Archive for May, 2008

A Little bit of Bowling on Tuesday

// May 28th, 2008 // No Comments » // Trip to Sweden 2008

Rhonda and I have been married 3 years now and we went out to bowl a bit for our anniversary on Tuesday. (I know your thinking that’s really romantic. ) Anyways, we had a bit of dinner at the LaVacca restaurant downstairs and made our way to the bowling alley just a few blocks away.

It’s a bit different than the states. You have to reserve your alley ahead of time which I did earlier that day. Plus, you rent it by the hour. For the 2 of us with rental shoes it cost $57.00 for 1 hour. Hmmm. That’s a bit different than when my Grandmother first took me bowling and it cost a $1.40 per game. Also, the dance music was cranked up, the lights were dimmed, and image lights were spinning around on the lanes. The place was full and everybody was enjoying it.

Anyways, we were able to play 3 games. Rhonda did very well right away. She had 129, 168 and 129. She had been here earlier in the month with her co-workers and so she had some practice. I steadily improved with a 130, 155, and 192.

Chad

Skydive Vårgårda

// May 26th, 2008 // No Comments » // Trip to Sweden 2008

This weekend we decided to take a day and go jumping. The dropzone we found was called Hoppafallskarm. The translation is something like “jump parachute”. Someone correct me if you know the proper translation. For now, we’ll call it Skydive Vårgårda. (What you could think of here is the English word “afford”. The ‘o’-sound is very close to what ‘å’ sounds like.)

The trip was only an hour away from Göteborg, so it was a very fast trip to the DZ. Upon arrival we were greeted at manifest by Mia, who helped us get everything
going.

The hangar was full with a brand new PAC 750. It just flew in the night before and had a manufactured date of MAY 2008 on the ID tag. It even smelled new with a touch of jet fuel in the air. Maybe we would get to jump out of this one?? Unfortunately, we arrived on a weekend reserved for tandem jumping. The new PAC was not yet ready for jumpers and their 2nd PAC was in Stockholm for the weekend. So, we worked in a few solo jumps into the busy tandem schedule on their Cessna 182.

We each made a single jump and had a great time. Everyone at the DZ was great and very inviting. We learned where the PAC was going to be next weekend and also where we should travel in Norway to watch base jumping should we happen to get there.

We found out the DZ was limited to 10 loads per day from 10 am until 5 pm. Outside of that, they can not jump at all. They worked out a new deal when they purchased their 2nd PAC and now they can do up to 18 loads a day from 10 am until 6 pm. This is extremely restrictive compared to the States, but I guess this is the law. I could feel they probably wanted more time to jump (i.e. past 6 pm), but for now they at least get more loads in the limited amount of time.

We also found out the DZ is ran as a non profit corporation. In fact all DZs are this way in Sweden. Each DZ is a club and members pay a fee each year and are then responsible for the upkeep of the DZ.

We walked to the far end of the DZ and found a bunk house with a big screen projection system, about 10 bunks, a bar, and several TV screens, plus they had a huge deck outside. There were a few trailers parked out front. The placed looked very comfortable for a dropzone.

After each making a jump, we decided to call it a day and head for home.

We can now say we made a skydive in Sweden!

Here’s a photo of the first sign you see walking in.

Chad

Småland

// May 20th, 2008 // No Comments » // Trip to Sweden 2008

Rhonda: This past weekend we decided to make a trip to Småland. It is basically an area in southern Sweden which today is sometimes referred to as the “Kingdom of Crystal”. There are 15 different glassworks located throughout Småland. Chad and I were able to visit 4 of them on Saturday. I was hoping to be able to watch some of the glassblowers actually performing their work, but the glassblowing tours are only held during the weekdays.

Our first glassworks stop was at Mats Jonasson in Målerås. This was by far the best one out of the four. They had a very nice gallery that displayed some of their very expensive glass art work. Also, their products in the gift shop were arranged in a good way and separated by category. Their glass products were truly art rather than glassware used in the kitchen which I enjoyed.

The next three glassworks that we visited were Johansfors, Boda, and Pukeberg. Pukeberg was such a funny name, that I just had to see what it was all about. So, I was able to talk Chad into checking it out. It ended up to being nice with a museum on the lower floor and a gift shop on the second floor.

After our glassworks tours, we headed to Kalmar which is a city on the southeast coast of Sweden. Our hotel was right on the water. It was perfectly located for us to visit the old Kalmar Cathedral and the Kalmar Castle.

When we arrived, we checked into our hotel, then went directly to see the Cathedral. It is an Italian baroque style cathedral, built in the 17th century. The original town of Kalmar was located just beside the castle, but during war with the Danish, the town was constantly being threatened. A decision was then made to move the town just north of the existing location for better protection from the Danes.

Upon arrival to the Cathedral, there was a large crowd outside of the Church, so we assumed that a wedding was just performed. We decided to go to a nearby sportsbar for a quick drink, and then check to see if the crowd had dissipated. We were correct! After about 30 minutes, we were able to visit the inside of the church to take pictures. It was beautiful!

For dinner, we got a great recommendation from our hotel reception. We had dinner next door to our hotel at a restuarant called Hamnkrogen. When we sat down at our table, we were told that we would have shrimps for an appetizer, lamb and potatoes for the main course, and some type of pudding for desert. Chad and I were both very surprised that we didn’t have a choice of what we would have to eat. We didn’t say anything, because we thought we were at special place, and that was just the way it was. After dinner, our waitress told us that she had made a mistake and confused our reservation with someone else. Oh well, she gave us a great discount we enjoyed a meal that we most likely would not have chosen!

On Sunday, our goal was to visit the Kalmar Castle and take a drive over to the island of Öland.

The Castle didn’t open until 11AM, so we decided to take a walk through the old town of Kalmar. The only thing left of the old town was some old cobble stone streets, a garden, a graveyard, and some very nice residental homes.

Chad: After our walk through old town we made our way to the front gate of the castle. It was still a bit early so we decided to walk the outside perimeter. We searched and found the only way up the inside embankment. From there we could walk the entire perimeter of the castle. We found some very old canons used for protection. We could also see all other areas of the city and the sea very easily. By the time we walked the entire outer grounds, it was time for the castle to open up.

We made our way to the central courtyard, then went inside the gift shop and purchased some tour passes. They only offer tours in Swedish, but we were told that all the signs were in English, so we went on our own to tour the Castle. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed in the Castle. We only have photos from the outside.

We made our way to all areas in the castle. I have listed some that stood out for me.

Off of the side of the banquet hall was the King’s bedroom. It was restored in perfect detail. It had wooden pictures of hunting scenes in extreme detail. I had not seen anything like that.

There was also the prison for men which was just a very deep hole in the ground surrounded by many feet of thick rock. In most cases people were in there for life. They were lowered in with a manual elevator. They were given only bread and water to live on. Fresh air came from a small sewer pipe, believe it or not. They never got out. Prison in those days was extremely difficult compared to today.

All of the rooms in the castle were huge compared to what we are used to. There was a fireplace in each, but I don’t see how it could have warmed up the rooms that big, no matter how large the fire was.

Rhonda: The one room in the Castle that got my attention was the women’s prison. The women were punished a certain way depending on what bad deed was performed. It was written in detail what happened to each.

Each room of the Castle was huge! There was a Queen’s living quarters and a King’s living quarters. Also, a lot of the castle had been restored, especially the ceiling and the floors.

After visiting the Castle, we took a drive over the bridge to the island of Öland. The bridge was completed in 1972.

Basically the island at one time contained over 2000 wooden windmills. Today, only about 300 remain. Chad took some good pictures of a few of them. Also, the Öland Island is known for being very popular for camping! There are a ton of camp sites located throughout.

Check out all of Chad’s pictures from the weekend below!

A Long Weekend in Rome

// May 10th, 2008 // No Comments » // Trip to Sweden 2008

Chad: After going to London this past weekend, we traveled to Rome this weekend. We really seem to be traveling a lot. So far we have enjoyed it.

We traveled on RyanAir again to Bergamo, Italy. We first thought we would just go to Milan and possibly Venice, but after more research we learned we might enjoy Rome more. From Bergamo, we took a bus to the Milan central train station. The streets are narrow and cars are everywhere. Very aggressive driving by some cars.

Rhonda: During our ride to Milan, I saw what looked like a bunch of tiny little tornado clouds starting from the ground a going up about 10-15 feet or so. There were a ton of these little tornadoes… like I would see about 20, then a little while later, I would see about 20 more. I nudged Chad in the side and said, look at those tiny clouds! What are they? Chad said, “Oh, that reminds me of back home”. What do you mean? Chad said, “They’re mosquitos! We have them back in North Dakota”. Oh my gosh, I don’t want to be near one of those at all. I hope we don’t see anymore of those!

Chad: One of the first things we noticed is very few people speak English so we printed a book of phrases to work on. It is still difficult to communicate, but it does help.

Milan Central is a huge train station. When we arrived, we really could not easily tell
where we were. It appeared we were on the side of the station somewhere. So, we just made our way to the closest street to view the street sign. The street name just happened to be the name of the street where our hotel was on. We started walking and after crossing 2 streets, we realized that we were walking in the wrong direction. We quickly turned around and walked our way to the hotel. A very nice hotel not far from the station.

Rhonda: When we arrived in Milan, I noticed along our route there were a bunch of residential buildings. Everywhere I looked, there was graffiti. Not pretty… It looked like we must be in the older part of town. I was thinking to myself, I am glad we are going to Rome tomorrow…I think city of Milan is just one big industry. The Milan central train station is absolutely huge and from the outside looks more like a historical museum of some sort. Very nice building, but there were a lot of construction everywhere to restore it.

Chad: That evening we had dinner and turned in early for our train ride to Rome in the morning.

Breakfast was a little on the different side. Mainly European style with sandwiches, but they did have somecereal and tea and that turned out good.

From there we checked out and went to the train station. Our ticket was label destination Roma at 8:00 AM. So, we were looking at the list of departures for “Roma” for 8 o’clock. Nowhere to be found. Nothing anywhere. Hmmm, what’s going on?

Rhonda: This was weird not to see “Roma” in the departure list! When we first arrived, I saw a train for “Roma” leaving at 7:10, so I just thought we were early and would see another one for “Roma” at 8 soon. But, it never happened. There were other trains listed that were up to 8:15, so where was our train? I decided to go ask someone. Chad watched our luggage, and I went downstairs to find the information desk. I found a bunch of ticket counters for purchasing tickets, but the lines were long, so I decided ot keep looking for someone else. I found the desk for returns! Ah ha! I will ask this guy. There was a window between us, so he could barely hear me and since I was speaking English, he couldn’t understand me either. He motioned for me to slip my ticket under the divider. He looked at my ticket for a while, and then said, go upstairs and look for “Napoli”. Voilà!! That worked! Grazie! (We later found out Napoli was the final destination of the train and our tickets did not list that fact. So based on our tickets, we were expecting to see the destination to be Rome.)

Our tickets for the train were first class! We had very good seats and a nice ride to Rome! Chad and I actually booked this trip with an agency called “Road to Italy” which has several locations, but location that we used was out of Canada. How funny is that, to book a trip to Italy using a company out of Canada! Anyway, it worked out great, because they scheduled every detail of the trip for us including the hotels, tours, and all of the transportation. This made it a lot easier for us not having to worry about anything. Chad and I have always wanted to visit Rome and we wanted to go last year, but it just wasn’t feasible. We were considering this a late honeymoon, so we kinda splurged on this trip!

When we arrived at 12:30 PM, we had a driver and an assistant waiting for us. We didn’t realize it at the time, but our hotel was only 2 blocks from the train station, so our private transfer only took us 2 whole blocks. We should have walked and it would have been quicker!

We stayed at a hotel called Hotel Mascagni. It was a small 4 star hotel with 40 rooms and in a good location. It was directly across the street from a 5 star hotel. We couldn’t check in until 2, so they told us we could wait in the bar. Without asking, they served us some OJ while we waited. We also had time to figure out what we wanted to do that after noon, because our first tour didn’t start until 8PM.

We were assigned a room on the top floor, the 6th floor. It was very nice, almost too nice… The bar in the hotel was also good. We noticed that it was stocked with many drinks that we knew and you would normally see in the US. (We were there just about everyday twice a day, once before dinner and once afterwards!)

After checking in, we decided to go find some lunch. Before our trip, I had found a website that recommended 10 different restaurants in Rome. Two of them were near our hotel, but closer to the Spanish steps. So, we mapped out how to get to one of them (Ristorante Edy) by using the Subway. Chad and I were not expecting a Subway in Rome due to all of the ruins underground, but yes, there is a Subway, although it’s very minimal and has only 2 main routes. They are working to put in a 3rd route, but it will take time to make sure it is done correctly. Anyway, we made it to the restaurant, but wait, it was closed! We found out that most restaurants in Rome close at 3PM. The typical eating hours in Italy are lunch from 12:30 to 3PM and dinner sometime after 8:30PM. Needless to say, we had to adjust our eating habits.

So, we had to look for another one or some kind of snack, because it was after 3 and I hadn’t eaten since 6AM! We located a fast food pizzeria type place. It wasn’t the best, but at that point it didn’t matter.

Walking back to the hotel, we made a stop at the Spanish steps. There were literally thousands of people packed onto all of the steps and near the fountain at the bottom. We could not believe how many people were there! We learned that the Spanish Steps were created by the French that connects the Spanish Square (Piazza de Spagna) to a French Church (Trinità dei Monti) which is on top of a hill. The Spanish Steps got their name from the Spanish Embassy to the Vatican which was located in the square.

Our first tour started at 8PM that evening. It was called “Rome by Night”. It was a panoramic drive of the city, stopping at a few main sites for a photo opportunity. Our driver was named Franco and he drove a very nice Mercedes. Chad took his tripod along, so Franco soon realized that we wanted to stop whenever we could so Chad could get some great shots of Rome at night.

The sites that we saw were the ruins of ancient and imperial Rome, Coliseum, the Arch of Constantine, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, a panoramic view of the city from Aventine Hill, and a view of St. Peter’s from a keyhole on the gate to the headquarters of the Knights of Malta also located on Aventine Hill. I won’t go in to the details of each of these sites right now, because we revisited each one throughout the rest of the trip and received a history lesson for each! The main purpose of this tour was just to see the sites lit up at night! What a beautiful way to see Rome.

After the tour, we decided to go to the bar in our hotel for a drink and to check out our photos!!

Second Day – Christian Rome & Basilicas

Saturday morning we went down for breakfast at 8:30. The breakfast selection was not as good as the other hotels we have stayed. They didn’t even have scrambled eggs, instead they had some type of bright yellow porridge oats looking stuff. I don’t know what it was. Oh well, I guess I am use to a big variety, but they at least had some cereal which got us by.

Our private tour began at 9:00 am. Our guide was named Valentina. She was going to be our private tour guide for the next few days. It was nice having a guide dedicated just to us. Expensive…but nice! I think we were able to see more and learned a lot more. Also, by having a guide allowed us to skip a bunch of long lines into each site. We learned that Valentina is from Venice. She knew her Roman history perfectly as well as most history concerning the Catholic Church.

The tour was supposed to go to the catacombs first, but Valentina knew that yesterday (May 1st) was Ascension Day and that some of the Churches were celebrating it today, so there was a small change of plans. We went to St. Mary Major Basilica first before it closed for the Ascension Day service. We learned from Valentina that St. Mary’s was built on that specific location because of a dream that Pope Liberius had where the Virgin Mary appeared holding a handful of snow and instructed him to build a church on that location. When the Pope woke up, he immediately went to the location and found the miracle. There was actually snow there and it was in the middle of August!

Our next stop was the Basilica of St. John at Lateran. This is the short or the abbreviated name for the Church. The official full title in English is the Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior and of St. John the Baptist and of St. John the Evangelist in the Lateran. Since this was “the” first Church, they wanted everyone to know that it was dedicated to Jesus Christ himself. The name was later shortened since all churches are dedicated to Christ, and since John the Baptist and John the Evangelist both have the same name. The Roman Emperor Constantine acquired the property of Lateran by his second wife. Since it was his own property, he could give it to the Pope for the purpose to build the first cathedral of Rome. St. John’s is actually the former residence of the Pope and is still the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome, who is the Pope. It ranks above all other churches in the Roman Catholic Church, including St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

The Holy Stairs are located just beside St. John at Lateran. According to tradition the staircase was once the path to where the trial of Jesus took place which was presided by Pontius Pilate. However, historians state that the Holy Stairs were brought from Jerusalem to Rome by Constantine’s mother. According to Valentina, the Holy Stairs were brought to Rome by Constantine’s mother and before the Pope’s return from France in approx. 1377, the steps were ordered to be cleaned. During the cleaning, one of the workers mis-read the words on the steps and thought they were steps that Jesus walked on. I don’t know if Jesus actually walked on these steps, but I do know that the Pope dedicated these steps to be Holy. There are a large number of people climbing the steps on their knees while praying everyday.

The next stop was St. Sabastian Catacombs. We found out that St. Sabastian Catacombs is the oldest catacombs in Rome. The catacombs are where approx. 500,000 Christians were buried underground. There are tunnels that stretch for approx. 6-7 miles underground. The catacombs have their own guides, so Valentina didn’t go with us inside. We were told that St. Peter and St. Paul were buried here at one time, but later Valentina said she didn’t believe that herself.

After the catacombs, we walked along the Appian Way (Via Appia in Latin and Italian). It was the first road ever built and the most famous. It was the main route from the center of Rome to south eastern part of Italy where boats left for Greece.

Our next site to visit was where St. Paul was killed and is also the location where all Roman soldiers were killed at that time who were a Christian. It’s also referred to as the three fountains because when St. Paul was beheaded, the legend is that when his head landed on the ground three different springs sprung up from the ground. Valentina told us that all Roman citizens that became Christian were beheaded, because they had lost their minds. Since St. Paul was a Roman citizen, this is why he was beheaded.

The final visit for the day was at St. Paul’s Basilica which is where St. Paul is buried. The original Basilica of St. Paul was built in 4th century. In the 1800’s, a fire broke out while the lead in the roof was being repaired. The ceiling of the Church was made completely out of wood which caused the fire to spread fast. St. Paul’s was completely destroyed, however was rebuilt later to the identical original design. It looks exactly like it use to. The only thing that survived the fire was the mosaic in the front of the church. The gold in the mosaic which was encapsulated by a thick glass from Venice.

It’s amazing how much I learned in Rome and we were there only 3 and 1/2 days!

For dinner, we went back to the restaurant where we tried to eat before… Ristorante Edy. We sat outside on their patio. It was neat to sit outside along one of Rome’s narrow streets. We had spaghetti with seafood cooked in a foil package along with their locally made Cabernet wine. What an excellent day!

Third Day – Ancient Rome & Monuments

Chad: The day started with a panoramic drive through the city. We went by Aventino, Terme di Caracalla, to see the Circus Maximus, Rome’s ancient chariot racing venue, and the Palatine hill above the Roman Forum. The only stop on the drive was at the Knights of Malta to view St. Peter’s through the keyhole. This time we learned a lot more.

Rhonda: The Knights of Malta was basically a community of monks as well as a military order responsible for looking after the sick. Valentina described them as basically being like the the Red Cross.

Chad: Next, we went to the St. Peter in Chains Basilica. We saw the statue of Moses by Michelangelo. Notice what looks like 2 little horns or possibly rays of sunlight coming from the top of his head. This is believed to be there because of the mistranslation of Exodus 34:29-35 by St Jerome. Moses is actually described as having “rays of the skin of his face”, which Jerome in the Vulgate had translated as “horns”. The mistake in translation is possible because the word “karan” in the Hebrew language can mean either “radiated (light)” or “grew horns”.

From there we went to St. Peter in Chains Basilica and saw St. Peter’s chains. According to legend, when Empress Eudoxia (wife of Emperor Valentinian III) gave Pope Leo I the chains as a gift, he compared them to the chains of St. Peter’s first imprisonment in the Mamertine Prison in Rome and the two chains miraculously fused together. The chains are kept here under the main altar.

Next, we walked to the Colosseum. The Colosseum or Coliseum, originally the Flavian Amphitheatre, is an elliptical amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy, the largest ever built in the Roman Empire. It is one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and engineering.

There are 76 entry ways to the Colosseum. It holds about 50,000 people. You have to know exactly where you sit. You would know this by the number above the arch. Because of all these entries they entered in within 30 minutes. If they got their seat wrong they were fed to the animals in the games. That is a terrible punishment for getting it wrong, but also a very good incentive for going to your correct seat.

Rhonda: During bad weather, 1000 soldiers would pull up a sail that covered the entire top of the coliseum. The top would be covered within 30 minutes. We also learned how the animals were lifted into the arena. They used passageways and manually lifted them using ropes similar to an elevator. There was also a wooden cross placed at the center of the arena (like on the 50 yard line). It was placed there in memory of those who were killed.

Chad: From there we went to the Roman Emperor’s residence and the Roman Forum. It was the central area around which ancient Rome was developed, and in which commerce and the administration of justice took place.

Rhonda: The Pantheon was the next main stop. What an amazing building! It was originally built as a temple to all the gods of Ancient Rome. It was built in about 125 AD. It is the best preserved building in Rome. It is still in it’s original form. It is the oldest standing domed building in Rome. Valentina mentioned that is was once a governmental building, but since the 7th century, it has been a Church.

The Trevi fountain is the most famous fountain in Rome. The fountain gets its name because of its position at the intersection of three roads. The fountain is positioned at one of the ancient aqueducts that supplied fresh water to Rome since 19 BC. It brings fresh water from over 20 kilometers away. The legend is that if you throw a coin into the fountain, you are guaranteed to return to Rome in the future.

For dinner, we decided to go to Al 34 which is near the Spanish Steps. Another nice reasonable place to eat, but more of a tourist international restaurant.

Fourth day – Vatican City

We had some free time Monday morning before our Vatican tour in the afternoon. We decided to send some postcards and visit the nearby church St. Mary of the Angles and Martyrs which was just one block away from our hotel. This basilica is dedicated to the Christian martyrs, known and unknown. Also inside the Church is a meridian line, a device that measures time by the position of the sun. It was completed in 1702. The church was chosen for the meridian line because of its perfect location to receive the unobstructed exposure to the sun. The Pope wanted to produce a tool that exactly predicted Easter.

At 1:30, we were picked up for a tour of the Vatican. We met Valentina at the Vatican Museum. Before entering, she gave us a little background about what we were going to see.

Chad: We started by going into the museum entrance. From there you can see the double helix staircase. It’s one column of staircase, but one walkway used for entering and the other for exiting. Since 2000, the staircase is only used for exiting due to the increasingly large crowds.

While going through the museum, we saw one of the last remaining bronze statues along with the statue of Laocoön and His Sons.

Rhonda: The Greek mythology story of Laocoön was that he was killed after attempting to expose the Trojan Horse. He believe that the Trojan Horse made by the Greeks was dangerous and would destroy the town of Troy. Laocoön was killed by sea-serpents that strangled Laocoön and his two sons. Laocoön was in fact correct, because the wooden horse contained solders inside and overnight the solders were let out of the horse and slaughtered the Trojans.

Chad: From there we entered the “Halls”. We saw the hall of Tapestries. These were used to keep the
buildings warmer. Some of the tapestries were used in the Sistine Chapel. There were designs by the school of Raphael which show scenes from the life of Christ, and tapestries made in Rome at the Barberini workshops during the 1600s, showing scenes from the life of Maffeo Barberini, who became Pope Urban VIII.

We then we through the Candelabra hall and finally through the hall of Maps. The Hall of Maps is 175 meters long which is the last 2 halls put together. It was decorated in the late sixteenth century at the order of Pope Gregory XIII, the reformer of the calendar, to show all of Italy, the major islands in the Mediterranean, the papal possessions in France, as well as the siege of Malta, the battle of Lepanto and large-scale maps of the maritime republics of Venice and Genoa. This gallery is considered by many to be the most beautiful area in the entire Vatican Museums, and its ceiling frescoes, illustrating scenes that took place in the area depicted in each adjacent map, are perhaps one reason why.

Rhonda: Our next major site was the Sistine Chapel. What a beautiful place! The ceiling and the back wall was painted by Michelangelo and both are legendary. Michelangelo was actually a sculptor, not a painter. But since the Pope requested him and allowed him to paint his own biblical scenes of his own choice, Michelangelo agreed to do the paintings. So, these are Michelangelo’s first paintings. Michelangelo was highly respected and no one would challenge his decisions. He was truly a genius. The ceiling which was completed in 1512 was dedicated to Creation, Adam and Eve, Garden of Eden, and the Great Flood. His painting on the back wall was dedicated to the Last Judgment. It took 6 years to complete. Jesus stands in the center of the painting with his hand raised high like he is going to come down a pounce on someone. We learned from Valentina that Michelangelo did this because the Pope at that time had relations and children after he became Pope. Michelangelo wanted to make a statement to the Pope who would be standing beneath Jesus that he would also be judged after death.

Also, when Michelangelo was almost finished and the scaffolding was being removed, a priest walked in to get a preview of his work. The priest highly objected to the naked figures in the painting. (Michelangelo always sculpted nude people.) The priest accused him of immorality and obscenity. Since Michelangelo did not appreciate this, he painted this particular priest in the lower right hand corner in Hell with a snake biting him in a very unwanted position!

Our last site was St. Peter’s Basilica. If I only had one word to describe it, it would be “impressive”. It is the largest church in the world! We learned that St. Patrick’s in New York City could fit totally inside of St. Peter’s. Everywhere you looked, you would see gold. At the base of the dome that is in the center of the Church is the sentence “Upon this rock, I will build my Church.” (of course its in Latin). The letters in this sentence are actually 9 feet tall!! It is very hard to grasp how large this Church really is.

My only regret is that I wish we had spent more time in St. Peter’s. We didn’t know until the end of the tour, but the Church would actually close at 6PM. This didn’t give us much time to see everything. So, I have one recommendation for anyone who gets the opportunity to visit Rome. Take your time and spend a full day at the Vatican.

For dinner, we found the absolutely best place to eat in Rome. It is called Ristorante La Pentolacci. It is located only a few blocks from our hotel and our bartender recommended it. It was very small, but very romantic. The food was excellent, the staff was friendly, and the price was right!

Rome was by far the best place we have ever been!!!!

Check our all of Chad’s pictures in the gallery below.

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