Where I Have Been Map

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Rome Away From Home

I never in my life thought I would stow away on a train. However, soon after we left Germany, I found myself crouched in the cramped space that connected two coaches, feeling every bump and losing the battle against balance, all the while looking out for ticket collectors walking randomly from coach to coach.
A couple hours earlier, we had packed and headed for the train station to leave for Rome. We went to the platform printed on our ticket and got on the train without thinking twice. The intercom on the train kept saying something in Italian, and it took four hours later until we finally tranlslated what was being said.

"We will be arriving at our final destination, Rimini, in five hours."

Rimini was not Rome, and we were in trouble.

We got off at the next stop and found a train that was destined for Rome. However, it wasn't until we were on the train that we realized all seats had to be prevously reserved. Struggling to get through multiple coaches, and hitting many angry passangers with our oversized backpacks along the way, we finally found a small and slightly dangerous coach connecting space. The space would move with every turn the train would take, and it was terrifying to look through the cracks on the floor of where we were sitting and see the ground flying under us at 60 mph. Somehow, we luckily did not get discovered by any of the ticket collectors during our uncomfortable ride.

This little space was where the four of us crammed into for the train ride! Not very comfortable

Although the journey to Rome was unconventional, it was well worth it when we finally reached Rome, and ventured out into the city the following day. Walking outside we hit a wave of sudden heat that we had not been use to. Wearing long pants and sleeved shirt did not make us any cooler, but our first destination that day was visiting the Vatican, and such apperal was necessary.
Even though by the end of the day we were drenched with sweat and overcome with exhaustion, Vatican City was the expereince of a lifetime.

Inside the Vatican, we walked into the Sistine Chapel and saw the vast collection of painting by one of the most talented artists of that era. It was hard to image how one person could picture this masterpice in his head. The whole time I was wondering if Michelangelo had to dangle upside down to complete it, when I have a hard enough time drawing a stick figure right-side-up.

The artwork of Michelangelo was undeniably beautiful, but the next place we visited containted a very different type of beauty. This beauty was something you had to feel and respect, but once you did the vastness of this beautiful cathedral left you breathless. This place was St. Peter's Basilica.

My sister and I made up a Pope remix while waitng to enter the Cathedral

We stepped into the Cathedral ironically right as a grand choir began to sing. Rays of sun began to beam in from the ceiling causing the stained glass windows to sparkle with luminescent colors. Everything came together at once and made the Cathedral come to life.

In one wing of the Church, there was a shimmering golden mosaic wall with Apostle Peter's picture on it. Under the portrait sat a statue of St. Peter himself. It is said that if you rub St. Peter's right foot, you will have good luck. My cousin Felicity misunderstood and thought she was supposed to rub her foot on the statue. Luckily, before she could strech her foot up to touch the statue, she looked around and realized the trend.

St. Peter Statue

Underneath the church lay the tombs of all the previous Popes. The tomb was nothing like I had expected. It was much smaller than the insde of the Cathedral, but just as beautiful. This room had a pure feeling because everything from the floor to the ceiling was made of white marble. However, past all the white, I could see glimpses of pure gold where each tomb lay, and every Pope's tomb had a different intricate design made especially for him. Pope John Paul II's tomb had one of the greatest impacts on me. The room was made out of white marble and in the center laid a marble stone with his name written in gold. Candles surrounded the stone and roses made of gold were placed along the floor. Many people came to kneal by his tomb and some even placed letters of prayer on the floor.

Another tomb that impacted many people was the tomb of St. Peter himself. When I looked into the tomb, I felt as if I was looking right into the past, because it's traditional gold design looked exactly like it might have looked thousands of years ago. It was separated from the rest of the room by golden stairs leading down into the candle lit room. The separation made you realize the importance of this tomb, belonging to the first Pope and only preserved resting place of all the apostles.

Looking down into St. Peter's Tomb

You do not have to be Catholic to feel the importance of this room. It is simply the feeling of being surrounded by so many people who had dedicated their lives to helping others and accomplished great things that really impacts people who step into the tomb.
After leaving St. Peter's Basilica, I did not think anything could match its size. That was until we set foot inside the Coliseum. The grand Coliseum and the entire old city was run down and covered with a dusty haze. But despite this, we could still imagine what it once looked like, and it felt as if we were walking right into the Roman era.

It was around the time we walked past the place Cesear died when we discoverd the greatest thing of our trip, at least to us.
Hanging high was a colorful flag that said PACE. Pace means peace in Italian, and this flag was the perfect souvenir for our Pace family backpacking trip. We took a picturte with the flag in front of the Coliseum. My cousin Barnaby reminded us how ironic it was to be holding a peace flag in front of a building that was meant for spectators to be entertained by death, but despite that grim not the picture turn out great.

We would have more luck with peaceful settings in the next country we visited. Afterall, Austria is said to be one of the most beautiful and serence places on the continent, and "The Sound of Music" is proof enough for that statement!

Our atempts at getting a good Pace family picture!

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