Rome, the Pope, and Me | My Family Travels
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     On Christmas Day 2010, myself and 20 others traveled to Rome, Italy. As part of the St. David Catholic Church Choir, we had been invited to perform at churches in Rome and St. Peter’s Basilica on New Year’s Day. This was all part of the 36th International Congress of Pueri Cantores, an organization that brings together Catholic choirs from around the world. This trip had been planned since my freshman year and now here I was: a junior about to have the best winter break of my life. My grandmother, my cousin, and I were traveling with the Harrison family, as my grandmother did not want to travel alone with my cousin and me. On Christmas Day, my grandmother, my cousin, and I got dropped off at the Harrisons’ house, where a driver would take us to Miami International Airport. We got to the airport about three, after finding out the flight was delayed for three hours. By eight o’clock, we, along with half of our tour group, had boarded the plane and taken off for a long 12 hour flight.

      We arrived in Rome the next day at the local time of nine o’clock. From the airport, we went straight to the hotel, the Parco Tirreno. We were ready to explore. The Harrisons, the Lejas, and my family decided to take the subway, which was cleaner and faster than New York. We walked around and for dinner we ate the Hard Rock Café. On the way back, the fun really began. When we got off the subway, we miscalculated where our stop was. This led to much walking and hopelessly asking for directions from people who spoke little English and could not give directions. Eventually we got to the hotel and went straight to bed. The next day, December 27, the group learned that the other half of the tour group was stuck at Newark, New Jersey due to weather. No one was sure of when they would get here. The Harrisons, the Lejas, and my family decided to continue to explore the city. We took the subway and bought tickets for a double-decker bus tour. We young people went for the top and our families followed. This later turned out to be a bad idea- it was slightly cold but with the wind it was absolutely freezing. However, we preserved and I got some great pictures. We decided to get off at the Trevi Fountain and we all threw in coins. We made our way back to the hotel to rest before dinner at the hotel. Later that night the other half of our tour group made it, just in time for our first rehearsal the next day.

    Over the next couple of days we rehearsed, sang at St. Paul’s and other churches, toured the ruins of Ancient Rome, such as the Coliseum and the Forum, took a private tour- which Mrs. Harrison had arranged- that took us to the Pantheon and other parts of the city, and ate some amazing food. One of the best parts of the trip happened after our Thursday rehearsal. Once we were done rehearsing we were told that Pope Benedict XVI was coming to talk to us. The Pope talked about how music, especially singing, was one of God’s great gifts and he blessed us. The second best part was performing at New Year’s Day mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. This is simply indescribable. The only bad part- Rome was covered in graffiti. All in all, my trip to Rome was, hands down, the best experience of my life so far.

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