EuroTrip Day 5: Roaming Rome

Rome was wild. Literally. If you don’t watch out, you’ll get hit by a car, pick-pocketed, or whisked away into a religious cult that meets for coffee in an underground vault. That’s a bit aggressive, but there’s no shortage of action in Rome. And education? Forget it. It surrounds you.

Roman Ruins
Some of the ruins in Rome. Everywhere you turned, there were massive sculptures, columns, walls and the like. It was quite a sight.

We snapped awake at 3:00AM and couldn’t sleep. So we were going on a pretty big shortage of sleep. But we were excited. I made coffee and we went up to the buffet for breakfast. We were the first ones. That’s never happened.

We met up with our tour group and jumped aboard a big bus headed for Rome. We meandered through the port of Civitavecchia and made it up the coast. We passed by wheat fields, lush green hills and tiny, graffiti-ridden towns. We stopped for a restroom break about an hour into the trip and I bought a ‘Coca-Cola Light’ for a few Euros. Tara laughed at the foreign copy of 50 Shades of Gray (she’s a fan). So she snapped a few pictures on her iPhone.

It's a small world!
Familiar faces! Tara’s former boss Mark Nejame and his family were at the Trevi Fountain the exact same time we were, and it wasn’t planned. Small world.

Two hours later, we made our way into New Rome and eventually into Old Rome. We turned a few corners and the Colosseum towered right in front of us. What a sight. We would tour that later in the day. But once we made our way into town, we were able to get off the bus and pop in our earphones (so we could hear the tour guide) and we started our tour.

First stop was the Trevi Fountain. It was beautiful. Tara and I were standing by the fountain and toss in some coins and had our picture taken. Then out of no where, two little girls ran up and latched on to Tara’s legs. She couldn’t believe it. They were Mark NeJame’s daughters. Tara was recently employed by Mark’s law firm in Orlando handling his media coverage and outside business operations. What were the odds!? Mark and his wife Josie were sitting there, watching us. We knew they would be in Europe, but we had not planned to meet, nor did we know when they’d be in Rome. Mark said they were leaving in five minutes and looked up and saw us. Such a small world. But it was fun to see familiar faces across the pond.

The tour proceeded through the Roman Forum, The Basiclica of Aemilia, The Temple of Vesta and arch of Agustus, The Forum of Caesar and much more. We drove by the Mausoleum of Hadrian and many other structures. The views were breathtaking. I was taking so many pictures, it was hard to listen to all the guide had to say, and also, we got nasty feedback in the headphones. There was a lot of people so the channels on the receiver were probably overloaded.

The Colosseum
The Colosseum was an amazing sight and unfathomable to understand how it could have been built in 70AD.

Midway through the tour, we stopped to have lunch at a neat grotto-like restaurant in Rome. We had pasta, veal, salad, vegetables and of course, white wine. It was much needed as we were starving. We met a dad from New Jersey taking his daughters on vacation. They were nice. Most everyone was nice on this trip.

After lunch we attacked the Colosseum. It’s a bit cliche, but I was super excited to see the enormity and the complexity of this place. And it was impressive. To see something built in 70 A.D. was strange. And parts of the structure were still very well-intact.

We learned that the games held inside would go on for 100 days. Some 5000 wild animals were put to death during the time. There are eighty arches at the ground level all progressively numbered to correspond with the spectator’s admission card. The seats were originally made from marble but were recycled over the ancient years. The series of rooms beneath the area floor were very impressive. It’s there where the animals and gladiators were housed. A series of elevators would lift the animals to the surface and the battles would begin. The only battles we fought were the humid temperatures, threat of pick-pockets and haggling over prices of knickknacks outside of the gates. It’s a rough life we lead. Heh.

St. Peter's Basilica
The views were stunning inside St. Peter’s Basilica

At this point, I was satisfied, but our tour wasn’t over. Our final stop was to the Basilica of St. Peter. Wow. Massive and beautiful. Inside were numerous sculptures, mosaics, and other designs. I took a lot of pictures inside – one of the most impressive views was the dome of Michaelangelo. Looking up 394 feet you can see the sunlight shoot through windows to illuminate the colorful designs. Below is the papal altar that represents the heart and pivot of the basilica itself and of Christian Rome – in where, we’re told is the place where St. Peter was buried. Impressive sights indeed.

We were fried. My brain hurt from taking in so much history, but this excursion was a blast. The entire crew was ready to get home and take a shower and a power nap. The trip home felt much longer, but we made it. I crashed out for a few hours and was up for another late night dinner. Tara was a trooper and rolled with the spastic sleep hours. We had dinner at Taste restaurant and I was lured to the Blackjack table where nothing went right. It was time to sleep. I laid down and was dozing off and rolled over and boom, it happened again. Wide awake. Couldn’t believe it. So tired, but yet can’t sleep. I stayed awake until about 4:00AM and had enough. I took a Tylenol PM and at about 6:30AM Tara says I went out cold. That would begin a massive amount of sleep that couldn’t have been more necessary.

But Rome….a big success. We were happy and grateful to see such history. And the images are excellent. Tomorrow we were to arrive in Pisa and Florence, Italy. But at this rate, we had nothing planned since we haven’t slept for days. Nighty night!

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Josh Benson

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