Sunday, October 19, 2014

Colosseum (and other things but most importantly the Colosseum)

Tuesday October 7th

Forget what I said about Zingaro, today was really the best day so far. I mean Zingaro was awesome but nothing can compare to going to the Colosseum. We started out the day visiting the cat sanctuary, our group is very cat oriented. Along with it being a cat sanctuary it is also a historical site of three crumbled up temples, only the very base remain of most of them, and this is where the cats live. How cool are these cats though to get to live in temples that are thousands of years old. Honestly we were more excited about the cats than the temples. We then went to the Palatine hill (which is one of the 7 ancient hills Rome was founded on) and glanced at the massive Victor Emmanuel building, but it was just recently done so it was not one of our stops, this building is very impressive. We saw the Arch of Titus and a temple dedicated to the Vestal Virgins along with the house of the Vestals. For lunch we all split up and my group found this great place with an awesome deal (12 euro for a pizza of your choice a glass of wine and dessert, you can't go wrong with that) and the place had the best view ever, we were eating right next to the Flavian Amphitheater (the Colosseum for those of you who don't know). After lunch we saw the Arch of Constantine (a little less impressive than the Arch of Titus) and finally we got to tour the Colosseum. I can't even begin to describe my awe of being in the Colosseum and being able to touch the walls and columns. Many of you know of my love for the movie Gladiator and I just couldn't contain myself I had to quote a bunch of lines from it and I nerded out and bought a little Maximus helmet pendant (even though I could have gotten a cheaper one outside, it had to be from the Colosseum, I'm weird). I never wanted to leave but we had to, it broke my heart to though. Later that night we had tickets to a light and sound show about Augustus (it is the 2000 anniversary of his death which is a pretty big deal I guess). Before the sound show though I got some great night shots of the Colosseum since it was close by. Oh how I love the Colosseum. It's just massive and amazing, I can't understand how they built something so large so long ago and it only took 10 years (about the same time as those mosaics, now you tell me which is more impressive). I also can't understand how people could have let something to wondrous crumble away and be destroyed, I will never forgive the Holy Roman era for letting this happen unacceptable! Any who enough of my rant and on with the pictures!
Some of the sculptures on the fountains designed by Bernini. The poor horse, the stupid kid won't let go.
You tell that octopus who's boss Poseidon.
Another silly child hanging from a horse.
Water breathing dragon!
A kitty cat from the cat sanctuary.
More silhouettes and sunbursting. This is either Castor or Polux, I'm not sure which.
Arch of Titus (its very super detailed)
Really cool wing sculpture.
My view from lunch (you're all jealous I know).
Arch of Constantine (less cool) (but still pretty cool).
Ahhhhh. The Colosseum. So close.
Eghad! I'm in side the Colosseum. 
Such wow. So Colosseum. (Sometimes I think I'm funny).

The outside of the Colosseum, I really wish the scaffolding would go away.
The Colosseum at night. So pretty. I could stay here forever.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Catania to Rome

Monday October 6th

Today was a very long day. We didn't have to check out of the hotel until 11 so we had all morning to sleep in. I on the other hand decided to take my one day to sleep in and wake up at 7 to go to the fish market. Going to the fish market early in the morning by myself was quite an experience let me tell you, mostly everyone was just setting up their tables. I walked through and was looking at all the fish everywhere which was actually pretty cool, they have some massive fish in Sicily I guess, there were also butchers and fruit people (what do you call someone who sells fruit? maybe produce people?) and spices laid out in burlap sacks. Anyway the guys setting up were very excited to see me taking pictures so they were all calling me over to their booths and stands to take pictures of their things. It was a little unsettling to be around all the fishermen by myself when I can't understand the language very well, but it was a really cool experience to get to see all the cut up fish and meats without all the hustle of when the market gets full. I walked around Catania for a little after that taking pictures and then went back to the hotel where most people were finally getting up. Once everyone was up and ready for the day we all went back to the fish market as a group, it was about 10 by this point so the market was much more lively than when I was first there. It was fun to go back when everyone was haggling with each other and interacting, even if I didn't know what they were saying. One butcher saw me taking pictures of him and called me over to take a picture with him so I obliged, while he was a very willing subject of photos some others looked at me very grumpily when they saw me snapping away. It is quite the different experience walking around a city with a group, no one really pays attention to you then, compared to being by yourself, you just feel like people are watching you even if they're not. Sadly we had to leave the fish market to get back to the hotel so we could mosey on over to the airport. There was a little confusion about what bus station to go to and we got slightly separated but we all met up at the airport so all is well. The plane ride was nice and short, thankfully, the bus ride to our hotel though was quite the opposite. We landed in Rome at 4ish and we did not make it to the hotel (which is in Rome) until 8. Lets just say we were all very tired by the end of the day. But being in Rome we had to do a little bit of sightseeing before we went to bed. We took a quick look at some fountains designed by Bernini (if you don't know who Bernini is you should look him up, he was an amazing sculptor) and the Pantheon. After that we finally got some much needed shut eye.
The view from our hotel roof top, which is where we eat breakfast (and watch lightning).
Looking up at our lovely hotel from the ground, so much greenery!
The church in the Piazza Duomo (sp?) ,its super pretty though.
Some fish merchants.
Yum, Wilbur.
A look at the street full of fish and produce people and meat people. There are a lot of streets too, so many.
Grumpy old man smoking, this is pretty much Italians summed up in one picture. Except they're actually all really nice so far (er most of them anyway).
Silhouetted fountain plus sunburst.
This is when I went back the second time. Poor fishy, he lost his body.
Yummy, yummy.
I think this is sheep, but honestly it's hard to tell when they're in half and have no skin so it could be a chicken for all I know.
The now crowded streets.
He wasn't happy about the pictures, oh well.
The guy looking at me is the one that made me take a picture with him, unfortunately Cassandra has that photo or else I would post it.
The Pantheon in Rome, I love Rome.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Taormina

Sunday October 5th

Today we went to Taormina, of course this required another bus ride. Since we've been traveling we have all become masters of sleeping on the bus in whatever position going through pretty much any road conditions (I consider this a valuable life skill to have). Any who back to Taormina, it is a really pretty city on the coast (like most anything in Sicily) and it caters mostly to tourists. We went to see the Teatro Greco theater, this theater has the greatest view and actually is still used for concerts and plays. We experimented with the acoustics of the theater a little having Mark stay at the bottom and we went to the very top to see if we could hear him, amazingly we could make out everything he was saying (he just couldn't hear us). I'm amazed that such a long time ago they could figure out how to make such awesome theaters with perfect acoustics, I think we need more of these theaters everywhere, they're so cool. We took a group photo here and a lovely british couple helped us out thankfully. After we visited the theater we were allowed to go off on our own for the remainder of the day. I did a lot of window shopping as I am still not in the habit of spending money not on food here, in other countries it is also vey hard to find stores open on Sundays as most everything closes down. For lunch I went to this Irish pub (yes an Irish pub in Sicily) and had a "cheeseburger", I know I am in Italy and should be enjoying the wonderful pastas and pizzas but I'm forever a butcher's daughter and I appreciate meat (something the Italians sadly do not, at least not like we do). So after two weeks of pasta and pizza I finally had a burger. This burger though was not as I expected (as you might have been able to tell from the quotations around the word), it tasted a bit pasty like it went through the grinder a few too many times and turned into mush and was an odd color of grey. Regardless of the funny taste and look of it I was still very happy to have something I could put ketchup on. Even more interesting than my so-called burger was the dog at the table near us. I can only describe this dog as a cross between the largest dog breed and a lion, I've worked with a lot of dogs and I have never seen a dog like this. This thing was massive, when it stood up it was almost 4 feet tall and the thing had the hair of a lion. It was barking at another dog that looked like a rat compared to it, I have no doubt this dog could've demolished the other one without even trying. What ever breed this is I want one. After I almost watched a dog fight my groupies and I found the public gardens, they were very cool and I wished we had found them earlier I would have spent all day here. The flowers were so pretty and there was a a small wood duck in one of the fountains, he was so freaking cute (you should all know my love of ducks), I couldn't help but take a bunch of pictures of him. We had to leave the city of Taormina and when we got back to the hotel we had to pack to leave for Rome in the morning, I hate packing and we have had to do far too much of it the past two weeks. I will miss Sicily though it is so beautiful here it's hard to leave.
The Teatro Greco, it got a bit bomber during the world wars so it's a little crumbly. And those stands in the front are modern for the concerts and plays they have here.
The view from the theater.
A post is not complete without some flower pictures.
The lovely city of Taormina.
A view of the streets they became so packed with tourists as the day went by it was crazy.
A little kid cooling off in the cool horse fountain.
No holding hands. Actually no bathing suits but I think its funny the other way. Also no eating it says below. Silly sign.
A statue of soldiers in the public gardens, of course there are silhouettes and sun bursts involved.
This pigeon just looked so sassy I had to capture the moment.
Yay cute little wood duck! And then there is Chris' reflection next to it.
Hibiscus!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Syracuse (Sicily)

Saturday October 4th

Today we went to Syracuse (not New York, obviously but I felt the need to clarify), we looked at a historical site and then a museum. It was pretty rainy out in the beginning of the day but it ended up being a really nice day. There were cats everywhere at this site, we were all quite happy about this. First we looked at a Roman Amphitheater, all that was left was ruins but it was really cool to see (plus there aren't a lot of tourists in these parts so it's more enjoyable). There was a massive altar we looked at, it was hard to imagine the size the offerings had to be to require such a large altar (poor cow cows and other animals, they never had a chance). Then there was a theater (not the same as an amphitheater) which was still much intact and we could walk on most of it. At the top of the theater were acropoli (tombs basically) and I went and explored all of them (don't worry there were no bodies, that would be creepy). We walked through the ancient quarry at this area that supplied all the rock to make the theater and altar among other things, This quarry was super cool, there was a large cave thing that we went in and it had awesome acoustics. It was a nice break from the humidity to go to the museum. I think we were the only people in this museum (win for RMC!). There were a lot of pots and libation vessels and ceramics in general but my favorite part of the museum was the hellenistic section. The hellenistic period is the last section of Greek art before the Roman's took over and it became Roman art. There are so many beautiful pieces made in this time period (it spans quite a large time period too, 323 BC- 31 BC) all my favorite sculptures come from here. In the museum there were roman copies of the greek originals because the originals are no longer available. My favorites in this museum were of Hercules and one of Venus. I can't even begin to describe their beauty and skill. So I'll just have to show you.
This guy was paying outside of the site, it was pretty awesome he had a whole herd of cats around him.
The amphitheater.
The theater.
Dead body holders!
The outside of the cave, look at how big it is! It was used as a prison once because the ruler liked that he could hear the screams so well in here (creepy fact of the day).
Inside of the prison cave.
This tree is by far the coolest tree ever, I think it was a magnolia or something like that but whatever it is I want one.
Yay pretty flowers.
This boat has been beached! Oh no!
Hibiscus flower. So pretty.
I loved this sculpture with the snake wrapping around her arm.
Venus, just look at that drapery! I just can;t imagine making stone look so magnificent!
This one is of an old fisherman, I loved that it was not of an idealized body but of a haggard man who has worked his whole life.
Hercules, this one was actually quite small like only a foot and a half tall, but the detail man!
Another look at the Venus.
Those hands! So freaking cool!