Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Rome Day Two

Hello Everyone,
Me outside the Vatican entrance
Dishy Duty:
So this day at the camping site in Rome it was my turn to actually go to 'work' as I called 'dishy' duty on the trip. I used to work a little in hospitality and still do the occasional bar work here and there to earn some extra cash, so I was more than qualified for this position I though baahaaa I hardly ever made it to breakfast on the trip as I was either to hungover or was desperately trying to squeeze in a few more hours sleep!lol This morning however, Rachael and I were dressed and up extra early for our job. We ended up turning up too early and had to wait around for our Contiki group to come down to breakfast lol We ended up having our breakfast of nutella toast and cereal, before everyone showed up for a change which was yummy. As people finished eating it was our job to clear and clean dishes and collect glasses. I was even taking orders for peoples drinks that morning too, asking them if they wanted water or juice etc lol Taylor said and quote 'no one had over dishie'd like me before' haa haaaa I kind of enjoyed doing it along with Rach and it wasn't that awkward with Hamed which was a relief.

The Vatican:
Our first stop that morning was the 'Vatican'- The world's smallest sovereign state (population 830) is the jealous guardian of one the world's greatest artistic and architectural patrimonies. Vatican City is a state ruled by the Bishop of Rome—the Pope. It is the sovereign territory of the Holy See and the location of the Pope's residence, referred to as the Apostolic Palace. I along with many of the other people on Contiki chose to pay and do the optional extra Vatican tour.

We had to go through security checks before entering 'Vatican City' for our 3 hour tour. We followed a tour guide who also used audio headphones to communicate with us throughout the tour. I don't understand much about religion as I am a 'Public' school girl from Wellington but I was amazed as soon as we walked into the Vatican. I was able to see amazing 20 metre high ceilings which were painted by Michelangelo, 500yr old tapestry hanging on the walls and amazing paintings. We walked through the Sistine Chapel where we weren't allowed to take any photographs but it was a very quite place with beautiful famous religious paintings on every wall. I wished I knew a little about religion whilst looking at the paintings in the Chapel to fully understand their significance. 
Inside Vatican City
Amazing ceilings by Michelangelo inside the Vatican

Amazing ceilings by Michelangelo inside the Vatican
St Peter's Basilica:
St Peter's Basilica is Italy's biggest, richest and most spectacular church.  Dress rules and security were strictly enforced at the basilica (no shorts, mini skirts or sleeveless tops were to be worn). In Roman Catholic tradition, the basilica is the burial site of Saint Peter, who was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. Saint Peter's tomb is directly below the altar of the basilica which was very interesting but kind of creepy to look at....I was in awe of the huge religious statues/sculptures, marble floors/walls and the enormity of the church. 
Tomb of St Peter

Getting all religious inside St Peter's Basilica

Wow these statues were so moving

Religious statues inside St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Square:
This is the Vatican's central square and where each Wednesday the Pope addresses thousands of religious pilgrims from all over the world. While standing in the square I could just imagine the Pope addressing the people from where we were standing and it was amazing to see how it was set up for the Wednesday service.
Me in St Peter's Square just outside St Peter's Basilica

Our group in St Peter's Square just outside St Peter's Basilica
I thoroughly enjoyed our three hour tour inside the Vatican and I can only imagine that this is a place religious people can only dream of visiting, so I felt lucky to have had the opportunity to visit such an amazing place. From the Vatican the girls and I decided to head somewhere for lunch before heading to do the 'hop on hop off' bus tour of Roma. We again had pizza and bruchetta at this tiny Italian restaurant which we were taken into by a lady that worked on commission for getting tourists to go there. It was quite cheap and very tasty, the waiters could hardly speak English so we had to point out things on the menu which was funny and all part of the Italian experience. One of the waiters did try and charge us extra on top of our compulsory 10% tipping fee and was quite persistent in trying to take extra money from me when I paid. I was very direct and told him we had already paid more than enough and stormed out which wasn't a nice way to end the meal lol  
Delicious bruchetta in Rome

My tomato, ham and cheese pizza in Roma
I went to get money out of the ATM for the bus tour tickets but it rejected my card. I had alot of trouble getting money out in Europe especially in Italy with my Teachers Credit Union Card. Only about every fourth ATM worked for most Australian bank cards and I was very stressful for all of us whilst we were travelling. Thank god for all of the girls as we all shared money throughout the trip and paid it back as soon as we could access our accounts through an international ATM. Jess thank you so much for helping me out in Rome with money!lol

Trevi Fountain (Fountana di Trevi):
Completed in 1772, Nicola Salvi's mesmerising fountain is definitely one to check out of you are ever in Rome. This was one of my personal favourite sites as it was soooo beautiful but way to over crowded with tourists! The legend goes that one coin thrown in the fountain over your shoulder ensures you will return to Rome, two ensures that a wish comes true, while a third brings bad luck. I threw one coin as I fell in love with Rome that day and definitely want to return in the future!
Getting ready to throw my coin into the Trevi Fountain

Here's hoping....

Crowds of people flock to see the Trevi Fountain in Rome

Beautiful Trevi Fountain-A favourite of mine!
The jaw dropping Panthenon is a magnificent (Hey dad-I can spell magnificent-m-a-g-n-i-f-i-c-e-n-t-magnificent baahaaaa) example of ancient engineering and I really felt small and insignificant standing next to this amazing building, it's columns were huge! The dome at the top (58m wide and high) was the one that inspired Brunelleschi's dome in Florence, which in turn inspired Michelangelo's dome in the Vatican. It is now known as the Church of St Mary and the Martyrs, and holds the tombs of Victor Emmanuel 11 and Raphael. I wished I had more time to spend at this site because as soon as I walked in it was sooo amazing as was everything in Rome!
The Front of the Pantheon

Me standing near the huge columns outside the Pantheon
The Colosseum and the Roman Forum:
I already talked about both of these in my first blog about Rome but we went back to get some less hungover shots this day lol
My girls and I outside the Colosseum

Me looking fresher outside the Colosseum

The Roman Forum ruins

The Roman Forum ruins
The Mouth of Truth (Bocca della Verita):
Formally a drain cover, this 2, 200 year old face was supposedly used as an ancient truth telling device-the mouth would bite the hand off anyone who tells a lie when placed inside the mouth. The girls and I along with a huge line of tourists lined up for our photo with our hands inside the mouth. I am a little superstitious and couldn't bring myself to tell a lie when my hand was inside the mouth even though I knew it wouldn't do anything. I didn't want any bad karma coming my way from the Ancient Roman gods!ha
The girls and I at the Mouth of Truth

Me and the Mouth of Truth in Rome
The Spanish Steps:
They are what they are-a bunch of steps-but impressive ones at that!138 stairs lead up to a huge church, Trinita del Monte at the top. This was our meeting point to get picked up after a huge day in Rome and Mia told us that it was extremely rare for the stairs to be covered in bright flowers which was great for us to see. Movies such as 'The Roman Holiday' and 'The Girls of the Spanish Steps' feature the Spanish steps in them which was kind of interesting.
Me standing on the Spanish Steps in Rome

Me and the Spanish Steps

Me walking the streets of Rome with the Piazza del Popolo behind me 
The girls and I also bought our shirts near the Spanish Steps for the 'white Roma t-shirt' party that was being held at the camping grounds that night. After our massive day in Rome we all left together to catch the Metro back to our camping site. We then started getting ready for the party and I remember feeling so exhausted but had to party on with the rest of our group. Our Contiki group everyone was keen to party every night which was great because it made me go out alot more than I would have if I was at home. Back home I will only ever usually have two huge nights in a row at the most because I usually get so sick but on Contiki I managed to solider on. My friends back home tell me they are very shocked!lol

The White T-Shirt Party:
We all got our white t-shirts on and headed up to the kiosk to grab some vodka and snacks to begin drinking. We were all quite happy and giggly when we entered the party of two huge Contiki groups and started dancing almost straight away. Everyone was writing messages on each others shirts and I remember just wanting to dance rather than write messages lol We had so much fun that night and I danced with all the girls, Steven was up on the stage until he misjudged how close he was to the edge and fell clean off and Rachael had her eyes on a hottie from the other group!lol

After finding out that Jess used to take pole dancing classes and was a pole dancing instructor when she was studying at uni, we hassled her to get up and show us some of her moves. She didn't get up until much later in the night when not many people were there so she didn't seem skanky but when she did OMG she was sooo good!She knew how to do so many cool holds and looked amazing up there on the pole!Go Jess!We were cheering her on and then tried to take off some of her pole dancing moves lol
Jess and Steven at the white t-shirt party

Getting crazy in Rome

Me, Jess and Tamara dancing up!

Vodka and snacks before the party :))

In the cabin before we got drunk lol

Me and Rach with our pizza hats on

Drunk in Roma

Me and Steven

Jess doing her thing on the pole woo hoo!
A scary experience:
It was getting late and we were pretty much the last ones in the club when we decided to go up to the reception area and check our facebooks in the wifi zone. We were laying on the road doing snow angels on the gravel apparently when these two guys and I can't even remember what they looked like walked out. We had been talking about McDonald's and how much we were craving it since being in Europe, as it wasn't at any of the services stops we had visited. They two local men must have heard us and said they knew where the Maccas was, stupidly Jess, Tara and I immediately asked them to take us there!They got a baby seat out of the car and we jumped in....Apparently Tamara was telling us the whole time not to get in the car but we were too drunk to reason...

We were laughing and trying to communicate with the young men until we realised we had been driving for quite awhile and hadn't seen any McDonald's signs along the way. They were being very suss and I remember thinking, shit this is a bad situation!The three of us started to sober up at the thought this could turn ugly and not only that-it was really unsafe. We were whispering to each other and said 'at the next set up traffic lights let's jump out of the car and run!'. We drove for a few hundred metres and finally there was a red light. Jess and Tara swung the doors open so fast but I couldn't get my seat belt undone!Jess was yelling at me and trying to pull me out of the car when finally it came loose. Blankets and kids toys fell out all over the road so I picked up the blanket and we all started running. We hid in a dark spot until we saw them drive off....Then we ran to the nearest food shop we could find to stay safe and of course have a drunken night snack. We ended up staying until they kicked us out at about 3am whilst eating bagels and chips with mayo mmmm

I didn't know whether to include this in my blog as I can already see my parents faces while I'm writing this but I had to include it. I can't believe we were all so stupid and although nothing happened and we will never know where they were taking us (to Maccas or somewhere else) I'm glad we had some brains to get out of a bad situation. After getting a taxi back to the camping grounds Tamara was there to greet us with some no to happy words. She was the mum that we all needed that night to whack some sense into us!
Eating bagels after our scary situation

Me shoveling down a bagel
Love The Roma Loving Backpacker

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