Week 48: Rome: First Hostel, Colosseum and Such, and the Vatican

I took three years of Latin which included quite a bit of Roman history and I have always wanted to visit Rome.  The train ride from Paris was beautiful with the Swiss Alps outside my train window.  Long train rides are a good form of therapy I’ve found.  Rome was the only place where I was not able to find a couchsurfer host.  I had a couch possibility, but when I arrived in Rome and checked my e-mail there was no couch.  Therefore, I did not have a place to stay in Rome.  Then I decided to eat at the Rome train station because I’ve found food in the stomach is always a good idea when you’re not quite sure what’s going on momentarily.  I struck up a few conversations with people at the restaurant and was told where a few hostels were.  I went to the hostel and discovered they were full.  As I was speaking into the intercom about where other hostels were, a man walked out and told me he had a bed and breakfast I could stay in.  I told him, “I don’t want breakfast” and after a few minutes of talking and walking away he stopped me and I had a big room to myself for less than I would have paid for a night in the hostel with six people to a room.  Cool.  The next morning I packed up, checked out, got online, and found the highest rated reasonably priced hostel in Rome and set off to my first hostel experience.  The Ciak hostel was an excellent place to stay and I got to become good friends with Brits, Hollanders, Greeks, and Spaniards.

Colosseum:
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I was lucky to find a Rick Steves‘ Rome guide book in the hostel which made my Rome experience exponentially better than it would have been otherwise.  I highly recommend his guidebooks, after using many other books I found his to be the most helpful.  My favorite part was how he would tell you, “Find a nice place to sit in front of… ” and I would sit.  When Rick tells me to do something I do it and it turns out that he usually knows when I’m tired before I do.  So, thanks Rick (second time I’ve thanked Rick on rtqblog).

The Colosseum was surreal for me for several reasons.  It is believed that over half a million people were killed in the Colosseum as well as over a million animals.  Wow.  That gives the place a sickening feeling.  However, it is such an incredible architectural achievement.  It could seat 50,000 people and was so logically built to get people in and out as quickly as possible.  It must have been an amazing sight to see in it’s glory days.

Ground Floor of the Colosseum:
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Top Story of the Colosseum:
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Colosseum and Me by night:
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Another surreal aspect of the Colosseum which brought my year full circle is who built the Colosseum and the Arch of Titus (the arch pictured below in front of the Colosseum).  The Arch of Titus was built to commemorate the capture and victory over Jerusalem in 70 AD.  The Romans destroyed the Second Temple, which was the center of Jewish worship and the remains are now the Wailing Wall, and took the Jewish people back to Rome to help build the Colosseum and an arch to commemorate the destruction of their most holy place and the deaths of their loved ones.  Since I was in Jerusalem in January learning about this history it was much more real for me.

Roman Forum from Palatine Hill:
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The Palatine Hill, Roman Forum, and the now unrecognizable Circus Maximus were amazing to see as well.  Walking on the same stones that Cesar walked on in the Roman Forum was a pretty crazy feeling.  My hostel was down the road from all of this so I would walk down every night and read my book about the Roman Emperor Julian.  Life is not tough, currently.

Sistine Chapel and Me:
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The Sistine Chapel was another surreal experience for me.  Michelangelo is not just the best Ninja Turtle, but he was an amazing artist.  I probably sat there for an hour and a half inspecting everything.  I loved the nine center paintings from Genesis, especially God creating day and night.  My good friend Gabe always tells people how God moons people in the Sistine Chapel and it’s true.  Check out the bottom (hehe) left of the center panels in the picture above.

St. Peter’s Basilica – Peter’s Tomb
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St. Peter’s Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world.  My pictures of the church didn’t turn out well, but I have plenty of video I will post later.  I had heard about St. Peter’s before, but I had no idea what I was walking into in terms of size and beauty.  The materials taken to build St. Peter’s were taken from many historical places in Rome like the Colosseum which is frustrating.  Traditionally, Peter, the apostle upon whom Christ said he would build His Church, was buried here after being crucified upside down near the obelisk of Nero’s Circus (which is out in the courtyard in front of St. Peter’s).

The Pope is out of Rome during the summer and they did not have Mass while I was there.  I would love to experience Mass led by the Pope at St. Peter’s Basilica one day.

Wow. It's Quiet Here...

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