Me and my mom recently went to Europe to visit my brother who is there for a semester abroad and to just check it out. We went to Rome, Florence, and Austria (Austria, not Australia) in that order.
The first place we went to was my favorite place from the trip, Rome. We met up with Andy at the hotel and went to see things. The first thing we saw was the Coliseum. From the outside you could see how massive it was, but inside you could see how incredible the building really was. We were allowed to walk through most of it, but the upper areas were blocked off and so was underneath of the floor. The floor was broken so that could stand on it fine on one side and the rest was gone so you could see into it. The way it's passageways were set up you can easily understand how they say it could be filled in 15 minutes, and evacuated even faster. Thinking about all the fights and naval battles that took place makes it that much more incredible. From the Coliseum we went around other Roman remains of buildings which were kind of cool to see, but I was really expecting more.
The middle walkway wasn't there when we went.
The next big thing we went to was the Pantheon. The word pantheon means "All the gods", and that is what the Pantheon was built for. The building is 142 feet from the base and also 142 feet high which turns into a perfect sphere at the top. Right in the middle of the top there is a big hole where light pours into the building. The hole is considered the "eye of the gods." Almost 2000 years old now, the dome at the top is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome. It was rebuilt in `126 AD and continued being for the ancient Roman gods until 609 when it was consecrated by the Roman Catholics to be a place of worship for them. They changed lots of things, but there is still plenty left from it's original gods.
We also saw the Napoleon Museum which only had originals of everything in it. It was kind of cool seeing all the actual paintings of him and his family, and different furniture of his among other things.
Probably my second favorite thing in Rome was the Trevi Fountain (The Coliseum being the first.) The fountain shows Neptune riding a sea shell chariot being pulled by two horses - one is obedient while the other is being resistant. The two horses symbolize the fluctuations of the sea.
We saw it at nighttime, which I think makes it look even cooler.
That's all for the places we saw, but we did some other things too.
At one of the restaurants we went to when we were there we made friends with the waiter. We were joking around with him the whole time, and at the end of the meal he brought everyone free chocolate shots.
There was also a guy advertising a club sprawl. Me and Andy went to it that night. It was 20 Euros per person and you got unlimited drinks for 3 hours and a t-shirt to go with it. On my first time drinking I was with people all over the world. There were people from Rome, Brazil, America, Australia, France, Denmark and probably more that I didn't know about. All of the people were really cool and it was a fun time. After it ended the night took a turn for the worse though when the buses that were to give us a ride back were stopped by the cops. We had to walk around until `5:30-6 in the morning when the Metros opened back up so that we could get to the hotel. We walked with a cool guy from Denmark and a girl from France that we had met at the pub crawl though so it wasn't too bad. That was the start of having ridiculously sore feet for me though.
After Rome we went to Florence for a day. We saw lots of nice looking churches, but the main thing we saw was Florence's main Cathedral. It is a famous dome that you can go to the top of, which is over 400 steps to get up to. At the top of the dome there is an awesome picture of a battle between angels and demons. Among the pictures there are demons shoving fiery sticks up angels asses and eating them. As well as angels spearing demons and all kinds of other cool things. From the top of the dome you can also go on the outside of the building as well, which gives you an incredible view of the whole city.
We went shopping while in Florence because they have a giant marketplace for people to get things in, and you can haggle with all the salesmen. Me and my brother got authentic Italian leather jackets while we were there, and they were made out of buffalo skin. The guy showed us that they were high quality by trying to burn them with a lighter to no effect, and to scratch them with nail clippers, also to no effect.
After Florence we went to Austria. On the train ride there we met a girl that translated for us and another man that spoke Italian and (from my understanding) Swiss German. She spoke English great as well. It made the several hour train ride much more bearable. (Hi Ilaria! :)
Once in Austria we first saw the Salzburg Fortress which was really cool. It was a giant castle on top of a mountain which you had to take a train-like thing up to. You could see the whole city from the top of it as well. They had tons and tons of things inside it. Some of my favorites were the old weaponry. They had different sword and guns in cases to see. They also had cannons still placed in the windows where they would have been shot. Another display room had torture devices which I've read about before, they are all suited for the specific law the person broke. It has some of the most excruciatingly painful things there that would destroy your different body parts. It was pretty funny that they had a Chastity belt in the same area. Though several women did die because of them, where they're parents lost the key or hid it and died before letting them out and they just kept growing. There was also several things from Mozart in the castle, where he had worked there (Salzburg was his birthplace.) They had the puppets from the sound of music.
We also saw the actual Mozart Museum. It had lots of different letters that he had written, and information about his whole family. It was placed in the actual house that he was born in. They had furniture that was similar to his, but not the actual furniture he used. They also had some of his original musical instruments.
Salzburg is very well known for its different churches, and we saw several of them while we were there. Salzburg is the place that my brother had been staying for most of his time in Europe, so they knew the people that worked at the hostel we stayed in really well. One of the guys that worked there gave us a nice tour of several of the churches. He explained all the different paintings and sculptures which was pretty cool. He went real in depth with different parts of the Catholic faith as well which was interesting, although most of you know my views on the subject.
While in Salzburg we also went to two different famous beer breweries. The first we went to was Augustiner. This would be my first time drinking beer, and I was drinking from supposedly one of the top 3 beer places in the world. It wasn't bad, but I'm not really a beer person as of yet. I don't know if I ever will be if I try to taste American beer now. While there I got a really nice 1 Liter mug as a souvenir. The next day we went to the Steigl brewery. It went through the history of the beer and had all kinds of information about it and the methods of making it. At the end of the tour they gave you 3 beer samples and a gift beer to take with you.
After the trip we had to fly back and the security was a pain in the ass. After getting through security in Austria where we were checked twice but was still real fast we got to our airport area. They had TSA there which asked pointless questions, but we got through and on to the flight. When we got to America though we had to go through security again, and they made a giant deal of a snow globe because of the liquids inside of it....This being after we got through Germans searching us twice...We were the safest people on the planet. So that took probably around an hour then we finally got to get on the next plane taking us back to WV.
All in all it was a really fun trip and I hope I get to travel more in the future.