Month: January 2012

Lovely London – Day 1

I flew into London’s Gatwick airport on a Tuesday. It was intimidating to travel alone in Europe, especially since I lost my travel friend the day before (she left for London on Monday), and I was leaving my husband behind in Rome. (He had to work – boo!) Regardless of the many travel challenges, such as Rome’s chaotic Fiumicino airport, no cell phone, no contact with my host in London, and traveling with only a backpack, I made it. After touching down in Gatwick, I took a 30-minute train into London, rode the Underground a couple of stops and walked several blocks to my destination, which I accomplished, with (gasp) no phone. It’s nice to know I can still survive without modern technology. So after finally arriving at the beautiful flat that I stayed in for three days, I dropped my bag and went right back out the door. There was some major sightseeing that needed to be done! A silhouette of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. St. Paul’s Cathedral sits on one …

Random bits of Rome

This marks my last post on Rome (sniffles) for now. Key phrase: for now. I’d love to go back and visit the places we didn’t get a chance to see (Venice, Florence, etc.). One day. :) But for now, I’m going to wrap this up by sharing some photos of “everyday” Rome. Despite the not-so-warm people of Rome and dealing with the constant fear of getting ripped off by local vendors/services, Rome really is a beautiful city. I hope you enjoyed looking through the photos from our trip and got a taste of how lovely it was. A view of a bridge over the Tiber River. The walk along the river is lined with trees. Above, at left, an inviting bookstore in Trastevere. Food! One of our favorite places to eat was Pizzeria da Baffetto. They had the tastiest, crispiest pizzas (pictured above in bottom left photo) and the best antipasto caprese dish (top left). Even though the customer service was never great (impatient servers), the food never disappointed. Yummy gelato!! We had gelato twice …

St. Peter’s Basilica

We were told by many guidebooks and experienced Rome travelers that we must climb to the cupola of St. Peter’s Basilica for amazing views. It pays to listen. We were running late (of course) and were forced to pay the €7 to take the elevator to the rooftop of the church. (The alternative was to climb all 550 steps for €5.) From the rooftop were beautiful views of Michelangelo’s dome and the church below. Factoid: the dome is 448 feet from the floor of the cathedral to the top of the lantern. Beneath the dome, under the main altar and 23 feet underground lies St. Peter’s tomb. From the church rooftop, we climbed 323 steps to the very top of the dome. And we came out to see this. Talk about a view. A view of St. Peter’s Square designed by Bernini. There are a total of 284 columns and 140 of Bernini’s favorite Saints, each 10-feet tall, in the square. You can make out the Vittoriano in the distance (the big white monument in upper right …

Vatican Museum

Ahh, the Vatican Museum. When I think of our museum experience, the first thing I recall is the hardcore 30-minute walking jog we took to make it to the museum before they stopped giving out tickets. And thank goodness we made it. The word that best describes the art and interior of the Vatican Museum is “grand,” and if I had to choose another word, it’d be “overwhelming.” Here is where we saw Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, though I regrettably didn’t take any photos. Partly because we weren’t allowed, and partly because I was afraid I’d get caught. No worries though, because I’m determined to return one day! The tapestries room. Raphael’s workshop designed the tapestries, and they were made in Brussels. Above at left is the map gallery, which displays 16th century maps of Italy. I love how the color pops in this photo. If you can imagine what it looked like in person, you’d be even more impressed. Up next: St. Peter’s Basilica