You may or may not know that back in December 2011, Nokia Connects along with the Nokia Maps Blog team held a contest involving people suggesting locations to the big guy Mapstronaut, and if he’d visit those locations, you’d get a chance to win the big prize. The prize involved a Nokia N8, an activity worth 1000 Euros and a helicopter tour of your city.
I won that contest. So the N8 is now may main phone and camera, the helicopter tour turned into a flight lesson(since there are no helicopters available near my city), and the activity turned into a trip to Rome for me and my wife. All the pictures from this post were shot with the Nokia N8. Since I had no roaming data plan I had to rely on my N8’s Nokia Maps throughout the entire trip for offline navigation, and I have to say I have no complaint. Every direction we got was spot on.
So Monday, March 12th 2012 was the day it all begin. At 8 o’clock in the morning we were off to the airport. We boarded the plane and were gently awaiting for takeoff. It would be our first flight ever. I was a little nervous about the takeoff, as I had no idea what to expect, but I was even more nervous when we were about to land. The plane we took from Craiova to Timisoara was a Saab 2000, a turboprop aircraft. So, we had our first landing in Timisoara, and I finally got over the first flight fear and had the chance to pull out the N8 and shoot some photos.
From Timisoara, we took a different plane for Rome, this time a Fokker 100 turbojet aircraft. Again, it would be our first turbojet flight. This time around I pulled the N8 from my pocket and shot some photos from above the clouds.
So an hour and half later, we landed in Rome, on the Fiumicino airport. And here for (again) the first time, we set foot on foreign soil. Italy would be the first country we ever seen besides our own Romania.
An hour and a bus ride later, we got to the hotel and caught some rest. Because it was already very late (at 4PM there aren’t too many open touristic attractions), and we were very tired, we decided to call it a day and get some rest because we would have a busy day ahead.
The next day we wanted to get a quick start and woke up, at 7:30 AM in the hope to reach Vatican City early. We took the bus to Vatican instead of the metro and it was completely worthed. We saw nearly the entire city from the bus, lots and lots of old buildings and museums and even archaeological sites being unveiled. So we got to Piazza San Pietro, where you can also find the Basilica di San Pietro as well, and we took these pictures.
After hanging around a little, we headed to the museums of Vatican, eagerly waiting to see the Sistine Chapel and Rafael’s Rooms. A lot of guides are lurking around, just waiting for tourists. I have to say that even though we entered the Vatican museums without a guide, everything is pretty much self explanatory, and there are descriptions everywhere, and there is even an audio guide which works better than most human guides you find there. So here are some of the pictures we took there.
When we got to the Sistine Chapel, we noticed, unlike the rest of the Vatican, there was a no photographs allowed sign, and the chapel was full of policemen and security people, so you could not take any photos without being spotted. But the N8 did not catch the eye of any security personnel and I managed to take a few snaps at the ceiling, one of which is extremely clear. The whole ceiling is superb and the masterpiece, The Creation of Adam is right in the middle of it.
So we strolled around some more museums, but once you see the Sistine Chapel, everything else pales in comparison.
We left Vatican after about 2 hours, and since the Castle Sant’Angelo is practically across the street(well, not really, it’s more like 1Km away) we decided to visit it too. Using Nokia Maps we got there straight away.
When you enter the Sant’Angelo castle you have two alternatives of going up, one is the traditional stairs, and the other is the helicoid access road, the road where the Roman battle chariots used to exit the castle whenever it was attacked. We took the road, and we loved it.
Here are some pictures from the Sant’Angelo castle as well.
Day three was Colosseum day. We got here first thing in the morning, and here too, you can have a very useful audio guide. The Colosseum was something else. It transposes you to another world. You can see the cells below the arena, where the slaves, gladiators and wild beasts were kept before the fights. The pictures speak for themselves.
The tickets for Colosseum include also a visit to the Roman Forum and to the Palatino Museum. Here are some photos.
After the Colosseum we were off to Piazza del Popolo. This place is huge, and lots of people gather there just to practice the Italian “dolce far niente”. We snapped some photos here as well.
In the evening we went to see Fontana di Trevi after hearing from some locals that it’s much nicer to see it in the evening when it’s lit up than during the day. This is one of the most crowded places I’ve ever seen. All kind of people getting their photos taken, and throwing coins over their heads in the water as the legend requires.
On day four we went to visit the Borghese Galleries. We made phone reservations two days before(they are required), so in the morning we were ready to go. Here unfortunately there is a no photos policy too, but better enforced so I have no inside pictures to share. What I can tell you though is, that the sculpture and painting I’ve seen in Vatican(excluding Rafael’s and Michelangelo’s) look like children’s play compare to what I saw here. The level of detail in each sculpture, angles covered by the paintings, are just mind blowing. My wife actually thought for most of our tour, that the paintings on the ceilings were actually sculptures. What can I say, the Borghese Galleries are must see in Rome.
Our next stop was the location that we owed this trip to, the location that won me the prize, Villa Giulia. We had no luck trying to get in, as the museum was for some reason closed, but we did get some nice snaps in front of it.
Our next target was the Pantheon. A bus ride and a good walk later, we found it. An impressive structure, with an oculus right in the middle of the dome. The sun lights up the during the day dome in a sort of reverse sundial effect.
Next and last stop in Rome, was Piazza Navona. So we got there hoping to see some artists at work, and we did. Most artists were just showing off their work, but there was one guy that was actually creating. Believe it or not, this guy was creating a painting, using a cardboard canvas and spray paint. We could not believe how the painting turned out, but we stayed there till he finished it and the we bought one ourselves. For 10 Euros, it was a steal.
With a heavy heart we had to leave Rome behind, but the airplane waits for no one, so in the morning of the fifth day, we left for the airport. The flight back seemed longer than ever, and on one hand we would have wanted to stay there for at least a while longer, and on the other hand, we could not wait to see our little kid again. We never spent five days apart from him since he was born, and we were missing him terribly.
That was all folks!