After we had seen Athens it became time for us to end phase 2 of our trip. Phase 1 had been getting to Thessaloniki and establishing Joshua there. Phase 2 was our tour together as a threesome throughout Greece. That being completed in Athens, phase 3 then began for Caleb and I. Phase three consisted of our touring Italy until our journey to Germany (phase 4).
The first part of phase 3 consisted of Caleb and I making our way via train to the city of Patras which is along the western coast of Greece, and getting a ferry from there to the Italian city of Bari. I wish I could have taken pictures of the ferry ride across the Adriatic but we couldn't risk it because we were afraid of not having enough camera battery for when we were in Rome. Nonetheless we still snapped a few quick pictures of the gulf of Corinth that was passing right on the side of the train because of how beautiful it looked.
Not bad eh? And that was right from the train as we were speeding by.
So we got on the ferry at about 5 in the afternoon and it was supposed to take us until the next morning to get to Italy. We made an epic journey through waters which have been traveled by virtually every non Asian sea faring nation since the dawn of time. I smoked my pipe out on the deck thinking about all the people who had sailed the same seas I was now traversing. Quite an experience.
We finally made it to Bari after a realtively difficult night sleeping on the deck of the boat and were told that unfortunately the train to Rome was full and we'd need to wait till the 5 o clock train which would get us to Rome at 11:30PM. Not a great option but what else can you do but nod and say "Hey, that's great!" when you've been dropped off on shore thousands of miles from anything you know or understand. So we waited in a park we found for like 8 hours looking at a super cool Normal castle and telling the local peddler of opium we weren't interested in any.
We got to Rome and it was way too late to do anything or go anywhere, so we decided to just sleep in the train station. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, and when you're tired even a marble floor dosen't seem so bad. Then we awoke and began our ascent to the city of the ancients.
The first thing we saw was the Circus Maximus. Pretty much an abandoned huge field at this point, but meaningful nonetheless. Then we saw this massive arch erected to Constantine. Anzthing erected to Constantine is worth taking a picture of. Whats so cool about everything Roman is not only is it massive, its also filled with carvings showing the Romans womping on somebody. Cool if your them, not if you're pretty much anybody else.
Next of course was the Colosseum. To say it was impressive is an unbelievable understatement. Caleb and I both agreed that it was the most amazing ruin that we saw. This made it equally disturbing however. It was difficult to think about how such an incredible structure could be a monument to so much wickedness. Both Caleb and I sat for a long time here contemplating the fallen nature of man, and went away humbled that a people so great could be capable of such evil. It felt like we were in an amazingly ornate mass grave. Cold, cruel, and difficult to entirely express all the emotion from.
Obviously there's no smiling at the Colosseum.
We left the Colosseum and went to Trajan's column, a structure he had built to commemorate his demolishing the Dacian's. The carvings are amazing, unless you're Dacian.
After going to these places we also visited the Pantheon. The Pantheon is super cool because it used to be a massive temple dedicated to various Gods, but then somebody sweet decided to turn it into a HUGE church. So its been a church from like 350 AD and it continues to serve in that capacity even today.
After the Pantheon we continued north through the city trying to make our way to St. Peter's Basilica. We crossed the Seine river on the way. We spit in it as we passed. The waters really nasty looking. Maybe its because people spit in it.
I wish we could have taken pictures of everything we saw and did that day. My musings are not enough to do everything justice. That goes for St. Peter's Basilica especially. It was more phenomenal than anything else that we saw. I couldn't believe how massive and intricate everything was. The courtyard alone was awe inspiring, but it was nothing compared to the inside. First we were able to tour the tombs of the Popes underneath the Basilica and they have entombed in a series of massive sarcophaguses the bodies of some of histories most powerful men. The people who were literally considered the voice of God on earth where buried within the vaults which end with the place where the body of Peter is.
Then we went upstairs through the Basilica itself and were silenced by the grandeur and scope of everything. I was more impressed by this building than anything else I saw or believe I will see during this trip. It was just beyond words.
Here are just three meager photos I am even reticent to put up because they show so little, but unfortunately they must suffice.
This is a view of the courtyard from the side. It was too big to get a picture of all of it from the ground.
This is a picture of part of the inside.
And here is Caleb and I out front.