29 February 2008

Backpack, Day 7-8: Of Giants, Geriatrics* and Gelato

*Geraitric - Of or relating to the aged or to characteristics of the aging process. (Thank you, Dictionary.com). Rome is filled with old relics and monuments.

My flight to Rome was relatively quick and painless, and I landed and was whisked through security without a cursory glance. Italy, it seems, was happy to have me, but not happy enough (sadly) to give me a real, cool stamp in my passport. It's practically invisible.

I made up for this with a myriad of digital pictures, as you will see shortly. (This is clearly just an excuse. I always take many pictures. It's who I am.)

Anyway, I shrugged into the backpack (carrying mostly books) and ran off to the train station. I had missed the train by about 2 minutes, as I was informed by the Lehman Bros. London employee who was in Italy to see his parents (jealous of Europeans. Soooo jealous.). He and I decided to share a taxi. He then proceeded to help me call my friend a few times, figure out where my friend lives, discuss route and price with the driver in Italian, and explain to me that his debit card had expired so he couldn't pay for my part of the cab ride, only his. These are the Italians that movies are made about.

When he and the cabbie dropped me off at Aaron's corner, I squealed with joy to see my old Ramah friend on some random Italian street, down the street from a pyramid (really). It was just about midnight when I arrived, so in typical Aaron style, we dropped my bags in his apartment and went off to the local bar to hang out with his friends from study abroad. After meeting a smattering of study-abroad kids, Aaron and I went back to his apartment and rested up for the next day.

Aaron and I are incapable of looking normal in pictures together.

On day 8, Aaron took me on the bus to the Colosseum, and left me to continue on to school. I went into the structure, which was really incredible. I think I was surprised at how much it was like every baseball stadium I'd ever visited, but eventually, I did integrate into my tiny little brain that of course, all baseball stadiums got their original structure ideas FROM the Colosseum. Yay for history! Woo!

Check me out, at the Colosseum!

Some friendly fellow tourists took a picture of me at one of the narrow ends of the Colosseum's ovular structure.

I am the Champion.

The Arches of the Colosseum, from the inside.

Outside the Colosseum. Pretty sweet.

I think you get the point...I went to the Colosseum.

After the Colosseum, I wandered the ancient ruins in the same area. It was pretty incredible to walk a couple of steps to see the Arch of Titus, the Palatine Hill, and the ruins of the Forum. I was a little confused by the walking tour in my tour book, probably because I had my map upside down, as most gifted children would do accidentally, but eventually I figured out where I was and what I was looking at. Basically, lots of crumbling and worn marble, and some really spectacular structures. I just don't understand how this stuff was built without cranes. And Superman. I think it also struck me how really NOTHING, even marble, lasts forever.

Really old doors. The original ones. From whenever whenever in whatever ancient century. History history history...

Hi, I'm some ruins. Hi, ruins.

Ruins and an arch. Sweet.

After the Colosseum, I walked toward the Pantheon, and didn't get lost. On my way, I was pretty hungry, so I tried my best to order a panini. The guy claimed he spoke English, and the conversation went something like this:

SBB: Do you speak English?
Guy: English? Yes.
SBB: Great! Can I get a panini with nothing in it?
Guy: But you want ham?
SBB: No ham! Just cheese and sauce.
Guy: Cheese and ketchup with ham?
SBB: No ham! No meat!
Guy: You don't want meat? Just cheese and ketchup?
SBB: No ketchup, just sauce.
Guy: No cheese?
SBB: I want cheese and sauce.
Guy: Cheese and ketchup coming up.
SBB: [Grunt]

The resulting ketchup, cheese and tomato sauce panini, while not something I would order again, was actually not half bad. After eating, I wandered across the street to some really gigantic and um, ridiculous monument that people say looks like a wedding cake. I didn't see it, and you won't either, because I couldn't get a picture that captured this so-called vision. You'll get this picture instead:

Just in case you didn't get the memo...I'm in Italy. And on the middle tier of a wedding-cake looking monument whatever something. I didn't think it looked so cakey to me. Mmmmm. Cake.

After that, I walked and walked until I found the Pantheon. The Pantheon used to be a temple to the Gods, and then it got turned into a church (naturally). Raphael's tomb is in there, and the only source of light is the occulus in the top of the MASSIVE dome. It was REALLY pretty, really cool, and I was already exhausted. You would've been, too, after that conversation with Mr. Panini.


There are lots of Egyptian obelisks in Rome. This one's outside of the Pantheon.



Raphael's Tomb. Raphael, the artist, or the Ninja Turtle? Unclear.

I walked to Piazza Navona, which has three cool fountains. One is a Bernini, and is supposed to be the focal point of the Piazza, but it's under restoration, and as a result, scaffolding. Another is also old, and another was built in the 1900s sometime -- a baby fountain (in age, not in size)!

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAaghhhhhhhhh-splat! I shouldn't have had all of those tequila shots on the Pub Crawl last night!"
(More on Pub Crawl coming soon.)
This particular fountain, which I mock, was the non-Bernini old fountain on Piazza Navona.

I took Shira's skills class, so even though this Bernini masterpiece is partially hidden, I dig it, and its scaffolding.

I wandered around the Piazza and its surrounding neighborhood for a while before meeting up with post-school Aaron. We picked up some pizza (always hungry!) before walking to the bus back to his place. We picked up some veggies to make dinner (which he did, because I am lazy and he is terrific), gelato (gelato count: 1) before going to hang out at his place. Both of us were deliriously tired, and need to just sit and do nothing, and sit and do nothing we did.

The First Gelato of Many. Whipped cream? OF course!

We did the aforementioned nothing until it was off to the gym for an Italian-American basketball game. It was fun to watch, particularly because Aaron's roommate, Jimmy, seems to levitate, Matrix style, before he actually shoots the basket. Pretty cool, although I was afraid he was going to float by me and score a three-pointer in my face. More gelato (gelato count: 2) and the ride back, and then we went to the same local pub to meet some of Aaron's friends, who are going to college in Rome for 4 years, and not just studying abroad. Interesting group, cool to talk to.

Wanna Spoon? Every gelato I got, I got with two spoons, because I always had to try a sample before deciding on flavors! (Gelato #2)
Picture taken on the Rome subway. Not nearly as nice as the Tube, and crappier than the blue-lines in NYC, it was still a subway. This made me happy.

We went back to sleep soundly until it was off to see Da Popa!

There was morning. There was evening.
The seventh day.
There was morning. There was evening.
The eighth day.

PS -- Shavua tov and HAPPY BIRTHDAY BIGGEST BROTHER, who reads my blob like a good brother.

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