Wednesday, June 18, 2014

"Rome Sweet Home": not quite the novel

This. Week. Guys. 

We did so much in so little time I feel, but here is the run down for dear ol' Mom and Dad:

(Disclaimer: It's a very lengthy day by day run down…. #sorryimnotsorry)

Last Tuesday, the 10th we started on our adventure to Roma! It was a rather long journey, but boy oh boy was it worth it! Roma literally became like another home away from home, isn't that a wicked awesome statement to be able to make?! We toured the colosseum today and met our sweet little knowledgeable tour guide from Pennsylvania, and man did he know his stuff, and wouldn't let us forget it! We then had the afternoon to explore and find some cool new places in the city, we went to dinner with our professor followed by a lovely walk through Rome at night making me feel like I was in a movie. Later we found a pub filled with Americans doing what they do best: karaoke.

Today started out with a morning tour around ancient Rome, through the Forum, a few churches, and the Pantheon; we then had the afternoon free. I have to say the biggest let down of the day was having the Trevi Fountain OUT OF WATER! Bummer, but life goes on and we still got plenty of pictures and threw coins at the scaffoldings, workers, and fences, occasionally a few made it in the concrete basin of the fountain :) 
Then the afternoon was spent with the roomies where we walked around the upscale shops of Rome and walked through Tiffany's doing what single girls do best: sighing at the stunning engagement rings :)
We explored around the plaza by our hotel tonight and I met a few Americans from up north, what a small world!

Vatican day. I repeat. VATICAN DAY. This is not a drill. THIS IS THE DAY! And boy was it beautiful. The gardens. THE VATICAN GARDENS. Don't mind my excessive caps, but then again, go ahead and mind them because they are very needed to get my point across. WE TOURED THE VATICAN GARDENS!!!!!! 

Dr. Leo, this is my part in this post about horticulture :)

The gardens were all I hoped they would be, full of color and life, and of course beauty! Although the pictures don't do it justice, they do explain it much better than any words ever could! Pretty much every aspect I have learned thus far in my horticulture classes I have seen first hand in this garden. One of the neatest things I saw was a fig tree growing out of a palm tree! I also saw a truck pulling a rather large tree stump being transported elsewhere in the garden. It was cool to see the hard work going on for hundreds of years still going on and being well paid off!

Later, we went into the Vatican museum and saw millions of paintings and statues ending with the Sistine Chapel. From there we walked into St. Peter's to view the church. And I was in awe. Here I was, finally in the Catholic capital of the world. Walking through Vatican City. It was like a dream. We then walked to the top of the dome (more like hiked and trekked through what seemed like a billion steps) but well worth it for the most amazing views of Rome: 

Then we went for a group dinner to grab some pizza and salad, I learned how different Italian Caesar salad is and quickly declined the dressing for its thick mayonnaise like consistency. We then got some gelato, and watched the opening ceremonies and first world cup game, go Brazil!

Day of so much walking. But would it be Rome without it?
Morning: went to tour St. Peter's prison, this was a very humbling and moving to see where he was held captive. It was a very eerie, yet holy place. 
Afternoon: got lost several times looking for La Scala Santa or The Holy Stairs which were steps Jesus Christ himself had once walked upon. I had to make a few phone calls to dad for directions, but found some cool churches along the way!
Evening: FINALLY FOUND THEM, clear across the city of course! We went into the Basilica across the street to wait for the doors to open to the steps. I spent a lovely amount of time in one of the chapels and Catholic gift shops, I could definitely blow through my budget in one of those shops filled with cute little nuns behind the counter(:
We then went to the steps. The atmosphere in the room was astounding and very moving. We had walked so far to get to this place and now it was time to go up the steps. 
It is important to note these were wooden steps covering the original marble staircase with holes in the wood for you to reach down and touch it. Everyone around me was so full of emotion and carefully praying as they made their way up the steps, but no one walked on the steps, you simply climbed up on your knees. 
I couldn't take it all in. It just seemed like I was going through the motions and I quickly became frustrated with myself. I was where Jesus was. Why wasn't I sobbing? Why wouldn't it soak in?
I decided about halfway to offer up my prayers and time on the steps to one of my very sick Great Aunts, so if you are reading this, please keep her in your prayers. This change of heart definitely changed my attitude as I climbed the rest of the way.

I only learned afterwards that these were the steps Jesus walked up on THE VERY DAY of his crucifixion. That's when it hit me. I kneeled up somewhere so absentmindedly and then later realizing where I had been. That was something else. 
After spending a decent amount of time talking to the nun in the gift shop and dropping a pretty penny [euro], we hauled butt across town to try and make it to the Vatican for daily mass at St. Peters. We made it, but the line though security was too long, so to the gift shop and gelateria we went! Not quite the same, but I was not in the mood to complain after the lovely day I had. 
I then went to dinner with two friends to celebrate our last night in Roma and see the Spanish Steps and Colosseum in its night life setting. It was all purely gorgeous! 

Another travel day? You bet! We woke up, got on the bus to the train station, road to Naples, made friends with the floor (we all got pretty close with the sold out train) and then made some friends with a funny family from Naples, they were a hoot. My favorite line was the boy saying goodbye to me at the end after getting instruction from his brother on what to say, but with too much concentration it came out "Bye Katerina, It was meet you nice to" how cute is that? Precious. 
And hello. Napoli, AKA the sketchiest train station ever. If you have ever been you know what I'm talking about. If not, watch out. They are so scary. Who? Well the pick pocketers of course. They stare you down until you stare at them back and scare them off. Thankfully our boys were there to protect us and I'll give them praise for being our big bros for the day and we all got to Sant'Agnello in one piece with all our belongings. We walked over to our hostel, and it was unlike any other! It was very modern and full of college kids from all over the states. We went to dinner at a pizza place I will never return to, then took a nice plunge in the Mediterranean sea, AKA the most beautiful place in the world. I went swimming here twice today then dozed off to bed(:

Church Update: We found mass!!!!

Probably one of my favorite days of the trip, and you'll soon see why… Sarah and I started off the day bright and early in search of mass, once again, locked gates and no luck. BUT we did find out there would be a mass when we got back from our boat trip, could this really be?! It seamed way too good to be true. Well, we went on our excavation to Capri by boat, and were slightly let down by the lack of stops and snorkeling we were promised, but we did get amazing views and a quick dip into the Mediterranean sea! (It is important to note the amount of our group who got sea sick off the side of the boat, we were known as the Americans who can't handle the water… guess some people just aren't a fan on roller coaster type boat rides!) Then we walked back to the hostel, tanned on the roof, and showered before getting ready for Sarah and I's next attempt at finding mass. We rounded the last corner before reaching the little yellow colored sea side church, and alas, OPEN GATES, and get this: people were walking in! We smiled and quickly found seats in the cute little church. The lack of AC and understanding of the Italian mass were only slight dampers that could no longer rain on my parade. WE FINALLY MADE IT TO MASS IN ITALY. Happy tears definitely filled my eyes. God is good. And with patience, He will provide. If I picked up anything from the priest's homily it was "Basta Critica, più misericordia"or "Enough criticism, more mercy". How beautiful. Then we spent the evening with a good dinner, good wine, a game of soccer, and firework, star, and storm gazing on the roof with good company. Twas a beautiful day indeed. 

Today we traveled. and I mean TRAVELED, we booked it across Italy today! We spent the morning at the beach in Sant'Agnello and then left our hostel to walk to our first of three train stations. 10 hours later, and we were finally back home in Santa Chiara.
This is our catch up on sleep day and relaxation, we had class for the first time in about a week or so, and naps were a must! 

So here we are now already on Wednesday the 18th, our last catch up on sleep and relaxation day, we plan on doing laundry and more than likely getting our daily gelato fix, then its off to Florence again tomorrow!

Ciao for now, 
Katrina Zekulin 

P.S. tops props to you if you get the humor in my post's title :) 

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