum road level.

It's twenty till 10 and a husky, confident Roman gladiator asks, "Do you want a picture with me?" After I say no thanks, he says very robustly and in a voice loud for all to hear, "I am the best in the WORLD!"

We board our bus and ride it to a stop near the Pantheon, at which point, we ex the it. But here is an example of the crowding up the motorcycle riders do.

Outside, the Pantheon just looks like a big old building, but ugly is only skin deep. Inside, it's marvelous, as you see below.

(L) The Pantheon. (R) Obelisk in the piazza {Stolen from Egypt we learn, during one of the crusades}

(L) Roman soldier, for the atmosphere. (R) Yes, but where are the ROWS? {Again, stolen from Egypt, each column is one solid piece of granite. How do you suppose you transport solid columns from Egypt to Rome? How does the boat not sink? And how did the Egyptians make them in the first place?}

(L) Waiting to enter. (R) The oculus, or hole in the top of a dome. This lets anything that chooses to come in - sunlight, rain, snow, birds.

(L) The floor. (R) The sun makes fabulous patterns on the 3D design of the dome interior. {We read (OK, I read) that these square designs are actually to reduce the weight of the roof. Smart those Romans. I also read that this building that was to worship all the ancients gods (hense "Pantheon") would have been torn down by the Christians,but they instead turned it into a Christian church with the "god" niches now holding statues of Saints. As we are close to All Saints Day, we are grateful for their keeping the building safe for us to see.}

After the Pantheon, we walk on to Trevi Fountain, walking by the Church of Ignacious Loyola,founder of the Jesuits on the way. A weird extra tall statue of liberty, all in white, greets us.

(L) Trevi Fountain, straight on. (R) The Trevi crowd of people

(L) I liked these two streams colliding. (R) The detail on this man and his horse is awesome.

(L) Two coins near the fountain. (R) It's close to Halloween, you know.

Trevi is bustling with people, very crowded, and we avoid the most dense part of the crowd, because we know that's the home of the pickpockets. When there's a clear path, we hustle down to the corner, where it's relatively quiet.

After locating a place to have lunch, and clearing that account, we enter the Vatican Museum, and check out part of that. Shirley particularly wants to see an Egyptian mummy, and we do dat. Talk about Halloween.

(L) This modern style sculpture, encorporating the pope is striking. (R) The big pine cone, or is it an artichoke.

(L) This globe is utterly spectacular. (R) An array of mummy icons

(L) One peaceful Egyptian. (R) Row, row, row, your papyrus boat.

(L) I like the eye makeup. (R) View of the golden globe, at home in the square

(L) Why you two-faced... (R) Mummy nearest.

Burial crypt? box? container? I don't know the word, but the carving is unbelievable.

Having seen enough of Egypt to satisfy us, we backtrack and head for the map hall on our way to the Sistine chapel.

(L) The curved ceiling appears to be made of gold. (R) Look at that! The statue is imitating Sharon's normal look. Uh, don't tell her I said that. {It's all going into the letter]

(L) Italia, (R) Venezia and its islands.

Phoenician vessels. I made that up. I don't know what they are. Dhows?

At 4:30 pm, we are just finishing the museum, and finally get into the Basilica. {NO PICTURES ALLOWED IN THE SISTINE CHAPEL, so we only have postcards and our memories, of course. It was cool in the chapel, so memorable, but the guards kept shushing everyone. I thought how unrealistic, all you want to do is comment to each other on what you are seeing, but it is a chapel and they try to keep us respectful. I thank one of the guards for doing his job so well after he shows us the handicap way to get to St. Peter's Basilica so you don't have to walk all the way around the Vatican to get there.}

(L and R) The line is long to get into the Basilica. We don't care.

(L) We have heard that in Rome, you can drink from any public fountain. They are all still supplied by aqueducts. (R) A gold-paneled door.

(L) This looks like the world's biggest four-poster bed. (R) Truly an awe-inspiring dome. {St Peter is buried deep under this altar}

(L) I liked the sun's rays here. (R) A piece of the unbelievable artwork on the floor.

(L) A huge painting in the Basilica. (R) Those are my feet on the floor.

(L) Every pope that ever has been. (R) A very famous marble carving. {I ask Bob as we are leaving the Basilica, "Did you get a picture of "The Pieta"? "What's that?", he says. I direct him over to the crowd in front of the statue (probably why he avoided that corner) and he gets this picture. It is now behind glass because some crazy ran in some years ago, shouting "I am Christ" and hit it with a hammer, breaking off Mary's nose and fingers onthe left hand. So sorry that such a great work was damaged.}

I am extremely frustrated at "The Vatican", because their toilet seats have no lids either. Grrrr. It's enough to make you yearn for a responsible atheist with a good toilet.

After finishing up there, we head outside, and towards our HOHO bus, which we will ride home. But first we get some outdoor photos of the area where they're placing chairs for an appearance by the Pope in the next few days - maybe All Saints Day.

(L) Setting up the chairs. (R) The pope's window and balcony, that you have likely seen on the news sometime.

(L) The Swiss Guard has always protected the pope in the Vatican. (R) An archbishop, a couple of nuns and Jerry.

Views from the courtyard.

(L) I can't get enough. (R) Atop the HOHO bus, with the sun setting just through that person's head, with the duomo in the distance.

Spectacular afternoon sun lights up this building.

We can see the window and balcony where the Pope does his appearances so familiar to us on television and in the papers.

I'm a little tired now of seeing churches, and Jerry says, 'Once you've seen 20 or 30 churches, you've seen 'em all."

We make it to the HOHO bus, and take off. After a while we pass the Ferrarri store, just like an Armani suit store or exclusive perfume store. Only you can get Ferraris there.

At about 6 pm, our bus lets us off, and we walk past the Arch of Constantine, past the Colosseum, cross the busy road, climb the dirt path, then the stairs, and make it to our street level. Then it's down the several blocks to our piazza, and in to freshen up for dinner. The night lights are amazing.

(R) Sharon learns that it is common for newly married couples to hire a photographer to get their picture in front of the Arch of Constantine.

(L and R) The Colosseum at night is a beautiful sight.

It's out for dinner, followed by our now-regular gelato dessert, back to the room, enjoy some Rummikube (I think I am yet to win one game the entire trip), and off to bed.

But before bed, we talk with the evening desk manager to see if he has a recommendation for a hotel near the airport, and he asks why not stay here an extra night? By now, we are confident in the area, we know a reliable taxi driver, we can see the benefit of not moving (a full, free day tomorrow without having to move), and I ask if there are rooms.We later learn that indeed they do have the same two rooms available for us, if we want to stay an extra night, and excitedly, we "sign up," meaning we say ok.

It's a great feeling to know we have all day tomorrow, not just a piece of one here, then the big move, then another piece of one but near the airport, not in the middle of the city excitement we are in here.

Life is grand, ay? Hey where'd that Canadian come from?

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