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The Group


Day 13: August 9th 1999 (Rome, Italy).

Breakfast was a fat roll with a huge air-bubble inside.  Very deceiving.  However, they had good cheese spread and pre-packaged croissants to fill you up.

That morning Don took us via the Metro to the Colosseum.  Leaving the station it appeared before us, a big tuna can shaped thing.  Although only early morning, it was hot already.  Cats scurried beneath our feet as we entered (perhaps after the tuna), and we were the first group of the day to set foot inside.  Don took us around the base and then lectured from an overlook on what went on here.  Fight or die.  Thumbs up and youíre saved, down and youíre condemned.  All this to please a populace that might otherwise revolt.

We then walked through the Forum, or whatís left of it.  Mostly rubble, it felt weird strolling down a thousands years old main street.  Thankfully, the sun hid itself behind the clouds; otherwise we would have become permanent additions to the site, roasted to the cobblestones.  Donís sermon and a little imagination filled in the rubble to make a vision of a teaming center of the world.

On to the Pantheon, a humongous domed building built only a few years AD, yet with a concrete roof!  It was amazing back then, too.  A hole in the top letís the rain in (and stopped my mind from wandering).

A quick taxi through the noontime traffic led to lunch on the same roof as yesterday.  Prepared by Ian, we had panini with mozzarella and tomato, grilled zucchini and pesto.  Mmm-mmm, the best picnic yet, in view of the Vatican Museum (our next stop).

The Vatican Museum Ė miles and miles of stuff, beautiful statues with fig leaves (added for modesty by the church), and then at the end, the Sistine Chapel with the amazing ceiling and Last Judgement.  My poor neck felt quite strained after staring at the frescoes for so long.

It was drizzling when I took the Metro back solo to the hotel and took a siesta from the heat.  Ahh, air conditioning!

At 6:30 I joined Bill, Sue, Cindy and Ellen for dinner at a Korean restaurant that Ian recommended.  I had the barbecued pork, which was very good.  There were many courses and it took a long time to finish.  Afterwards we walked to the main train station and took a taxi to meet the others.

At 8:30 we met Don and Ian and 10 others at the Piazza Navona (an old chariot racetrack converted to a fountainous square) for a night walk through Rome.  It was pleasantly cool as we walked past huge monuments, through alleys where ancient columns stood and ate slurpies at the Trevi fountain.  I threw a coin in, promising to return someday.

Retired at 10.  Some ventured to a bar with Don, and upon returning, Don attempted to give a sleeping lady on a bench some money.  Jean said that this confirmed to him that Don was the nicest guy that ever lived.  However, the lady did not see it that way and promptly yelled at Don and spat on him.  Goes to show you whatís happened to respect these days.

I wonder what I would have done if I were sleeping on that bench.


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Last updated 11/12/2005 .  Email me at bob@besttravelbarcelona.com.