Friday, January 23, 2015

Rome: The Patheon adventure

Our next adventure was to find the Pantheon. We had a map and did pretty well, only making a few wrong turns. The nice thing about Rome is that a wrong turn just means you see a different awesome historical item along the way!

The Pantheon was rebuilt from the original 118-126 AD and is still the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. It is one of the best preserved of all Roman ancient buildings and is gorgeous.

 Like most of Rome, this place was PACKED! Wall to wall people everywhere.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Rome: The Forum & Palatine hill adventure

After the Coliseum, we headed up Palatine Hill and spent some time wandering around the Forum. This area of Rome is some of the oldest and where the rich merchants and government officials lived and worked. The Forum was the heart of the city where people came to shop, worship and socialize. Absolutely amazing to imagine the rich history here, especially coming from Abu Dhabi where the oldest building is about 15 years old!
These fountains were all over Rome and delivered crystal clear cool water. We just had to carry a water bottle and fill up whenever needed. It was awesome!
A view of one of the larger houses on the hill overlooking the Forum.
A back courtyard (see next photo) with an almost perfectly preserved statue of a woman.

 This is a race course for chariot races and other sport events.
Overlooking the Forum from atop Palatine Hill.
If I remember correctly, this is the temple of the Vestal virgins. I really should take a notepad with me on these trips so I can remember!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Rome: The Coliseum Adventure

We ended up with 'free' tickets to the Coliseum as part of our Segway tour so decided to go the next day, which was a Sunday. It was actually the first Sunday of the month so the Coliseum was free! Ooohhh, so THAT's why the line was sooooo long. But, it wasn't all wasted as we had 'skip the line' tickets, which allowed us to do just that and be one of the first 10 people into the Coliseum. You'll see as you look at the photos what a huge bonus that really was.
We powerwalked to the top so we could try to get a photo with no people in it. It worked, even through the sun position wasn't cooperating that well. We then walked all the way around to get the full view before the hordes started to arrive.

 This is a view of the tunnels under the coliseum where the animals, gladiators and supplies were kept.

The place is massive. This shows a bit of the stage at the far end that was built to give the idea of how it must have looked. We had a Rick Steve's audio guide with us that explained the huge spectacles that took place here. Unbelievable - like a huge Cirque du Soleil event but with blood and death.
If you look closely in the back left of centre you can start to get a feel of the crowds by the end of our walk.
By the time the sun was in the right place, the crowds were too so I could no longer get photos without tourists. The place was heaving by the time we left! We were really glad to have gone early and have our 'skip the line' tickets.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Rome: The Segway Adventure

If you're a frequent reader of my blog, you know how we LOVE segway tours. There are a number to choose from in Rome since the place is so big. We decided to book one around the Coliseum area. We visited the Forum, Palatine Hill, the Coliseum, of course and a number of other areas. Rome is seriously bursting with history!!
Wish I could remember which church this was. The point of the visit was to show us how the centuries just kept building on top of one another. 
 Here's the inside. They were all set up for a wedding.
This is part of the Circus Maximum, an ancient race course and now a sometimes concert venue.

This is part of the Roman Forum - the ancient city centre with markets, churches, rich houses and government buildings.

 And of course the Coliseum. I'll do a whole separate post on this and show you the inside.
A gorgeous day and not too crowded at the moment.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Rome: The Adventure of Getting There

I've been with the airline now for over 3 years so you'd think I'd have the staff travel process down pat - lord knows we've used it enough! But no, once again, I ended up with a standby ticket when I thought we were confirmed. (sigh) 

So, our October Rome adventure started off a bit stressful with Brian and I at the airport at 2am waiting for our names to be called that we had a seat. Picture also that this was a holiday weekend in UAE so we were two of about 200 in the same boat crammed into the small check in area for staff. After a tense hour watching colleague after colleague receive the unwelcomed news that they weren't starting their vacations as planned, our names were called! We didn't get the business class we had hoped for, but we did have two seats to Rome . . . in the very last row of the plane . . . right outside the toilets. (sigh)

Bleary eyed and with stiff necks, we disembarked in Rome only to wait for another hour to get through immigration. Oh but we could already smell the tomato sauce, mozzarella and espresso and looked forward to finding a real Italian coffee for breakfast.

We stayed at an Airbnb apartment (highly recommend Airbnb by the way - much more comfortable and interesting than a hotel room) in the Travestere area of Rome. A little off the beaten path, but so quaint and cute. Wine bars on every corner, with gelato right next door and a fresh fruit and veg market just down the street. Aside from the stairs, the place was perfect.