Friday, October 17, 2008

Day 9: Roman Holiday

My mom's birthday started off quite well. We woke up in a great hotel room, and then sat on the terrace to eat a wonderful breakfast with fruit! I can't express in words the joy I felt when I saw fruit, real fruit, on the buffet table. I hadn't eaten fruit for breakfast, or any time of the day really, since we had started on our trip. Yes, I loved that hotel.

She only had two requests for her special day. 1- to take a bus tour around the city, and 2- to go to the Trevi Fountain. So, we did just that... and managed to throw in a few other things as well.The hotel had suggested a tour bus line to use, but instead we took the first one we found. Bad idea. The dialog didn't correlate with the buildings we were passing by. They obviously didn't use a satellite navigating system for the narration. After a while I gave up, and was content with just looking around. My mom only became frustrated.
Our first hop-off location we took advantage of was at the Vatican. The Saint Peter’s Church is beautiful. We later learned that when the Priests were building the Vatican, they had taken the marble from other buildings (which are now ruins) and used it on the church,... which took away some of its beauty in my eyes. 

I loved, however, that there was a dress code to enter the holy grounds. Your shoulders and knees have to be covered in order to enter. Good thing we wear that dress code daily, because there were many people turned away. The size of the church is huge... and we spent much more time in there than we imagined we would. 

However, I was able to check another thing off my list of “things I never knew I wanted to do before I die” as we watched a part of mass in the Vatican. Although it was just a Bishop performing the service since the Pope wasn’t in town.

After leaving the church, we got some gelato for lunch and made our way over to the Sistine chapel. We were told by a guy at a t-shirt stand that unfortunately the chapel was closed for the day. So, instead we hopped back on… and off the bus. We walked around and looked at Italian leather purses for the next hour our two.

During that walk we neared my mom’s 2nd birthday request: going to the Trevi fountain to make a birthday wish. Apparently the Trevi fountain is THE fountain to make wishes in. So my mom had coins from 3 different countries (US, EURO, and Swiss Frank) to make her 1 wish. We weren't sure which coin had greater wish granting powers. But, we've come to realize that the chances of your wish being granted in the Trevi fountain are about as much as if you threw coins in a fountain at your local shopping mall. At least it is well maintained by the contributions of naive tourists who's hopes are later shattered from an unanswered wish.
Not wanting to let our money go to waste, we hopped back on the bus and let it take us to the one place I wanted to see that day: the bocca della verita (or mouth of truth). It's where Gregory Peck scared Audrey Hepburn by pretending he lost his hand, after sticking it in the mouth. ...And it's also where liars in ancient Rome were taken to in hopes that they would confess, due to fear of having their hands bitten off. It is quite the frightening experience, not knowing if you'll have a hand left after sticking it in the mouth... we both walked away with our 10 fingers intact.

For the next few hours we wondered around Rome, walking the circus maximus and the surrounding areas. *Just a word of advice for anyone planning on visiting the city: whenever you see a bathroom, use it... you never know when you'll find the next one.* We walked past Palatino and made our way over to the Coliseum metro stop and went to the hotel to wash up.

We asked the concierge working that day to book us a restaurant for my mom's birthday dinner. The restaurant ended up being in a beautiful corner of the city, and had a great atmosphere. However, the food wasn't that great. My mom enjoyed it though, and that's really what mattered, since it was her birthday.

After our three hour meal was over, we took a midnight stroll around the area, and made our way back over to the Trevi fountain once more to see it all lit up. It really is a beautiful fountain, even if all it does is steal your money.

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