ruins

Italy, June 2003, Day 8 Part 2

Now that we have all the necessary souvenirs, Brendan, Geoff and I head off to Rome in the BMW. Keith and his mom, Gail are staying an extra week and are traveling to Rome by train since there’s not enough room for all of our stuff in the car. (Ask Keith how the Tower of Pisa was…)

Bren and I have made reservations in advance at a hotel right near the airport. Geoff hasn’t got any, but figures he can probably get a room at the same hotel. He can, but it’s in the hostel room, which has three beds, a shared bathroom and no AC. Our room though has air conditioning so we crank it up and lounge around for a few minutes.

We don’t really have a whole lot of time, but since we’re so close to Rome, we have to go in. We first decide to wait for the bus that stops at the corner, but it doesn’t seem to be coming that often and it’s really really hot out. So, we decide to drive to the airport (since we have to figure out how to do that anyway), and take the train into the city. This train is easy enough to figure out, it’s the metro that gives us all sorts of problems. The machines that dispense fare cards are finicky. Extreme pain in the ass. Then you take the card, and put it through another machine and it stamps the time and date on it. Then you get on the metro. I take the DC metro every day, so it’s not like it’s terribly complex, but the doors on the metro car don’t automatically open, you’ve got to press a button. Well, we can’t get the one to work at the Coliseum stop, so we end up getting off at the next one and then trying to find our way.

It’s not all that difficult, the Coliseum is an easy thing to spot.

The whole thing amazes me. You see something on TV all the time, and then once you get there it’s just breathtaking. The rocks and the stone are what really impress me. Just thinking about how centuries of people have walked on them and worn them down is just awe inspiring. I’m walking up the same stairs as some of history’s most important people. It just blows my mind.

And the sheer engineering that had to go into everything!

The forum which is down the old Roman road from the Coliseum is pretty fascinating as well.

Old buildings and stones are everywhere. I can’t help but think about how young the US is at times like this.

We try and hook up with Keith and Gail who should be in their hotel by now, but are unsuccessful, so we have a late lunch and take the metro (without getting new tickets, just hoping we don’t get caught with invalid passes) and the train back to the car and then to the hotel.

The next day is pretty uneventful, except that Bren and I almost missed our connection in Heathrow. The line through customs was painfully long, and then there was a shuttle bus ride to the other terminal, a run to the ticket counter where we were told that they just made a last call for our seats and we’ve just made it, another run to the gate all the way at the end of the hall, and then being seated in the very back of the plane. So, always, always leave at least two hours for transfers at Heathrow. An hour is not nearly enough.

Italy, June 2003, Day 3

Originally, the plan was to pick up Keith and Gail in Rome, give Vince one phone and then meet up with him in Pompeii. That of course, didn’t happen.

Since the car is practically the only place where there is any air conditioning, everyone in the backseat falls asleep.

Once we arrive, we take out the cell phones. Vince still hasn’t called. One phone through a freak series of button presses locked itself and became unusable. The other has no time left, there isn’t even enough money left on it to call and add more money! We decide that the way this trip is going, we’ll just run into him in the ruins. Since we just ran into Keith and Gail at the airport, and somehow found Pepino. Plus, hell, we’re in freaking Pompeii!

The old city is pretty much just in the middle of the current city of Pompeii. There’s just a big fence around it. Before we even get our tickets a guy at gate tries to be our guide. Basically tells us we’re fools for going it alone.

We took an insane amount of pictures in Pompeii, but there is so much to see here.

There were some places where you could wander around in the ruins, and some more intricate homes with paintings on the walls, and columns in the courtyards that you couldn’t walk in. Mostly it was just like any city, with tenements and wealthy sections, bars, entertainment venues. It’s just eerily quiet and still dusty. There were moments when I felt like the volcano had just erupted. But maybe that was just the heat. I did get a little sick and dehydrated because of it. There were practically no trees, just dust and stone.

We did have a few things on our itinerary to see:

The forum with Mt. Vesuvius in the background.

The ampitheater.

The gates to the city.

Petrified body.

Stadium.

There were these dogs that roamed around and a couple of them had taken up residence in the governor’s house. Gail went up to one of them, that seemed to be blind in one eye, and as she got close and reached out her hand to pet it (it was a huge St. Bernard looking dog) it barked and snapped and almost got her. (Unfortunately, no pictures of the dogs.)

Once we were finished with the city, we walked around outside of the fences looking for Vince. But nothing. What else could we do? We decided to go back home, and figure out something then.

Sorry, you’ll have to wait the recap of day 4 to find out what happened to Vince!

Disclaimer.

Brendan joined the party on January 2, 2004. He's cool now.

Jessica has never been cool. She is OK with that.

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