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Anna is currently in Auckland.

Rome, the eternal city
Day 2 we went first to the Colosseum (you walk out of the train station and its literally just across the road, and is HUGE. As in GINORMOUS. Sheena and I both stopped dead in our tracks like we'd had the wind knocked out of us, and promptly got lots of gestured angry comments from the italians that then bumped straight into us). After that was the Roman Forum, checking out the view of the Roman Forum below us from the top of Palatine Hill was absolutely mind-blowing. I have never felt so insignificant in my life looking at these incredible stately buildings and advanced standards of living that were around so long ago. This was the centre of the world! My history knowledge has been significantly improved.

We have been tricked by only one scam so far, with two guys dressed up in gladiator cosutmes that jumped into our photo, and, admittedly, made for some good photos, but then demanded 5 euro. We've been avoiding gladiator-clad Romans ever since :-)
Posted on 04 Apr 2007 by Anna
Pazzo en Roma! (Crazy in Rome)
Rome is incredible. Everything is on a huge scale, mind-blowingly old, and so beautiful.We walked and walked and walked, looking like those little dogs that sit at the backs of cars, with our heads flipping around and moving up and down all over the place as we tried to take everything in. The first day we went wandering, (trying to avoid getting run over.... no-one stops at pedestrian crossings) and managed to take in a lot of the central monuments, including the Castel D'Angelo, the Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Piazza Veneto, the Campo di Fiori, and about 3 amazing churches all called Santa Maria Something-Or-Rather with gold everywhere and the most beautiful vivid frescoes I've ever seen. Cobblestones are everywhere, vespas hurtling through, buildings in various states of decay that nonetheless looked even more beautiful, photo opportunities at every corner. Bliss!
Posted on 04 Apr 2007 by Anna
Are We There Yet?
Well, I'm off! Seems so unreal still!

My journey north to Europe didn't quite go as planned... after a 12 hour flight to Bangkok I was supposed to then hop, 2ish hours later, on a second plane to Rome, but the flight was cancelled due to technical difficulties, and the next one out was 7 hours away. Not quite what a very tired, sweaty (Bangkok is warm!) and dangerously grumpy (I was seated across the aisle from some overtired and seriously fed up kiddies, who managed to scream most of the way to Bangkok) kiwi girl wanted to hear.

However I was much appeased by Thai Airways' solution of putting us all up for the night in the airport's Novotel, where I found a luxurious room all to myself, including a bed that could only be described as ginormous. Beyond King Size. More like Harem Size. After 4 hours sleep, back to the airport, and on a flight for Rome, along with a plane-load of Italians. The plane was an older plane, with no tv screens on the backs of the chairs, but an 'old-school style' screen at the front, which was greeted with much disgruntlement and gesturing by the Italians.

However this worked out ok, as not only did I look out my window randomly at one stage and manage to see part of an incredible snow-capped Uzbekhistan(?) mountain range coming up through the clouds, dropping sharply into the Black Sea, I struck up conversation with the Italian lady sitting next to me, and spent a good chunk of the journey chatting to her. After learning I was from New Zealand, I asked her where she'd come from, to which she replied 'Burma' (although it was in such a thick Italian accent that it took us a couple of minutes and a map to comprehend each other). Turns out, it's her third trip to Burma. The first trip she took, with a few friends, to look at some ancient historical site, they stumbled across an orphanage in a remote and very poor part of Burma, where the kids were living in absolutely squalid conditions. After realising that only the local monks did their best to support the orphangae and that the government tended to turn a blind eye, they took it upon themselves to do something about it, and every year they go back to Burma to improve things bit by bit. Last trip it was putting in a pipeline so the orphanage now has running water. This trip was negotiating to hire a teacher and a doctor to visit the orphanage weekly, and to buy flooring and furniture (she showed me photos on her camera... the orphanage is 3 concrete walled and floored rooms. That's it. No bedding, toys, or, most importantly, protection against the flooding and malaria that monsoon season brings). Incredible. We got onto talking about our jobs, and she, bizzarely, was also a graphic designer, until at 42 she decided she wanted a change, so went back to uni to study psychology. An incredible lady.
Finally, only 40 minutes from Rome, I realised we hadn't actually introduced ourselves. And do you know what her name turned out to be?
It was Anna.
Posted on 30 Mar 2007 by Anna

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