A Travellerspoint blog

Rome Oct 7

There was a tremendous thunderstorm as we ate breakfast, but it had passed and the sky cleared before we went out.

We started off by taking our hop-on hop-off bus to the stop nearest S Maria Vittoria. But even closer to the bus was another S Maria basilica which we went into.

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It is cavernous and has several points of interest. It is built on the site of Diocletian's baths and incorporates some of that structure. It has a long astronomical path inlaid into the floor and the sun shines on different markings along the path throughout the year. There is also a grand free standing organ.

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Leaving here we continued to S Maria Vittoria which is a rather small church. But it contains a Bernini sculpture, "The Ecstacy of St Theresa".

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It is hard to credit that such a lifelike thing could have been created from stone.

Next we walked down to another church, S Maria Maggiore. It is huge. It is not without beauty, or at least grandeur and opulence, but did not attract us much. We did pay to go into the treasury where there was an abundance of gold, silver and bronze things. But the embroidered vestments were the most amazing.

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We had bruschetta for lunch and then went our separate ways. Shirl came back to the hotel, intending to do some shopping on the way. I walked down to S Giovanni in Laterano, another church, the cathedral of the diocese of Rome. I guess I'm getting jaded with churches by now because this one just impressed me as immense without much scaled to human size.

From the church I walked to the Colloseum, but took the wrong road do had a rather longer walk than intended, but quite pleasant.

I didn't go in to it as the ticket line was over an hour long and then there was the security screening line after that.

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Today is Shirley's birthday, so we are going out for a proper Roman dinner.

Posted by JimShirl 10:17 Comments (0)

Rome Oct 6


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Today we went on the hop-on hop-off bus which took us all around the major sites: the Forum, Colliseum, Circus Maximus, etc.

We got off at the stop nearest the Vatican just as it began to rain. Fortunately we had umbrellas. We went off in search of the Pantheon, which is not particularly easy to find, but well worth it.

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This is as close as you're going to get to walking into a classical Roman building.

It was a fairly long walk from there to St Peter's. We had "skip the line" tickets to pick up audio guides. Well, there was no lineup for audio guides, but there was a 45 minute lineup to go through the security check point.

It was very crowded in the Basilica, but it is an awesome place.

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We had been here two years ago, but somehow I'd missed that there are several popes' bodies displayed behind glass under altars in the side chapels, including that of John XXIII. A bit creepy to me.

Posted by JimShirl 09:26 Comments (0)

Moscow to Rome Oct 5


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Just a travel day. We flew Air Baltic via Riga.
Every airline has its peculiarities. This one does not allow carry on bags weighing more than eight kg. If it is heavier than that, you must check it for €53.
Read the small print.
We had hired a car and driver in Rome and a charming young woman drove is to our hotel, Domus Terentia. Another of my bargain choices this one is a real winner.

Posted by JimShirl 09:26 Comments (0)

Sergiev Posad Oct 4


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We took the train out to Sergiev Posad in the morning. SP is a large monastery complex founded by St Sergei about 700 years ago. It is remarkably beautiful.

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As is usual, there were several medium and small sized churches in the compound, each richly decorated with frescoes and icons. There is also a large church dedicated to the Dormition of Mary.

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Russian churches do not have musical instruments, deeming the human voice alone to be fitting for praising God. But they also don't have stained glass, which I would have thought was a natural choice for them, considering how richly decorated they are in other ways.

I lost my wallet here. But when I retraced my steps, I found it in the souvenir shop where a costumer and cashier were going through it and trying to figure out how to email me. I offered a small reward, but the young cashier absolutely refused it.

We looked for a place to have a bite to eat and found a sign for a cafe. The door opened onto a set of stairs down to a small basement room with about six tables. We ordered borscht and rye bread. I kid you not, it was the best tasting soup I've ever had.

Posted by JimShirl 11:07 Comments (1)

Moscow Oct 3


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The tour took us back down to visit the Kremlin. The Kremlin is the old walled city within a city and is like a large compound filled with numerous buildings. Such as a royal palace

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and, of course, churches.

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After the Kremlin tour, we decided not to go back to the boat for lunch, since it was 45 minutes to an hour by bus each way and we were coming on the afternoon tour to the Novodevichy convent. So we stayed behind, visited GUM briefly again and wandered the streets a bit. Found a sidewalk cafe for a lunch of delicious small pasta like pockets of veal, chicken, mushroom, and numerous other varieties.

As we walked, we passed the Bolshoi theatre

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and a Lego Yoda.

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We took the Metro a few stops to meet up with our tour again. The Metrp station we exited from had one of the longest escalators I have ever seen.

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We visited the Novodevichy convent. It was used as a repository for female relatives of the tsars who were awkward to have around. Peter the Great's half sister Sophia was one such. He tried to intimidate her further by having executions conducted outside her window and ordering that the corpses be left there for two months.

But the place is quite beautiful nonetheless.

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Next to the convent is a cemetery where many great Russians are buried, including Anna Pavlova

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Anton Chekhov

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and Nikita Khrushchev.

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Posted by JimShirl 13:18 Comments (0)

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