Kate and Bron's Diary for 2002-09-24

Stayed the night in Rome

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From: "Bron Gondwana" <brong@brong.net>
Date: Tue, 24 Sep 2002 20:11:56 +1000 (EST)
Woke up early (7am) to get everything done and run off to the Vatican.
Anyway, between the shower being crap (unreliable flow, unreliable
temperature, no soap holder, no place to hang clothes) and the breakfast
(one stale croissant, one burnt stale muffin, one small pear and sugar
drink) we weren't too happy with this place.

Spent ages trying all the other affordable options, only to discover
they are full. Our LP guide is a couple of years old, and it shows.
Prices are still in Lira, and quite a few phone numbers are no longer
active. Anyway, the other thing we decided was that we're going to
Sardinia (big island to the West) for a couple of days - nice unspoilt
beaches and cheaper as well! Kate had lots of fun trying to remember
enough Italian to make arrangements - but the ferry was easy to book on
the net. Yay for the internet. We've updated the calendar to include the
changed places. There was a bug in the website that stopped us booking
the return trip (it insists that you choose a form of accommodation,
even for the boat that has no accommodation because it's a fast day trip
and you just sit on seats - so we'll have to book the trip back from
over there)

Um, that's it so far. It's stopped raining outside, so we're going to go
see stuff. More later.

From: "Bron Gondwana" <brong@brong.net>
Date: Wed, 25 Sep 2002 06:09:18 +1000 (EST)
Walked to the Roman Forum, passing lots of interesting things on the way
'hey look, it's another marble building'. We saw a round church that
looked like it was being set up for a wedding - lots of flowers
everywhere. We looked around inside quickly. There were big movie-set
lights set up around it, and crews looking like they might be setting up
for a movie, but the crowd that arrived for the wedding looked realistic
- no make-up artists there to set them up.

Turning around from the church, there was a tall column with lots of
little kittens running around below it - we counted at least 4.

The monument to Vittorio Emmanuele II (known as the 'typewriter' due to
its distinctive shape) who was the 'father of the nation' was very
impressive. Lots of big statues, gold, mosaics, etc. The statue of VEII
himself on a horse was more than twice life size, and the horse alone
weighs over 50 tonnes. It all looks very ancient, but it's actually less
than 100 years old! It was built in the classical style to fit in with
everything else.

Behind there was the square designed by Michelangelo (very cool, though
a bit crowded, and guess what.. more statues) and the path down into the
Roman Forum. We walked around the forum by ourselves for a bit, then
latched on to a free tour - being run as a teaser for the quite
expensive tours run by the same company - but hey, free information is
good. We saw the oldest existing sewer and bits of many other buildings.
Took heaps of photos.

Looked at the Colosseum from the outside - but decided that it wasn't
worth 8 Euros to go from an area of thick crowd to an area of even
thicker crowd. There were places selling water for EUR 2,50 per small
(500ml) bottle, and sandwiches for EUR 7,50 - consider that the Aussie
dollar is about 2 to 1 by the time you consider bank exchange rates,
that's extortion. Guess they have a captive audience though. Found
water for half that about 50m away though. There were people in
gladiator costumes standing around being photographed with everyone - I
don't know if they expected tips - we decided it was a little bit too
silly, and skipped.

Walked to the Pantheon, stopping to see a very strange 'modern art'
exhibition in an old church. Church was more impressive than the art if
you ask me. Still, can't complain about free.

Pantheon was great, though it's impossible to get the entire roof, or
even a decent idea of the roof, into the frame of an ordinary
photograph. It was the biggest span of a domed ceiling until late last
century. Wow! It's even more impressive because it has no keystone (a
big hole in the centre lets light through). They appear to have blocked
the hole with glass now, it's hard to tell. The floor slopes towards the
walls so that it can drain. I guess they knew more about water than the
bathroom designers that call themselves architects these days (see
previous rants). It's the best conserved Roman building that exists -
and given the standard of building these days, it might still be the
best preserved building a long time into the future!

Back through the streets to the Trevi fountain - it was very busy. We
tossed coins over our shoulders as is tradition. Kate was cheap and used
EUR 0,01 coins. I used a EUR 0,20. I guess that gets me more chance of
coming back (though no wish, because I didn't throw the second coin).

Went to the Spanish Steps - quite a few of them in fact. We walked up
another set of steps to get to the top, checked out the church (lots of
pretty pictures and statues again.. seems quite the style in these
parts) then back home past lots of fountains (and of course on busy
streets - and even there a few spots looked a little dodgy).

We saw just about every 3rd world country's airline represented along
one strip of street (including Portugal - you'd think they'd have some
self respect and get an office somewhere else...). We were a little
surprised not to see Qantas represented there, what with their policy on
maintenance these days.

Cooked up omlette and the rest of the zucchinis for dinner. They sell
everything in layers and layers of wrapping here, and the only way to
get vegetables is on a polystyrene plate with gladwrap over the top.
It was a pack of 6, so everything has been zucchini thing for the
past 2 nights.

So much walking we're going to sleep well tonight (we hope)! Up early
for that Vatican thing tomorrow morning, then off to the islands for a
holiday... wheeee! We've decided we need a holiday from our holiday -
going to relax on a nice beach for a couple of days ;) Hope the hostel
rents towels...

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