Tyler Griffey: The Tours

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Griffey-Leonard-Italy.JPGIllinois junior forward has been gracious enough to blog periodically during Illinois' trip to Italy. In the second installment, Griffey recaps the first days of sight-seeing in Rome, Vatican City and Florence along with providing us a cliche photo of Meyers Leonard from Pisa.

O.K., let's pick up right where we left off; at the airport. Straight from the there, we jammed packed into our tour bus without delay, and immediately took off down the highway. We hadn't driven for five minutes before eyes started to droop and heads started to sway, but for as tired and dirty as we were from traveling, it wasn't hard to notice the sudden level of stirring as soon as we pulled up next to the majestic Rome Colosseum.

To actually be inside the 2,000 year-old monumental building was an incredible experience none of us will soon forget. My mind has yet to comprehend that this structure was built close to 1,700 years before the United States officially became a country. Once inside, images of bloody gladiatorial contests and intense chariot races flickered through my mind and stories of public executions, gruesome beheadings, and exotic animal fights by our tour guide only fueled my crazy imagination more. I have always been intrigued by the Roman empire, so much that I solely passed my AP European History class based on my such high grades on that unit.

On the following day, we took a walking tour of the Vatican City where we went through St. Peter's Basilica, the Apostolic Palace, and the Sistine Chapel along with the various museums throughout each. The coolest part to me was seeing the masterpiece work of art Michelangelo painted onto the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Our tour guide was explicit in telling us no pictures were to be taken inside the chapel, but temptation soon got the best of us and before you knew it everyone was covertly snapping away. Coach Jay Price was the only one who abided by these rules, because I think I even saw coach Weber sneak a picture or two.

With three days and three nights in Rome behind us, we all packed into the same bus from the airport on Sunday morning and managed a 3 hour bus ride to Florence (which I have been told I've been spelling wrong in all of my tweets). In the city of Florence, we were able to take in another masterpiece by Michelangelo, the famous Statue of David. Only one word came to mind when I surveyed this work of art, and that word was "BIG". Our tour guide mentioned the sculpture had three flaws that did not fit into the proportional scale of a real human body which were the right hand, the head, and the left shoulder. They all were either slightly bigger or smaller than what a real human's would look like. It was noticed, however, that she made no mention of another part of the male anatomy that looked a bit unproportional as well.

Leonard-Pisa-Tower.JPGOur latest tour that we took was a 1 hour bus ride to the city of Pisa, where as you might have heard, lies a famous slightly slanted bell tower. The whole team ascended all 294 stairs to the top, leading to spectacular views of the surrounding town and countryside. While we were there, I vowed not to let any member of our party take the cliche photograph of posing and pretending to "hold up" the leaning tower and prevent it from falling. As soon as I told this to Meyers Leonard and Crandall Head, they ignored my advice and immediately struck up the pose.

As of right now, we are getting ready to leave for the city of Venice, where as Mitch Hedberg said, they don't have street smarts, they have canal smarts. Remember to follow me on twitter at @tylergriffey and check out www.fightingillini.com for more updates!

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Nice blog and fine pictures, this tower is not really ;) cheers

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