I cannot even do justice in explaining how cool Italy was first off. Prior to coming to Europe there were only a handful of places I knew i would have liked to visit and Rome was one of them so I had been looking forward to this trip for a while. I got there about 3pm on saturday afternoon and was picked up from the airport by a friend who showed me where to get a map and a public transportation ticket. She then had to go work on a paper for a class so I was off on my own. I was not really sure what to do first but then thought about what i may end up doing with the group of friends who were coming later that night. So I set off first to see the Spanish Stairs which I did not know much about but they were really cool, not sure the history behind them along with a lot of the other stuff but will definitely look in to it in the future. Those were really sweet and after some pictures and an amazing slice of pizza folded into a sandwhich i was off to look for the Trevi Fountain. The Trevi fountain was one of my favorite things in Rome and I'm not sure why, I had no idea what it looked like prior to going and no idea how immense it really was. I was in awe when I saw it because there was so much design and like there was basically an entire buidling side dedicated solely to this fountain. I also enjoyed the overwhelming sound of rushing water from the waterfall in the middle of the fountain and just the general joyous attitude around the fountain while people were tossing coins and making wishes. I then wondered around randomly map in hand constantly stopping to take pictures of random things that I had absolutely no idea what they were but they were all unlike anything i had ever seen in my life. It was seriously like the stuff you see in text books but like i was seeing it in person. Even things like this mall i strolled into randomly had huge pillars outside and like huge ceilings with very intricate designs. The next big stop i made for the night was the Pantheon. This was one of the things that I knew was in Rome and was pretty excited to see but not sure why haha. When I got there i was a little dissapointed because they had scaffolding put up on half of it which is something that is really beggining to annoy me because there is construction on everything in Europe like almost all the monuments or big buildings are all being worked on, so annoying but oh well. Besides that it still did really make me stop and think about how this is the building i've seen in movies and in textbooks my whole life and seeing the words on the front of it was soo cool, that was really what did it for me, just made it kind of surreal. The inside of the Pantheon was also really sweet even though i really had never heard much about the insides or seen anything about it. It was now a type of church/holy place with an alter and paintings and sculptures all around. After I left the pantheon I did quite a bit of wandering around again, seeing random plazzas and fountains and buildings highlighted on the map which were all spectactular. Until I randomly stumbled upon this irish pub named "Scholars" which only looked familiar because my friend who is studying there told me about it and how that is where they went to watch American sports. Since it was saturday and I was well aware that the Michigan vs. Ohio State game was on I decided to stroll in and watch the remainder of the game. Now my night from that point on was an amazing experience where the only thing really bad was the outcome of the game haha. I will definitely blog about that tomorrow I hope which is a whole other story in itself. But skipping that. We come to Sunday Morning after I met my friends and we stayed the night in our hostel we made our way to another country, the Vatican. We made it there around ten or so due to some of the kids not wanting to get out of bed so early (actually not me). Once we go there we wandered around the area for quite some time and my italian roommate had informed me that the Pope spoke every sunday at noon so we waited around until sure enough he popped his head out of a window and did some readings and addressed the people in the square, which was absolutely packed, in about 7 different languages blessing them all and thanking them for stopping by. I did not get a chance to get into the sistine chapel because there was about a 4 hour wait and needed to make it to the colleseum by 2 because it closed around 3. Sure enough though we caught the metro and made it there in time. It costs about 12 euros to get in but was definitely worth it. This was another one of those things that you see so many pictures of it and read about but i was actually there and walking around in places where some really crazy things used to occur. I walked around reading as much as I could and it still amazed me at some of the stuff that went on there. The Colleseum itself was so massive too. Like i know it was supposed to be big but wow. It's crazy to think that it was built so long ago before they had any modern technology or machines to assist them really. The other thing about Rome and italy in general was the food. The best part about it though was that even though it was amazing, it was also cheap compared to other places. The pizza there was incredible by far the best pizza i have ever eaten in my life and the gelatos were equally amazing. I did not get too much pasta while there but the pasta I did get was good. Monday morning we got up at 5 am and caught a 4 hour train to Florence at 6. Once we got there everyone was in a good mood and just having a great time i think it was the lack of sleep but everyone was very chipper, more so than usual haha. Florence was just one of those cities which was really cool, kind of like Bruges. Florence had a little more to offer than Bruges but it was equally as pretty of a city. There was a huge church there and so much artwork everywhere. Random fountains and more sculptures than I had ever seen in my life. We did eventually find the museum where the famous statue of David was held but for some insane reason it was closed on Mondays. We were a little upset by that but after wandering a little more we did find a replica which was the same exact size of the real one and was an exact replica so I guess i was pretty satisfied with that. It would have been neat to see the real one but hey you win some you lose some. That night after a little shopping around an a nap we decided to chill at a little pub nearby and get a drink. We asked the place what was good and this guy reccomended a shandy if we had never had one before so me and a couple other guys decided to get a pint of shandy which turned out to be half lager half lemonade and all good (haha lame i know). But anyway that was a nice time where we had a drink and caught the second half of the Barcelona vs. Real Madrid game. The next morning i caught another 6 am train back to Rome where there were some sort of riots going on in the streets which didnt totally surprise me because my friend who studied there was telling me about them. It was mainly a bunch of people marching down the streets chanting in italian which was rather cool at first but come to find out later they were protesting the government and something with public transportation, not good for me who decided to hop on the metro take it a few stops over and see a couple more things before having to catch my plane home. I ended up having to walk close to 2 1/2 miles back to catch a bus to the airport which was also delayed due to the increased traffic fromt the halt of public transportation. Long story short after about 12 hours of public transportation that day i made it back to Maastricht and returned to some white powdery stuff on the ground which was a really nice surprise!
I will post pictures within a couple of days on Facebook from the adventure and as usual if you have any questions feel free to ask because i had to condense some of the story and also as i said i will blog again soon about some of the other things going on here!