Trek di Roma
May 27th - June 4th, 2007
Pictures and final edit to come soon!
Day 1

Well, for those of you who don't know, this entire trek originated from the fact that Smutty's band Solace was touring Europe.  Their last show was on May 26th in Rome, so I flew over on the 27th to spend a week with him there.

Day 1 of our Trek consisted of being horridly tired from our collective nights - Smutty's with being a rock-star and mine with being on an airplane for 9 hours.  We took naps.

A bit later our lovely hosts - fine fellow from the Italian band Doomraiser and their lovely ladies - took us, along with many other people, to some sort of amazing place to eat.  They just kept bringing food out.  Round after round.  After the 5th or 6th round we wanted to stop, but we didn't want to be rude, so we just kept eating!

Not as much while eating but later, everyone did a lot of talking.  They do that there.  We felt somewhat alienated, though, because we don't speak Italian.  However our hosts speak very little English and we seem to get by in a way. It amazes me how similar we are, though due to language unable to connect as I wish we could.

That guy who invented Esperanza or Esperanto or whatever it's called had a good idea.

Day 2
It rained in the amount of time it took us to get on the Metro and arrive at the Colosseum.  We stood there for about an hour and decided to go out in it anyway.  We bought umbrellas from an awful little man and left the station only to realize we were miserable and give up and go home.  By the time we got back it was after 3.

The good news is that our good Italian friends went out of their way to make us a fantastic dinner.  Then we went out and drank on the street of some interestingly seedy-type neighborhood and watched an Asian lady yelling at some guy.  Apparently he and his friend had entered her shop while one of them distracted her and the other stole some candy.  She went after them with an empty bottle of wine and they in turn took the bottle and broke her shop window with it.

In America, someone would have ended up shot.  Here, the lady waved her arms and the police listened attentively.  We left just as it seemed to be getting really interesting.

I was amazed by the people. Everyone was sitting around the piazza drinking and being the Italian equivalent of young and rowdy.  Except no one was being stupid.  It was awesome.
Day 3

We went down to the Colosseum area again and decided about 1/4 of the way through the Forum that we weren't going to have time to see both.  So we cut it down to just the Forum.  House of the Vestal Virgins, Senate, temples ... and the grave of Julius Caesar.

To make a good day even better - or in this case wierder - we also came across Simcha Jacobovici filming an episode of his TV show. For those of you who don't know, he is the 'Lost Tomb of Jesus' guy.   He has a TV show apparently werein he is the Naked Archeologist(?).  Anyway, we'd just watched his Tomb of Jesus special last month I guess, and I recognized him and we went over.  Smutty engaged him in conversation and we got our picture taken with him.

So we go on about our business until a few hours later when we see him again, this time parading around with a huge golden menorah.  We thought it was weird.  My partner in crime was being his usual outgoing self so he sort of started a dialogue about the whole thing.   Simcha seemed to really like him and he asked us to walk with him on camera, and then have Smutty talk to him again as part of his show.  He even handed the menorah to him in one scene.  It was weird and interesting.  The best part was my dear trying to cover his less-than-kosher tattoos during the entire exchange.  Laugh - I thought I'd die.

Oh, and on the way home we tried to order 3 pieces of pizza and ended up with 3 entire pies.  Awesomely funny.

Day 4

Day 4 was great. Colosseum, Arch of Constantine, Circus Maximus. Basilica of St. Paul. Truly awe-inspiring.

The Colloseum was insane. I hadn't realized that the floor was gone, exposing the paths underneath where the gladiators awaited their deaths.

St. Paul's was also simply crazy. Whoever says that the church doesn't have too much money is an idiot. I've never seen anything so over-the-top in my life. Other than that, seeing the grave of a saint was amazing. Insane. I can't believe we dead-trekked a saint. An apostle. My mind cannot wrap itself around it at all.

And some old Italian woman grabbed Smutty's beard and smiled at him. He was wearing a Sin City shirt. WTF!

Afterwards we walked around some and made jokes about Cool Ranch flavored host wafers. Then we found the most amazing ice cream ever found by humans. It's not even ice cream, it's something entirely more heavenly. They put whipped cream on it for you, too. It was to die for. I got coffee flavored and Smutty got something called Donatello. It was AMAZING.

Day 5

Firstly, we got up mega late. We couldn't get bus tickets because the Tabbachi was closed. So we had to go back to the apartment and ask everyone where else we could go. Then we had a huge issue changing money. We had to try 2 banks and then go back to the apartment AGAIN to get a passport because the bank that finally would change the money wanted a passport. It sucked. But it was okay.

But then we finally got underway and we had a great day wandering around. We took a different route, tried the tram this time, and got sort of lost yet not. You can't walk anywhere without stepping in history here, so though we got a bit lost we were right where we belonged all day, somehow.

We found our way to Termini station after hopping off the tram to check out something that looked cool (turned out to be the Basillica of St. Mary Maggiore) and found a small Chinatown. We got a bit lost and found a small cafe place and ate. An American kid came in and ordered a shot of Jager and they gave him a damned trough of the stuff.  We chatted with him a bit and a few minutes later his buddy came in and gave us his map. They didn't need it anymore apparently because they were leaving the next day - we could tell it already but they confirmed that they were Army kids, in town for some parade. We thanked them and went on our way.

We finally figured out where we were going thanks to the map, and walked passed what was apparently the president's house. We got herded to the side of the road by the Polizia and suddenly a caravan drove into a nearby building and people clapped and stuff. We had NO IDEA what was going on, still aren't exactly sure ... but once again we were exactly where we should have been.

Some cool statues, some not so great ice cream (better than American crap but not as good as the amazing stuff from Day 4), then down to the Fountain of Trevi. I promised my mother I'd go. I threw a coin in for her. I don't think she'll ever get to Rome but it was thoughtful of me, I think. The tourists were insane and the idiot guys trying to sell crap were SO ANNOYING. Every 2 seconds I had a guy shoving roses in my face trying to get us to buy them. It was dead annoying!

Then we found our way to the Spanish Steps thanks to my dear's great sense of direction. Touristy as all HELL. More guys with dumb crap to buy.

Then onto the Mausoleum of Augustus. The neighborhood was amazingly ritzy. Expensive shops and the like. The mausoleum was closed but we didn't need to go in. We stopped just to look and take pictures. There were kids smoking pot on the front steps. We remarked that we'd be playing D&D if we were them.

The graves of so many emperors.  Even though no one's sure where they ended up, we saw where they were interred.

Why are those damned Goths always sacking things?!

Then back home. Had to cross the Tiber to get back home on the bus.

Very cool full day. Got back just in time for more awesome Italian dinner. Our hosts can surely cook! These people are so kind. I can only hope they realize how much we appreciate their hospitality!

Day 6

The got up a bit late and took the metro up to San Pietro, went through the Vatican Museum by default, even skipped some due to the overwhelmingness of it, to get to the Sistine Chapel.  I cried when I saw it.  That's one of the only times in my life I've felt close to true religion, and by that I don't mean the Catholic Church or the Christian faith, but the work of the artist.  Passion.  The human condition.  Talent.

After this we headed to St. Peter's Square and were again overwhelmed by the "glory" of the church's wealth.  We saw many crippled, homeless and sick people begging just outside the walls, not being let in.  It turned me even more off of organized religion in general and Catholicism specifically than I already was.

St. Peter's was immense, and gaudy, and a bit creepy.  We went downstairs first to the Tomb of the Popes to see John Paul II and St. Peter himself.  Then upstairs to tourist the place where we saw more popes laid out in glass boxes.  Their faces were covered with gold death-masks but their hands were exposed and it freaked me out somewhat.  I could have easily taken photos of all of them to include on the site - over 90 I believe, all together - but to be honest with you, the gentlemen do not interest me all that much, I feel we go for quality versus quantity ... plus they creeped me out.

After leaving the Vatican we walked out to the Castel Sant'Angelo - The Mausoleum of Hadrian, plus a slew of other emperors.  Vast and beautiful, but a shadow of it's former self, I am sure.

We walked along the Tiber hand-in-hand all the way over to the Pantheon, just as it was closing.  Not too much time to tourist the place but enough time to snap a photo or 2 of Raphael's final resting place.

We walked even further, down to a place we thought was the Crypt Balbi but turned out not to be, down to Trajan's Forum to see his Market and Column - the base of the Column being the original interment site of his ashes within a golden urn, but once again those sacking Gothis ruined everything for him.  We then headed down to the Colosseum just as night fell and the lights came up.

Smutty was starving by this time and we couldn't find any decent food.  We came across a vending machine in the MEtro station with amazing chocolate bars (Kinder Bueno) and decided thereafter to get off at the Bologna stop, because it sounded like there should be some food there.  There wasn't, so we gave up and went home - but we found the perfect little restaurant at the end of the line, where we ate too much again (note to self: one course in Italy is more than enough), but somehow found room for dessert anyway.

Day 7

Day 7 was a bit of a dissapointment, but a nice day nonetheless.

We headed out to check out the condition of the Protestant Cemetery near Piramide, which houses the earthly remains of Shelley and Keats.  We had read that it was closed due to a fallen tree but had hoped it would be open again before we left.  It wasn't.  So close and yet so far.


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