When we stepped out of the car along a roadside overlooking the Roman Forum and ruins, I could hardly believe my eyes. I’d seen pictures of these places in history books, and watched movies like Gladiator that showed these scenes, but nothing quite compared to the standing there and seeing it with my own eyes. I was in awe. I’m still in awe as I look at some of these pictures we snapped that day.

 

 

I stood there quietly for several minutes overlooking for the site and then began to recognize the enormity of the Forum as I noticed tiny people walking on the dirt streets below. It was truly amazing.

 

 

The Roman Forum, which for centuries was the center of Roman public life, is one of the most visited sites in the world today, attracting more than 4.5 million people annually. In a time before Christ, this was a place for processions and elections, a venue for public speeches, and the site where criminal trials were held.

 

The Forum was also the center for most commercial affairs. Statues and monuments commemorate the city’s great men and it has been called the most celebrated meeting place in the world, and in all history.  What a privilege it was to stand there and admire such a site. The next day, we visited the Colosseum in the city center of Rome.

 

A view from inside the Colosseum.

The Colosseum is the largest amphitheater ever built and is considered one of the greatest works of architecture and engineering ever. Construction began on the amazing site in 72 AD and was completed in 80 AD. It is estimated it could hold between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators.

I’m amazed to think that it took fewer than 10 years to build this huge structure of travertine on the outside and tufa and brick in the interior. The main pedestals were built of marble blocks.

 

 

The Colosseum was used for staging various events, including gladiator fights, wild animal displays, theatrical entertainment, executions, religious ceremonies, mock sea battles, and re-playing famous Roman victories. We paid 12 Euro to visit the inside of the Colosseum and see this historic place where Christians and criminals were executed as midday entertainment. It’s daunting to think that more than 700,000 people died over the years in this bloody arena in the name of entertainment.

[well]This blog post is part of a series about the “20 Things We’ll Remember Most About Our Summer Vacation.” Up next: The Joy of Sidewalk Cafes. [/well]

 

  • Steve writes: When I first set my eyes on the outside of the Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, I was unimpressed. In fact, I thought it was plain ugly. Construction continued, and I returned several times over the years, each time finding more to like about it. Finally, on a visit with Ann, the inside of the Cathedral was open for a visit. So we went inside.⁣
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Architect Antonin Gaudi's creation is brilliant. The way he uses stained glass to bring color to the stone inside, combined with the shadows created by the shape of the stone is breathtaking. Truly, this cathedral might be the most impressive one I've seen anywhere. This place should be on your bucket list. It's worth a trip to Barcelona to see it.
  • We've been going to the @PWMercantile for a couple of years now, especially since we bought a house in Pawhuska. Over that time, we've seen a number of changes both to the restaurant and to the merchandise they have in the store. But one item has remained constant: these turquoise beads.
  • One of our favorite stops on our hosted food tour of @visitkansascityks was the @403club. Sure, they offer a great selection of locally crafted and larger production domestic beers. But they also have pinball machines. In fact, they even have a pinball league.⁣
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We spent about an hour in this fun spot, sipping, playing, and enjoying the relaxed atmosphere. It will definitely be on our list of places to go again, someday. Beer and pinball are a pretty good mix.
  • On our visit to Italy, we visited the Prosecco region. While we toured a number of wineries, we actually stayed at an inn run by the Roccat winery. ⁣
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Prosecco is a sparkling wine, and people often see it as intergangeable with champagne. This isn't the case at all. Champagne is made from the Chardonnay grape, while Prosecco comes from Glara. Because of this, the two wines are completely different.⁣
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We enjoyed a tasting at Roccat, where they served us glasses of crisp, clear, delicious wine alongside some crunchy breadsticks that were just the right thing to enjoy with the wine.⁣
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If you ever have the opportunity to go to Italy, make sure you include time to head to Valdobbiandene and try some Prosecco.
  • Located in @clearlakeiowa, the historic Surf Ballroom has hosted some of the biggest names in music. It was on this stage that Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and JP "The Big Bopper" Richardson performed their final show on February 3, 1959. After the concert, they boarded a plane for their next town on their tour. That plane crashed shortly after takeoff, and the date has been remembered ever since as "the day the music died."⁣
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@traveliowa
  • Set in Millennium Park in Chicago is one of the city's most iconic art installations. It's a giant, shiny bean which reflects everything in sight. It's fun to walk around (and under) the bean and see how the shape distorts what it reflects.⁣
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Folks come from all over to see this art installation and take it in. Children love running around it and gazing into it, not realizing they are learning about convex and concave shapes. ⁣
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Standing here you'll hear a multitude of languages and see people from all walks of life there to enjoy the art. And that's why we love public art so much--it brings people together.
  • On our cruise from Italy to Greece, we made a stop in Mykonos. There, we had the chance to take part in a Greek cooking class in a woman's home learning from her.⁣
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We spent an afternoon with lessons about Greek cuisine, and how they waste nothing, not even excess juice from a cucumber. We also saw how to make incredible dishes like this spanakopita, or spinach pie. Sitting in her dining room, enjoying the light, flaky crust and delicious filling is an experience we won't soon forget. ⁣
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While traveling, we try to find opportunities to experience local culture. It's amazing how similar people in the world really are if you just take some time to see what life is like.
  • Do you remember that song from "The Music Man" about trouble? You know the one about the kids in the knickerbockers, shirt-tail young ones, peekin' in the pool hall window after school. ⁣
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Well, we got to peek in a replica of that pool hall on a recent visit to The Music Man Square on our hosted to Mason City, Iowa. It's the town where "The Music Man" creator Meredith Willson was born and raised and his legacy lives on. ⁣
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Before you go see @thehughjackman and @suttonlenore in this Broadway favorite, consider a visit to the real River City.⁣
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Click on the link in our bio to see our latest blog post about why fans of "The Music Man" need to visit Mason City, Iowa. ⁣
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@themusicmanbway

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