Saturday, April 30, 2016

Valencia: Falles Day 1 Afternoon/Night

As I mentioned in my last post, I took a lot of photos and would love to share the beauty of the Falles festival with any that happen across my blog. This post is a continuation of my first one. I felt I had so many photos that it would be better if I split my first day of Falles into two parts. This second part is what I got up to in the afternoon and night of March 15.

As with the other post I will place it below a break.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Getting back home.

Sorry for the absence of posts. It has been an eventful time. I left Liverpool April 5 and flew to Iceland where I stayed for 6 nights. On April 11, I flew home and managed to surprise my sister. Since arriving I've been catching up with friends and family. I have a lot of adventures to catch up on in my blog and will be focusing on the next chapter of my life in Canada. I will try and keep active and post more often about my daily adventures.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Valencia: Falles Day 1.

Arriving in Valencia, I hurried from the train station to my hostel, the Purple Nest. I dropped my bags off and hurried out to explore Valencia and the Falles festival.

For those who do not know Falles is a traditional celebration for Saint Joseph in Valencia. Falles refers to the celebration and the monuments that are built. Each monument is burnt on the last night of the celebration. Each day at 2 pm there are audio fireworks in and at night there are fireworks.

As I walked towards Plaza de la Reina, I saw lots of graffiti, if you have been reading my blog you may have noted that I do take an interest in street art. I really enjoyed finding the art in Valencia.

I really enjoyed this Egyptian themed one.  I did not get good lighting right away on it as the sky was very grey but it was beautifully detailed. It was the first one I came across and I was very excited to see it.

I had been wanting to attend the Falles festival since I came to Valencia with my mother in 2009 a week or so after the festival and realised we had missed something really big and special. We had even known about the festival and not many people do. I made it my main bucket list goal of my going to Europe was to attend falles. As my family came to visit me in March of 2015, I made sure that in 2016 I would go to Valencia and see the festival with my own eyes.

(Warning lots of photos of falles because I took all the photos )

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Climbing the Dome of the St. Peter's Basilica

On my last day in Rome and the afternoon of my birthday, I headed back to the Vatican to climb the dome of St. Peter's Basilica. Entering the area to buy tickets for the dome just off the entrance of the basilica, I purchased the €8.00 ticket to use the lift to get partially up to the dome. It's only €2.00 more than the cost of walking the stairs. A lift had not been an option when I climbed the dome of the Duomo di Firenze but I was taking the lift this time plus it was my birthday and on your birthday you can do whatever you like.

The lift takes you up to the base of the dome or cupola. The dome of St. Peter's rises to a total height of 136.57 metres from the floor of the basilica to the top of the external cross. It is the tallest dome in the world. That means once I got to the top minus of course that cross bit, I was on top of the tallest dome in the world.

The dome is made up of mosaics. The photo above is of a cupid made from the mosaics. You cannot tell from the photo below that they are mosaics. They look like paintings. It's amazing. I can only imagine how long it would take to mosaic the dome.

The dome was completed in 1590 after going through a few architects.

It was quite different then climbing the dome of the Florence Cathedral. I much preferred this dome. It was all one way where as in Florence you would have people trying to come down while you were walking up. Very annoying in such a cramped space.

Trying to walk along a hallway with a dome on the right. Not very easy.

Reaching the top of the dome, you get this amazing view of Rome and St. Peter's Square.

Above the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel is in the right hand corner.

Selfies everywhere including the tallest dome in the world.

Looking over the walled Vatican City state, you can see the extent of its buildings, the green grass, the manicured gardens and the Swiss Guard.

I wish the weather had been nicer but I had a great day climbing the dome as well as my morning of exploring the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Roman Forum and Palatine Hill

After leaving the colosseum, I headed across the road to the Roman Forum, having to wait in a queue of people with tickets until I could enter. It did not take very long but was a bit annoying to have to re-queue but I entertained myself until I could finally enter. As with the colosseum, I had downloaded the free audio guide of the roman forum from Rick Steve's website. 

The Roman Forum is a rectangular plaza surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings.

Above is the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine, the largest building of the Roman Forum built in 312 AD. The basilica is a marvel of Roman engineering as at the time of its construction it was the largest structure to be built

It was a lot of fun walking through all the ruins and seeing them in person. You can touch them, they aren't hidden behind glass or behind ropes.

Above and below the Temple of Romulus.

Above is the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, started in 141 AD by the Emperor Antoninus Pius, he dedicated the temple to his deceased and deified wife, Faustina the Elder. When Antonius Pius died, the temple was re-dedicated to join the two deities by Antonius'  successor, Marcus Aurelius.

Above is the Temple of Julius Caesar, built in 29 AD. Julius Caesar was the first resident of Rome to be deified and so honoured with a temple by his adopted son Augustus. 

Above the Temple of Castor and Pollux, built in 495 BC and dedicated to the twin sons of Zeus and Leda.

Above is the Temple of Vesta, a circular temple, the entrance facing east to symbolize connection between Vesta's fire and the sun as sources of life.

This grassy area and the ruins behind was the House of the Vestal Virgins, located just behind the Temple of Vesta. A vestal virgin was a young girl consecrated to Vesta and vowed to chastity, sharing the charge of maintaining the sacred fire burning on the goddess's altar. A vestal virgin was sworn to celibacy for 30 years.

Above is the large Arch of Septimius Severus, an arch dedicated in AD 203 to commemorate the victories against the Parthians.

Looking towards Palatine Hill, which stands 40 meters above the Roman Forum. Recent excavations of Palatine Hill show that people have lived there since approximately 10,000 BC. Many affluent Romans had their residences there as well as several emperors. The ruins of the palaces of Augustus, Tiberius and Domitian can be seen on the Hill.

Above the ruins of the Stadium of Domitian, also known as the Circus Agonalis.  The stadium was built in 86 AD by the Emperor Titus Flavius Domitianus as a gift to the people of Rome. It looks like you were once able to walk along the stadiums grassy area and you can see that it is kept manicured.

The view of the Colosseum and Roman Forum from Palatine Hill is amazing. You can see all over the ancient ruins and gives you an idea of what the people who lives on Palatine Hill saw when everything was in tact.

The visit to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill was a perfect start to my birthday. I had a really good time in all three areas of ancient Rome and I think the price is worth it but I recommend getting to the sites earlier as I saw a lot more people arriving and crowding the forum as I was making my way to the exit.