24 October 2006

'member when we went to Rome?

We will go
Nowhere we know
We don’t have to talk at all.

We’re sitting here, in our apartment in New Brighton, MN, looking at pictures of the adventure we had in Rome, Italy, Europe. We’re working on labeling pictures in chronological order, which snaps us back to our first few days in Rome.

It’s funny looking at pictures from the beginning because it causes us to feel how we felt at the time; uncertain, overwhelmed. To see again our first views of the Roman chaos, our teeny hotel room, the iconic Spanish Steps. Recalling the disgust I felt the first time we sat in a restaurant with a curing ham hanging above our table, and then how commonplace it began to feel. And that’s why it’s interesting to look at these pictures. Those scenes that - when first experienced - evoked such awe or a sense of novelty, now feel familiar.

A week after returning home, we’ve reached a conclusion: it isn’t possible to pick a favorite thing. Our favorite part of the trip was just the whole experience in general, and the fact that we shared the adventure with each other. It was so good to be so…uncomfortable like that, together. Experiencing entirely new settings, trying things we wouldn’t otherwise have gotten a chance to try.

And I think we saw each other in a different light. I loved how, in the midst of all of those “we’ll laugh about this later” moments, Ryan was able to laugh right then and there. I was constantly amazed by how he navigated us to where we were trying to go, and duly impressed by his knowledge of, and genuine excitement about, the story of the “old stuff” we were looking at. And more than once, he expressed his delight at my bartering skills and instinctive knowledge of “how we’re supposed to do this”, particularly in regard to new foods. We amazed ourselves with how we problem-solved together. But more than anything, we thought it was noteworthy that we didn’t get sick of each other. We genuinely had a lot of fun together! And we’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.

A lot happened in the last few days of our trip and we thought we would take few minutes to recap the last days and close out our blog (until our next trip!)

Thursday was an incredibly busy day. We hit the street market and then the supermercati a few blocks from our hotel to pick up a few items and enjoy the bartering game. Amy was impressive when it came to haggling with the locals.

Then it was off to Ancient Rome. We bought an Archeologia Pass, which got us into the Palatine Hill (the emperor’s palace overlooking the Roman Forum and what was then the city) and would later get us into a few other sites. We immediately got lost on Palatine Hill. We walked around with the map trying figure out which direction we were facing, what we were looking at. And then we happened upon the Stadium of Domitian – what was once an indoor stadium built personally for the emperor Domitian and his invited guests to watch any kind of match they desired. The sheer immensity was overwhelming. Luckily, we also bumped into a (free) tour guide who explained some other sites along the way, while we eavesdropped.

We then used our Roma Pass to bypass the long lines to get into the legendary Colosseum. We were told to watch out for the gypsy kids, the professional pickpockets that work in and around the Colosseum, but we encountered nothing of the sort, for which we were thankful. It’s amazing to think that all of our stadiums are based off of this structure that was built over 2000 years ago: structured to allow the crowds to get in and seated within 10 minutes, the first retractable-roofed stadium, and an elevator system to get animals and gladiators up through the floor. And the arches! We could go on forever about this extraordinary engineering accomplishment. (But Amy didn’t love the Colosseum, because she was rather disturbed by its history.)

We then walked in awe through the Forum again, eavesdropped on another tour guide, and then made our way to the Capitol Hill Museum where we saw the enormous remnants of a towering Constantine, tomb inscriptions, busts, and other historical pieces, and even got to use our Latin-language skills! We took a tonno (tuna) and a Margherita pizza back to our room and watched Scrubs and the British version of The Office, both of which were in Italian, both of which were on MTV.

Friday morning we took the metro to the Vatican Museum and met up with the tour guide, Andrew, on whom we had eavesdropped in the Palatine (but we paid for this one). The tour was a short 3 ½ hours - short considering that it would take you 12 years to walk through there if you wanted to see each piece of art for only a minute. It was overwhelming: the museum, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica. Needless to say, the Vatican is unfathomably rich.

We ate lunch and then made our way to Castel Sant’Angelo: the emergency fortress of the popes. There wasn’t much there to see, but the views from the top are amazing (and strategic if you were the pope).

That evening we ate a lovely dinner with 14 raucous American congressmen and -women who bought us champagne and toasted Italia, America, and amore. A traveling troupe also happened by, and found a better-than-usual audience in those jet-lagged Americans. They tipped the guitar player and opera-singer and made song requests, including “That’s Amore” in Italian! It was very cliché and romantical.

Saturday was another busy day. We took the train to Ostia Antica, Rome’s old port city, which used to be situated on the mouth of the Tiber, at the Mediterranean, but since then the river’s course has dramatically changed. Ostia was essential to the Empire for over four hundred years, and offered a great snapshot of real life in the Roman Empire. It was quiet and beautiful. The city is as preserved in time as Pompei (albeit not as instantly: a malaria endemic forced a fairly rapid exodus), but not nearly as touristy. We wished we could spend the whole day there, but we decided to get back to Rome to scope out the Catacombs of San Callisto. Another unbelievable experience.

After the Catacombs, we went back to our hotel to pack a bit. We finished the evening at a restaurant we’d stumbled upon near our hotel. It turned out to be one of our favorite meals there. Our waiter was quite charming and didn’t speak a lick of English; Amy enjoyed impressing and delighting him with her minimal Italian vocabulary. We spent the meal reliving our favorite experiences and talking about the spots in the city that really touched us.

Sunday morning, we gathered our luggage and dragged it back across the cobblestones to the train station. When we got to the airport, we checked our bags, got on the plane, and mourned our departure. We were really sad to leave – it had been so perfect! But once we were in the air to Frankfurt, we couldn’t wait to just get home. But then, of course, our landing was delayed due to wind(?!) and we missed our connecting flight to D.C. So, Lufthansa Airlines put us up in an airport hotel and we left the next morning, returning to Minneapolis 24 hours after we had expected to. What an ending, huh?

And so, until the next time we travel, thanks for following us and sharing this experience with us. It’s been a blast, and we can’t wait to do it again!


Steven & Shannon said...

It sounds like you had a marvelous trip!

~ Shannon Overland-Erickson

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for sharing. I REALLY enjoyed hearing about your trip. Both of you are skilled at writing and gave us a great picture of what you experienced...making us all jealous, of course, and wanting to go there ourselves!!

Marshall said...

Well guys,

It sounds like you had a blast. I think my favorite pictures were of Ryan eating in front of the fountain and the "smoking" gladiators. :D

I'm glad that you enjoyed the trip and that you were willing to share it with all of us. So, thanks.

Its a bummer I hardly ever get to see you anymore Ryan, but oh well what are you going to do right (this way Amy won't ever get jealous, right (Whatever).

I should tell you that I am finally going to be able to get back to Argentina. I am actually going to Peru first (I have a new grilfriend and she's from there) and than for the last for days of my trip I'm off to Argentina before coming back to MN. I can't wait I leave at the end of Dec.

Returning to the trip to Rome. I apprecaited the sincere comments about likes and dislikes. It shows honesty and you can't beat that (sorry you didn't find the colesum all that enjoyable Amy. Although I don't blame ya, they really did some gruesome stuff there).

I'm sure I am close to exceeding my space limit if I haven't already so let me say "Thanks" one more time for being willing to share.

Your pal,


Anonymous said...

Ryan and Amy,
I am delighted that you alerted me to your blog. I checked in a few times and heard bits from your parents. Thanks for sharing your lives with us.

Your summary is a great read. I think you could publish in some travel magazine and get them to send you on your next exploration.
Joel & Barb

Steven & Shannon said...

The people who visit your site weekly (me), would love it if you'd UPDATE your blog! :o)

~ Shannon Overland-Erickson