Monday, June 30, 2008

Stay Left

On Tuesday afternoon after Ally left, Anne and I hopped onto the bikes and decided to check out Wimbledon. It was about an hour bike ride from Anne's flat to the grounds and it was pretty interesting biking in a big city. Cars seemed to be pretty aware of us and we did not have any close calls. Aside from the riding, Sandy's bike shoes had me stumped when we got home. I spent about 10 minutes just trying to get out his shoes.

Because tickets to Wimbledon are pretty ridiculous (1500 pounds=3000 dollars), we biked around the grounds and were able to hear some of the action. There is a queue for tickets where they resell the tickets after people have left for cheaper prices, but the line was extremely long. The facilities are top notch, obviously, and we have been watching a fair amount of tennis at the pubs and at home.

Anne and I also went to the Imperial War Museum this week. The museum is much bigger than we expected and we did not get through all of it in four hours. It featured exhibits from WWI and WWII along with a Holocaust memorial. War machinery covers the first floor from submarines to tanks and they even were having a James Bond exhibit. We plan on going back to check out the rest of the museum before I leave. Below is a picture of me next to a preserved piece of the Berlin wall.

We have spent many of the past few days taking advantage of the good weather and biking around London. Anne, Sandy and I went for a nice ride yesterday to Richmond Park which is about a 40 minute ride from Anne's and offers some "off-roading" gravel trails. The park is huge and it was nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a while.

Last night was the EuroCup 2008 final. Spain and Germany battled it out and to our delight, Spain won 1-0. Football here is a huge deal and even though this cup wasn't as anticipated here because England did not qualify, people were still very excited. Some friends of Anne and Sandy came over for the game and ate dinner with us.

Tonight I will be going to my first play with Anne, Les Miserables. It will be exciting to see since I can still remember listening to the soundtrack on our way to school when I was little. I will post about my experience afterwards.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Home Sweet London

Ally and I left the hotel in Paris around 6:15, approximately four hours after we arrived back to the hotel. After a slow, should have been anticipated, French customs to board the Eurostar, we were on our way to London.

We got back to Anne's flat around noon, unpacked, showered and waited for Anne and Sandy to get back from Spain. Then, we decided to take a walk through Westminster and show Ally some of the main historic parts of London. My guided tour took us past Buckingham Palace, St. James's park, Parliament, Big Ben, The Eye and through Trafalgar and Leicester Square, and Piccadilly Circus. Afterwards we came back to the flat for a wonderful dinner with Anne and Sandy.

On Monday, I decided that Ally needed to see the Tower of London. We saw the Crown Jewels and took the Beefeater tour. Ally actually enjoyed the tour more than she though she would and learned a lot about some early history of London. From there, we walked along the Thames towards Parliament and grabbed lunch. We found a place making a seafood paella outdoors that we really enjoyed. We then walked to Piccadilly Circus to shop at Lillywhites, which is similar to Sheild's in Iowa, only 10 times more crazy. Ally found some clothes to buy and I even bought a jacket, my first souvenir purchase overseas.

Unfortunately, on Tuesday Ally was scheduled to fly back to Decorah. I took the tube with her to the airport and made sure she got checked in correctly. We had a great trip and I am extremely glad she was able to come over and explore Europe with me. Many great experiences took place and we learned a lot about Italy and France along with their culture.

Friday, June 27, 2008

On Saturday, Ally and I planned a packed day to finish off our greater Europe tour and get the most of what Paris has to offer. We were out the hotel by 8:45 and walked to the Louvre. I grabbed a few patisseries for breakfast while Ally had some fruit....good to see where my priorities are.

The Musee du Louvre is Europe's oldest and biggest museum. You are greeted by the glass shaped pyramid in the U-shaped courtyard of the 16th century palace. Filled with statues from Michaelangelo and paintings from all sorts of eras; it is also home to the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo.

We were selective with the parts of the museum we decided to see since the museum is so vast. Witnessing many works from the Greek and Roman empires and Italian paintings from Raphael and da Vinci. A 5 million euro glass wall holds the Mona Lisa paining from Leonardo. I sort of expected the Mona Lisa to be a large painting that would take my breath wasn't. Though very impressive, it didn't blow me away. I am glad we were able to witness it in person.

After our walk through the Louvre, Ally and I wandered along the river Seine and found a market area with a grocery store. We bought some vino, a baguette, meat, cheese and chocolate and sat along the river for lunch. Our sandwiches were huge and extremely filling, but well worth it.

After lunch, we walked to the historic core of Paris, the Ile de la Cite. We started our walk with the Notre-Dame Cathedral. This 700 year old cathedral was breathtaking. Filled with history, beauty....and tourists, the church is decided to "Our Lady" (Notre-Dame). The stained glass and gothic architecture is something else. Everything inside and outside the church tells a story and is incredibly detailed. The spire, gargoyles, and statues only add to the churches beauty. Notre Dame was different from many of the other churches I have visited overseas and is one of my favorites.

From the Notre Dame we walked along the river to the Deportation Memorial dedicated to the 200,000 French victims of Nazi concentration camps. It is a very moving site and you feel very secluded from everything even though you are in the heart of Paris. The memorial does a excellent job of drawing you into their experience, symbolizing the disappearance of the city, surrounded by walls with only the sky above and a tempting glimpse of the unreachable river.

From there, we walked to the residental neighborhood of the Ill St. Louis. It is a neat island area filled with classy boutiques, sorbert shops and restaurants. We ate some sorbert at an incredible shop. Ally and I decided on melon as our flavor of choice. It literally tasted like they finely chopped and froze muskmelon into a sorbet and put it on a cone.

While we devoured our sorbet, we walked to the Latin Quarter while passing the many green bookstalls selling used books, vintage posters and souvenirs. Within the Quarter we visited the hidden Sainte-Chapelle. A triumph of gothic architecture is a cathedral of stained glass. Something that really made me think of my mother and something I know she would love to see. It is one awesome place. There are 15 panels or 6,500 square feet of stained glass with more than 1,100 scenes depicting the Bible. Ally and I sat down in awe staring at this magnificent work of art and architecture for a while and I had trouble leaving. The Bible states that light is divine and the stained glass truly captivates it here at its best.

After the Chapelle we walked through Pont Neuf to the metro stop and jumped on the subway back to our hotel. After a quick rest stop we headed to the Eiffer Tower for our ascent to the least that was Ally's first plan. The 1,000 plus foot ornament is much larger than it looks in pictures and is quite massive. Built to only impress, it certainly fulfills its duty and did not disappoint us. You don't appreciate its size until you walk towards it for a close view. Ally decided that she could handle the first and second platform which were at 200 and 400 feet.

We took the elevator up instead of the stairs (you can take them to the top, which I will do someday) and then took the stairs down. With the city lieing before us, we were offered some sweeping views. We went up at the perfect time, just before dark and were able to view the sunset along with the thousands of people filling up the Champ de Mars. However impressive the tower is to see during the day, it is at its best at night. The tower is filled with lights and thousands of flashbulbs flash all over the tower when it first lights up.
After our journey up the tower, we walked to our river cruise that we had missed the night before. Our boat had a open upper deck which offered some great views of the City of Lights. People were correct, Paris is lovely from the Seine. Our one hour boat cruise offered some awesome views and even better people watching. Turns out that the summer solstice was taking place that Saturday and is one of the biggest events/parties all year. The banks of the Seine were completely packed with people drinking, dancing and listening to music. The bridges were filled and unfortunately, people were pouring beer onto the boat from above. Ally and I were spared from most of the showers but others were not so lucky.

After our tour we walked back to the Eiffel Tower so Ally could say goodbye to its beauty. The Champs de Mars was still flooded with people at 1 in the morning partying but Ally and I had an 8 o'clock train to catch in the morning so our party was ending. I will try and upload pictures to my picasa web albums as soon as I get the chance.

Back to our home base in London!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The City of Light

A city that offers tremendous amounts of history, art, fashion, food, wine and romance-traveling to Paris was a no-brainer for Ally and I. We took a night train from Nice that took around 12 hours. It was interesting cramming into a 6 bed car with four people you don't know and can't communicate with because they speak a different language. To make matters more difficult, neither Ally or I slept well and Ally woke up with a migraine.

Nonetheless, we were determined to not let some bumps interfere with our vacation. We took the metro towards our hotel and dropped off our bags. Our hotel was only a block off of the Champ de Mars so we walked there first to check out the infamous Eiffel Tower. We sat on the grass and ate some breakfast and Ally laid down in attempt to calm down her headache. We had an interesting encounter with a scam and ended up loosing some granola bars, but no money or harm was done to us.

When Ally felt well enough to start our expedition, we walked to Napoleon's tomb (above) and the Army museums. We toured through the French military museums that featured Charles De Gaulle and a tribute to the victims of WWII. Another wing of the museum featured a great exhibit covering WWI and WWII. Ally and I learned a lot about the French perspective on the war and I learned about many events that I was previously oblivious to. Since I have been back in London I am reading a book Anne gave me called "Wine and War" that is very interesting. It covers stories about how the French protected its most precious wines during the Nazi reign. I would recommend it to anybody who enjoys wine or WWII history.

Along with the Army museums, Napoleon's tomb highlights all of the museums. Napoleon lies dead inside several coffins under a grand dome covered with gold. His tomb is surrounded by various French war heroes along with his brothers.

After visiting the tomb, we went back to our hotel to check in, shower and take a much needed hour long siesta (nap). We then walked from our hotel to the Eiffel Tower, through the trocerdo, to the Arc de Triomphe (below). The Arc de Triomphe is a magnificent work of art and there is no triumphal arch bigger. Napoleon had it built to celebrate his victory at the battle of Austerlitz.

This arc is the center for any event of significance. Twelve converging boulevards circle around the arc and it sure is a circus. Ally and I were not sure how to reach the arc until we found the underpass...I would have felt pretty stupid walking around the whole circle unable to find out how to reach the arc. Many monumental events (friend or foe) end here including Napoloens funeral, the arrival of the Nazi's, return of Charles de Gaulle after liberation and today the Tour de France finish line is here. The arc was very impressive to view in person and is much larger than I expected.

From the arc, Ally and I wandered Paris' most famous boulevard, the Champs-Elysees. This boulevard acts as Paris' backbone and features many high end stores, car dealerships, cafes and restaurants that lead to the palace gardens. It is a long street that offers some great views for walking. We ventured in and out of some shops, mostly the ones that we could not afford.

Our "walk" concluded at the palace gardens in front of the Louvre where we walked from there to find a place for dinner. After checking out many menus and lots more walking we finally decided on a place to eat.

We learned that dining in France is a way of life. Books and lives are dedicated to this subject and we were smack dab in the middle of Frances cuisine. Since Paris does not have a style of its own, I decided to go with the only native thing, French onion soup for a starter. I ordered the menu which is a fixed price, three course meal while Ally got an incredible salad and shared my meal with me.

Afterwards we walked back to the Eiffel Tower to sit on the grass and watch it light up (at 10:30). When we arrived we were met by hoards of people covering the grass drinking wine, beer and dining out. It was only fitting for us to join in so we ran to a grocery store and grabbed a bottle of wine to drink on the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower. It is interesting in European countries there is no open container laws so you see people wandering the streets drinking everywhere. We experienced some of the most entertaining people watching ever and witnessed the large amounts of garbage people leave all over the Camps de Mars.

After witnessing the Eiffel in the peak of its beauty at night, we walked around the City of Lights mesmerized by its beauty. Our goal was to catch a twilight cruise of the River Seine but we ended up missing the last boat of the night because I was craving some ended up being a good thing because our cruise on the last night was much more entertaining. Instead we just wandered around the river and made our way back to the hotel to rest up for a packed day tomorrow.

Stay tuned for the rest of our Parisian adventure!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Nice is nice


Crossing over from Italy to France seemed like a pretty easy transition....well, I think the beaches had something to do with it. Our destination was Nice (sounds like "neice"), with its beautiful Alps-to-Mediterranean surroundings we decided this would be a great place to relax. This was the city that celebrities from London used to flock to escape the rainy weather years ago. When traveling we want to feel like locals, so that is what we did.

Nice is a charming old town with a grand beach front promenade and was lovely to walk around. The city lit up at night and we were lucky to have such beautiful weather. This stop on our trip was not meant for visiting museums, but to simply lay by the beach and relax after six hours on a train.

We took the train from Florence to Milan and had to wait an hour to catch the train to Nice. The ride offered some great scenery ranging from the hills of Tuscany to the Cote d'Azur coastline of the Mediterranean. Once we began to see the sea, Ally and I became intolerant of the train we were on and were teased by the beauty before us. Two hours later, after staring at the beaches we were finally laying on one.

The beaches in Nice are far from sandy. Covered in rocks, I had a difficult time maneuvering without sandals. We were however able to situate ourselves in the rocks and lie down for a nice tan/burn.

Our next stop is Paris!



On Monday morning Ally and I boarded the train for our hour long ride south to Florence, Italy. Our ride traveled through the rolling hills of the Tuscany region in northern Italy. We saw some beautiful rolling hills and sprawling vineyards from our crowded train couch. The Tuscany region is most notably known for its wine production and one of our favorites from our trip, Chianti.

Florence, or Firenze in Italian, is the capital of the Tuscany region. It is the home of the Renaissance and the birthplace of our modern world. Although Florence is a small city, we found it to have some intensity. Markets sweep across the city and everybody is trying to sell you some leather. Our hotel was near the cities largest market area in the San Lorenzo square, tucked away from the main tourist sites. We had some difficulties finding our hotel and Ally was not pleased to find we had to walk up four flights of stairs with our bags to reach our room. Also, this was our first hotel that made you leave your key at the desk while you are out and we were pretty skeptical about that, but everything worked out fine.

We took off from the hotel and began to dig into the Renaissance culture. After getting our bearings around the city, we found out that there is much more to the Renaissance than art. To them, art applies to all areas of life beyond paintings and statues be it food, fashion and speaking. We found the best way to experience this was to walk around this charming city is while eating our new favorite treat, gelato. Gelato is an Italian ice cream, much better than any ice cream I have ever had. You are practically eating art with its very dense and flavorful taste. Ally and I were on a mission to try as many flavors as possiblle; I think on our last day we each had three servings! We justified it though by walking everywhere all day and she ordered the fruit flavors while I stuck to the chocolate and even tried a riso flavor (rice). Firenze is said to have Italy's best gelato and we were not let down.

We did a lot of sightseeing in Florence and were able to view one of our favorite works of art here. The Accademia museum houses Michaelangelo's David, the Renaissance man. We learned a lot about this historical statue and its meaning for the birth of humanism. David is symbolic for a break with the past from man being a playing of the supernatural to a confident individual. Florence was surrouned by many powerful city-states and David was to the be mascot of Firenze during their break their power. Michaelangelo's statue is enormous and portrays some of the finest work of art known to man. (Below: David, Ally and I waiting in line for Accademia)

The rest of the museum had other interesting Renaissance paintings and sculptures that caught our interest as well. Another museum we visited was the Bargello. A museum dedicated to sculpture is the house to Donatello's David, the first male nude to be sculpted paving the way for Michaelangelo's David. It also had many other sculpting works my Michaelangelo spanning three floors.

One of Ally's most frightening experiences occurred when we climbed to the top of Firenze's gothic cathedral, Duomo. The church is beautiful, covered with pink, green and white Tuscan marble and a stunning dome (below). We learned that the church was built with an uncovered dome because the technology was not yet discovered to build a dome. Their Renaissance style of thinking gave them confidence to believe that the challenge would be overcome. This domo and church become the model for all other domes to follow.

463 steps later and we reached the top of the copula for a grand view of Florence (above) and the hills of Tuscany. Ally got freaked out inside the dome where we were pressed between the wall and a railing, with a great view, (more frightening to Ally) of the church below. She pressed through and realized how much she would have missed if she didn't make it to the top.

Our hotel included breakfast which allowed Ally and I to spare on lunch and splurge on some savoring dinners. My favorite was a hand made tortellini we ate at the Osteria del Porcellino. It had very large noodles for tortellini and was covered with cheese, nuts and pears. It may have been the slowest meal I have ever eaten because I did not want it to end. We even topped it off with another Italian favorite, tiramisu.

After dinner, we spent our nights eating gelato and hanging out at our favorite spot in Florence, the Ponte Vecchio. Ponte Vecchio is Florence's most famous bridge and is lined with shops filled with gold and silver. It was a perfect place to people watch and listen to people playing music on the bridge (below is a view of the bridge from Piazza Michelangelo during the day from across the river). We were lucky enough to have great weather and witness some beautiful sunsets (first picture) here since the sun did not set until around 22:00.

Up next, we prepare for our train ride to the Cote de Azur in southern France.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ally's Arrival

On Friday the 13th of June, Ally was daring enough to hop on a plane and come visit Anne, Sandy and I in London. The time leading up to her arrival was much anticipated and fairly stressful while trying to figure out what we were going to do while she was here. After much deliberation, we had our route mapped out: starting in Milan to Bologna, Florence, Nice, Paris and back to London.

On Friday, I went to the airport to meet Ally after her arrival and we took the Tube back to Anne's. My goal was to keep Ally wake as long as possible, since she lost six hours on the flight over, in an attempt to help her jet lag. We went for a walk through Hyde Park, checked out Harrod's and went to the Victoria and Albert museum to fill the afternoon. Surprisingly, Ally stayed up for a late dinner and finally crashed around midnight.

Saturday was the start of our trip along with Anne and Sandy's vacation. They flew out a few hours earlier than us and were headed to Barcelona, Spain while we flew to Milan, Italy. Our plane arrived around eight and we were able to find our way to the hotel after some confusion from a locals directions. We work up early and headed downtown to the train station to activate Ally's eurail pass and make do some short sightseeing. Milan is a pretty industrialized city that thrives on its world fashion industry which was exactly what Ally was looking for. There were many high end shops that Ally enjoyed window shopping at from the outside.

We boarded our train to Bologna.....yes, like the sandwich meat. With no idea how the city was pronounced, Anne advised us to just say "eh" at the end of every sentence and act like we were Canadians because they are more easily forgiven than Americans. Bologna was a neat town with piazza's and porticos filling this well preserved medieval city. We were able to visit many of Bologna's numerous important churches, including basilica of San Petronio. San Petronio was intended to be built larger than St. Peter's in Vatican City but the Pope altered its design, causing it to remain smaller. The church is still very massive and one of the biggest in the world.

After wandering around the city for the afternoon and a filling dinner, we made our way back to our charming hotel for some sleep before we boarded another train.

Next post, Ally and I head to Florence.

Take care.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Roger Cements' response to questioning about his use of steroids best applies to the city of Amsterdam. A simple, "I'm sorry, I do not recall" is a good answer to many peoples experiences in a very liberal culture. If you ever make a visit, a wise approach to Amsterdam is taking a open view towards all of the things we label as "unusual" and throwing it out the window. Everything from the Red Light district to seeing more bikes than people gives the city a very progressive way of life much different from what I have grown up around in the States.

To get to Amsterdam I took the Eurostar from London to Bruxelles in Belgium on Thursday afternoon. I then grabbed a train to Amsterdam and met my Dad at the hotel he was staying at. While he was working I was able to visit the Van Gogh museum, Heineken Brouwery and walk around all of canals that run through the city. Something interesting to know is that it even has more canals than Venice and more bikes than people in the city. During the rest of my stay we also visited the Anne Frank Huis which has been one of my favorite sights to visit thus far. It was very shocking to see where Anne and her family lived during the Nazi reign and to try and place myself in her shoes.

Sandy flew into Amsterdam on Friday night and met up with my Dad and I for the weekend. We did a lot of walking and found an incredible restaurant to eat some local cuisine and hang out. During the weekend we visited the House of Bols which is a "museum" dedicated to the history of genever and liquors. We went through tasting experiments that used our mouth, nose, and hands. Speaking of Aj becoming a bartender, they had a flair room where I could work on my bottle juggling skills. We finished our tour in style, ending with a professionally mixed cocktail of our choice and we even received a complimentary shot of genever from the bar. Ah, the enjoyment of being legal overseas.....

Everybody, I mean everybody, uses bikes for transportation in Amsterdam. People ride with their kids, groceries, and friends everywhere. The rule of thumb here is to spend more on the lock than the bike itself because bike theft is rampant (everybody has "granny" bikes). It is the smart way to travel around Amsterdam and we intended to fit in with the locals. We rented bikes for an afternoon and went around the city and ventured outside the city and found some quaint small towns and countryside.

Overall, I really enjoyed spending time with my Dad and Sandy in such a beautiful city. Sprawling canals and the "live and let live" motto of the city made the visit very enjoyable.

Next up, my adventures with Ally in Italy and France.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Playing Catch Up

Hello everybody,

Sorry again for the lack of updates. A lot of traveling has been done since my last post and some incredible memories have been made. Ally arrived on Friday June 13th where I met her at the airport a day after my Dad left. Just over a week after she arrived and three countries visited later, I can now write about my trip to Vatican City almost three weeks ago and update you on my more recent travels afterwards.

Vatican City

Contained entirely within Rome, Vatican City I learned is its own independent country. Under 100 acres, it holds its own postal system, police, helipad, and of course, it is home to The Pope. As small as it is, there sure is a lot of history inside the city walls. St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museum left me speechless. There is no doubt: St. Peters church is the most impressive church on earth. You could place the next largest church inside of St. Peters and that only explains how big it is, not how beautiful it is. People walk around with their heads facing heavenward with their jaws dropped, barely watching where they are going. Michaelangelo's Pieta stands to the right as you enter the doors, one of the most impressive sculptures ever. A seven story solid bronze altar peice stands in the center, the largest bronze sculpture in the world. The rest of the church is extravagantly lavished with gold and incredible attention to detail. We attended mass on Sunday inside St. Peter's which was spoken in Latin. If it were a papal mass that the Pope was giving, St. Peters would fill to capacity and hold over 70,000 people inside and another 100,000 in the square. Pictures can simply not explain this magnificent place of worship.

After mass we were blessed by the Pope from his office overlooking the square and climbed to the top of the copula (dome). Michelangelo's last work and largest anywhere covers the inner part of the dome and was wonderful to see from so close. From the outside there were stunning views and interestingly there really is no skyline in Rome because no building is allowed to exceed the height of St. Peters.

Now for the Vatican Museum.

This immense museum has over four miles of displays and our tour guide whisked us through the museum. By whisk I mean we had a five hour tour filled with more information that I will ever be able to retain. We had one of the best guides possible and it really made the museum more enjoyable. If you were to look at each work of art within the Vatican museum for 60 seconds each, non-stop, it would take over six years. It contains over 3.2 million works of art! As if the array of ancient statues to Christian frescoes to tapestries to modern paintings are not enough, it is also home to glorious the Sistine Chapel. A day at a museum was never so enjoyable as it was that Saturday, filled with every emotion from butterflies to witness the Sistine Chapel to awe from the magnificent frescoes. It was a day I will never forget.


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Getting Behind

Sorry for the lapse in my recent blogs. After arriving home late on Monday night from Rome and being busy packing and cleaning among other things on Tuesday, the blog kept getting pushed back.

On Wednesday morning around 6 I took off from Anne and Sandy's flat to take the Eurostar from London to Brussels. The Eurostar is a high speed train that runs under the channel into greater Europe from the UK. Speeds reach well over 100 mph and my ears were popping a lot as I was trying to sleep.

After a smooth two hour ride I arrived in Belgium. I checked my departure times for Amsterdam which was my final destination to meet my Dad who is over for work. I originally thought I would have more time to spend in Belgium but I ended up only having a few hours. I found a spot to eat and to my own and Anne's dissapointment, I did not have any mussels. Eating mussels was one of my main objectives because mussels in Brussel's are supposed to be some of the best around and are very yummy.

After some confusion I boarded my train to Amsterdam, which was another three hour ride. I got in later in the afternoon and I have been here since. My Dad and I will fly to London tomorrow (Monday) in the afternoon and spend time there until he leaves and Ally arrives on Friday.

As for Amsterdam, it is a very diverse and liberal city. I really enjoy walking around and people watching. The numerous canals certainly contribute to the cities beauty. I will talk about it more when I have time because I am sitting in the hotel lobby right now as people wait for the computer.

I still have a post from our travels in Roma to write about. Pictures are also on the way when I load them into my computer back at Annes. So for now, hopefully this will make me feel less guilty about the lack of updates on my travels since communication is harder when you are seven hours ahead of everybody back home.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008


On Thursday, May 29 Anne, Sandy, Craig and I departed for Rome. Before our trip I tried to brush up on some of my history knowledge. I knew how powerful the Roman empire was along with some background on Romulus and Remus and their story, and some famous architecture I would be seeing. Looking back, I could have taken a semester course before I left and would not have been able to cover half of their history with enough detail to know about everything we had witnessed.

We arrived late Thursday night and headed straight to the hotel for bed. On Friday morning we ate breakfast and took the Metro to the Colosseum. The "Metro" is Roma's subway line which is more or less the publics graffiti wall. We had a tour of the Colosseum, one of the greatest works of Roman architecture, and could once seat around 50,000 spectators when built almost 2000 years ago. Viewing this enormous stadium was very impressive. Our tour offered us some great insight on some of the myths and facts about its use. It goes to show how much we think we change, when in reality, we are still using and replicating many of the same things the Romans were using 2000 years ago. We just decided to make things more complicated.

After the Colosseum, we joined a tour of Palatine Hill, the largest of the seven hills in Rome. This hill is where Rome was founded based on the story of Romulus and Remus and once was the original home to much of the art and marble found in The Vatican. There once stood a palace here that had over a mile perimeter for the Roman emperors such as Augustus. It overlooks Circus Maximus and the Roman Forum, along with the rest of Rome.

After a snack and some Peroni's we headed to our final "twilight" tour of Roma and some of it's famous sights. We started at the Spanish Steps and ventured around the Eternal City for three hours. We viewed many of the famous streets along with the Pantheon, Trevi fountain, The Unknown Solider and the Piazza de Spagna among with many other sights.

Saturday and Sunday were dedicated to Vatican City which I will talk about in my next post. Until next time.