Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Traveling to Europe, and Starting in Rome!

Jeff and I were hugely blessed to be able to travel to Europe with Jeff's family and some of their family friends. We flew out separately, and our layover was in Copenhagen. As we had a long layover, we had plenty of time to explore the airport.

We found this totally empty corridor.                        First view of Italy!

And as a side-note, I have tried to pair down the pictures to just what was interesting. We took over a 1000 pictures, and I would not want to subject you to looking through all those. Especially since you probably just want to see pictures of Axel...

The view from our apartment in Rome. Very residential!

 The Pantheon

 The obelisk outside the Pantheon (that's me in the red pants)

Cool lighting from the dome inside the Pantheon

 Saint Peter's Basilica

 Gary, Rhonda, Kaden, Brandon, Alex, me, and Jeff

 We took a guided tour through the Vatican Museum and St Peter's Basilica. There was an overwhelming amount of things to see in the Museum, so I am very glad that we had a guide to help us focus on the more important pieces. It was really crowded, but we got to skip the long line because we had a tour. Thank goodness for tours!

We couldn't take pictures inside the Sistine Chapel, but this was a cool ceiling in the Vatican.

Me and Pieta, by Michelangelo. It is behind glass now because a crazy person took a hammer to it a while back.

Cool lighting on a statue of Peter

 Jeff and I on the Spanish Steps. I don't know why they are famous, but there was always a ton of people there, and lots of annoying pedlers selling selfie sticks and that kind of thing. Italy was the only place we saw those guys, but they were EVERYWHERE. They are also the pick-pockets.

Piazza Navona, fountain by Bernini

We ate dinner right on Piazza Navona. Perfect end to our first day!

 We swung by the Trevi fountain on our way back to the hotel, but it is getting restored. At least that means no crowd!

 Day 2 began with the underground tour of the Vatican, to Peter's tomb. It was an amazing experience. Only 250 visitors are allowed there everyday, and we were lucky enough to have gotten tickets months before. We couldn't take pictures, so this is me outside of it. We even had a spiritual experience as the guide (a priest, or was studying to become one.... I can't remember what that is called) gave a prayer outside of Peter's tomb.

We walked 15 miles this day! It was crazy! We were trying to make it to all the Papal churches in 1 day, but we only made it to 3 out of the 4 due to getting lost. This one was at Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, where there is purportedly pieces of the manger.

This one is inside the Basilica of St. John Lateran (I think it was Alex's goal to pose like that in as many pictures as possible).

And the 3rd one we visited was St Peter's again, because it is just that awesome. We went in right after the underground tour and were able to look at things more closely than we had the day before on the tour.

Me and Alex

We found the Colosseum while we were lost.

 That night we did a food tour of Rome. We stopped at 7 different places. It was awesome! We started in the Jewish Quarter, and our guide pointed out these gold tiles that were in front of almost all the houses. They have the name and date of death (and where) for each person who lived in that house who died during WWII. I can't remember the exact numbers now, but one night over 1,100 Jews who lived here were rounded up, and only 19 came back. Very sobering.

 This restaurant still served some food that is the exact same as you would have eaten in Ancient Rome, and that wall behind us IS from Ancient Rome. Amazing!

 Rome had running fountains everywhere, and the water was SO good!

 Day 3: Tour of the Colosseum and surrounding areas.

On the Palantine Hill. There is a ton of excavated stuff here, and it is all pretty recently found. Mussolini had a command center here (the building he built is super ugly, so I kept it out of pictures), and more recently some monks were living on the property. Anyway, it is super cool to see. Romulus and Remus were found by the she-wolf here (legend, of course). It overlooks the Roman Forum and Circus Maximus.

 Colosseum in the background there.

Right after this tour, we hopped on a train to Venice!

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