Monday, October 6, 2014

Italy Part 1: Rome

July 17:
Stupid early morning.  We brought our bags down the night before so just hauling the little stuff down in the morning.  Shuttle/taxi got there around 5 minutes late - we were the first stop.  Picked up 1 dude then went to pick up 2 more but they weren't ready (Meg got a snippy reply when she went to see).  Thanks to them, got to Orly at 5:40am, then had to find our gate.  Shuttled to the plane and then fly to Rome.  Waited for the bags and then decided to take a shuttle bus to Termini station (5 euro each).  Arrived, super short walk to the hostel and they let us up the elevator and into our room!  Took a 2-3 hour nap (necessary!) and then dressed for church-friendly and headed to the restaurant suggested by our hostess for some delicious sparkling wine and pasta.  Then off to Termini and the metro line A to Spagna (Spanish Steps) for a tour at 5:30.  We arrived stupid early again and now waiting (bought postcards 20 for 1 euro and a fan for 2 euros). Very hot.  Finally found the tour - she had a mic and speaker!  Went to Spanish square (steps were French!), 2 old columns with Mary and Saint Paul on top, 2 churches, the Pantheon - largest dome, and the Trevi Fountain.  Lots of Pagan turned Christian stuff!  Good tour.  Walked back down a street full of vendors and artists and watched a woman use spray paint and stencils to create beauty for 10 euros.  Finally decided to get one - gave her creative freedom and it paid off big time - gorgeous.  Creepy towel man outside but shower then bed.

July 18:
Alarm off at 8am so we'd be ready for our breakfast set up in the kitchen at 8:30 - cereal, hot chocolate, croissant (filled), yogurt, etc.  Dressed and out the door (after herding cats mom & Megan) around 9:30.  Walked to the Colosseum (my map skills) and then trying to find where to meet our tour guide (at reserved tickets).  Had a short tour (with our own handheld speakers!) and then wandered some more and through the Constantine exhibit. Headed over to Palatino/Roman Forum and had to walk/wander a long way to find the entrance due to some construction.  Wandered around the area but very hot, very little shade/breeze, and barely any information on what we were looking at.  Finally walked home for a lovely 3 hour nap.  Got up and headed out to the Hard Rock Cafe for food.  Had to wait awhile for a table but not as long as predicted.  Claudio took our order then switched to Elena.  I had half a BBQ bacon cheeseburger and Meg & mom split twisted mac and a smaller burger.  Headed home and stopped at outdoor market - found out we should buy leather in Florence. Also stopped at a supermarket and got chicken, chips, and cookies to make a lunch.  Showered, read, talked to Brian for awhile about pride, Megan got snuggly, and finally sleep ~2am.

July 19:
8am wake up, breakfast, & out the door by 9am.  Brief "argument" about bus vs. metro, got on the metro to "Ottaviano."  Then walking a ways to Museo Vaticano and being worried about being late and in the wrong place (again!).  Got to skip a huge queue and got our tickets at the meeting point.  Our tour guide "Margarita"? gave us speakers/headphones.  Tour of the Vatican Gardens.  Very quiet and peaceful and lots of shade plus history of the Vatican.  Then walked through the museum (da Vinci, Raphael, Dali) to the Sistine Chapel.  I thought the ceiling in the church on our free tour was more impressive!  We took the wrong exit out of the Sistine Chapel so had to backtrack to get to the right one.  Then found a nice little souvenir shop run by nuns and I got a pin.  Sat outside on a bench and ate our packed sandwiches, chips, and cookies.  Debated going up the Dome - 7 euros and 300 steps or 5 euros and 500 steps, decided not to.  Then into St. Peter's Basilica, touched the worn feet, wandered around.  Finally home through the square and back on the metro.  Read, took a nap, now mom and Megan are shopping.  Yay alone time, but I miss Nathan.  They brought back pizza and wine from the same restaurant as before, then bedtime.

July 20:
Got to "sleep in"!  Alarm @ 8:30, out of bed ~9am for breakfast.  Dawdled a bit and headed out ~11am (in & out to potty!).  Then decided to do a trip advisor walking tour of baths/temples, etc.  Saw the circus, some old bridges over the Tiber (62 BC!) and the Marcello Teatro (like a smaller Colosseum).  Also saw a face from the 1st century - w/ "Mouth of Truth."  Then decided to walk/shop for shoes up towards the Spanish steps and then over to Barberini.  Then walked home from there - tried to stop in a McD's for a toilet but a long unmoving line.   Finally back to our usual restaurant for pizza and bruschetta (free!).  Meg and I walked down to the laundromat to check it out and on the way stopped in a lingerie shop.  Cheap stuff - awkward though!  Laundromat was too pricey - will try in Florence.  Now home - after trying to find mom to let us in.  Short nap break.  Got up and mom and Megan went to try to find a WWII free museum (was closed unfortunately) while I Skyped with Nathan and took a shower.  They got back and mom and I went to the train station to get my Euro pass stamped - waited in the wrong line then got to the right line and ran home for my passport.  Then got it stamped, stopped at McD's for Coke and shakes (1 euro) then home.

Rome Summary:
Nice place, fountains everywhere - overwhelming amount of super old (BC) structures.  Not as big as I was expecting - fairly walkable.  Metro not great and I was afraid of using buses - couldn't buy tickets on the bus.  Super hot until the thunderstorm then better so long as you stay out of the sun.  The Colosseum was impressive, the Roman Forum not so much (probably because no info/tour).  The Vatican was both over and underwhelming.  Too many people!  Very glad for online ticket purchases. Calm in the garden but then super crowded in the museum/Sistine Chapel.  Sistine was less impressive than a church on our free tour.  Never found good shoes for Megan.  Hopefully in Florence we can find good leather products.  Food was good but really only ate at one restaurant besides the Hard Rock Cafe.  No cannolis yet.  Hostel has been great - WiFi, clean, old locks/keys, Don't feel like I missed anything.
"Ancient City"
3.5 out of 5 stars

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