Tuesday, February 3, 2015

When in Rome...and beyond!

When in Rome, it is definitely important to represent the Seahawks at the Colosseum...Go Hawks!!
But now I've jumped ahead a few days in our travels.  So to back the story up a little bit...

Previously, I mentioned that we would be taking a trip to Italy!  This came about through the educational travel organization that I use to take students to France.  As an appreciation and incentive to keep traveling with them, I was given a free trip for a "teachers' conference" to Rome! It was one of those take it or leave it offers, with specific dates already created...so I took it and added Captain America on at a discounted "companion" price.  Our first choice was Vienna, but for the sole reason of being close to Hungary, where my brothers' live.  As always, God works in mysterious ways and that trip was filled-up and so we had to choose Rome.  As it turned-out my brothers were able to fly to Rome for cheaper than what it would have been for them to drive to Vienna.  And, why not, meet them in Rome, of all places, right? Hands-down, out of all of the beautiful sights that we saw, the best part of our entire trip was being with my brothers...nine months was a long time without seeing them!

On Friday, we landed and hit the ground running, by seeing Trevi Fountain (which was under construction), the Spanish Steps, some Roman baths and a general walking tour of the city...
The next morning, we did the "Papal Tours" of the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, and Saint Peter's Basilica...
That afternoon and evening, we walked so much (not that we hadn't the day before) and saw the Pantheon, the Jewish Ghetto, Piazzo Navano, Campo de' Fiori, ancient Roman ruins and MANY basilicas...
Sunday morning, our tour was focused more on the "pagan" sites, as we saw the ancient Colosseum, the Roman Forum and surrounding areas...
Of course, that afternoon, we walked everywhere, to take in the rest of Rome that we had missed-out on before.  We decided that Rome could definitely be accomplished in two days!  If you are willing to walk a lot...
As we still had one more day with my brothers, we traveled outside of Rome, to see Ostia Antica (which was closed for 'conservation projects'), the sea and one of several catacombs...
On Tuesday, my brothers had to return home and we took a high-speed train to visit the city of Florence, before reaching Venice.  We walked what seemed like a million steps to reach the top of the bell tower and for a beautiful view of Florence.
Florence proved to be a really easy city to navigate and we were able to take in most of the sites within the five hours that we had!
That night, we arrived in Venice.  Honestly, I wasn't expecting it to be as beautiful as what is shown on TV or on calendars but it proved to be even MORE beautiful.  There are so many canals and cobblestone streets to get lost in!  With all of the islands and lagoons, it is quite large and the entire place is breathtaking... 
On Thursday afternoon, we took a water boat to visit three islands in the Venice lagoon that are more 'residential' and away from the tourists.  The first one was Murano, an old fishing village that is also known for their fancy glasswares...
 Next, we saw Torcello, one of the first inhabited lagoon islands, which is now barely populated...
 Lastly, we saw Burano, which is known for lace and their colorful buildings...
And in a flash, on Friday morning, we found ourselves taking our last vaporetto directly to the Marco Polo airport, which took us to Amsterdam, and then back home to our beautiful Pacific Northwest.
It was a whirlwind trip, as to be expected, but definitely filled with many memories that will last a life-time!  Some additional remarks from the trip would be:
  • All of my food made it into the country and lasted for the entire trip without any glitches! 
  • I learned that French is closer to Italian than I had originally expected.  I believe I could learn it relatively quickly!
  • This was our (Captain America & myself) first time traveling outside of the Americas together.  And so this was a great 'first' for the two of us in making new memories in far-away lands.
  • Since living in Eastern Europe, my brothers have become quite street and public transportation savvy.
  • Somehow I was mistaken for being European and not American on multiple occasions.  Our Airbnb hostess, said it had to do with my cheekbones.
  • On a similar note, Captain America was never mistaken for being European!
  • No, we don't want a selfie stick!  We haven't changed our mind since the last time we were asked.
  • Italy is quite cold in the winter; at least for walking outside all day.  Don't be fooled by the palm trees and close proximity to the Mediterranean.
  • Having euros on hand, in Europe, is a necessity!  Restrooms are few and far between and when found, they almost always cost at least one euro.
  • In our opinion, Rome and Venice are a "must see".  The ancient ruins of Rome and the way in which Venice is built around the water, make them both unique in comparison to other European cities.
~Andréa

2 comments:

Danielle said...

How wonderful! Looks like you had an amazing time!

Andréa Maul said...

Grazie! It was amazing!!