Monday, June 08, 2015

The European Trip, Rome, Day 2 - The Colosseum

Man, we did some walking the Rome Metro station, all over the Colosseum area, the Palantine Hill, and even checked out the recently opened exhibit of an emperor's house.

Martha and I woke quite early and we snuck out of the hotel room, leaving sleeping teenagers sleep, while we went just down the street a bit to take pictures of Castelo San Angelo.

Featured in the movie The Da Vinci Code, it's the castle where one of the popes, when under attack, was smuggled through a secret passage in the Vatican wall to this castle.

A view of Saint Peter's Dome from Via Concialiazione

Castelo San Angelo

Martha then wanted to check out Plaza Navona.  It's got a couple of fountains that are a good stand-in for the Trevi Fountain site which is currently under repairs and not much to see there.

A short walk later, the golden hour and us arrived at Piazza Navona together.

King Neptune

We started headed back to the hotel via a different route, and found ourselves enjoying a couple of Expressos and a pastry at a small cafe we saw full of locals.  It was quite nice.

Suitably fortified, we found the following as we crossed the Tiber river once more:

We got the boys up and we headed to the nearest Rome Metro stop, the Ottaviano, which also had a TIM store nearby.  TIM is the largest of at least three cellular phone/data providers here in Italy and I needed to us get data sims that would work in Italy not only for work but for everyone to check their email and social media of course.  ;p

Anyways, we got there before 9am and of course, they weren't open yet.  Sigh.  So, we went to the Termini Metro Station where Rome's main train station is also located and found an open TIM store there.  Got our 5GB data only sims for 24 Euros per phone, not too bad I guess.

The sales guy told us it would take 2-3 hours to activate, ah Italy.  So off we went to the Colosseum metro stop to end up waiting in the heat (though we did find a nice shade tree) for about an hour before the tour was scheduled to start.  Why not look around while we waited you ask?  It was hot and humid, especially when out of the shade!

Hot sun, huge crowds, high humidity, what's not to like?
Oh, turns out, the Colosseum was built on what used to be marsh land and a lake!

The tour started on time at 12:30 and the lady handling the program dropped a bombshell on us.  She told us the folks who schedule tour groups for the "special access" areas had goofed up and we wouldn't be able to do the "underground Colosseum" tour!  Quite disappointing even though they said they'd refund us 30 euros per person and thrown in an "exclusive" tour of a Roman emperor's house.

We were bummed but whatcha going to do right?  So, off we went into the oppressive heat.  The poor tour guide, he was full of great information but I think he figured out pretty early on that the Chang boys weren't that much into history, and the fact we didn't get to do the underground Colosseum tour obviated his chances for a tip after the 4 hour tour.

Still, he soldiered on, and so did the 10 of us in the tour group.  So much information about the area, so much walking, so many people to wade through in the process.  Add in hot humid conditions and the interest level steadily dropped as the hours went by.   Still, the rich history of the place....not something to be missed.

The arena within the Colosseum, we were supposed to have been 
down there but not this time!

A view of the arches which made up one of the layers 
of this massive structure

According to our guide, only about a third of the colosseum remains, 
the rest was destroyed by earthquakes and centuries of folks taking the
building blocks away for other purposes.  

The Triumphal Arch built to conmemorate the victory over Jerusalem
The war booty of which helped fund the construction of the colossuem

Can you tell Patrick's no longer interested in even pretending to listen?

Above and below, shots of the restorative work done so far
on the home of one of Rome's Emperors, I forget which right now.

The remaining ruins of what used to be the Roman Supreme Court building.

View of the Colosseum from Palantine Hill

View of the ruins of the Roman Forum from Palantine Hill

Temple of Antoninus and Faustina

A view back towards the Palantine Hill and the remnants of
what used to be a huge administrative building and living quarters
for the Roman emperor.  Apparently, the building covered about a third
of the land that was originally where the tribe of Rome originated!

It was near the above picture that the tour ended, I think to the relief of everyone including the tour guide.

All of us were pretty much exhausted and we slowly made our way back to the Colosseum Metro station where we were in time for rush hour.  We were packed like sardines in the train back to the Termini station but the train with the six stops for our "home" station wasn't too badly crowded.

Once we got out of the Metro, we located the TIM store that had been closed that morning and I told the young lady at the desk that the sims weren't working!  She checked the records, looked around a bit then gave me "the look".  "Sir" she said, "you have to reboot the phone for it to work with the new sim and get Internet access".  I told her that her colleagues at the other TIM store had failed to mention that, she was not impressed.

Still, she got all four of our phones working so we were all satisfied and on our way to dinner.  We found this little trattoria and decided we needed some wine to help our sore feet.  We ate outside as I've determined that even though a restaurant may claim to be air-conditioned, it really isn't after a long day of walking around in the heat.

Ah, the curative qualities of red wine

Martha and I had the Spaghetti Carbonara, yummy

Patrick loved the Pizza Diavola, basically spicy pepperoni!

Miles liked the Borgo Nuovo pizza, ham, sausage, hotdog I think.

Miles LOVED the Tiramisu dessert....always ordered a second one!

above and below, I had the boys take a sip out of my expresso
cup, both claimed to like the taste.  It'll hopefully translate
to wide awake boys for tomorrow's early tour of the Sistine Chapel.

On the way home, I spied this "basic" scooter, nothing fancy but definitely workmanlike!

Token Moto Content

Got myself a blister on the right foot, but no big deal I think.  Lots learned today, Roman history-wise and also about Italian cell/data providers, and finally about how crowded things can be at times.


RichardM said...

Years ago when Kyle went with me to Rhode Island/Massachusetts area, he got burned out on all the history stuff that I enjoyed. We then spent the day at Six Flags.

Theoretically, the phone should be off when the sim is removed or installed. Maybe that's what the other salesman assumed...

Artie & Leinen's Grand Adventure said...

I enjoyed today's travels. Best time to go exploring is in the early morning when the boys are asleep? I remember being a little crowded in Tokyo. Have you seen the videos of people crammed in the subway cars? When we started home it wasn't crowded, but by the time it was the end of our trip one day, we were squished. The funny part is I got the giggles. It totally embarrassed my nephew. Japanese etiquette requires one to not be loud on the subway.
How did the wine for sore feet go? We are joking, my son, Reuben just got back from a class where he learned to serve alcohol legally. Job prospects......I told Richard we need more wine so Reuben can practice pouring it, or I can soak my sore feet in it. Enjoy tomorrow!

SonjaM said...

Thanks, Dom for the grand tour. Beautifully captured by pictures and narrative. And boys will be boys, at this age you will lose their attention for culture and history quickly, except it involves a video game of sorts.

SonjaM said...

Red wine makes for an interesting if not entertaining (at one point) cure for the feet. You might end up with side effects like headaches though.

Trobairitz said...

You are really walking a lot. It always seems that way on vacation. Nature's way of compensating for all the good travel food.

Loving all the pictures. I don't think I could handle all the people to go there myself.

Andy & Laura said...

We're thoroughly enjoying your blog posts. It's almost as if we're there with you on this trip of a lifetime. May you all continue to enjoy your trip, making the most of every opportunity, no matter what detours or potholes may creep onto your pathway from time to time .

redlegsrides said...

RichardM, one heck of an assumption on the part of the sales guy, don't you think? Still, it's all working now so, moving on.

Bridget, thanks and yes, early morning shots are working out best. Wine is best drunk not used to soak one's better that way! :)

SonjaM, I fear you are right about the interests of teenage boys these days. As to the wine, curative powers are indeed fraught with morning after peril if one doesn't hydrate sufficiently the night before!

Trobairitz, yes, lots of walking, going to make quite a contribution to the work fitness team I am part of! Thanks and yeah, the masses of humanity are quite the nuisance.

Laura and Andy, thanks for commenting , and for the well wishes.

ToadMama said...

Ugh, I can feel the oppressive heat just reading about it, but what amazing things to see. You have a great photographic eye, and a wonderful talent for storytelling. I'm looking forward to seeing and reading more. Yes, I'm late to the journey, but glad I'm following along nonetheless.