Sunday, April 15, 2018


So we're a few weeks removed from this now, but I felt it was important to get these pictures on the Internet. We went to Rome for spring break! It was cool. If you're wondering what it was like traveling internationally with 2 kids under 3, it actually wasn't too bad. We still had a great time, and Paul really enjoyed a lot of the things we did. Elsie doesn't really enjoy things that much at all yet. Also, long-post with lots of pictures alert, just in advance. Here's a breakdown of our time in Rome.

First, the plane ride:

Elsie in her airplane bassinet. She didn't like it much. She tried to dive out right after I took this picture.
Nancy and the kids resting in the Munich Airport

 Second, Pompeii! This was a really neat experience. I've seen pictures of and been taught about Pompeii since I was little, and it was a really cool experience to see it for real. There was some really cool stuff there, and I was blown away to find out that some things that I've been showing my students pictures of for years were actually at Pompeii.
Taking the train to Naples. The train went like 180 miles per hour.
Nancy at the main entrance to Pompeii. It was a cool place, but we were a little confused because we were too cheap to pay for an audio tour or a guide. We figured it out well enough, though. It was just crazy to be wandering around 2000-year-old buildings. The first thing that Paul did was pick up a rock and throw it at a wall. Of course.

Right after I told Paul not to climb on 2000-year-old columns.

The forum 
This is an altar in the temple to the emperor Augustus. The relief (carving) on the altar is one that I've shown my students a picture of for years.

A plaster cast of a person. These aren't actually people. One of the early archaeologists in Pompeii figured out that they could inject plaster into the cavities in the ash left by human bodies and get a pretty accurate look at what the people looked like and in some cases even what they were wearing.

The first-known "Beware of Dog" sign in history.

Behind me is a mosaic of Alexander the Great facing down King Darius III of Persia at the Battle of Issus (Probably. There were two battles that played out about like this.). This is something else that I've shown to my students a ton of times, and to see the real thing for myself just blew my mind. This is actually a reproduction of the original, which has been moved to a museum in Naples, but I'm cool with this.

The Pompeii amphitheater
Third, our first day in Rome where we wandered around (Like seriously, a lot. I got between 25-30,000 steps every day.) to different cool places in the city.
Piazza del Popolo

I got kind of excited about the obelisks. A lot of them are from Egypt, which means they're like a berjillion years old.

The two matching churches on the side of Piazza del Popolo

There was also a guy there blowing giant bubbles

View of the Piazza from up above at the edge of Villa Borghese

And another obelisk

Paul rode this carousel like 5 times. It was only 1 euro per ride, so we let him. 

Swings at Villa Borghese. It was a giant park.

Trinita dei Monti church, at the top of the Spanish Steps

Nancy at the top of the Spanish Steps

I was actually a lot more impressed with the Spanish Steps than I thought I would be. When you read about them you're like, "Big deal, it's a bunch of steps," but when you actually go there you're like, well, that's actually a cool set of steps with a cool-looking church and obelisk at the top.

Sinking boat fountain at the bottom of the Spanish Steps

Trevi Fountain!

Paul was pretty excited about it

Paul throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain. We told him he made it (he didn't). But don't worry, we went back another night later on and we could get closer and Paul made it in for real.

Obelisk at Santa Maria Maggiore

Basilica de Santa Maria Maggiore

The whole family in front of the Colosseum at night.
The next day we went to the Colosseum and the Forum. I wasn't as impressed with the Colosseum as I thought I'd be, but I really enjoyed the forum. It was crazy to think that I was walking in the same places where Marius and Caesar and Augustus and Mark Antony and all the rest that I teach my students about walked. The Colosseum was also cool, don't get me wrong, but I liked the forum better. The evening of this day we took a bus up to northern Rome to see the Rome Italy Temple, which is still under construction.

The arch leading into the forum. At the top it says one of the mottoes of the Roman Empire: Senatus Populesque Romanus

Paul in the vineyard at the Capitoline Hill

Ruins of the emperor's palace at the Capitoline Hill

View of the Roman forum from the Capitoline Hill

Nancy with a Vestal Virgin statue

This is the spot where Julius Caesar was cremated. He was the people's hero during Roman times, and it would appear that he is at least a little bit even to this day. My Roman history professor told me about this spot in college, and I was pretty stoked to see it in real life.

Paul on a 2000-year-old Roman road

This isn't the exact floor where it happened (this floor was put in around the 3rd century CE, I think), but this is the place where Julius Caesar was assassinated.

Il Vittoriano. A monument to King Victor Emmanuel II, who became the king of united Italy in 1871

Rome temple

Then there was this cool thing in the mall across the road from the temple that Paul got to ride.

Gelato! Elsie loved gelato. So did everyone else for that matter.

The next day we went to the Vatican. This actually included my favorite single experience of the week: climbing the stairs up to the top of St. Peter's Basilica. It was a neat experience to see the center of another religion and see what it was all about. After the Vatican we went to Castel Sant-Angelo, which started out as a mausoleum for the Roman emperor Hadrian and then was converted to a defensive castle for the Pope and has been maintained ever since.
Paul riding the subway to the Vatican

An Egyptian mummy in the Vatican museums

Me and Paul with the bust of Pericles (a prominent Athenian statesmen, obviously), another thing I've been showing my students pictures of for years.

A cool tapestry in the hall of tapestries at the Vatican Museums

The hall of maps at the Vatican Museums

A picture of Greek philosophers that I've been showing my students for years

This is a close-up showing Tenochtitlan (the Aztec capital) on a map from the early 16th century. It was really interesting to see what Europeans thought of the world at that time.

The spiral ramp/staircase down to ground level from the Vatican Museums

Then we took a break for pizza

First view of St. Peter's square

Some of the stairs going up to the top of St. Peter's Basilica

View of St. Peter's Square from the top of the basilica

Looking back at the dome. Paul was asleep.

Michaelangelo's Pieta inside the basilica

This thing has a name but I can't remember what it is

A look back. Nancy is the one with the umbrella and the kid in the pink jacket.

A bridge on the Tiber River

A cool gun in Castel Sant'Angelo

Cool angel statue on the top of Castel Sant'Angelo
Us outside of Castel Sant'Angelo

The Trevi Fountain at night
On our last day in Rome, we looked at some of the things that we hadn't gotten to yet and tried out food we hadn't tried yet: Panini, street food called suppli (which I still want to try to make), lasagna, etc. Here are some of the things we checked out on that day:

Inside of the Pantheon

Oculus with sunlight hitting the side of the building. The Pantheon was kind of weird, because it's a Catholic church now, and they want you to be quiet in there, but they kind of ruin the mood by constantly broadcasting, "Quiet please" really loudly over loudspeakers in several different languages.

An old Roman bridge

The old chariot racing track: The Circus Maximus

I think that's an aqueduct behind me, but I'm not 100% sure.

Paul eating some pasta.
So that's the trip to Rome! It was a great time all-told. We had gelato twice a day and had some awesome food, and got to see some really famous stuff in real-life, all while having a great time together as a family. This is Captain Danger out.