Easter Holidays are coming to a close and I have returned to campus with the memories of an amazing month of traveling that was both intriguing and exciting while being exhausting all at the same time. I traveled to 9 different countries and a plethora of cities and towns. I saw some truly amazing places and met up with friends and family that I had not been able to see for awhile. It was truly an experience that I will never forget and never repeat.
Easter holiday began on Friday, March 16th after a midterm exam which was scheduled for 4pm the Friday before break, what teacher does that to students? so cruel, but I survived. My parents arrived on the morning of the 17th in Brighton and it was wonderful seeing them again and eating “real” food at wonderful restaurants all around Brighton and of course going to all the touristy places again like the Royal Pavilion and Brighton Pier.
After spending a couple days in Brighton we continued the adventure by train to London. Where we walked, and walked, and walked some more. We did take public transportation but it still felt like we did an awful lot of walking. It was really cool cause I once again got to see all the really touristy places but then I went into some of the places that I hadn’t before like the Tower of London where we got to see the Crown Jewels!
The White Tower at the Tower of London
And the memorial to all the people beheaded at the tower and the places where the prisoners were kept and such. It was quite an interesting place to see, because there was just so much history there. We also went to the British Library
where we got to see the Magna Carta, which was really interesting to see because of it’s slight influence on the future government of the United States. The final sight that we saw that I hadn’t been to before was the British Museum. The Museum was really cool with a plethora of interesting artifacts including the Rosetta Stone but at the same time it was interesting to think about how much was given willingly and how much was stuff that the British took from the places that they colonized.
After two wonderful days in London, we took a super early morning flight to Rome. Upon arriving in Rome we walked past Roman ruins and a huge Piazza to get to the Coliseum, which was so big! The first thing I noticed in Rome was how different it was from all the other European cities I had been to at that point. I could definitely see the more southern and Roman influence on the city. It had older streets with cobblestones and roads that just sort of changed directions or became very narrow. I definitely would not want to drive around in Rome especially having just come from England where they drive on the left side of the road. After the coliseum we went to the Capitoline Museum in order to see the newly released Vatican documents. It was interesting to note how many of the documents that the Vatican released didn’t seem to have anything to do with religion or Christianity but were just general significant documents. Finally we just decided to walk through Rome and see some of the sights and side streets. We walked to the Trevi fountain, which was overcrowded with tourists, and continued on towards the Pantheon, which
The Laocoon Statue
also had a lot of tourist. But the Pantheon was so large that you could still experience the impressive nature of building and the vast amount of people wasn’t nearly as much of a distraction as it was at the Trevi fountain. Then we finally found our way to Piazza Navona which had artists just set up with their paintings and drawings all around the fountains and the Piazza trying to sell their artwork. It reminded me quite a lot of the Montmartre region in Paris.
The next day we went on a tour of the Vatican. I was so glad we had a tour guide because I heard stories and learned information about the different statues and artwork that I never would have known otherwise. For instance, the Laocoon statue was of a priest of Troy who tried to warn the Trojans about the horse but the gods were on the side of Paris, so they sent sea serpents to kill Laocoon and his sons. Also the painter who painted the Pope’s rooms that were painted at the same time as Michelangelo was painting the Sistine Chapel was heavily influenced by the Sistine Chapel, because he had only finished one room before the Chapel was revealed and his subsequent 3 rooms were clearly different and influenced by what he saw in the Sistine Chapel. After the pope’s rooms we moved on to see the Sistine Chapel, which was amazing but at the same time I thought that there were almost too many figures in the room and it was hard to focus on any portion of the artwork. Needless to say it was not my favorite spot although it was very impressive.
Finally, we made our way to St. Peter’s Basilica, which is one of the four major basilica’s in Rome.
The Canopy over the Altar in St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter’s is probably one of the most impressive buildings that I have ever seen in my life. The walls are as tall as the Coliseum, and the huge dome designed by Michelangelo is so impressive. Not to mention the canopy over the altar that was designed by Bernini. After leaving the Vatican, we headed towards the Borghese and the Spanish steps. The next day we went out to the Appian Way, which is the oldest highway that heads straight out of Rome. There are lots of Catacombs where Christians were buried in the early times when Romans were against Christianity so they could not be buried in the city.
The road itself was quite impressive because the stones that made up the road were enormous. I cannot even begin to imagine how long it took to construct the Appian Way and make it a functional road. And to think that I was walking where Romans used to walk, it was quite strange.
So the following day was quite interesting. We took a train out to Fara Sabina where we were supposed to be picked up to go on an olive oil countryside tour, however the person never showed up to get us, so we waited awhile to catch the next train back into Rome. On our way to Rome my dad and I were looking at the map and decided to get off a couple train stops before our intended destination and catch the metro to go see Santa Maria Basilica, which is one of the 4 major basilicas in the world as well. It was a very impressive church but not nearly as amazing as St. Peter’s. I began to get bored of looking at the church though and decided to wait outside for my parents, so I walked outside. And as I went outside what looked like a tour group walked up so I sort of stepped to the side but then I actually looked at the group and realized I saw one of my friends that was studying in Rome and then I recognized another person. So finally I called out my friend’s name and he just sort of looked at me like is that really Michelle? It was so weird, but we talked to to each other for a little but he had to continue on with his class. That was one of the most amazing parts of the trip though because I wasn’t even supposed to be in Rome I was supposed to be exploring the olive oils in the countryside but in a city of millions of people I happened upon one of my University friends from back home.
The next day I left Rome and my parents to head on towards the rest of my travels, but I will save those for another post soon to come.
P.S. Wish you were here.