This is the newest entry in a (short, but growing) series of letters from Flat Hailey to her lovely best friend, Hailey. (If you aren’t familiar with the Flat Stanley series, you are missing out on awesome geography and cultural snapshots for kids!)
Once again, you bundled me up in a manila envelope to ship me around the world. While I love getting to visit ancient ruins, beautiful shorelines and see all the amazing sites the world has to offer, I do have to say that envelope-travel isn’t that fun. For a few weeks, all I see is a haze of brown and I get jiggled all over the place. Sometimes I even feel like I am flying! Do you think the mailman throws my envelope? But, in the end, the less than stellar travel is worth it so that I can help you learn about lots of cool places.
This round of travel was centered in southern Europe. I started my travels in Rome, where I am afraid I missed the whole first day of touring, as my guide forgot me in her carry-on, so I spent the day resting up at the hotel so that I’d have lots of energy the following day.
Once I finally made it out of the hotel, I got to see some spectacular sights, including the Vatican City, where I discovered that the guards wear some awesome yellow and blue pants that look like they are made of ribbons. I wonder if we should start wearing those in American. It is a pretty fun look! (It’s a good thing they had big spears with them, otherwise I don’t think they would have made for very scary guards.) At the Vatican, I also got to walk through the huge museum system and then visit the enormous St. Peter’s Basilica. The church is so huge that when I was inside, I felt like I was the size of an ant!
A trip to Rome wouldn’t be complete without visiting the ancient sites as well, so I next asked my guide to take me to the Roman Forum and Coliseum. I had to fight my way into the Colisuem! As you can see, I was stopped by some gladiators who wanted a battle; they had full outfits of armor and giant swords. But, luckily, I convinced them that I was just Flat Hailey, on an adventure to see the world, so they let me pass. Thank goodness!
Next up on my travel agenda was to head south: Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast. I was fascinated with the ruins at Pompeii. It is amazing how big the volcano, Mount Vesuvius is. And, it sits so close to the city! I think I would be a little afraid to live there. But, it is a beautiful mountain and easy to see why it’s eruption caused such a problem all those centuries ago. After walking around the ruins in the hot sun all morning, I thought lunch and some relaxing at the beach was a good way to spend the afternoon. Lots of pasta later, I strolled along the pebbly seashore, taking in the sunshine and blue skies. Beautiful!
Having enough of the Rome area, I decided it would be best to head north, so I asked my guide to buy us train tickets for Florence. I loved Florence! In the center of the city is a beautiful church, but I was too tired to climb the million and a half stairs to the top of the Duomo. One of the most exciting things in Florence though was the adorable little car we rented to drive around the countryside. We got a cute little red Fiat 500 that was made for people my size. (My guides definitely had to curl up their long legs to fit in!) As we drove around outside the city, I couldn’t believe how narrow the lanes were. Our car was tiny, but there were times I could have reached out and touched the wall next to the road. Tiny! But it was fun to tootle around, visiting churches and olive orchards and grape vineyards in the classic car. (I even rode on the hood for a while!)
My guides spent a day out at Pisa, which I went along for, but because it was raining, I decided to stay on the bus. Because absolutely no bags are allowed inside the Leaning Tower of Pisa (including purses!), they were worried I’d get ruined in the rain. I’m sad to have missed the tower, but glad I’m in one piece to continue my travels.
Italy was great, but it wasn’t the last stop on my tour of southern Europe. With Rome, Pompeii and Florence under my belt, it was off to Athens, Greece. I only had a couple of days in the capital city, but I loved getting to see the Temple of Zeus and the Acropolis. I even got to sit in the exact seats were Greek comedies and tragedies were acted out. Amazing! One thing I learned while in Athens was that all of those white, marble statues of the gods and goddesses that we see in photographs were actually painted in bright colors! Whenever we see them, they are a gleaming white, but hundreds of years ago they were fully colored. I loved seeing the recreations of what they would have looked like when they were created.
But alas, all good things must come to an end and that includes my little vacation. I’m now back in Chengdu, getting my envelope packed to come back to Idaho to tell you more of my travel tales. I’ll be in the mail on Wednesday, so expect me home the first week of November. I can’t wait to see you soon, Hailey! Thank you again for sending me off to see the world. I love it, but I will always come back to you.
Flat Hailey (World Traveler Extraordinaire)