Today/Yesterday (since it all kinda blurs together going around the world, was a long one for sure. I started with my flight out of Omaha at 5:45pm on Wednesday. That flight went to Detroit, where I had a one hour layover time, and of course my flight landed at one end of the airport, and my next gate was clear on the other side of this large airport. I really had to hustle to get to the other side and grab some food for supper to take on the flight. That flight was from Detroit to Paris, and it was a seven hour flight, while you also gained 6 more hours from flying that way. It was about 11:20am on the 10th by the time my flight arrived, but unfortunately, the “skyway” (the walkway from the plane into the airport) was “broken,” so I ended up sitting in the plane for another 45 minutes or so. This would have been okay if I had not had only about an hour and a half between flights. Then going through customs in France was ridiculous… I first had to get my boarding pass from the help desk, and she said that I was already late for the check in time, but if I hurried, I could get on it. Yeah right, maybe if there wasn’t a ridiculously long line at customs and I didn’t have to have all my baggage checked again… This alone took about 30 minutes, so I missed that flight. They put me on the next one to Rome, but that wasn’t for another couple hours, so I chilled in the Paris airport for a little bit. When we finally took off on that flight, which took off late, I finally landed in Rome! It was such a relief, but I was confused since I could not find customs to actually check my passport and stuff, so I just somehow ended up outside. I made my way over to get transportation to the hotel and this went fairly well. I was told to take the train, but when I got to the area to buy the ticket, the lady told me to just ride this shuttle that would take me right by there. The shuttle bus driver was a little crazy, just like about all the other Italian drivers. We were in one of those tall Mercedes vans and he was just putting the petal to the metal, riding people’s bumpers about 1 foot behind them, not necessarily driving in the defined lanes (which apparently is acceptable here since others were doing the same), and talking on the phone while driving this stick shift van! It was quite the interesting time. A funny moment happened when he was listening to the radio and these guys were speaking Italian and then all the sudden, The Final Countdown by Europe began playing. The reason I thought it was funny was because it was ironic that I was in Europe listening to Europe. Haha! Anyways, then after dropping the other people in the shuttle off at their hotel, he let me off and told me that my hotel was right down this street to the left. Thinking that there would be a good indication for the hotel on the street somewhere, I just wandered down it. I couldn’t find it anywhere down that street, so I began asking around about it. I found the street that it was located on, but couldn’t find the hotel. I wandered up and down that street until I finally asked a policeman sitting in this random booth thing on the side of the road. He then told me it was right down the street from me about 25 meters. I walked over that way, still not perceiving the location of the hotel until he whistled at me and I pointed to these big black doors. Sure enough, there was a little gold sign with our hotel’s name on it, Hotel Mimosa. I buzzed the door and it unlocked. I walked in just as our whole group was standing there with Dr. Erdogmus discussing the plans for dinner, just in time! I quickly changed and we went out as a group to eat and then went and got gelato! I love fruit and I love ice cream/frozen yogurt, and this was like the best of all of those things. I got strawberry and lemon flavors, and it was delicious. Now I am back at the hotel and ready to call it a long, tiring, eventful day.
Today was extremely exciting! We got our first chance to go explore the ancient Roman architecture and other creations. I have wanted to see some of these places my whole life, and today I got to see them. We woke up bright and early this morning at 7:30am for breakfast and then we headed down in the direction toward where most of the stuff we saw today was located.
First we walked by one of the government buildings. Then we arrived at our first important landmark, Trajan’s Column. It is a column built to commemorate Roman Emperor Trajan’s victory in the Dacian Wars. It tells the story in pictures spiraling up all the way around it. Right behind it, there is also the Trajan Forum with ruins of columns and walls.
We then made our way over to perhaps the most famous place in all of Rome, the Colosseum. It was really incredible to see how big it was especially with the masonry and limestone construction. It is just incredible how they would able to do all of this work and have it last for so long, and we are still trying to come up with better solutions for restoration of these types of construction. Then after staying in the Colosseum for a while and doing my first sketch assignment, we moved on to the Arch of Constantine, which is just outside of the exit to the
Colosseum. From there we walk a short distance to Palatine Hill which is where Rome was founded according to their myths and legends. There are a lot of ruins with masonry construction, gardens, and pillars. The scenery around this location really identifies with the idea of the Mediterranean vegetation and landscape.
After we spent quite a while there walking around and eating a picnic lunch, we traversed down to the Roman Forum. This was like the downtown market area of ancient Rome. There we were able to see the remains the Temple of Saturn, the Temple of Vesta, Temple of Castor and Pollux, Arch of Titus, and other artifacts and artwork from the ancient time periods. From there, we had to walk up a long flight of stairs to get to the Capitoline Museums. There are three museums that are connected together by tunnels, stairs, and elevators. Inside, there were a lot of statues, stone engravings, and a magnificent view of the Roman Forum from above.
The courtyard area there has a replica statue of the real statue that is inside of Marcus Aurelius. The stairs leading and the courtyard are called, “Capitoline Hill” and were designed by Michelangelo. They look pretty cool, but slanted stairs are not particularly appreciated by those trying to walk on them. Haha.
Anyways, we were then finished with our scheduled learning activities for the day and we went back to the hotel to rest and get cleaned up from the hot, sweaty day. I decided to get all of my photos onto my computer and use the gps coordinates that my camera took for most of them and get the labeled so that I could remember all the different things we saw. Then we went out for our first official group dinner, which was very good, and chat for a while. Then we walked around one of the piazzas where they have all sorts of artists performing, both painting and musical, people walking around, and restaurants buzzing. Then Kate and I managed to find our way back to the hotel, and now I will be finishing up my notes for my presentation tomorrow on St. Peter’s Basilica.
down), Baldacchino di San Pietro by Bernini and others.
The other impressive parts of the basilica are Michelangelo’s Dome, which is one of the largest in the world. The building was quite impressive in its shear mass alone, but also in the details of the domes and the 140 statues that surround St. Peter’s Square on the colonnades. It was very cool to see some of this famous art that I had heard about in my Intro to Design class for architecture this last semester.
Then we made our way over to the Vatican Museum. It was one of the longest, biggest, fullest museums of art that I have ever seen or heard of! We were continuously walking around for several hours just looking at all of the sculptures, tapestries, paintings, painted rooms, and other forms of art. We walked through for a long time seeing statue after statue and paintings after paintings. It was so overwhelming to see the huge collection of art. We finally made it to the rooms that I was really looking forward to, the room Rafael painted and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. In Rafael’s room, I got to see “The School of Athens,” which I have seen in many different places in literature and I did not actually know where it was until we got here and were told we would be seeing it. Then we had to traverse through more of the art until we finally made it to the Sistine Chapel! It was amazing to see the detail and amount of work that had to be put into creating this masterpiece. I did not realize that there were so many different scenes depicted on the ceilings and on the walls. It was amazing to finally see the famous portrait depicting God giving life to Adam! Seeing these famous works of art in real life has been an incredible experience. You may be able to see the art and appreciate it, but the context provides so much more perspective to the meaning of the art. Then after making our way through 3 gift shops and a little more art, we finally made our way out of the Vatican Museum.
Then we went and had lunch at a local pizzeria. Next we made our way to the Castel Sant’Angelo which was the tomb of the Roman emperor Hadrian, a Papal fortress and residence, and a prison. We got to go to the terrace on top of the castle which has an incredible view of most of the ancient part of Rome. Then we were finally done with our class part of the day.
First we headed over to the Pantheon, which is only about 1 or 2 minutes away from our hotel. We had been to the piazza in front of it a few times before, but I had not actually gone into it yet. The front colonnade is quite impressive, but the backside shows lots of deterioration, so I wasn’t expecting much from the inside. But to my pleasant surprise, it was quite incredible. It showed little wear and tear for such an old building. We were assigned to do a sketch of something with the Pantheon, so I did a sketch of the front façade and colonnade. Next, we went and visited Area Sacra Di Largo Argentina which was a sort of test forum before the Roman Forum was built. It was built in a very close area, so it did not have enough room to really expand. It is significant because this is where they believe that Julius was assassinated. This area has also become a homeless cat no-kill shelter, so we played the game of counting the amount of roman cats in the forum. Haha!
Today we were scheduled to go listen to some lectures at the local university at their engineering building. I didn’t get my camera battery charged before this afternoon, so I only got a couple pics this morning with my cell phone camera. We got up and ready at 8:30am and walked over to the university, which was located closely to the Colosseum. When we arrived there, we met a one of the faculty, Dr. Stephania Arangio, who Dr. Erdogmus knew, and she with a few other professors and PhD students shared about their research that they have worked on and are currently working on. After this, Dr. Arangio showed us around their engineering building which the upperclassman students have classes in, which is off the main campus. She also shared a little about how the college experience, student attitudes, and universities in general were different in Italy from ours in America. It was very interesting the things that she said and talked about; it makes me very happy and pleased that I get to study at the university that I do. Then went and saw the church that is right next door to that engineering building which had a sculpture by Michelangelo. After that we went to lunch and took a subway to go see the main campus for Università La Sapienza in Rome. There campus is a small campus for the size of the university; they have around 145,000 students who go there and it was probably no bigger than UNO. It was interesting to just see all the students hanging out laying in the grass around campus. After she showed us around a little bit, we took the subway back to the Colosseum and walked back to the hotel. We talked about preparing for leaving tomorrow for Florence, and then we just relaxed in the hotel and I caught up on my journaling/blogging and just rested.
Day 16 – Paestum
Day 17 – Paestum II
These were quite large, some of the largest ancient structures with giant pillars that we got to see, and I thought they were a neat thing to see as the last major part of this trip. Then we were able to go visit a museum of artifacts and pieces of the buildings from the town that they could not leave out in the ruins. There were quite a few pots, some coins, and statues. Then we left our last place we were visiting for class.
Today was kind of a travel and housekeeping day to get everything in order for everyone to depart and go their separate ways. We got up and ready to go at 8am and had breakfast. We tried to leave as soon as everyone was finished with breakfast, but as soon as we got the bus started, we got stuck in the mud from the serious rain we had the night before. The lightning last night was so cool and different from most times because the storm and lightning must have been right over the top of us; the thunder was so loud and immediate after the lightning, I had never heard or seen anything like it. So anyway, we all got out of the bus and started pushing.
It had to rock back and forth about 5 times, but we finally managed to get it out of the rut and onto solid ground again. After that, it was pretty smooth sailing the rest of the bus ride; we made it back to the hotel where we stayed the first time we were in Rome by about 1pm or so, and then we headed off for lunch. We had a group meeting at 6pm that night and got everything squared away with going to the airport and just getting ready to go our separate ways. Then we went out and had supper later that evening and we had a really good time. We had some of the best servers, no, the best servers we have had the entire trip tonight! They were great, teasing us and having fun. They even gave us some free drinks! It was awesome! Then we headed back to the hotel to regroup before going out for one last hurrah of gelato.