November 3, 2012 21:40 by Rob
Time for some more panorama shots. The first is brand new, I hadn’t stitched these photos before, and the result is quite breathtaking if I do say so myself. It is a view of Rome from the top of the infamous Castel Sant’ Angelo near the Vatican. This view sweeps (left to right) across the Tiber and the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II towards the Vatican and then right to the wall connecting the Castel to the Holy See. Rome from Castel Sant’ Angelo Larger (1024x170) The second is another attempt to stitch the impressive Place de la Bourse which is a very large square next to the Gironde river in Bordeaux, France. At the time I was unable to put enough distance between myself and the square to get a complete shot (even with the 11-22mm lens!), and my previous stich attempts have been far from stellar. Bordeaux: Place de la Bourse “ Larger (1024x184)
August 25, 2009 04:18 by Rob
August 20th : Rome, Italy Trajan’s Marketplace Another busy day in Rome. This one felt as little bit cooler, but it was likely due to our choices of attractions. We had somehow managed to miss Trajan’s marketplace during our frequent visits to the central city area, so we addressed it as our first stop after breakfast. Trajan’s marketplace is opposite the ruins of the Roman Forum on the other side of Via Fort Imperiali, right near Trajan’s column. The museum which preserves this large area is accessed via a smaller utility road, not far from our Hotel. Once inside, you work your way down five levels to the original ground level, which is below street level. It is easy to imagine the hundreds (some say thousands) of merchants who would have sold their wares at this location. Some of the stores were inside and even had what would appear to be lockable doors. At the top, near the main museum are the remnants of an early Roman village which was obviously merged into the marketplace. The view from here is not bad, and many of the rooms, stairs and floor are still in decent condition, given their age. A lot of the marketplace was roped off though, which is a little disappointing. We did spent a good hour or so there exploring. Once we had finished roaming the ruins, we walked to Repubblica and caught the Metro to Piazza del Popolo which contains a massive Eqyptian stone column. We walked south from the Piazza to the mausoleum of Augustus (which was undergoing some kind of work and was cleanly inaccessible). Crossing the Tiber, we headed south west and entered the Castel Sant Angelo which has dominating views of the city and the Vatican. Originally, the Castel was a mausoleum (not unlike Augustus’s) but over the centuries it had been fitted with fortifications, and increased in height. We spent a good deal of time exploring the many levels before departing and heading north for the Metro. We took the Metro to Spagna station, and walked north into Villa Borghese which is Rome’s largest park land. We spent several hours walking the tree lined streets looking at monuments, lakes and water features until we snacked on a late lunch. By now we were really starting to wilt, so we started to make our way back to the Hotel. On the way we picked up some gelato to cool off, and I bought a new pair of shorts (realizing that shorts would be in use every day from this point on, due to the heat). We again ate dinner locally, up the road from the Hotel, but returned to the previous restaurant (from the previous night) for dessert (Dolci). After dinner, we returned to the Hotel and prepared our bags for departure the next day. Our next stop: Venice.
August 25, 2009 03:54 by Rob
August 19th : Rome, Italy The Coliseum – At Night Well, our second day in Rome started off a little later than we might have otherwise expected. For one thing, we didn’t resume “exploring” until 1:30pm despite waking up and eating breakfast at 9:45am. Why? Well… We had domestic flights between Rome and Venice, and Venice and Paris. Our second flight was on RyanAir and they have a max 15kgs per bag policy for checked luggage. It turns out we were 9 kgs (combined) above that limit. So we did what all rational people do in this situation: we shipped surplus clothing and books back home. The catch? Trying to do so with “limited” understanding of Italian. We hit the first Post Office, but realised the staff there wouldn’t be able to understand us. So we spent half an hour searching for a bookstore. There we bought Italian phrasebooks. Looking good. We visited another post office where the gentleman who served us spoke excellent English, but he had no boxes. So we returned to the first post office (where they spoke no English). Breaking the language barrier we managed to buy a box, and returned to the hotel to pack it. We then dropped it off at the second post office for the start of its journey to Australia. Phew! So we officially started the day at Palatine Hill, which is behind the Coliseum (or south). It wraps around a large hill which would have overlooked the Roman Forum back in the day. Today it is entirely ruins, with a couple of refurbished buildings onsite (e.g a museum). They are also very large ruins, especially some of the domus (palaces) such as the Emporor’s palace, though we weren’t able to grasp the full size until later when we saw Palatine Hill from the site of the Circus Maximus (addressed in later posts). Besides the various Roman buildings, we also discovered what is rumoured to be the huts of Romulus and Remus who, legend has it, founded Rome originally. There were also some nice gardens where we took refuge from the unbearable heat. In all, we spent about two hours walking through all the old remnants. We unfortunately missed one of the arches, but the Forum made up for that omission. Some of the marble remains on site, although anything of value is long gone. What is interesting is how many “parts” of columns are just lying on the ground, there are pieces all over the place. The same applied to inside the Coliseum where columns lay on the ground (smartly repurposed by visitors as handy seats). Anyhow, we made our way down into the ruins of the Roman Forum which I found to be far more interesting than the hill. The arch of Septimus Severus is still in one piece and is the obvious showpiece. What you can’t imagine is just how big the buildings must have been. You can tell by what is left (columns which still stand) just how large and impressive the Forum must have been, it would dwarf even the tallest NBA player. We left the Forum and walked around the Campidoglio and Capitoline Hill. Then we made our way down to the banks of the Tiber river and crossed it at Isola Tiberina, a small island in the middle. We stopped to eat gelato before continuing on to Trastevere, on the south western side of central Rome. Walking south, we traced our path to the original walls of ancient Rome before re-crossing the Tiber at Ponte Sublicio. We walked inland a bit before turning north uphill until we reached the Basilica of Santa Sabina. This church features an original set of wooden doors dating back the the 5th century AD. We spent a little bit of time inspecting the inside of the Basilica and the aforementioned wooden doors before heading down to the site of the Circus Maximus. As we approached, we made walked the tricky path down into what is left of the famous racetrack’s center. We walked to the east end (which is being restored/excavated) and then north up via de San Gregorio and around the eastern side of the Coliseum. At 6pm we had returned to the hotel, freshened up and then went to eat dinner. We eventually took a recommendation from the Hotel and the resulting meal was excellent, capped by gelato in fruit (lemon and pineapple sorbet). After dinner we went back out into Rome to capture some of the famous attractions by night. We first went to the Coliseum, then via Piazza Venezia to the Pantheon, to the Trevi Fountain (still heaps of people at 1am in the morning!) and then back to the Hotel using via Nazionale. A very full day indeed. Done under 40’C heat as well.
August 24, 2009 18:19 by Rob
Arch of Constantine One we had finished exploring the Coliseum, we exited and had the task of trying to choose what next to discover. We ruled Palatine Hill & The Forum out – we didn’t have enough time – so we started towards the center of town. Strolling back up Via Fort Imperiali, we arrived at the vast monument at Piazza Venezia. We didn’t go up/in, but headed north passing many old churches, restaurants and many more tourists. We saw Trajan’s column as we took steps towards my next goal: the Trevi Fountain. Once we arrived there we found The Fountain was jammed with people. It was hard to get even a clean photo of this magnificent work of art. We decided to continue onwards, so we took a line north east and eventually found our way to the Spanish steps. Again, more people (though not as bad), so we climbed to the top to get a view of the center below. Timing is the key, so we descended and made our way west – bypassing Trevi this time and walking past Italian parliament (I believe). It’s so odd how you can turn a corner in Rome and literally bump into some building which is 1,500 years old. The Pantheon was one such building. Before we knew it, we’d turned a corner and there it was. Let me preface this by saying the Pantheon is my favourite location in Rome, hands down. I knew this the first time we went to see it. It is not as big or recognisable as the Coliseum, nor as large as many of the Basilicas in Rome, but it is a marvel to have survived rather intact to today. Originally the Pantheon was a Pagan shrine (to early Roman Gods) and rebuilt in the 2nd century AD. It survives to this day mainly because it was converted into a Christian church around the 7th century. It is also the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome which is amazing, considering it was built almost 2,000 years ago. Oh, and did I mention it (like many old Roman temples) is massive? We spent about 30 minutes inside just sitting and taking it all in. The only light provided is through the open oculus in the dome ceiling, which creates an interesting effect. After a while we decided to move to our final destination for the day, Piazza Navona which is a very long Piazza to the west of the Pantheon. We hauled ourselves over and took a few photos, but as many of the restaurants were closed (or full), we had to look elsewhere for dinner. We eventually found our way back just north of the Pantheon and ate pizza whilst people watching. After we had finished up, we took one last stroll past and took some twilight pictures of the Pantheon before beginning the long walk back. ..and that was day 1.