Saturday, July 28, 2007

So then I went to Germany - First stop was Nuremberg

This message was started when I was in Koblenz, but I was interrupted before I finished and never got around to it till now.

For those who've been waiting I'm starting to catch up and will hopefully have some more stuff up soon.
Hello again. I'm trying to catch up a little before I go to Pennsic tomorrow (yes, tomorrow - it hardly seems true). Okay -

So I'd been to Venice, now I had to go to Nuremberg. Caught a train to historic Verona (keeping eyes out for star-crossed lovers) and changed to a north running train to Munich (running through Austria). Travelling north from Verona I started travelling through mountains that

are the eastern extension of the Alps. With some glorious vistas like this one.

Then from Munich, I changed over to another train that took me to Nuremberg where I was met by Anna & Agilmar. We stowed my gear in a locker at the train station (on to Berlin the next day) and then headed out for a good old fashioned German dinner, via a number of important landmarks (dinner was pork shoulder with potato dumplings, lots of gravy and a very large beer (Anna please provide me with the correct German name for this meal if you could).

Before I went there, all I knew about Nuremberg was that it was the headquarters for the Nazi propaganda machine and that they held the trials there afterwards.

However, it was a very important medieval city, has lots of medieval structures still around including some wonderful fountains (including this one with a nice Pelican, doing what we know best (helping others)).

The next day I went out and looked around the town - starting with the castle at the top of the hill. Its a very impressive structure, with extra walls added in the 15th century to deal with the threat of cannons. The castle (and town) were very important within the empire of Charlemagne and then later through most of the medieval times.

It also hosts the German National Museum which I also attended (and have the book of, and I guarantee has something of interest in it for everybody). The cannon is fairly special because it is a wooden barrel (double click on the picture and have a close up look - there is a steel piece in the mouth of the gun, but this is only a few centremetres deep then it is just wooden barrel. They have a nice collection of armour and weaponry there (not huge but still nice as you can see).

The postcards from Germany (see earlier post) are all from Nuremberg.

I eventually dragged myself away and headed off to the train station, and Berlin (where Swanhild met me at her local train station - very convenient).

More on Berlin soon.



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Venice - some pictures

Okay guys

Here are some of the pictures of Venice. It was nice, but I didn't fall in love with it or anything.

Now - I didn't take a whole heap of scenic pictures of Venice, because you get those everywhere.

I was more interested in the activities that made up this city and the people.

Firstly a practical matter. That green boat that you can see (middle right) is a garbage boat, collecting the rubbish from the days market.
And then here is one collecting the rubbish from a cruise liner that has come into port (big ship, next picture gives you an idea just how big).

Anyhow. When I turned up, I found my hotel, dumped my gear and then wandered back out to see the people and places of this town.

I soon found this site. These people are dancing in front of and on a large fishing vessel. Picture several of these fishing ships, docked one after the other, each with stereos blasting different music. Around each there is a bunch of young people (est. 16 to 22yrs) with a smattering of older people, dancing to the music and jumping into the lagoon (then getting out, dancing again, drinking and jumping again.

Now the next couple of pictures give you an idea of the construction of this place. It has a really good medieval feel, simply because so much of it is not built on straight lines. The streets (foot paths) are tight, winding and so are the canals. I did get lost on the night that I had arrived, you can't see enough sky to get reference from and there is no sun to guide you.

Unfortunately, the next couple of pictures are as close to the Arsenele as I got - the only part that was open involved a modern art gallery & was too costly to be bothered with - so I circumnavigated the vast area and saw it from the outside. Still pretty impressive (give how much of a premium land was and is, it was very dedicated of them to put so much land aside).

The first picture is the "gateway" into the Arsenele from the Grand Canal. I guess this was used by officials arriving and such (staff maybe).

The other entrance accesses the lagoon on the other side (away from the Grand Canal, with a direct access to the sea from there.

There were towers all along the lagoon side, and where it was butting up to other islands, the canals around it are wide enough to stop you getting to the walls easily, but narrow enough to stop major engines being brough to bear - a real castle surrounded by moat.

Anyhow, that'll do for Venice - except one last picture showing me reflected in a window, just to prove I was there (Of course, with my choices of photographs, its pretty easy to tell that it was me taking them of course).

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Milan - the pictorial version

Okay, now Milan was a bit of a wild card for me. Ulisse (Victor) seemed like a really nice guy, but apart from fashion (which funnily enough I'm not really into) I really didn't know much about Milan when planning my itinerary.

Looking it up I found that it has a very well known cathedral (with lots of Gothic work). So I planned to have a look at that.

Now, to be fair, when I arrived I was a little overwhelmed by all the options open to me (offered by Victor). However, I decided that the best option was just to take the map provided, head to the Duomo and take things from there. He told me that there was also a good castle in the centre of Milan, with museams in it - well, that sounded like the day all sorted.

That night (that I arrived), after updating some blogs, offloading pictures from my camera to my memory stick and calling Judith, Victor took me out for dinner. We then went on to a bar he goes to regularly and I got to observe Italian night life.

The next day, I headed off into town.

This view of the Duomo (Cathedral) was the first thing I saw when I stepped out of the train station (Duomo station of course). It is very impressive (but undergoing repairs, so the boards get in the way of the full view.

Here you can see the bronze front doors. These are a 19th century addition, this church was built over a period of 500 odd years (due to varying financing concerns by the "city council") but has then had additional works done over following years (including the doors in the late 19th century (I think thats correct). Just to the left of the guy in the blue hat, you can see a bit of the bronze door with its original "sheen".

And here you can see that whilst it is the leg of one of the figures, it is a convenient hand hold for the tourists and is kept nice & shiny by them.

Okay, so next I went looking for some breakfast. Really looking for something cheap but Italian (however really hoping for somewhere I could get a GOOD cup of tea (a problem in Italy).

Well, I wandered in the big fancy shopping centre that comes of Duomo square, and looking at the price lists, it didn't look like the place for me.

Underneath the big dome, appear to be a central shopping point for those with the cash.

Bernascion on one corner

on the next corner

Louis Vuitton on the 3rd corner.

But have no fear, I'd been wrong before and would be this time - of course there was somewhere to get a reasonble cup of tea.

MCDONALDS!!! (Hey, at least the stock English Breakfast tea as standard all around the world) on the 4th corner. Who knew that they were a major fashion industry icon???? I just about needed a toilet when I took these photos. Unfortunately, at this point Milan lost any credibility it might have had with me as being a major fashion location.

It does however have some other nice stuff.

So, off I went to the Castle. Streets were no where near as chaotic as Rome or Naples (This was a good thing). The castle didn't really hold itself to any good photos (from the right distance there were too many things in the way, and up close doesn't do it justice). I wandered through the various museums contained within - nice stuff including some wonderful paintings which have some detailed clothing on them - will investigate when I return home.

Anyway - eventually got kicked out around 1:30pm (didn't do anything wrong, they just close for an hour at lunch). Decided I could be bothered hanging around, so I wandered off (starting to get hungary at this point and keeping my eye open for a good restaurant.

This is the restaurant that I found. The manager didn't speak English, but grabbed the Chef, who did. He then proceeded to serve me & check on me through the 2 course meal.
It was a simple, wholesome meal from a very simple little restaurant. The frontage is only that little awning, and a very basic menu - and yet, a brilliant meal for a reasonable price.

So then I continued wandering through town, towards the graveyard (which jumped out at me on the map). It seemed very big (and it was).

These are just a few of the family shrines in the yard of this massive graveyard.

Some of these individual (or family) shrines, are far bigger than the some small local churches built in Australia around the same time (1800's).

The graveyard continued on, and on, and on. It was a marvel to view and I was just staggered by the size and creativity that went into some of the structures. The picture on the right (with the shrine undergoing repair) is actually from the Jewish corner (separated from the rest of the graveyard interestingly, however it appears to have survived WWII mostly intact).

Anyhow, after walking through this graveyard for many hours, I made my way back to Victor's. This last photo is my favourite piece from this garden - not for the actual artwork but just the work that went into this single shrine - dedicated to one person or family (the door at the bottom is at least 6ft high).

And that my friends, is Milan.

Hopefully I'll be able to cover more in the next couple of days.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Catching up - update and observations on Europe

Okay. As mentioned my plans went a little astray once I went to the UK.
  • Trains were more expensive than I expected.
  • Didn't have proper contact details for one of my contacts (my fault, should've chased up earlier).
  • Trains in France didn't go where I wanted them to.
So. I ended up spending two nights in a bed & breakfast in London, and one night at a cheap hotel in Paris (which took a really long time to find). I have done a lot of "shit, well that won't work, okay lets work out something else" over the last few days.

Left Edinburgh by train, hoping to check my emails when I got to Lichfield (its the UK, should be plenty of internet availability, even on a Sunday night - WRONG).
Got to Birmingham to discover trains weren't running to Lichfield City, so had to jump on bus. Get off bus at Lichfield city to find ticket office open, but no toilets or internet anywhere (tree sorted out the first, but for the 2nd I ended up calling Fiona in London (after trying the local police station, hoping to beg access to internet)). No emails from my host, no success with directory assistance. Decided to give it (& Fiona) a couple of hours. Went to local hotel, who sent my host an email with their phone number) and I went and had dinner in their restaurant (expensive but hey, they were helping me out).

End of dinner, still no response so made the decision, on to London tonight. Manage to catch last train (bus connection to train point broke down, so had to catch a taxi). Get to railway station to discover no lifts (when I arrived a lady in wheelchair was being helped down the stairs by four gentlemen). Of course upon checking it was revealed that my platform was the one on the otherside, helpful fellow from the rail company helped me with my bags.

Caught train to London. Got in and went wandering for Hostel. Found the YHA - no rooms, all booked up. Fellow their referred me to other Hostel, all full. Fellow at that place referred me to Bed & Breakfasts up the road. Expensive but found a room (and swapped into a cheaper room the next morning).

Next day (Monday), went out and did the London tour, then went to the Natural History Museum of London (nice dinosaur collection). Stopped by major train station to arrange my ticket to Dover the next day and then off to the Pub to meet with local SCA'rs - none turned up - nasty wet day, problems with tube stations overcrowded and probably just busy.

Next day (Tuesday), caught train to Dover. Originally looking to catch tube to correct station, but was going to have to transfer - all too hard, caught a cab. Absolutely lovely cabbie. Was discussing my travels, problems with costs in UK and current financial difficulties. Got to the station, cost was 11pounds - cabbie told me just pay him ten (that was cool & unexpected).

Dover - met up with trio of American girls (backpackers). They were having timing issues with getting to Paris. Ended up on the same Ferry across to France and then travelled to Lille with them (they couldn't get the earlier train with their Eurail passes that I caught). Told them about the walking tour in Paris the next day and did catch up with them then.

Got to Paris about 10pm. Train station had too much security - made you feel concerned (if they need that much security here, how am I going to be on the streets???). Found luggage lockers (passed through airport like security to get there). Walked around town for about 1.5hrs to find a cheap hotel.

Next day, got up and walked around town for about 1.5hrs to find an internet cafe (I walked past one right near my hotel at 8:50am which wasn't going to open until 10am). I figured I'd find another nearby. I ended up finding one (a long way from where I started) about 10:20am. I needed to look up where the Paris tour was meeting (I didn't know, just knew that the normal start time was 11am so was running out of time). Finally something went my may, the meeting point was only a 10 minute walk from where I was.

Walking tour was good - the American chicks had turned up so it was good to be able to share the tour with some people who I knew (a little bit).

Left the tour at about 2pm, made my way to the train station. Guy at train station told me there was no trains to Luxemberg and no way of getting to Koblenz [today]. I pushed and got him to check in various ways and he found me a seat to Luxemberg (1st class, expensive, but no more than cost of hotel, dinner & breakfast would have been - and I really wanted to get out of France).

2 trains later & I was at Trier train station - in Germany. I found the train I needed, had time to call my host & confirm I'd be in at the expected time on the planned train (which was running despite what the guy in Paris told me (he thought I'd be stuck in Luxemberg overnight). Bought a beer for the trip and got on the final train. Sat back & when I saw the sign [on the train] saying "Koblenz" I cracked the beer and celebrated.

If I return Europe, I think I'll stick with Germany & Scotland - the rest is just not for me (Italy was okay but Germany is much better and friendlier).

Anyhow, now I'm in Koblenz with Axel & Cornelia (Falco & Eyda), and we're off to take in some scenery & history this afternoon.

I'm sorting out my photos and will start posting the visual tours of each city soon (there are so many still to be done; Milan, Venice, Nuremberg, Berlin, Edinburgh, York, London & Paris).

I am really looking forward to Pennsic next week.

Cheers for now

Back in Germany - at last

Well, I arrived in Koblenz this evening (finally).

Paris - been there, done that, photos will follow. But it really isn't that great (to me anyway). But I never really wanted to go there (there intrastate railroad system reminds of Melbournes metro system - all rails lead to Paris.

Anyhow, I'm here, and Falco & Eyda are great people. I'm here for a few days and expect to be able to publish a few more city blogs whilst I'm here.

On Sunday, I leave for Pennsic (YAY).

Until tomorrow - cheers

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Rant about New Europe tours plus photos - Part 1

Hi guys

Well - I saw London today, taking another New Europe tour - they are REALLY REALLY GOOD and if you are in any of the cities they cover for holidays, definately take their tour to start with - it gives you a really good basic grounding in the major things and then you can follow up those that you want further.

Fiona met me today & joined in the tour - I think the 7km of walking did her in.

Anyway, here is a picture from my tour of Berlin, can you find me in the picture (That's right, it time to once again play "Where's Hanbal???"
The girl in front (in the red shirt, big grin) is Melanie, who was our tour guide. Just Brilliant. I really hope she continues doing this for the long haul, because the more people who get to see her in action, the better.

I have some more photos on my camera and USB but will wait till I'm not in a internet cafe to update my pages some more.

I have now done the Berlin, Edinburgh & London tours. All were really good and fun, just what I needed.

Anyhow, catch you all later (next post possibly from France (Normandy), Holland (Arnhem) or Germany (Koblenz)). Not really sure.

I should be checking my emails once more before I leave tomorrow morning however.



Monday, July 23, 2007

Slight change of plans

Well, Lichfield didn't quite work out.

I realised on Saturday night that I didn't actually have any contact details for the person in Lichfield except for an email address (my bad, I thought I had it in amongst all the other emails I had received, but no).
I went to Lichfield, tried to track them down (thanks Fiona for your assistance as well) but no luck, so have moved straight on to London and will be out for a walking tour today.

Tomorrow I'll be straight off to Normandy (1 day early), so I may hopefully be able to view the Normandy Beaches + Bayeux tabestry, as well as then going to Arnhem the day after, then on to Koplenz (arriving there the day I thought but probably earlier).



Sunday, July 22, 2007

Edinburgh today

Well - today was a change of plans. The SCA event became inaccessible as the guy who was going to give us a lift was involved in a car accident (he's okay, but car isn't).

So - I went & explored Edinburgh instead.

It was very cool. Again, I learned a number of things I didn't know. I then did the Real Mary Kings Close tour as well (a part of the city that was covered over & buried "as is" in the 1600's).

I'll write more later. But I will say this, if you get the chance to try a "New Europe walking tour", take it. They are really, REALLY good. Hence, I'll be doing a 3rd one when I get to London (if I get to London, which is possibly facing serious flooding in the next few days & so may not be accessible from where I'm staying (so it would be 2 days in Wales at that point)).


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Saturday, July 21, 2007

In the UK - went to York

Hello everybody.

Well - I made it to a place where they speak English again (if with a heavy accent), and day tripped to the Ancient City of York today - very cool. I saw stuff about Vikings, stuff about Romans, stopped in at the fire station, had a quick look at their trucks, said "G'day" and walked along some very nice walls (amongst other things).

Tomorrow I have a demo/ fighter training / A&S thingy at a castle here in Edinburgh - photos will of course follow later.



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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Okay - my trip through Pompei

Alright, I am in Berlin and have finally found a bit of time to catch up on my blogging before I flz out to Edinburgh. Wasn't in the mood to do much foot-slogging today (and the walking tour I did yesterday fun by New Europe tours was brilliant).

Pompei (oh so long ago now). Okay, on arrival you are hit by the eary quiet - you can almost see the ancients travelling along these streets.
This is the view of Pompei from the front entrance (near the station). The steep road you see going up the middle is the entrance road that you climb to get into the city - those ancients were definately fit, it is steep.

Okay, in case anyone doesn't know, Pompei was an ancient town at the foot of Mt Vesuvius (Italy) which is an active volcano. The city itself dates to before the Roman Empire, but at the time of the events I will describe it had become a part of the Empire. In 79AD the volcano errupted & covered the town in ash & rock (very thoroughly) and it remained so until it was discovered about 200 years ago. The first attempts at unveiling the city were by empire driven forces, who took what they found away (empiracal looting). However from the mid to early 20th century, proper archeological excavation was commenced.
Here you can see Mt Vesuvius hovering in the near distance. The lower peak on the right is all thats left of the 79AD erruption (it was much higher and apparently blew itself apart like Mt St Helens). The peak on the right has formed over the past 2 thousand years (and is due to go again - however Mt Etna appears to be a release valve for it, so as long as Etna keeps venting, Vesuvius will (hopefully) remain quiet). This area of green was one of the main gathering areas of the town (forum).

What many people don't know is that the city was shaken by earthquakes (caused by the volcano) 17 years before the eruption. When you look through the town with knowledge you see a lot of the repair work that occured during that 17yrs, with a lot of it done in brickwork, rather than the original large marble or cobblestones.
It is still an active archeological site, with much of the town still being unearthed. Some of the villas have been replanted with the same plants that were originally there, as can be surmised from seed records in those locations and records of the citizens.

The streets are just great to behold. They are solid works of art that really show just how long they have been there. The citizens did not have active underground sewers, so any & all rubbish was thrown into the streets, to be washed away when there was rain. Hence there are stepping stones across the street (because noone really wanted to walk in that filth). Due to these stones, the romans standardised the width these stones could be, and the wheel base of all carts, so that carts could travel along these streets without snagging on the stepping stones. In this picture you can see the wheel ruts in the stone (around a missing stepping stone), which gives you idea just how long this was here and how well used.

Now of course, the other thing that the ash did was cover up the bodies of people caught in the town very quickly. So quickly infact that it left "hollow spaces" which now onlý contain the bones of those who died. Filling these wholes with plaster, the archeologists are thus able to recreate people of this city in their last moments.
This person is surrounded by pots and other items. Most of these items were in this building (some kind of warehouse).

The fellow to the left is obviously trying to hide from the problem, whereas the lady on the right (who was originally found facing up) appears to be pregnant.

I have many other cool pictures, but these will have to wait till I get home & do a show and tell.

I will just finish with one last photograph, of some early Roman artwork - this ones especially for those out there who like phallic symbols.

This picture is mounted just inside the entrance to a villa. It is facing the front door, so everyone walking in sees it. It is apparently a dedication to the spirit of fertility (in case you hadn't guessed).

Oh well, off to Edinburgh now.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Postcards from Germany and now in Berlin

So, I'm now in Berlin, and heading out to see some sights shortly.

For those who wanted some postcards from overseas, here they are. Again, I'll be doing up some more detailed city by city reports later.
I saw some of Nuremberg yesterday and got some good photos (this one from the night I arrived)
This of the river.
And this. And this of the Castle.More to follow later - bye for now.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What are the odds???

Okay, just a quick post.

I´m now in Nuremberg, Germany. Had dinner with Agilmar (corrected) & Anna (great & funny couple).

Last night, decided to plan a relative early night (the festival the night before & all that). Went back to my room, had my shower, waited for Anna to call and then thought I´ll get a quick bite to eat & then bed.

Local restaurant looked a bit stuffy for one so scruffy as me, so went down the road to pizzeria, got a take away pizza (had a cup of tea whilst I was waiting - not so common in Italy)).

Pizza in hand I decided that it might be nice to head down to the waterfront and watch the activity on the Lagoon whilst I ate my dinner.

I get down there and oops, disturbed a girl who had the same idea. I said sorry & she celebrated finding another aussie. Yet, not only is she from Australia, but Ivanhoe, Melbourne (less than 25 kms from where I live in Australia). She´s been travelling for over a month already in Spain, so we spent about 1.5hrs just chatting & exchanging stories about "those europeans". We headed back to the hotel (she was staying in the same one). I showed her my SCA armour (cause of course I´d mentioned it) and she left to go to her room (introducing herself as the last thing she did and I promptly forgot it). I went on to the balcony to read whilst having a drink (iced tea) and she came down a minute later - her partner had left a note on the bed advising he was out looking for her (but had his mobile with him). She called & he came back.

But what are the odds - 2 aussies on the same place with the same idea, half a world away from home.


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Monday, July 16, 2007

Italy coming to end - and on to Germany


I've been flat-out site-seeing today in Venice. Last night there was a Festival with Fireworks run to modern music - very clever & well done - although Venice is the city of love & it was thus lost on me a bit being on my own here.

I'm currently in a hotel lobby using their internet with only 24 minutes left. After that I've got to get back to my hotel and have a shower (funnily enough, hot days in a city full of water means lots of humidity).

Okay - lets see what I can cover of the last few days here (briefly) - with a more thorough update to follow later for each town.

POMPEI - Wednesday 11 July
Okay, initially I thought I'd be clever and catch the ferry, rather than the train to Pompei (my Lonely Planet did mention there was a ferry from port [x]). What it didn't say was that there were 2 primary ports in Naples and I went to the wrong one.

I did however find a castle - pretty cool for my first up close & personal (but I was there to early to go in & didn't find my way back later on).

After this I then tried to catch the public transport to the other port - eventually successful only to be told "not today, come back tomorrow" - bugger.

I made my way back to the train station - fairly tired by this time (around 10am - I was up at like 5am though). Got a package tour (train plus admission plus guide) and again it was the right thing to do.

Arrived at Pompei station - the entrance is only about 500 metres from the station which is good - leaves all your energy for walking around the site.

POMPEI ROCKS - I highly suspect that it may be the best bit of my entire trip - it will definately be in my top 5 things that I did (yes I will make up some of these lists when I get back home). If you are interested in how they built things that long ago, GO TO POMPEI (or the other less well known dig that I can't remember right now (Rebecca please write in with the name - starts with a H).

I'll tell you more about it later - need photos I took to help with story.

Milan - Thursday 12 July (arrive) and 13 July (explore)
Travelled from Naples to Milan by train - all worked out well and found Victor without to much trouble (except that wheels on armour bag have completely died now and its just being dragged along -will probably have to be replaced before I get home (sorry dear)).

Victor makes me realise just how casual we are with our SCA in Australia - he really doesn't like the idea of any mundanity at an event (he was commenting that he wasn't sure if he wanted to go to Pennsic because he heard they used trestle tables - I let him know that it would be a much bigger shock than just that).

Anyhow, we went out dinner that night, and then a bar he is known well at.

Next day out wandering Milan - I'll talk more later, but the differences between Naples & everywhere else were starting to become very apparent (cleaner, friendlier, more complete).

More to follow later.

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Catching up - Rome

Okay - haven't been writing much cause I've been busy walking around taking photos & stuff.

Now for a bit more detail about my travels - finally have the chance to take the time, upload a number of photos etc.

Rome (Tuesday, 10 July 2007)

Okay, caught an early train to Rome from Naples (had to get up early every morning I was in Naples as I had to get lifts with Matt each morning and being the US Navy he has to be in early).

Arrived in Rome & wandered out into the street (with all the other tourists (both Italian & foreign). Considered catching the tourist bus, but as I didn't have the correct change the lady wouldn't let me on - so instead I started off on foot in the direction of the Coluseum (please excuse any typos in place names throughout this blog).

After only walking a couple of city blocks, it was very evident that Obelix was correct "These Romans are crazy!" The drive just as crazily as the Napolese and they park literally everywhere (traffic islands, scooters parked between cars so the cars cannot move at all - hopefully the picture makes this clear).

Anyhow, continued on & found this lovely large ancient building, the "Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore". This building was originally named the "Santa Maria della Neve" and was built by Pope Liberius in 352 AD (after the Virgin Mary instructed him to build a church on the spot where snow next fell. As you can see it is a very impressive structure. I had to go across the street to take the photo (and had to wait for there to be no buses in the way).

I continued on. The main road turned away from the direction I wanted to go, so I took to the back streets and found one of those typical side streets we see in the movies - with the very long & steep stairs.

I came to this nice park where was a number of ancient ruined buildings, as well as a strange German fellow speaking earnestly to a pidgeon (which was sitting down, facing him & patiently listening).

And then I found the Colluseum. And it really does make you feel small and reminds you how clever the ancients that built it were. I got the same sense of "smallness" that I had when I walk past the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground). Have a look at the size of the people in front of it - the arches are huge.

First I saw it through the trees, then I approached and walked around it (noting the very long queue inside which I may now have to face).

Got around to the entrance and had a giggle to myself. There were a number of "Roman Legionaires" in full costume wandering around, trying to get paid to be in photos with tourists (and being ignored by most). The guy that I ended up having a photo with was on his mobile 10 mins earlier - talk about anachronistic.

Anyway - the tour commenced & we proceeded inside. The main thing we learned was that the building that we know (& love) today is nothing compared to how it looked in its hayday. All the columns were covered in marble. There were marble seats around the whole gallery (this example has been rebuilt using materials recovered onsite).

The other thing that came out of it was that the entire floor was a "wooden" stage floor, with cleverly constructed trap doors - and it was just kept covered in sand. They have recreated part of it as shown in this last photo of the coluseum.

When I left I just started wandering south (hoping to get to the catacombs but not really expecting to as they were a long way & it was a hot day). I did experience lots of back streets and see many old buildings (most of Rome is old buildings that have been adapted to modern uses).

Having travelled as far from the centre as I really wanted in a southly direction, I jumped on the underground & went to the Vatican. Had a quick look, took a few photos & moved on.

I then wandered past the Pantheon & then made way back to the train station & then "home" to Naples.

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