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Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Life in Ruins

Back on track, Thursday 02 July, afternoon.
After a quick change to Rome's only other train line we took off to the ancient city center where Roman Forum and Colosseum are. As soon as you exit the metro the Colosseum looms above you. If you can take your eyes off it for a moment and look to the right you see an expanse of ruins that were once the city center of Rome and this is where we are going first.
I need to mention now one thing that Rome has that neither Paris nor anywhere in the US has, drinkable public water that is readily accessible and free. All over the city there are decorative fountains that one can use to get a drink, wash their hands, refill water bottles or just splash some cool water on their face.
These fountains saved us at the ruins. We spent nearly 5 hours outside in the sun and probably drank about a gallon of water each. We got our tickets, which were good for both the forum and the Colosseum, and started walking. The entire site is a monumental walk and even though we spent several hours here we were unable to see everything.
I was familiar with many of the buildings, the forum, the temple of Vesta and house of Vestals, the Arch of Constantine, Titus, Severus, etc, but I had no idea just how big this area was, or how many buildings once stood.
We have hundreds of pictures. It was really hard for me to decide which to use here.
This is me in front of the House of Vestals, which is of course funny if you know me and that I lived in Vestal, NY. It is also ironic in that here I am again in my shoulder bearing dress standing before the house of the virginal temple maidens who were probably best known for their modest clothing that covered most of their bodies. I'm still not sure why 16 of them left for the coast, or what coast for that matter. Though I do know that after 5 hours of exploration I was no longer a whiter shade of pale myself.
And so a while later.....
*sorry couldn't help it!(Remind me later and I'll do a fun entry on this song, which remains one of my favorites, or would that be favourites?)

Once we were done exploring the forum we walked across the street to the Colosseum. As it turns out it was a good thing we bought our tickets at the forum as the line at the Colosseum was a lot longer.
I has read prior to our trip about these guys that dress as gladiators and try to extort money from unsuspecting tourists by offering to take a picture with them and then demanding money to get the camera back. We were able to wave them off, but apparently these people were not. I hope they held on to their cameras.
The Colosseum was impressive in as much that a majority of the original structure was still intact, but it wasn't nearly as interesting as the rest of the ruins. I may also harbor a prejudice against the Colosseum based on my knowledge that events there were in fact even more gruesome than even the most historically accurate movies have divulged.
Did you, for example, know that much like
sports venues of today, the Colosseum sold souvenirs such as cups with the event names etched into them and scarves bearing the markings of the different teams? Yes, watching heretics, criminals, run away slaves and the neighbor you just didn't like get mauled to death by lions or just kill each other was just as thrillingly mundane as watching the Yankees. In fact, well liked champions would endorse various shops and services in return for money or better gear. Think about that next time Labron or Shaq* tries to sell you something.
So, yeah, that was my diatribe.

We then had dinner, ice cream and did more exploring of via Veneto and the Spanish Steps, where we decided it would be fun to play with the panoramic feature to get a shot that both Jason and I can be in. This is the result:
Notice that I messed up the middle shot so we have ghost Jason popping through the door.
Then I decided to take this picture of Jason imitating the fashion models and mannequin in this store front. The final result is shopped because the true picture added a few too many windows:
So of course then it was late so we went back to our balcony to look at stuff.

*Great, I'm trying to have a serious moment of disgust and I've got this running amok in my brain:
Just imagine Shaq in a gladiator outfit and raising a glass:
"Hi, I'm Shaq. after a hard day of killing punk asses and lions I like to cool off with a tall glass of Old Sparta's Best. It's refreshingly lead-filled, but won't fill you up."

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