Thursday, December 3, 2009

Rome: Day 2

We began our second day in Rome with a stroll down to Trevi Fountain. The fountain is so lovely but we always hurry by it because of the crowds of tourists and the pushy "rose men" who try to "give" away roses to any women they happen to see. Of course, if you accept a rose from them, they then ask for payment. It becomes quite annoying because they often pressure you quite strongly to take the rose and won't take no for an answer. Our way of dealing with them is to not look directly at them as we are walking by and then to say "no" very clearly as we keep moving. I think Rome would be a much nicer city if you didn't have to worry about being harassed like that all over town. 
For breakfast, we stopped and picked up hot sandwiches from a sidewalk cafe and munched them as we walked along.

I thoroughly enjoyed looking in all the shop windows we passed by, especially this one which was full of delicious looking cheeses.

Before long, we found ourselves at the Spanish Steps. They were surprisingly empty - I suppose because it was a week day. We climbed up to the top of them and on one of the level areas noticed one of the rose men heading our way. We started our usual tactic of looking away and heading in a slightly different direction but when he got about halfway to us he turned away, hunched over, and started moving away at a rapid pace. We were pleasantly surprised but wondered what was wrong with him. When we got to the top of the steps, we saw the reason for his odd behavior - a pair of policemen on duty were heading up the steps on patrol. We watched him as he continued to jog in the opposite direction while trying to hide his bunch of roses. I was glad to know that the Roman police don't condone the harassment of their tourists.

We really didn't have any specific aim to our walking, although Woodley is very familiar with the layout of the city and was able to guide me around easily. We just took our time and enjoyed strolling and viewing the sites.
On one small side street I noticed this interesting purple plant in a window box:

A little further along the same street, I noticed these interesting shutters. I had never seen any that folded out before!

Our last tourist stop for the day was Trajan's Forum. We picked up an audio guide and enjoyed running around the building - which apparently used to be a big market. Perhaps because of the time of year and perhaps because there are so many other exciting ruins to see in Rome, the forum was practically deserted. Since we had the place almost to ourselves, we ran around poking our heads into the different stalls, trying out various staircases, and all sorts of fun imagining what it must have once been like to go shopping there.

By the time we finished exploring the market area I was feeling quite tired - I had started developing a cold and we decided to head back to the hotel so I could rest a bit.

In the evening we made our way over to Rome's Opera House where we saw Tchaikovksy's Swan Lake Ballet. It was a beautiful production and the opera house was stunning. We had picked up tickets earlier in the day but we had no idea where in the theater we would be sitting. When we arrived, the ushers pointed us up the stairs and another usher guided us to a door in a long hallway that wrapped around the theater. When we opened the door, we stepped into a tiny room covered with red tapestry. There were coat hooks on one wall and a mirror on the other wall. Immediately in front of us was another doorway which led out into a box. There were already another couple in the box. We were a bit confused and checked with them to make sure we were in the right place - we didn't want to disturb them if it was supposed to be a private box. They explained to us that there were 6 seats in each box and that we were in fact in the right place. Since they had already taken the 2 chairs at the front edge of the box, we selected the 2 chairs at the back which were more like tall bar stools. Due to their height, they allowed us a fairly decent view of the stage.

It was so fun to look out and see the rows of boxes around the beautiful opera house! The ballet was also beautiful. The costumes were beautifully constructed and many were quite sparkly. The dancing was also amazing - the male lead in particular did some very high jumps. :) Overall we enjoyed Swan Lake more than Sleeping Beauty, but we think that was probably because the choreography of Swan Lake was so much better. Now, if we end up seeing The Nutcracker in Seattle this holiday season we will have seen all 3 of Tchaikovsky's ballets in less than 2 months! What a treat!


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