Travel | The Pantheon and Spanish Steps

Day 2 in Rome. My last Travel Tuesday post highlighted some of the amazing architecture and history you can find in this magical city. Our second day was similarly filled with awe-inspiring locations, even if a bit smaller in scale.

We started this day a little later, because jet lag is a real thing. I forgot to mention in my first post that my husband, Jay, and I had opted for a hostel while in Rome to save money. Apparently, while planning our travel, we forgot that we're now "old" and, for us, hostels are now less party-hardy and more "Oh my god, I can't do this shit anymore". This living situation did not help with the exhaustion from travel and an adventurous first day.

I'm going to take you on a quick tangent, because sometimes side stories are the best ones to learn from when traveling. I was so out of it our first night that I ended up locking us out of our own storage locker in the hostel. Yep, ALL of our stuff (including my photo gear), locked away in a very secure metal bin that now also contained the keys for said lock with no way to retrieve them. After a moment of sheer panic (which is 100% amplified when it's 11pm at night but it feels like early morning, and you don't know what's up or down), I took an embarrassing walk to the front desk where the lovely lady there took out what felt like the most conspicuous pair of bolt cutters ever and walked me back to our room amongst many stares. Fortunately, she was able to free our things from my terrible mistake. She was also kind enough to give us a new lock for free, and handed me the now busted lock saying "Souvenir!" while I blushed harder than I ever have in my life.

Moral(s) of the story: If you're going to stay in a hostel in Rome, Yellow is a good choice, because they are kind and understanding beings. More importantly, NEVER lock your keys in your storage unit at a hostel; check that you have that shit on you before you close things up. Or, you know, don't stay at a hostel as a 30-something year old who can't handle staying up past 8pm, and therefore can't function properly after 9pm ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

ANYWAY, back to the main plot here. Being the sleepy, slightly disoriented pair we were, we decided to start the day with a very late breakfast. Fortunately for us, there was a well-rated place across the street from us called Trattoria Pizzeria La Tavernetta.  Our friends, Nicole and Julian, met us there for what turned out to be really delicious food to get us going for the day.

 Please don't mind the crummy phone photo and the lack of other food imagery; I was far too into the food to about taking proper pictures...but this Panna Cotta was amazing.

Please don't mind the crummy phone photo and the lack of other food imagery; I was far too into the food to about taking proper pictures...but this Panna Cotta was amazing.

After our little brunch, we headed out for The Pantheon. For this particular visit, we opted not to have a guide, so my knowledge will be limited to what we overheard and read at the time and, well, the internet.

The Pantheon is a former Roman temple and now an in-use church. It has the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome.[source] There's an oculus at the center of the ceiling that opens up to the sky, and creates this otherworldly light inside that is truly breath-taking. It was raining the day we visited, and this somehow made it even more magical.

Inside, as you walk around the perimeter, you'll find an altar, pews, and various historical and religious objects. Admittedly, I gleaned very little information about any of these, but they were all beautiful and added to the overall enchanting atmosphere.

If you ever get a chance to visit the Pantheon, sign the guest book! It's a little thing, but it sure felt special to have our names in that book with thousands of others from all over the world.

After we left the Pantheon, we stopped for another bite to eat and to plan what to do with the rest of our day. A few ideas had been thrown around, but we had largely left this day open. I highly recommend this when traveling: don't plan every moment. Especially if you are spending time in a city - you can have so many adventures just by walking around and finding things.

Like this column, which I honestly still have no information about, but was impressive nonetheless, and felt picture-worthy.

Ultimately, we knew the Spanish Steps were nearby (though not as close as originally thought), and the day was getting late. Sunset was bound to happen shortly after we got there, which seemed like it could be perfect. And it didn't disappoint.

Climbing those steps in that golden light was so worth all the miles walked that day*. 

Making it to the very top of the Spanish Steps after all that walking: also 100% worth it. Because just look at that view.


All in all, our second day in Rome was a lot more relaxed, yet just as inspiring as the first. I look forward to sharing our third and last day in Rome with you next time, where we visit Vatican City.
 

 

 

 


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*For my traveling photographer friends (because I spent weeks researching this before finally buying something): I highly recommend the Lowepro Pro Tactic 450 pack for traveling with your gear. It's small enough for carry-on, but big enough for one body and several lenses. Couldn't have done this trip without it.

Travel | The Colosseum and Roman Forum

As I announced recently, I will be using Tuesdays (every other) as an opportunity to share with you all some of my travel adventures. Aside from photographing people in love, spending quiet time with my husband (Jay) and doggos, and eating as much ice cream as possible, one of my favorite things in the world is travel. Nothing can replace the experience of immersing yourself in a foreign place, hiking through unknown territory, and spending time in a different culture. It's a truly transformative experience every single time I do it.

Last fall, Jay and I spent a glorious (and sometimes harrowing) five weeks in Europe. We traveled from Italy to Iceland and had many adventures. Until now, I've done a pretty disappointing job of sharing the images and stories from those adventures, and I'm really excited to change that now.

So, I'll be taking you on a guided tour through our time in Rome, Florence, Marseilles, Bordeaux, Paris, Dublin, Galway, Reyjavik, Hvolsvollur, and Hveragerdi. We'll start at the beginning...
 

Rome. 

Rome is an interesting and beautiful place. I have to say, I'm glad we started our travels here, because I think the hustle of the city would have been a little too much for us by the end of our trip. That said, it was the perfect way to begin our adventure.

We met a couple of old friends in Rome for the first day of our journey. Nicole is a friend I made back in my high school years - she was a foreign exchange student from Germany at my school in Post Falls, ID. While she was there, we became very close and spent a glorious summer together. Being that both Jay and I had never spent any significant amount of time in Europe, it seemed the perfect opportunity to meet up with Nicole, and her husband, Julian. And, of course, one of our first stops had to be the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.

Before I dive into the destinations themselves, I have to mention something I've learned and truly take to heart whenever I travel. The absolute best way to see a new place is to walk it as much as possible (in warm weather, my shoe of choice for miles of exploration is Chacos). Sure, taxis and public transportation will get you to your end location a whole lot quicker (usually), but walking through a new place, for me, has proven to be the best way to actually experience it. That said, we did a whole lot of walking our first day in Rome (and really, every day of our trip), and we saw (and heard) some beautiful things as a result.

 Nicole + Julian

Nicole + Julian

 When one of the first things you hear in Rome is an accordion busker...life is good.

When one of the first things you hear in Rome is an accordion busker...life is good.

Of course, we eventually make it to our destination, and I remember coming upon the Colosseum a bit unexpectedly. From the direction we were coming, it seemed to suddenly appear and it was way more breathtaking than I anticipated. You see images of a place online so often and for so long, and it gives you this impression that you know what it feels like to be there. And though images can certainly give you a tasted, there is something inexplicable and tangible about actually being in these places. 

 My very first view of the Colosseum, and the first image (of many) I took of it.

My very first view of the Colosseum, and the first image (of many) I took of it.

Getting into any well-known place is always a bit of an adventure in and of itself. As you might imagine, the Colosseum was crawling with tourists. Add on top of that that it was blazingly hot (we had just come from a very cold and wet Portland), we didn't have water (and as we found out later, you should NOT buy the water the vendors are selling), and we hadn't purchased any tickets to get inside the Colosseum ahead of time. So, naturally, while we game-planned, I took a bunch more pictures.

Ultimately, we ended up hiring one of the on-site tour companies. At the time this seemed like a risk, but we really wanted to go inside, and it was basically our only option. It turned out to be a great choice, because we got a package that included a guided tour of not only the Colosseum, but also the Roman Forum (right next door). Granted, we probably ended up paying a lot more than we should have, so I highly recommend booking your tours ahead of time, folks.

And yes, having a tour guide is totally worth it for these historical locations. We got so much more out of our experience, because we had someone there sharing the meaning behind all the amazing things we were seeing. It also got into the Colosseum a whole lot faster. And let me tell you, if I had known what it would feel like to step inside there, I would have tried to get in even quicker...

 PC: Jay Padzensky, Editing: Nadia Padzensky

PC: Jay Padzensky, Editing: Nadia Padzensky

I can't really even begin to describe the feeling of enormity of the Colosseum. It really feels like stepping into history. A gruesome history. Our guide told us all about how the parts in the center of the Colosseum floor that you can see now were originally hidden beneath a stage, and animals that were made part of the fights there were kept in cages beneath. How the stage would be layered with sand, in order to absorb all the blood for easy clean up and to protect the wooden floor base. How not all gladiators were actually slaves, and even some Roman emperors participated themselves (though, it couldn't really be called a fair fight, as conditions were likely highly controlled).

I will never forget this place. The history of it horrified me, and yet it is so undeniably beautiful. 

After we exited the Colosseum, we waited for a tour guide shift swap and promptly made our way toward the Roman Forum. Everywhere you turned there was some magnificent piece of architecture, and we weren't even in the Forum yet.

At this point, I have to mention our tour guide, David. He was...marvelous. Born in Rome, he not only provided us with valuable and interesting information, he was naturally hilarious. A good tour guide will make you laugh despite the heat, while also managing to make the history come alive around you.

 <3

<3

 This building used to be significantly larger, and long corridors ran all the way through it. I believe I remember David telling us this used to serve as a sort of courthouse.

This building used to be significantly larger, and long corridors ran all the way through it. I believe I remember David telling us this used to serve as a sort of courthouse.

At this point, we haven't even really walked into the proper Roman Forum, but when we finally did, it was magical.

 These are the original stone steps leading into the Roman Forum. The cracks used to be tightly knit, but have slowly become worn and spread due to years and years of wear.

These are the original stone steps leading into the Roman Forum. The cracks used to be tightly knit, but have slowly become worn and spread due to years and years of wear.

 The green door to the Temple of Romulus. This is the  original  door to this place. And those purple columns on each side are made of a material called  p  orphyry , which is an incredibly valuable material that we would end up seeing a lot more of during our explorations of important places in Italy.

The green door to the Temple of Romulus. This is the original door to this place. And those purple columns on each side are made of a material called porphyry, which is an incredibly valuable material that we would end up seeing a lot more of during our explorations of important places in Italy.

At this point, David starts wrapping things up while we all sit on ancient stones and admire the amazing place surrounding us. We say goodbye to our guide, and are given free reign to roam the Forum. This means that I know significantly less about what is in the following images, other than they are original buildings, some of which have been restored, some of which haven't, and that it all was stunning.

 PC: Jay Padzensky, Editing: Nadia Padzensky

PC: Jay Padzensky, Editing: Nadia Padzensky

At the end of our first day in Rome, we were all exhausted, hungry, and a little too hot. Travel will sometimes do a weird thing to you - at the end of a long day of exploring new things, you can become so tired that your perspective temporarily shifts from one of awe and gratitude, to one of "I-am-so-done-and-I-want-sleep-forever". Even so, we made a great effort to keep our eyes and ears open as we walked back to our hostel and managed to appreciate a few more moments of magic in this beautiful place.

Next time...Day 2 in Rome: Pantheon and the Spanish Steps.