When in Rome

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It is my last day in The United Kingdom. Today I will head back to NYC, and then make the journey to my beloved West Coast. I remember when it was my final day in New Zealand. That seems like ages ago now. New Zealand flew by so fast. When I was leaving, I felt as if I had just arrived. Now as I am getting ready to leave the UK, I feel like I have been here forever. Before I recall my final week in England, let me finish up with Italy. I woke up early and made my way to the Colosseum. Because I was so early I didn’t have to queue for long. I got my audio guide and started exploring inside. The first view was spectacular. I could imagine myself being thrown back in time and gathered in the colosseum for a fight. You can now see the stage floor and what lies beneath. I envisioned the ferocious beasts roaring below, and the gladiators preparing for their next fight. I could picture where the nobility would sit and the peasants. You get a sense of how loud the colosseum would get, and the cheers and boos echoing off the walls. Anytime I would throw myself back into Roman times, I would be thrusted back into the present as I ducked to avoid a selfie stick being handled by a giggling girl. This was the colosseum now. Home to thousands of visitors and selfie sticks daily. Although it was crowded, it was manageable. I couldn’t imagine this place in the summer. Hot, and about 5 times as crowded. For how massive the colosseum is, you can only view a small portion of it. I’m sure it’s for safety reasons, and to help preserve the ancient ruins. After the colosseum, I wondered around the surrounding area and ticked sights off of my checklist. I made my way up the main road and gazed at the ruins on each side. I visited a few more piazzas, and saw statues similar to those in Florence. There is a giant museum, dawned with flags, heroic statues, and I was memorized. I walked to the Pantheon and had a cappuccino at Saint-Eustache. The birthplace of the espresso. At this point it starting pouring. I didn’t bring my umbrella. It was too heavy to carry both my umbrella and water bottle, so each morning I made a decision which to bring. Yet each time I didn’t bring my umbrella it poured, and when I did bring it, it never rained. I stopped by the Trevi Fountain one more time. This time there was only about 50 people around since it was pouring. I didn’t stay long. I was getting soaked. After my “linner”. Late lunch, early dinner. I dried off, changed and went back out to wonder the streets of Rome. I went back to stroll through the ruins on the main road again. I explored on the other side of the river, and stepped inside of a church when Mass was in session. This church must be used to visitors because people were coming and going from the back seats frequently. I hung out for a bit and then decided to make my way back to my side of town. It had been a long day walking around Rome, and tomorrow was going to be another long day. I was going to Vatican City. I didn’t wake up as early the following morning as I had hoped. Instead of arriving at the Vatican at 7am like it had been suggested to me, I finally arrived around 8:45am. I took the subway. I was very cautious of my surroundings. Everyone’s warnings came rushing to me about pick-pocketers, or people who would hold a knife to you for 20 Euros. I really didn’t want any of that to happen. The subway was packed. We were honestly packed in like sardines. I didn’t have a thick coat on thank goodness because I was sweating. The lady standing next to me was getting overheated as well. Each time we stopped I prayed no one else tried to get on the subway. I don’t know how we would fit in another soul. Luckily it thinned out. I got off at my stop, and when I emerged from the subway there was a man waiting there. Are you going to the Vatican? And he rambled off directions and told me about the different queues. I made my way closer and could see the queue. I tried to pull out my map to make sure this is where I wanted to be. My goal was to see St Peter’s Cathedral first. A groups of guys at the corner started shouting more directions at me, and asking if I wanted to pay for a tour to skip the queue. I tried to ignore then and they started asking, “Do you speak English?!” I really wish I knew a line in some uncommon language like Klingon and could pretend I didn’t speak English so people would leave me alone. I got in the queue which turned out to be the line for the Vatican Museum. I had no idea if this was the line I needed to be in to see St. Peter’s or whether I would have to queue again. And thus my issue with Vatican City. I was ill prepared. I didn’t have a map. My only tips were about visiting St Peter’s, and now I was heading into a museum. The best thing about Vatican City was the abundant supply of bathrooms. Rome lacks public bathrooms, so it was nice being in a place where I could drink as much water as I wanted and know a toilet would be nearby. It also may have been beneficial taking a tour through the Vatican because I had no idea what I was looking at. I saw so many tapestries and religious paintings while in Italy. I made my way into the Sistine Chapel which was crowded, an Italian theme. I didn’t know anything about the Sistine Chapel expect it was famous, but I didn’t know what for. The museum didn’t offer any reading material, so I couldn’t tell what I was looking for. I stared at the walls and the roof which I found very busy. I was looking for a way into St Peter’s Basilica, and was hoping I wouldn’t have to wait in another queue. One guard told me I could get there through the Sistine Chapel. Instead of going left like I did, I needed to go right. I couldn’t backtrack to the Sistine Chapel; I had to go through the museum again. So I walked swiftly through the museum again, passed all the same artifacts, and was back in the Sistine Chapel. I looked at the walls again and headed for the door on the right. The sign said guided tours only. I asked another guard how to get to St Peter’s and the guard said through the door on the right. So I walked through the door for guided tours only. I was promptly presented with a fork in the road. One was the cupola, the top of the Basilica, and the other was for the Tombs. My friend recommended the tombs, so that is where I went. I thought I might have a chance to visit the cupola later, but I never saw another entrance to it that didn’t include queuing up again outside. The tombs of the past Popes was a sight to see. I wasn’t disappointed, and when I finally made it inside St Peter’s it was magical. The floor, the ceiling, the walls, the decor, everything about it was stunning. It was huge, and looked like it could host multiple Masses at once. I walked around every nook and cranny that I could and tried to absorb all the good juju around me. Being inside such a magical place took its emotional toll on me, and I was ready to go. I spent some time in the square outside which was just as spectacular as the inside. The sun started to come out as well. It was still early in the day. I had a lot of time to see what was left of Rome, so I decided to walk back to the other side of the river. I saw Rome’s castle. I went to another square that had Egyptian looking cats all around it. Then I decided to check out Leonardo da Vinci’s museum. For a few reasons. One was, I really needed to use the restroom, and I figured a museum would have a bathroom. I never saw any public bathrooms in Rome, and most of the time I either went where I had lunch, a museum, or I walked back to my place. And two, I thought a Leonardo da Vinci museum would be cool. The museum was in a church and had no bathroom. The workers pointed me in a direction of a public bathroom which I never found and a Burger King which had closed their bathroom for cleaning. I did eventually find a bar that let me use their restroom without having to buy anything. I then decided Rome smells like poo because there are no public toilets. I went back to the museum which ended up being quite cool. As I emerged from the museum, I saw the rain. It was raining cats and dogs. I did have better rain pants on, and a rain coat, but I knew I would still get drenched. At this point I was just ready to go home. It was probably a 45-minute walk in the rain, but I eventually made it back. My under layers were dry, but my pants, jacket and shoes were soaked. I changed into something dry and relaxed for the rest of the night. I sat in my room and watched the rain pour down from the window. Not the most exciting way to spend my last night in Italy, but it’s what I did.

 

Day 20

193Kia Ora everyone! I apologize in advance for any grammar or spelling errors. I used to proofread with my phone, but now she is gone and I am on my own. I recently had a conversation with a fellow traveler and I said I could get by just fine if I had lost all the contents of my bag except my phone and a credit card. Now I have a credit card and everything else. I can get into details of how I became separated from my phone later, but first Wellington. I did a LOTR tour through the Hobbiton woods and went to the Te Papa museum and the Weta Workshop. All were fantastic. The Weta workshop is a movie studio where special effects are made, and the Te Papa museum is all about the history of New Zealand. I didn’t realize how much they were involved in the first World War. I only spent one day in Wellington and then took the ferry across the cook straight to Picton and then Nelson. I am now on the south island. Here on the south Island, the roads are windier, the mountains are bigger and the wifi is terrible. Luckily my bus provides wifi. Nelson is the sunny capital of New Zealand. However, it was supposed to be cloudy and rainy the days I was there. There is a National Park about an hour from Nelson called Abel Tasman. It is beautiful. Sitting on the beach I tried to take a picture so I could share its majestic beauty with everyone else, but no picture could do the beach justice. That is how I feel about most of my pictures in New Zealand. No picture can truly capture the essence of what I am experiencing with my two eyes. The way the sun makes the sand glisten or the sound of the waves crashing on the beach. Today I drove in the rain through a gorge and it was amazing. And no picture could have portrayed what I felt driving through it. I decided to take the track through Abel Tasman on Wednesday before the weather got worse. The day started out sunny and warm, but that did not last long. By the time we hit the beach for lunch it was cloudy, cold and windy. So much for swimming. We finished the trek and made it to our final destination. We sat on the beach waiting for our water taxi to take us back to the bus. I can’t explain what was going through my head at the moment, but I watched my water taxi pull up to shore and leave. And I was not on it, There were still tons of people on the beach, including some workers and she said another taxi would be back at 5:15. My bus was leaving at 4:30. At this point, I was glad I was not alone. A girl from my hostel I had met on the hike was with me. We both watched the boat leave. We both felt like idiots. Obviously, I made it out okay. I am writing you today. We met three British girls on the beach who were going back to Nelson and had room in their car for two more. Crisis adverted. Nelson is the craft beer capital of NZ. So the next day my new friend and I decided to go beer tasting. All was grand. We went into town and browsed through the shops and made a pit stop at Starbucks. I  never feel like I have to use the restroom, but as soon as I near a toilet it’s as if it’s a dire emergency. I heard a plop, and it was my phone. I pulled it out. It was on. Proceeded to dry it. And then it shut off. Gone forever. RIP Siri #1. I still have my kindle, but is it not  the same. I am a domesticated cat who has been thrown outside in the cold. To make matters worse I became so preoccupied with my lack of phone I forgot to pre-arrange how to get my key deposit back. I would be leaving Nelson long before reception opened. Good riddance Nelson and all your bad omens. On a positive note, I am currently experiencing the most scenic drive of my time in NZ so far. I am traveling from Nelson to Greymouth, and tomorrow I will take the train over Arthur’s Pass. I still have my digital camera to take some pictures, but luckily my memories will last forever.

Kia Ora everyone! I apologize in advance for any grammar or spelling errors. I used to proofread with my phone, but now she is gone and I am on my own. I recently had a conversation with a fellow traveler and I said I could get by just fine if I had lost all the contents of my bag except my phone and a credit card. Now I have a credit card and everything else. I can get into details of how I became separated from my phone later, but first Wellington. I did a LOTR tour through the Hobbiton woods and went to the Te Papa museum and the Weta Workshop. All were fantastic. The Weta workshop is a movie studio where special effects are made, and the Te Papa museum is all about the history of New Zealand. I didn’t realize how much they were involved in the first World War. I only spent one day in Wellington and then took the ferry across the cook straight to Picton and then Nelson. I am now on the south island. Here on the south Island the roads are windier, the mountains are bigger and the wifi is terrible. Luckily my bus provides wifi. Nelson is the sunny capital of New Zealand. However it was supposed to be cloudy and rainy the days I was there. There is a National Park about an hour from Nelson called Abel Tasman. It is beautiful. Sitting on the beach I tried to take a picture so I could share its majestic beauty with everyone else, but no picture could do the beach justice. That is how I feel about most of my pictures in New Zealand. No picture can truly capture the essence of what I am experiencing with my two eyes. The way the sun makes the sand glisten, or the sound of the waves crashing on the beach. Today I drove in the rain through a gorge and it was amazing. And no picture could have portrayed what I felt driving through it. I decided to take the track through Abel Tasman on Wednesday before the weather got worse. The day started out sunny and warm, but that did not last long. By the time we hit the beach for lunch it was cloudy, cold and windy. So much for swimming. We finished the trek and made it to our final destination. We sat on the beach waiting for our water taxi to take us back to the bus. I can’t explain what was going through my head at the moment, but I watched my water taxi pull up to shore and leave. And I was not on it, There were still tons of people on the beach, including some workers and she said another taxi would be back at 5:15. My bus was leaving at 4:30. At this point I was glad I was not alone. A girl from my hostel I had met on the hike was with me. We both watched the boat leave. We both felt like idiots. Obviously I made it out okay. I am writing you today. We met three British girls on the beach who were going back to Nelson and had room in their car for two more. Crisis adverted. Nelson is the craft beer capital of NZ. So the next day my new friend and I decided to go beer tasting. All was grand. We went into town and browsed through the shops and made a pit stop at Starbucks. I  never feel like I have to use the restroom, but as soon as I near a toilet its as if its a dire emergency. I heard a plop, and it was my phone. I pulled it out. It was on. Proceeded to dry it. And then it shut off. Gone forever. RIP Siri #1. I still have my kindle, but is it not  the same. I am a domesticated cat who has been thrown outside in the cold. To make matters worse I became so preoccupied with my lack of phone I forgot to pre-arrange how to get my key deposit back. I would be leaving Nelson long before reception opened. Good riddance Nelson and all your bad omens. On a positive note I am currently experiencing the most scenic drive of my time in NZ so far. I am travelling from Nelson to Greymouth, and tomorrow I will take the train over Arthur’s Pass. I still have my digital camera to take some pictures, but luckily my memories will last forever.