1) I don't want to make you read a novel (yet).
2) I have a lot of stuff to get done today.
3) Honestly, the whole "travel blog" thing starts to get old after a while...
Alright, then. Let's go for it.
We got up in the morning and took a series of trains to Sperlonga, a city south of Rome that boasts absolutely beautiful beaches. This remains one of my favorite days of the trip so far. Since it was only me, Tayler, and Brandon, we were able to relax and enjoy our time without worrying about a huge group of people getting lost, stopping in stores, or what have you. We spent several hours there, swimming in the ocean, lounging, getting sunburned, and getting sunburned. We headed back home, showered, and got some more pizza (this will be a trend...)
We made our way to the Metro Station in the morning. Let me tell you, walking in intense heat combined with intense humidity carrying a backpack, a laptop bag, and a 40-pound suitcase is not much fun. After the Metro, we walked even more to the hotel where we would be meeting up with the group. I have never been so unbelievably sweaty in my life. It was disgusting. We met up with the group an hour later and found our rooms. After a short rest, we set out for our first day of exploring. We went to the Terme di Caracalla (The Baths of Caracalla) some old Roman baths that are a ruin now. It was extremely interesting to see the ruins, the mosaics, the columns, and the (now empty) baths. After that we walked over to Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus), an ancient Roman chariot racing track. Brandon and I ran one such chariot race, with Tayler and Missy as our drivers. He won... but I did smoke him in an arm wrestle a few days later, so I still declare myself the winner. We walked from there to the Mouth of Truth, which we didn't actually go up to because it was about to close. We went back to the hotel, had some dinner, showered, and went to bed.
We woke up fairly early and headed just up the road to the Vatican. We had a bit of time to kill before our tour started, so we walked around and took a look at St. Peter's Square and the Basilica. Once we made it back around, it was tour time. The Vatican was absolutely amazing. We saw a ton of incredible statues, paintings, and other works of art. When we entered the Sistine Chapel, I was completely speechless (good thing, too, because it's supposed to be silent in there anyway.) It was breathtaking. I have always wanted to see the ceiling and The Last Judgment in real life, and I wasn't sure that I ever would. It was truly remarkable. After that, we went into St. Peter's Basilica, which was also incredible. We went and got some pizza for lunch and spent the rest of the day walking around, shopping, and napping.
This was a big, important day. First thing, we set out for the Colosseum, which was one of my favorite stops on the trip. It was much bigger than I expected it to be, which is apparently the usual reaction. It was huge. We walked around inside for a few hours before we walked up to the Arch of Constantine, and then Palatine Hill, which is home to a plethora of amazing monuments including: The Roman Forms, the Arch of Titus, several temples, homes of significant people, and lots of columns. After the hill, we walked over to Trajan's Column, which I was extremely excited for, and then looked at the Capitol building.
Now, get ready for a proposal story...
Alright, so a bit of background. Monday night, I officially decided that I was going to propose to Tayler in Rome. I sent a message to her mom and my mom letting them both know. I wasn't certain on the day yet. Tuesday morning, I woke up, and I knew that it was going to be that day. I told Brandon that he should attempt to keep the group separate from me and Tayler after our sightseeing of the day was done and that I would be going with Tayler to the fountain down the street from our hotel (see above). So, move forward to the Column.
When we were done, I suggested to Tayler that we should head back to the hotel to relax for a little while, just the two of us.
"Shouldn't we wait for everybody?" She asked.
"No, we don't need to. Let's just go be a couple for a little while. We haven't had like any alone time on this trip."
We walked forward a bit, sweating in the heat and humidity, when she asked, "Why are we walking so fast? It's hot. Plus, shouldn't we be walking with everyone?"
"No, no, it's fine. They know where they're going. Let's just go."
We stopped at a water fountain to fill up our bottles, but there was a line. By the time we were full up, the group had caught up with us. Brandon gave me an apologetic look, I urged Tayler to go on ahead into the Metro station, and she asked once again why we weren't waiting for the group.
Eventually, I convinced her to go with me and we got on a different train from everyone else. We held back from the group at the station, causing more confusion from Tayler. Once they were a ways ahead, we started walking towards the hotel. I suggested that we stop over at the fountain for a minute, maybe buy something from the fruit stand across the street. We sat down and I gave a long, cheesy speech that need not be repeated (I don't remember it anyway, plus, it was for her ears only).
Side note: I could not afford an engagement ring, but Tayler had a promise ring which is serving as an engagement ring until I can get something better.
I told Tayler that I needed to borrow her ring. Even at this point, she didn't fully comprehend what was about to happen. I continued my speech, and ended it by telling her that she needed to stand up. She did, and I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me, to which she said, "Of course I will." We hugged and kissed, Tayler crying, and turned to see Brandon standing on the other side of the street smiling ear to ear. We went back to the hotel, spread our news, and started talking colors (No, I'm not kidding). Brandon took us out to dinner to celebrate, right next to the Colosseum (we went back because we wanted to see it at night). Afterwards, we were surprised by Jena, Missy, Tex, Camille, and Brandon bringing us a bottle of sparkling lemonade to share by the Colosseum under the stars. It was very romantic.
Our first stop on Wednesday were the incredibly bizarre and totally interesting Capuchin Crypts. This crypts features a series of room with art made from human bones. I was not expecting much from it, but I was blown away. After that, we walked to the famous Trevi Fountain, which was absolutely beautiful. We took some pictures, made some wishes, had some gelato, and pretty much just made total tourists of ourselves. We went from there to the Pantheon, which is also on my list of the coolest places that we visited on the trip. We went out for pizza that night for Jena's birthday at a small joint down the street from our hotel. It was delicious.
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This was our last full day in Italy, and a group of us decided to go back to Sperlonga to see the beach again. Before that, however, we went to the Spanish Steps and Galleria Borghese. The steps were not incredibly exciting, although it was cool to see everything that we could while we were in Rome. The museum was awesome, though. It had some very famous paintings and statues that were absolutely amazing to see in real life. We had to run from the museum to catch our train to the beach, which was very stressful, but it was worth it to be back on the water again. It was an awesome way to end our trip.
(I didn't have my camera on this day since we were going to the beach, but I found some pictures online...)
This was our last day of travel. We got up at 6:00, hopped in a cab, went through the airport, and jumped on an 11-hour flight to Chicago. We basically had to run through the Chicago airport to make it to our gate before our flight left, but we made it just fine. Three hours later, we landed in Salt Lake City.
I must say, it is absolutely amazing to be home. As much fun as I had, I was ready to be back in familiar territory. Now that I'm here, I can really think about how many amazing things I did while I was gone, and I can appreciate the things that I have that I had taken for granted, like: consistent water temperature, person-sized showers, air conditioning, yards, open space, and safety. It also deepened my appreciation for things that I already appreciated, such as: food, cars, the sun, and, of course, the English language.
Thank you for reading my blog. It's nice to have some pageviews. It might be some time before I post again, and it won't be travel-related when I do (most likely), but feel free to read it when I do.
Until next time,