Day 1240

Monday, June 6, 2016

Fly Home - Rome to Atlanta to SFO

After a filling breakfast, we left our hotel at 8:55 and took the Leonardo Express to the airport.  It seemed so easy when we walked into Terminal 3, but soon we realized we needed to go to Terminal 5.  We took an airport shuttle to T5, stood in line, went through two security check points, stood in another line, then dropped off our bags and took another bus back to T3, a good 50 minutes of check points and passport checks. 

We had an hour or so wait for our flight to Atlanta.  I read and watched movies most of the way.  I watched Black Mass, a gritty gangster film staring Johnny Depp, and the Cohen Brothers' Hail Caesar. 

We caught our connecting flight in Atlanta and left for San Francisco around 5 p.m.  Unfortunately, Alice misplaced her iPhone between flights.  She realized she didn't have it at our boarding gate to SF.  Delta was little help in connecting with someone on the Rome flight we'd just left.  When we arrived home, we filled out a lost property form, but I seriously doubt we'll ever see the phone again.  The phone is replaceable, but the pictures inside them aren't.  Oh well.

The final leg of our trip was quite and uneventful.  I listened to music and tried to sleep.  We arrived in San Francisco around 11 p.m. and took a Lyft car back to Alice's.  We were in bed by 12:30 a.m.  What a trip!  I won't forget how wonderful this trip was.  I won't forget Rome and Barcelona, two cities I need to return to.  

Day 1239 (Rome)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Rome, Italy

Our last full day in Europe was busy.  We woke up around 7, had breakfast downstairs (which was fantastic, lots of food, lots of choices, everything wonderful from breads and pastries to eggs, orange juice, bagels, bacon, toast, cereal.

Our first stop was the Colosseum.  It was free Sunday and the line was long by 9 a.m.  We had other sights to see, so we didn't go inside.  Instead, we walked the perimeter of the amphitheater, then walked to the Arch of Constantine and Arch of Titus.  Being around these ancient buildings inspires the kind of historic awe that's hard to describe.  This place is so famous and brings to life a civilization that lasted a thousand years but is no more.  It puts life in perspective.  In the end, we're all reduced to ruins and rubble when enough time has passed.  

Colosseum, 80 AD

Arch of Constantine, 312 AD

Arch of Titus, 80 AD
We took the metro back to Termini Station and the B line to the Spanish Steps, which were closed, so we continued on to Trevi Fountain.  The place was packed and I must say the fountain looked utterly spectacular.  I later learned the fountain had been recently restored and reopened seven months ago.  The water looked so clear and the sculptures looked so clean.  I threw my coin over my left shoulder, so I should be back soon enough.

Trevi Fountain,1762

We walked through winding streets until we reached the main attraction of the trip, and one of the most amazing buildings on earth, the Pantheon.  I was in awe walking inside.  Any building that can remain standing after nearly two thousand years is worth visiting.  We paid homage to Raphael's tomb and sat at a bench for about 15 minutes, taking in the quiet and the sliver of sun from the central source of light.  It was a magical moment I won't forget.
The Pantheon, 126 AD

After the Pantheon, we entered a few churches along via del Seminario on our way to bus 40, including the Saint Ignazio church, which has an extraordinary interior.  The ceiling frescos by Andrea Pozzo are breathtaking in their beauty and magistry. Alice purchased a few more rosaries for friends and I bought two for my former coworker Cheryl. 

On our way back to our hotel, we took Bus 40 on a scenic drive around Rome, passing by the enormous Museo Centrale del Risorgimento.

We reached our hotel around 3 p.m. and took a short nap.  Alice and I then visited the National Museum of Rome just two blocks away.  We saw so many amazing Roman frescos, statues, busts, and this famous bronze sculpture of a weathered boxer at rest. 

Boxer at Rest, 330 BC

The Hellenistic Prince, 330 BC
Pixel art, circa 10 BC
After walking around the museum for an hour and exploring the coinage college on the basement floor, it was time for dinner.  We headed back to our hotel, collected Austin (who needed a little alone time), and went out for pizza.  We liked the Condor Restaurant so much we went back again.  The food was yummy as always.  The pizza was simple and tasty.

By 9 p.m., it was time for bed.  The Warriors were playing the first game of the final series against Cleveland that morning, but we were too tired to watch, and weren't even sure if the game was on.  Sure enough, it was on one of the Italian stations.  We watched the last ten minutes of the game, but it was already a rout.

Day 1238 (Rome)

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Civitavacchia, Italy - Rome, Italy - End of Cruise

We woke up around 6:30, got ready, had breakfast, then met the Harrisons at Concerto Dining for disembarkation.  We left the ship around 8 a.m.  It was really smooth collecting our bags  making our way to the Civitavacchia train station (bus from ship to front of port, then another bus to the train station).  Charlie used his credit card to purchase six tickets at 5 euros each and we scrambled to catch the next train to Rome (after punching our tickets in the activation machine).  Our train stopped for about 40 minutes, which was just fine with us as it gave us more time to reminisce about the cruise.  The Harrisons left one stop before us.  We said our goodbyes, hoping we might meet up for dinner later that night but realizing after our Vatican tour that we had no energy left for any evening plans.

Alice, Austin and I arrived at the main terminal around 11.  Our hotel (Hotel UNO) was only a block away.  We checked in and went out for lunch at a nearby restaurant called the Condor.  We had pasta, salad, water and dessert for 10 euros each.  The pasta was delicious.  

Side street near our hotel

Lunch outside at the Condor restaurant

Our Vatican Museum tours began at 2:30. We took the A metro to Ottaviano and met our tour guide at a set of steps near the Vatican Cafe.  Dario was our guide and he was very knowledgeable and gracious.  We walked for several hours through one grand room or hallway after another.  The museum was enormous and the collection over-the-top, a treasure trove of art through the centuries collected by popes, princes, kings, queens, countries, Europe's most powerful figureheads.  The history was overwhelming. 

Fontana della Pigna (the Pine Cone), a former Roman Fountain
Our guide Dario, next to the Sphere within a Sphere sculpture

One of many Vatican Museum hallways filled with Roman treasures

Apollo Belvedere, 120 AD, Roman copy of bronze original

Laocoon and his Sons (27 BC - 68 AD)

The Belvedere Torso

Ceiling from the Map Room, Vatican Museum


Raphael, School of Athens

St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica

Our tour ended at 5:45.  After taking several pictures, we headed back to our hotel, had dinner at Amedeo, a nearly restaurant, then called it a night. 

Day 1237 (Pisa, Italy)

Friday, June 3, 2016

Livorno, Italy - Cruise Day 7

From our ship, we took a shuttle bus to downtown Livorno at 9:15 a.m., then a bus to Pisa from the Tuscany Bus Co.

It took maybe 30 minutes to arrive in Pisa.  We parked in a central bus area for tourists and walked about 15 minutes through town to Pisa's miracle square.  The large round baptistry is the first building we saw, followed by the Pisa cathedral, then the tower in the background

Inside the baptistry, someone sang for a few minutes, dazzling us with wonderful acoustics. 

The Camposanto memorial contained frescos that were stunning in their age and beauty. 

The Cathedral in Pisa, built in the 13th century

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most famous buildings in the world, and it lives up to its impressiveness.  Walking the 296 steps of the tower was a thrill I won't forget.  We managed to walk the tower just as the noon bells chimed out.  The weather was drizzly and cool, our first wet day of our travels.  Because it was so rainy and the marble steps of the tower were so smooth, it was slippery coming down.  

At 12:30, we left the miracle square to return to our bus.  Alice bought a Leaning Tower souvenir while Austin walked kept walking ahead of us.  We lost him and then lost our way back.  Returning to the bus wasn't as straightforward as we'd assumed.  After scrambling to find our way back (and taking a few wrong turns) we managed to return to our bus with only a few minutes to spare.  I was drenched in sweat when I sat on the bus, but glad we were back.  I'm not sure what Alice and I would have done had we missed our bus.  It was a relief to be back on our ship an hour later.