Christy and Aaron Tracker

Follow Christy and Aaron on their backpacking trip around the world

Vatican City

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 06 14th, 2010

For our second day of sightseeing in Rome we went to Vatican City.

Christy in front of Vatican City

We went to the museum first to see the Sistine Chapel. Following the signs to the Sistine Chapel led us through over an hour worth of rooms filled with priceless statues and paintings. There were ancient Roman statues from the ruins, paintings by Michalangelo, Raphael, and even a Van Gogh.

Aaron in Vatican City museum Statue in Vatican Museum Disputation of the Holy Sacrament by Raphael

Christy in the Vatican museum Aaron and a Van Gogh

Eventually we made our way into the Sistine chapel where we were impressed with the amazing artwork. The detail is so much more impressive than pictures we had seen. Unfortunately, cameras were not allowed so we have no pictures to share.

After the museum we went to St. Peter’s Basilica. We were immediately surprised by the size of St. Peter’s square. We had seen it on the news many times, but were shocked to see the scale. We could not imagine seeing the square filled, like for holiday masses.

Aaron in St. Peter's Square

Inside St. Peter’s Basilica is even more impressive. The church is massive. It is hard to capture all of the size and detail in photos.

Christy in St. Peter's Basilica

The place was so big we could barely see the mass that was going on in the front. We could hear it immediately when we walked in, but it was still far beyond the velvet rope.

Mass in St. Peter's Basilica

Previously, we had been impressed with the old churches we had seen, especially Salisbury Cathedral. Walking out of St. Peter’s Basilica we felt that no church we would see on this trip could compare. We could also see why the church needed to take (or “repurpose” as described in the Vatican audio guide) marble and decoration from the ancient Roman buildings.

On our way back to our apartment, we stopped by two must see tourist sites in Rome. First were the Spanish steps.

Aaron, Christy and Aaron's mom in front of the Spanish Steps

Finally, we threw some coins over our shoulders into the Trevi fountain to ensure our return to Rome. We were later disappointed when we realized we would return to Rome in just 2 weeks to catch our next flights.

Christy at Trevi Fountain

Ancient Rome

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 06 14th, 2010

For our first day of sightseeing in Rome, my parents, Christy and I explored ancient Rome.

Our first stop was Palatine Hill. Supposedly this was where the ancient Roman ruling class lived. There were not many descriptive signs, so we had no idea what we were looking at. Everything just looked like old ruins to us. We tried to listen to nearby tour guides, but it was too hard to hear. We ended up just walking around and enjoying the ancient ruins atmosphere and the beautiful sights.

Aaron at Palatine Hill

After Palatine Hill we headed to the Roman forum. We got the audio tour this time so we would know what we were looking at. The audio tour ended up being a great purchase. We would have been confused without it. The forum was the central government district in classical Roman times. Most buildings have been reduced to a few columns and walls so the audio guide helped us imagine what the forum would have looked like. We were shocked to learn the ancient buildings were stripped of most of their marble and decorative features by the Catholic church to build St. Peter’s Basilica. Even in their ruined state, the complexity of the ancient buildings was impressive.

Aaron, Christy and Aaron's mom in the Roman Forum

After the forum we headed to our final destination, the Colosseum.

Mom and Dad walking to the Colosseum

Once again we got the audio tour so we would could learn the history of the building. The tour of the Colosseum is short, but the site is impressive. Thanks to the movie Gladiator it is really easy to envision the Gladiator battles.

Aaron and Christy in the Colosseum

At the end of the day we were amazed by the complexity and engineering skills of the ancient civilization. We also kept discussing what the sights would have looked like if they were left in a state of disrepair instead of being stripped of all the decorative features.

Buongiorno Roma

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 06 13th, 2010

We are in Rome! Christy and I amazingly met my parents in the airport without cellphones, knowledge of the airport, or problems. We were excited to see them and to continue our adventure in a new city.

My mom and I in Rome

We were pleased our cab driver, who was the first person we met, spoke enough English to help us get to our apartment, but not enough to make us feel like we were still in England. Another welcome change from England was the climate. It is beautiful in Italy. We had great English weather when we were there, but it is much warmer and sunnier in Italy.

We took it easy the rest of the first day since we were all tired. My parents were dealing with 6 timezone jet lag and Christy and I slept in an airport the night before. The Colosseum was only a 15 minute walk from our apartment, through an ancient aqueduct. We ate dinner and walked around the area trying to make the reality set in. In what has turned into a recurring feeling,  we were amazed that one of the sights we have learned about in school, seen in movies, and dreamt about visiting was actually in front of us.

Christy, Mom, and Dad walking by the aqueduct Aaron and Christy at the Colosseum Aaron's Mom and Dad at the Colosseum