Monday, April 16, 2012

The Trip - Parte Terza

We've been back now a little less than a week. But it feels like mentally, I am not here yet. Having spent a year back now, I sort of know what to expect during seasons (not just weather but yeah weather as well) and knowing doesn't always prepare you.

I dread the rainy season approaching because of how much it REALLY affecting living in Lagos and working where we do.

Anytime we go on a trip outside Nigeria (Lagos, particularly), there's a jolt to your system when you return. And it take a few days just to adjust back to this reality.

So for a few moments, permit me to escape my reality and go to place that I thought was incredible in many ways. 

The Trip - Parte Terza (Italian for Part 3). 

So we left Madrid after a couple of days for Rome to reunite with Chris and Mary. 

But wait, it wasn't that easy. We chose Ryan Air - a low cost airline and I have to be honest, they would have to be at least $100 per ticket cheaper than everyone else for me to fly them again. What we went through was comical and I am sure the people watching security at the airport had a good laugh if they caught us on camera.

Now I know that's an unfair tease but it's too much to write on here. If you me personally, just ask when next you see me and I will indulge you in the gory details.  

Again...delayed flights had us there later than we planned but by the time we got there, it was good to see the rest of the Travel party. 

After waiting about an hour for our Bus ride, we spent about 40 minutes on said Bus to Termini, a major Bus/Train Depot. 

On the Bus ride, we saw really just how much history existed in Italy and we were in awe...old walls littered the place and yes there was a charm about it. We all felt it. To the regulars and it's residents, it may have been common but for us, wow! And that was just the ride. 

Now, I can go on and on about Rome but I will try to keep it short.

I count London to be one of my favorite cities in the world. But let me say that if I could speak Italian, Rome won't be too far behind. The weather was amazing and it was really the best part of the trip. 

We got into our Guest House after walking the 1.9KM from the Bus Terminal (we couldn't figure out the bus situation but thanks to google maps, my inlaws think I can find my way to the moon and back). The host couldn't have been more helpful.

As soon as we unloaded our stuff, we knew we had to start with the Pièce de résistance of all things Rome - Colosseo. I have to be honest, on the tram heading there, I had no idea what to think...

The Colosseum

My jaw dropped. It's situated in the heart of the city and it's imposing in every way. We got off the tram right in front of the structure. We had initially planned to see it the next day but none of us had any desire to wait. 

Inside the Colosseum

Thankfully we bought Roma Passes which gave us access without waiting for in line and my did the chills run through my body and we strolled in. "This is where scores of Christians were martyred!" I thought to myself. 

In it's day, the Colosseum hosted 80,000 people - and you could picture it as you toured. 

A typical Post-Gladiator Battle Conversation

Amy in Awe
Once we were done, I looked at the time and the map and decided we had to go to the Vatican that same evening. Everyone else obliged and 45 minutes later, we were in the City State within a City. 

Preparations during Holy Week

St. Peter's Basilica

They seem happy to be there
 We walked around and agreed to come back the following day. I felt like a little kid though...being there at night! Amazing. They had already set up chairs for all the Easter activities.

Interesting Outfit for a Security Guard
The next day, when we got to the Vatican, the ground swell of people had begun and lines to go into St. Peter's Basilica stretched too far for the eyes to see. We had to see the Sistine Chapel (Capela Sistina). 

Just then, we stumbled into a guy who said he can get us in on a guided tour to do all we wanted to do for 35 Euros each which will also help us bypass the lines. It was a no brainer. 

The Groundswell at the Vatican
Our tour guide Silvio was nice, energetic and seemed to be in love with two things - Roman History and Cigarettes. Nonetheless he did a fantastic job especially when we got to the Sistine Chapel. There, he was completely silent. 

Silvio at the beginning of the tour

More Silvio

That Awesome moment when you walk into the Sistine Chapel and look up
We needed that just to wow at the sheer brilliance of Michelangelo.   

More of the ceiling and wall

 After that, we made our way to the third piece of History we wanted to see and that was the Pantheon. 

The Pantheon

Now let me say this, if you plan to visit Rome for only a short time i.e. 2 or 3 days, pick just a handful of places and things to go to and see/do otherwise, you'll realize that anything less than a couple of weeks just isn't enough. 

I haven't even talked about the food...from the nice Mama (as we called her) who's restaurant we stumbled into before we found our guest house to the nice couple by the Vatican with the non tourist prices and the Pizzarito Pastarito we had our last supper (coincidentally on Holy Thursday as well)...muah, bravo. I would return to all those places in a heart beat and Rome, I assure you this, if the Lord wills, I will be back!  

Mama's Kitchen
Mama's food offerings

Thanking God for Mama!
Pizzarito Pastarito

I have hundreds of more pictures but I thought I'd stop at this. I have a massive album on Facebook for those who are friends with me on there. 

The worst part of the trip was when we tried casual dinning at what seemed to be a hot spot. It took forever for them to seat us and we certainly were treated like foreigners that didn't have any business being there. And the food was eh...

We did learn in that experience that eating out in Rome isn't about food. It's about well...eating out. It's an event. People are there for hours and they order starters...after that, go out and smoke. Then main course, and go get the picture. 

We left Rome Friday afternoon for London where we would spend the rest of our time. But that I'll leave for the fourth and final part of the trip.

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