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Well, I’m batting zero on getting up early. If I get up as late tomorrow as I did today, Brandy will be waiting alone in the train station! In other words, I woke up after 10am. I was up late.

First I wandered over to the movie theater nearby. They supposedly sometimes have some “lingua originale” movies showing and I was hoping for something I wanted to see. Nope. They only US films I saw playing were King Kong (seen it, don’t care to again) and Chronicles of Narnia (loved it, but not enough to pay more in Rome to see it than at home). So, I just started walking down via nazionale. Before I knew it, I was down by the Capitoline Hill again and ended up taking some night shots of it along with some night shots of the coliseum. Looked decent but won’t be able to tell until I am home how good they are. I had not planned on taking night shots and didn’t have my tripod. So, I relied on leaning against a lot of walls and poles, etc.

After getting back, I discovered I had the room to myself (I think the same is true tonight), so I sorted through all my stuff and then read… And read… With no context that it was getting late, it was 1pm when I finally got wise and went to sleep.

So, waking up late enough to just have lunch again today, I grabbed some McD’s and looked through the guide. I figured out the second column I saw last night was in fact one in honor of Marcus Aurelius. Not that there’s any signage. Then I tried to sort out what I was doing today since I had slept late enough to throw the original plans out the window more or less. Oh, and of course, it was another steady rain all day. I’m beginning to think that’s all I can expect. One day of sun and then three days of rain. Surely I’m due some sun again?

I decided to take the train down to San Giovanni and then a bus out to Appia Antica to see the catacombs. The catacombs were ancient Christian burial ground outside the walls of Rome. I’d read and the guide confirmed that people used to think they were somewhat hiding places but it’s not true. The Romans knew about them. The real reason for catacombs was that all burials (Christian and Pagan) occurred outside the city walls. Land prices were expensive and so those not well off had to dig down and down and down. I visited the Callisto Catacombs, named after a Pope who was originally put in charge of them. It’s the largest, more than half a million are buried there. It was used between the 3rd and 5th centuries (oldest burials at the top, and subsequent newer burials further down). After the 5th century and the fall of the Roman empire, they areas outside the city walls were not considered safe. However, Christians continued to visit this particular catacomb as it was the burial site of a number of Popes and martyrs. That was up until the 9th century when the bones of the popes and martyrs (religious relics at this point) were moved to safety and the catacombs were abandoned. They were only rediscovered in the mid 1800’s. We were taken through the second level. There are no remains left as time (and vandalism by the barbarians after the fall of Rome) destroyed what was there. But one gets to see how the burials were done, some religious art, the odd marble plaque and the site where the early Popes were buried. It was worth the wait, and I do mean I waited. When I got there, along with a pile of others, the place was closing. Guess I should have read the guide a little closer! It closes from noon to 2:30pm… I was there when it closed…

You know I’m cold when? I sat outside with some other tourists (none of which spoke much english). There was nothing to see for miles except what was locked away underground. So, I found a vending machine that dispensed coffee and hot chocolate. Anyone who’s known me for years knows I don’t drink hot beverages. But after an hour of sitting under that little porch, I tried the hot coffee. Still not a convert, but it did warm things up a bit. Afterwards, I walked with two girls (I gathered from a slavic country) down the hill to the only place to get food for miles and got some candy. The tours were sorted out by language, so lost track of most everyone I’d waited with for hours, but I was the first person on the first english speaking tour at 2:30pm!

After that, I walked to a different bus stop because I had figured out that I could take the 118 to the Circus masseo (Circus Maximus) metro stop and then ride the train to Colloseo (coliseum) and walk up to the Pantheon. Otherwise, back to Termini and the long way around. The walk to the bus stop was desolate. I encountered only two sets of tourists walking the other way. And I waited with only two other people for that bus. And we waited, and waited.

The bus was swift, though. So swift, that I didn’t realize I was passing the Circus Maximus until it was too late. That’s how little there is to see. The dirt track back home is about as impressive. So, my view from the bus window has satisfied that sight. I had already seen that the bus terminated at the Pyramide Metro stop, so I just sat still. Worked out fine otherwise. One extra stop, maybe five minutes lost.

And, after getting off at Colloseo, I walked up to the Pantheon! I remembered the way from the day before. Yayyy!! And I got to go in. Really unbelievable. What I’d seen on TV about it built it up a lot, so I was prepared to be unimpressed by reality, but it’s amazing. Despite the odd rude comment I heard like “whose bright idea was it to put a hole in the roof?” Well, structurally the weakest point and the Romans knew that. It also provides light and the air pressure inside keeps out most of the rain. Considering it’s rained for three days straight, the one puddle in the middle is all the testament one needs to their ingenuity. Not bad for a 2000 year old building.

A ton of pictures later, I wandered over to via del Corso to check out the shops. I found a new cap and a couple of gifts for people. My mantra on trips has been to get small souvenirs. I’ve gathered (and purged) enough in one life. So, I get little things for myself like magnets and post cards. Something to go in an album or on the fridge. But I will get clothing because it has a use and eventually it will be gone leaving just the memories.

At any rate, I did see something that will delight some Georgia fans back home. I wandered into a shop with trendy clothes and active wear and they had a section with a college sports team from the US, only one, no others. And that would be? The Georgia Bulldogs. I stood flabbergasted at this little piece of home 5,000 miles away…. How? Why?? I should have taken a picture with my cell phone – no one will believe me.

That wasn’t the only flabbergasting thing. The prices! Wow! I did find one sweater I would have liked that was a bit different and not too expensive but unfortunately the only color was dark navy. Now, I feel like I have about a hundred sweaters that color and it is my favorite, but I’m trying to branch out here. So, I looked about a bit more a few other places. The final straw was when I found another I really liked in a color I liked (but was different) and it was… nearly 300 euro… so over $300 American…. eep! I decided to quit while I was ahead. Maybe some other time.

Shopping done, I walked back to Termini and dumped my bag before dinner. McD’s of course. It was a departure from the past two nights of pizza. I figure when Brandy is here, I’ll be more likely to try something different. After this, back to the hostel to pack up and hit the hay so I get up on time tomorrow. Brandy’s connecting flight out of Atlanta is literally the same one I took last week, so I have a decent idea when she’ll get here, which is likely a bit after 10am. So, I plan to check out and wait for her at the platform for the aeroport. Then we can go get our tickets to Naples and off to the races!

Oh, and today’s shopping experience plus experiences from the past few days kind of coalesced into a larger observation. First, I forgot to mention this, but my first evening here as I was checking in, the guy at the desk noticed that I was “from” Alabama (not altogether true, not altogether false, but it’s where I was born and all you have to go by from a passport). And the dude began to sing “Sweet Home Alabama!” Ohhkayy… never expected to have a guy with a heavy accent sing that to me in another country. At any rate, today, within a couple of hours shopping, I kept hearing music from America. Songs ranged from the insipid like Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” In a few minutes in one high end fashion shop I heard Linkin Park’s overplayed but beautiful “In The End” and an Eminem song during which I had to stab my ears. It was a this point that I thought back to New Year’s Eve, granted there was some Brit Rock, too, but the American rock was a major part of it. They had a light show that included tons of images from rock and one that stuck with me was the much, much larger than life, Jim Morrison with the American flag as a backdrop. the buildings it was displayed on was literally a few blocks long and at least four stories tall. All of this is leading somewhere, believe it or not. Our cheif export? The piece of our culture that you can’t escape because its traveled the globe? Our music. From Sitting in a little country pub near Stonehenge two years ago listening to 80’s Rock to standing in a clothing store in Rome, it’s there. And the people, some of which barely speak English, are singing along with it. That’s probably not remotely a new observation, but it was a powerful one for me.

Next stop the Napoli Region, specifically Sorrento. And then there will be two. Hopefully someone who will make sure I get up on time as we have some full days coming. Pompeii is rumored to be a day long visit on its own. We also want to see Hurculaneum (tho not sure how long that will be – several people in the past two days have pretty much said, seen one, seen them both, but not sure Brandy will agree on that). I want to either make it down the Amalfi coast or over to the isle of Capri (Brandy is more keen on the latter because of some historical significance – me I just want some sights). And there’s also Naples which has the musuem where all the treasures from Pompeii were taken. There’s also the site of an ancient oracle nearby, but I’ve forgotten it’s name – I know the site is Cumae. I’m sure Sorrento must have internet cafe’s so the trip log will likely continue, but don’t know the frequency. So, until next time!

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