Friday, June 22, 2001

06/22/01: Well. Let me say first of all that I am tuckered out. We were awfully pampered in Greece, doing hardly any walking. So Rome is killing me, because I have to be on my feet all day to get around, obviously.

Back to last Saturday, almost a week ago now! Dang. After Epidavros, the bus took us to our hotels in Nafplion. Ours was on this bluff overlooking the sea (I would say which sea it was, but my guidebook, in various maps, gave three different names for it. So.), built into some ruins. The guy who built it was buddies with the Greek President of the time (something with a P, who was incidentally buddies with Nixon), and he (the President) passed a bill legalizing building inside archeological ruins. He undid the bill the next day. But this hotel lived up to the questionable history. We had a cottage-type room, on the bottom level (so no pesky neighbors in our sights), with a magnificent view of the sea, the harbor, and the town. It was so lovely! Sigh. We had to leave in the morning.

I think I covered Olympia and Delphi, right? And Olympia seemed smaller than I'd thought, but it was still neat. The columns of the temple of Zeus are still lying from when they presumably fell during an earthquake in the 5th century, they're in order and everything. They're huge. The altar of Hera is where they light the Olympic torch, but it's just a few stones in a sort of bench formation, so recently they started using a place next to it that has some columns around it, to make it look more interesting and probably more "ancient Greek". Did I get to Delphi, after all? Oh, I didn't. I was disappointed that the temple of Apollo is closed off. And its theatre was not nearly as good as Epidavros. The stadium was more interesting than the one at Olympia, there are bleacher seats instead of grassy knolls.

Oh! Wednesday, we stayed the extra day with the tour and went to the monasteries of Meteora. Wow. They're built right into these cliffs that rise from a huge plain, an ancient lake. We went to the big one, the Grand Meteora. Our guide, who was just fabulous, taught us about Orthodox churches, paintings, and dogma. It was very interesting. In the chapel at this monastery, outside the inner church is a room filled with portrayals (15th century frescoes) of Christians being all kinds of tortured. The monks use this as inspiration!

Okay, Rome. So it's Friday today, good god, only Friday still? Let me explain. For some reason, since getting here yesterday, I have been tired, achy, and cranky. It's difficult to be in a completely new city, alone. Rather depressing, actually, and so I am not really thrilled about being in Rome. I'm kinda indifferent, and I want to move on. But I'm here until Monday, and maybe I will go to Florence as planned, or maybe I'll do something else. Who knows, cause I feel almost bored. Isn't that pathetic? Yes, it is.

Anyway! Moving on! Pretending things are happy and spiffy! Which they sort of are, because it is neat to be here and seeing these things. I just wish I had more energy. And holy crap, I'm spending money like there's no tomorrow! I can't believe how much there is to buy or spend on. But really.

Yesterday, since it was only 2pm when I left here, I had to do something for the rest of the day. So I took the metro down to the Colosseum. Waited in hot sun for awhile, then finally got in and caved to buying one of those phone-looking audio guides, to help me spend time wisely. The floor of the place is pretty small, it seems that most of the space was for seating. Did you know that women were relegated to the highest and worst seats, the nosebleeding fifth section up? Interesting, eh? After that I wandered around the Roman Forum, for a bit. Like I said, I haven't felt very energetic or anything.

Today I took the metro to the southeast part of the city, and I did nothing there. Then I went up to the Spanish steps. They are pretty cool. Too many tourists, of course, but still impressive or something. I got some gelato at the McDonald's down the block-yum. Yes, I know, McDonald's. Why not? From there, I decided I had better get to the Vatican and St Peter's, it being almost the weekend. I got turned around and almost lost, it took awhile to find the Vatican museums. They were interesting, a lot of paintings or frescoes actually I suppose, and then got to the Sistine Chapel. Even though it was literally crawling with people, and those people were too noisy, it was pretty fabulous. The audioguide told me all about the various frescoes. Did you know that where Michelangelo's Last Judgment is, there had been two more windows that he had frescoed around? Some pope guy or something wanted a different thing there, so that had to be all covered up. Interesting. I wonder what it looked like then. Oh, and they recently finished the restorations, and the colors are incredible. It indeed looks like it would have looked freshly done, it's all shiny and glowy and marvelous. :) From there I found my way to the Egyptian exhibits, which were extensive. They had a female mummy on display, unwrapped. ! Her nails were really visible. She was so tiny! Only the head, feet and hands were out, but they were so little! I know most people were a lot shorter then (in 1000 BC!), but wow.

From there wound around to get to St Peter's Basilica. Holy cow is it huge! I had no idea it was so big inside. It just goes on forever. The altar is beautiful. People taking flash photos all over the place, which really detracted from the ambiance. And Michelangelo's Pieta, of course, was fabulous. Still more flash photos, of a glass wall for god's sake, stupid tourists. Buy the freakin' postcard and save the exposure and stupidity. Whew.

I climbed up the however-many stairs to get to the top of the cupola to look out over the city. At one point, both side walls slant inwards, which was really trippy! I get dizzy so easily anyway, that didn't help! After that I made my way back to the hostel. And I am tired, and my feet and legs hurt. Boo hoo. I have no idea what I'm going to do for two more entire days. Wah, help me!

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