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The European Chronicles - 5/28/14

Day Two.

Rome, Italy.

We finally touched down in Rome, or should I say, Roma, around 6:17am local time and I cannot tell you how exhausted I am. My plan to get a significant amount of sleep on the eight-plus hour flight backfired as I slept for approximately one hour before watching some pro wrestling on the tablet and then listening to some tunes. By the way, the new Black Keys album is fantastic. Not as good as their previous one, but still very good stuff. Just throwing that out there. 

The flight wasn't as bad as I expected. Alitalia, our airline of choice into Rome was very well done with a comfortable, state-of-the-art plane and great service. So far, 1 for 1 with these guys. No complaints. 

The only thing of notice was going through airport security at JFK back in New York where for the first time in my life TSA actually took precaution on the metal rod in my left foot (For new devotees, you'll have to catch up on this another time). The TSA agent, obviously with information from the scan that there was an object "of concern" in this area, repeatedly searched my left ankle only to keep finding nothing. I gently had to make him aware of my reality, to which of course, he eventually sent me through. When you're running on a few hours of sleep, little things like that make you chuckle. 

Speaking of running on fumes, somehow I pulled two all-nighters on back-to-back days if you take into account the time difference. As I type this post, my mind is complete mush and my body is barking for some sleep. Especially with a 7:00am departure to the Vatican City tomorrow morning. 

As for first impressions of Rome, or again, Roma as the locals call it, it's pretty damn amazing. Seriously, it's an awesome city. Our driver from the airport took us through some of the MANY hot spots and historical sites of the city as we made our way to the hotel. The history, architecture, and feel of the overall feel of the city is tremendous. Such a friggin cool city. No way else to put it. No words to accurately describe it. When you come upon the Roman Colosseum, it's seriously one of the greatest wonders I've ever seen. I always thought it was in the middle of no where. Little did I know it's located in a random round-a-bout in the heart of Rome. Oh you know, just driving around the Roman Colosseum, no big deal. What?! 

This sports, events, and facilities guy geeked out in front of this structure 

We swung through several places and sites as our driver casually explained to my wife and I about each location's history. I just absolutely love how this city doesn't destroy anything, but rather seeks to turn these sites into parts of the city and everyday life. It's such a cool aspect. Back in the states we're so quick to tear things down and turn them into condos, high rises, or the latest real-estate cash grab. With that said, let's all have a moment of silence for the old Yankee Stadium...

We walked around the city for most of the day seeing some sites that are not on our upcoming tour tomorrow. We also attempted to take in the culture and quality of the city. When in Rome...right? OK, yes, that was a silly and awfully terrible joke, but the culture here is remarkable with lots of differences and some slight similarities as well.

This might sound weird coming from a New Yorker, but 8am in Rome feels very much like New York City. To be honest, there are very few places in the world I've been to that have matched the intensity and go-go-go hustle and vibe of NYC, but Rome matches it. Add in the thousands of tourists, and boom, it's the closest I've ever seen. 

OH!! And they drive on the right side of the road? That really threw me off. 

One of those nuances in Rome besides the beautiful churches and their gorgeous architecture is this city's dependency on mopeds. They. Are. Every. Where. Cars are considered an annoying luxury, especially those that work in downtown Rome, so mopeds and scooters are the preferred transportation among other options such as the subway/metro lines. Our driver mentioned the high price of gas in the country ($11 a gallon!!) as well as the high price for parking in downtown Rome for the reason. Again, sound like New York City? 

As for food, I had gelato for the first time, and as someone never truly interested in desert, I can honestly have more of it. 

As for food, we just returned from a tour welcome dinner where I had four courses (yes, four!!), two which were plates of pasta. I already feel like I'm going back to the States ten pounds heavier. How Italians eat this much and never gain any weight is remarkable. 

View from Hotel Rooftop Bar - Picture doesn't do it justice, really

Last but not least, it's yet to hit me that I'm on the other side of the world right now. Even as I type this at 10:44pm here in Rome, I have to constantly remind myself that this post is going live in the middle of the afternoon back home. 

Flying usually reminds me of how large this earth is, and the way we sometimes trivialize it because of the wonders of the internet. But, on a voyage like today where you fly over a massive body of water, the vastness of the Swiss Alps, and land in one of the oldest cities in the world, it can be hard trying to wrap your mind around it all. For a strong believer like myself, it's those images outside of your measly plane window that causes you to realize how great and massive God really is. Just bloggin'. 

I'm off to bed to somewhat get myself a normal sleep pattern...or even more beneficial, just some sleep. 

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