Friday, June 14, 2013

The Vatican City, day one in Italy!

Rome, oh my gosh...Rome.  Sean kept saying the entire time we were there, "I've never been romantic about a city before, but this place is amazing."  And it's true!  It was probably our favorite destination of the trip, and the perfect place to start out!

Our flight got in from JFK around 7 am 'Rome time', so needless to say we were exhausted.  We took a taxi to our hotel, got some breakfast and took a quick power nap before heading off to our tour of Vatican City. 

Literally, Vatican City blew my mind. Did you know that it's a completely different state?  Well, I'm a stupid American, and didn't know that.  Our tour guide, Valerie was amazing!  It was really nice to have a private guided tour.  She was completely focused on us, we didn't have to wait in any lines, and she was SUPER knowledgeable. 

 The entrance to Vatican City, everything else!

So apparently Romans and Catholics really like dome shaped buildings...they were everywhere.

 The Vatican is filled with museums, we definitely got our history on.

Keeping things lively...

Valerie told us these old coffins were made into fountains that they now drink out of...yummy?

 It was so crazy to think that these are just "hallways" in their museums.  Crazy!


  They had an entire portion of the museum dedicated to Egyptian history, the Gregorian Egyptian Museum.  There were a lot of monuments are artifacts from Egypt and parts of Rome, mostly from the Imperial age.  Sean really liked this part.

 There was so much symbolism throughout the entire Vatican City.  Valerie kept pointing out to us the "Coat of Arms", the two keys interlaced with the crown above it.  She told us the keys refer to the promise Christ gave to Peter,"I will entrust to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you declare bound on earth shall be bound in heaven; whatever you declare loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
 They symbolize the power the Catholic Church believes that Christ gave to Peter], with the gold key signifying that the power reaches to heaven and the silver key that it extends to all the faithful on earth, the crossing of the keys indicating the connection between the two aspects of the power, and the handles of the key being at the base to symbolize the power being in the hands of the pope. 

Just another amazing hallway...

Statue of 'The River God' in the Belvedere Court.

More glorious ceilings...

 Roman mosaic tile

This is the Holy Door, or 'Porta Sancta', which leads into St. Peter's Basilica.
 It only opens during their Holy Year (Jubilee), which only happens every 25 years (the last one in 2000).On the first day of a holy year, the Pope strikes the brick wall with a silver hammer and opens it to the pilgrims.

This is the inside of the Porta Sancta, it's completely bricked up, and cemented over!
 The Holy Door represents Jesus, the Good Shepherd and the gate of the sheep pen: "I am the gate. Whoever enters through me, will be safe. He will go in and out, and find pasture" (Jn 10:9).  

Apparently if you are one of the lucky "pilgrims" who get to walk through the door every 25 years, your sins will be forgiven, haha!  So, it looks like we will just HAVE to go back to Rome in 12 know, for our redemption's sake.  

 Oh my goodness, completely breathtaking.  My jaw literally dropped.  Valerie said the only word that captures St. Peter's Basilica is "amazing", and amazing it was.  Probably the most elaborate and beautiful building we had ever been in previously was the Salt Lake Temple.  Sean in his sacrilegious manner said, this makes the Salt Lake Temple look like white trash...haha, not exactly the words I would have chosen, but you get the point. (Luckily, we weren't smitten down instantly by God) 

The light coming through windows of the dome ceiling was so beautiful, it was almost angelic.

 I just kept thinking as we were walking through, how was this constructed in the 1500's?  
Seriously, so beautiful.

 Unfortunately this picture isn't wonderful, but this was one of the most beautiful sculptures in the Basilica.  Michelangelo carved it when he was only 24 years old, Valerie said it was the only sculpture he ever signed (which makes sense why it was guarded in glass, hence the glare).  
I don't know if you can tell, but the sculpture is of the Virgin Mary, holding Jesus Christ's body...I may or may not have teared up a little.  It was completely moving.  

 Sean thought it was weird that I took a picture of this, but you know what...everyone was doing it.  Valerie said that John Paul II was one of the most loved Popes, "A Pope of the People." 
Apparently in Catholicism, in order for a Pope to become a Saint there has to be at least 3 miracles performed.  When they moved his body in St. Peter's Basilica, his body was almost perfectly preserved, which according to Catholic leaders was another one of his miracles. Pretty cool...
Trying to capture the last bits of beauty!

 St. Peter's Piazza.
This is where the Pope comes out to bless the crowd, and for Sunday morning mass.
Swiss Papal Guards!
 Swiss Papal Guards are at all of the entrances to the Vatican City to provide security and protect the Pope. But mostly, they just stand there and look cool.
  It's a long story, but none of my hair products (hair dryer, straightener, curling iron, etc. would fit into any of our European outlets), hence the frizzy/air dried please don't judge me.

Our amazing tour guide, Valerie!  We ended the tour at the Vatican Museum gift shop, they actually have their own post office (not the fastest may I add) where we got to send out some post cards.

I finally got to be in two places at once, Rome and Vatican City!

Day one in Italy, success!

 The only room I don't have pictures of is the Sistine Chapel.  Unfortunately, you're not allowed to take pictures in would think it's not allowed out of respect, or something like that.  But it's actually because the Japanese own the rights...weird.  Sean actually snuck a few with his iPhone, which of course he thinks he may have deleted the 300+pictures he took on his phone while we were in Europe.  I may or may not kill him if he doesn't "find" them.  More posts to come! :)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I don't even know where to start...

We've been back from our trip to Europe for about a month now.  I have over 1,000 pictures on our camera, 500 on my phone, and at least 400 on Sean's phone.  I'm not really sure how to attempt blogging/posting pictures!  We were gone for two weeks, visited 4 countries, over 10 major cities, cruised for 8 days, and had the time of our lives.  I know I need to document this, but I don't even really know where to start.  I'm thinking maybe by the day, or city?  Well, here goes the first stop, NYC!!!

We left for our trip on a 6 am flight to intentionally have a long layover in NYC, so we could visit one of our favorite people, Rachel Hope.  Little did any of us know when we arranged our plans, Rach would be having a major life/career change, and would be out of the state for weeks!  Even though we were both a little depressed that we didn't get to see Rae-hoe, we still thought we would venture out and explore the city during our 8 hour layover (also because the airline wouldn't let us change our flight for less than $500, lame).

The last time we were in New York was almost 3 years ago (crazy!) and I had really wanted to go to the "Top of the Rock" observation deck at the Rockefeller center downtown.  So, millions of dollars later in taxis, we made it to the Rockefeller center!

The trek out there was definitely worth the view!

I love the pano view of the observation deck.

Loving life :)

Rockefeller Plaza

Boom baby!

I feel like taxis have changed a lot over the years...

So, it turns out venturing out into the city wasn't the best idea.  We left in PLENTY of time to get back to the airport (more than twice the amount of time we needed), and almost missed our flight to Rome.  Honestly, I have never been so scared of missing a flight, and I flew standby for over 25 years!  We were straight up "Home Alone-ing it" through the airport.  Seriously, I was sore from was bad.  I literally was sweating by the time we got to our flight.  We arrived at the gate less than 5 minutes before take off, and as any frequent traveler knows...they were announcing to release our seats and close the door.  That was the first time I had heard my "confirmed seat name" called to release my seat, what an awful feeling!   That would have been a NIGHTMARE, and obviously put a damper to the start of a anniversary trip.

Luckily, we made it (tender mercy, I was literally in tears in the taxi cab) and we got on the flight!  Ugh, for the love.  It was only an eight hour flight to Rome, and we were so exhausted from the 3 hours of sleep we got the night before, that we were passed out!   We got in at 7 am and started out our 5 Year Anniversary Trip!  Wahooooooo!  Until the next post....