So - I've come to the conclusion that I can't explain to you (or anyone) how I'm feeling. I can't tell you what I've tasted or smelled or seen or heard adequately, all I can do is beg you to come see it yourself. - Sell your stuff, babysit every child you know, write A+ papers for other crappy students, sell your car, SELL YOUR BODY, (just kidding) WHATEVER IT TAKES. Get to Europe. Its changing my mindset, and its only been 6 days. Thats why this post is so long BUT OH MY GOSH READ IT ALL :)
We left Athens and took a 1hour flight to Rome, Italy, and I only cried for the first 5 minutes after takeoff! Thats a major accomplishment for me. :) But once we landed, it was so clear that we were in a completely different place. Colors, traffic, architecture, everything is TOTALLY different. I kept catching myself almost saying Greek words like were still in Greece, only to remember - OH, I can almost read these signs! A spanish background helps SO much with Italian. Within the first 10 minutes, I knew I would love Rome. And I do!
Our first stop was the Colosseum, and as we rounded the corner & I saw it, my breath was completely taken away. I took 2525256 pictures of it though the bus window, only to delete them all haha. Yes, It really is as big as you think! We met our tour guide and made our way inside, and I kept touching the walls and giggling and thinking of all the gladiator books I'd read as a kid. Then I thought of the Britney Spears Pepsi commercial from years ago so I kicked that thought out :) For the fine arts credit I'll be getting for this trip, I had to do a short presentation on Rome, so I knew all sorts of things that happened at the Colosseum, like that over 500,000 animals were killed there in its hayday, & that there were trap doors in the floor for elements of surprise during battles, Christians were martyred there... etc. I was a giggling mess, I loved it. And I used the bathroom there so thats cool, teehee ;)
Of course we got pasta & pizza for lunch - SO FREAKING GOOD. (Although I will say Olive Garden does a pretty good representation? Kinda? Eh?) After we headed to the Ancient Ruins of Rome, where I took over 200 pictures. Unfortunately after a 6am flight, the heat of the sun & the 4 hour walking tour, I can't remember half of what the tour guide told us... BUT - I do know everything was crazy old. Hahah:) It was really interesting & beautiful though, so when I get a chance to put my pictures online, I'll try to explain each one. These are ruins & statues & evidences of life from 300 A.D. Incredible isn't the word. Most everything I saw I had to remind myself - THAT IS REAL. We had dinner by the hotel and then rested our poor little feet because WE WERE GONNA SING AT ST. PETERS THE NEXT DAY.
We got up the next morning (our hotel was lovely, but no free internet) & headed straight for the Spanish Steps! And like the good tourist I am, I made my girlfriends taken artsy pictures with me hahah. I had a feeling I would also fall down those steps, but I didn't :) Our next stop was The Trevi Fountain, which for some reason excited me to no end! I didn't expect it to be SO BIG so I once again was a giggling idiot, & I threw in 3 euros to make SURE I'll be back to Rome. Everything was wet and there were soooo many people, but man - was I happy. TJ didn't throw in any euros, he used them to buy a Diet Coke... hahahah some things you can aaaaalways count on! :)
My favorite stop of the day was the Pantheon. We came out of a side street & a milk truck was right next to me, and when it drove away, this huge building was right in front of me. Everyone laughed at how loud I gasped. This. building. is. monstrous. The dome is the largest in Europe, with no steel reinforcements, no restoration, no nothing. Its over 2,000 years old. Completely. Staggering. My favorite part was the huge open hole left in the ceiling - to let the rain in. There are drain holes in the floor in the center. I HAVE to go back on a rainy day. That seems so incredible! As we walked in we found out we had permission to sing, so of course the tears were already coming for me. We sang 'Sanctus', which was composed by Timbre Cierpke, Dr. C's daughter who is on the trip with us. It was a really special moment for all of us, and we sounded almost angelic in there. I videoed it :) I'll post when I can. I cried so much, Ahhhhh - I'll never forget it. One of the best musical moments of my life I think. We sang in a couple other small cathedrals on our walk through, A french one & also the church at the top of the Spanish Steps. Even the tiny places are so ornate.
When we headed down to catch the bus to the Vatican, Nicole & I saw a gelato place, & got some, but because I was hurrying, ALL MY LEMON (zitrone!!!?!??!) GELATO FELL OFF MY CONE AND ONTO THE COBBLESTONE STREET. Ohhhhh, what a European blunder. I turned around & frowned at the guy, and he was not impressed by me. He made me another but it was terribly embarrassing hahaha. I laughed but still... then we had to run to catch up with the group... great. I learned my lesson I suppose:)
Next was the Vatican museum & St. Peter's Basilica, which was HUGE, and we had to be dressed specifically & go through lots of security to get in. The museum is basically an art museum, with rooms & rooms of marble statues & tapestries. A huge amount of people were there so I didn't enjoy it all that much, until The Sistine Chapel :) No pictures were allowed of course, but I'm almost glad because it allowed me to take it all in. Michelangelo must have been superhuman... the amount of detail was ridiculous. I stared at the ceiling for over 20 minutes and over & over I kept seeing things I hadn't noticed before. Really, YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS FOR YOURSELF. I couldn't believe it. Although, I hope the air conditioner works on the day you're there, I nearly suffocated, but it was totally worth it.
Then onto St. Peters, the largest cathedral in the world. I feel like most of Trevecca's buildings could fit inside all together... its HUGE. And its terribly ornate, with paintings & Michelangelo's 'The Pieta' is inside, and the tombs of all the popes. St. Peters' grave is directly in the center. You'll just have to look at my pictures. I can't even explain it. Next we grabbed our choir robes & warmed up for our performance in the 5:00 Mass. (after a fast lunch where our waiter asked us all about Beyonce & Chuck Norris & California & he called me baby 24736 times hahah)
Ummmmmmmmm... so, surprisingly & unfortunately, I was a little disappointed with the experience of singing there. I'm still not totally sure why. But don't get me wrong - I GOT TO SING IN ST. PETERS. AND I GOT TO DIRECT A PIECE IN ST. PETERS. AND I MET THE MUSIC DIRECTOR OF ST. PETERS AND HE KNOWS I EXIST AND HE SPOKE TO ME AND SMILED AT ME. AND I KNOW ITS CRAZY AMAZING. But there was something about the service that was so strict? Very structured & traditional & totally in Italian obviously, but I guess after a southern Alabama Nazarene background, I did not feel at home in such a non-emotional service. I felt stifled. I couldn't hear the ring of our voices because of where the choir loft is positioned. I'm not complaining, I'm just being honest - I didn't really love it. I'm sad about it. Some people may have really enjoyed it, but I prefer I warm & laid back environment better :(
After such a big day, a relaxed dinner & bedtime was exactly what I needed :)
This morning we toured to the Catacombs - but thats an entire blog in itself, I've still got to collect my thoughts. It was amazing, but I can't put it into words just yet :) We drove to Florence this afternoon so I'll tell you all about it later.
Off to wash my clothes in the sink... although I'm thinking about using the Bidet!!!!! hahahah don't worry, I'll totally take pictures of that.