Saturday, October 24, 2009

All roads lead to Rome

18th July 2009

Once arriving in Paris and getting rid of the car, we had to catch the metro to Bercy and then Rome. On the train we shared our sleeper trains cabin with a lovely lady and her 2 children. If I had to share with the cabin next door with teens I probably would’ve killed someone! After a couple of hours we converted our seats into bed. Lauren and I got the lower bunks, which are also known as our Bat Caves and Nicole had a middle bunk. We all pretty much slept the whole way until about 7am.

19th July 2009

As we pulled into a station, we all had our fingers crossed hoping that this was NOT our stop. It was dirty and full of graffiti. But alas, it was Termini station.

Our start in Rome was to say the least, a little hectic.

We were given directions and a map from a very helpful who also pointed us in the right direction for our metro line. We headed to Line B for our stop: Piramide. On arrival we started looking for our Hostel. Apparently it was close, but no-one could give us a location, direction or any other helpful information. Romans are quite arrogant and don’t want anything to do with you if you ask them for directions! We started to panic. The phone number and address was wrong (or hidden) and so we ended up dragging our luggage back to Termini, hoping to find an internet hotspot where we could look up the actual details. We were looking around and we ran into the same lady who helped us earlier. All I can say is thank goodness! She owns a Bead and Breakfast but unfortunately was booked out so she rang a couple of places for us to stay. She then proceeded to walk us to the hotel and make sure we arrived safely!

She also gave us a few tips on Rome:

  1. Don’t drink anything unless you see it opened in front of you
  2. Don’t go to the parks at night
  3. That’s things like this (not finding your accommodation) happen all the time and that’s one of the reasons she does this for free!

I guess it’s a good thing, because if it wasn’t for her – we all would’ve had distaste for the Italians.

After we got settled in, we headed for the Laundromat. How fun! I think this is the most dreaded task of a traveler. We had the map and had directions to the Laundromat but we still managed to get lost! Rome is definitely hard to navigate. There are so many what look like dead end streets, where in actual fact if you head up a flight of stairs all will be okay. They are also narrow and the buildings are quite tall so it feels like you are a rat in a maze. We eventually found the Laundromat and the guy offered to do it for us for an extra 5! Bargain! So we went and had something to eat while we waited: Pasta of course!

It was a cute little place called “Gallo Matto” Chicken House on (via Cavour, 107). We were one of two tables so we had great service from our waiter who proceeded to put a blow up crown on top of Nicole’s head. Hehehe!

Gallo Matto and all its nic-nacs!

After filling up on pasta, we went in search of an internet cafĂ© and then headed back to pick up the laundry, went for a shower and headed back out for dinner. It was on the main road (Nationale) where we staying and the tables were out on the street. You had the option of eating inside – but it seemed out of character to do so! We all shared a seafood pizza and then had an awesome dessert which was brought to the table on fire!

Our flamin' dessert!

20th July 09

We had breakfast up at a little place near Termini in front of the fountain at Pza Della Rebubblica. The waitress was a little rude, but whatever. It was the only breakfast place we could afford. We then decided it was probably a better idea to hop on one of those open top buses for the day and see the sites. Nicole and I bought a hat (mine looking a little gangster!). We then bought our ticket and jumped onto Roma 110. We had only driven about 5 minutes up the road and turned a corner…. Wham! There is the Colosseum. It’s huge, but what a sight! We stayed on and decided to come back later during the day. We hoped off after driving past The Italian Forum ruins, some fountain and lots of churches and white building at Trevi Fountain. We ate some sorbet and resisted the urge to jump into the fountain and instead throwing in some 5, 2 and 1 cent coins. We also browsed a couple of shops on the way back to the bus stop.

After breakfast, standing infront of the fountain.

Nicole and I on the bus! Laurens head in the background.

First glimpse of the Colosseum

Roman Forum Ruins

Nicole and I eating Gelato in front of Trevi Fountain

My coins

Trevi Fountain

Next stop: The Colosseum. We joined an English tour group with an Italian Tour Guide as there were no signs inside to describe what you are looking at. It was a great idea. Our guide was quite funny and told us some facts/myths of what you see in the movies with references to Gladiators etc. It was quite interesting to hear that the tigers were actually kept under the arena in total darkness for up to 72 hours before an event. They were then lifted onto the arena, and as they did so, they were subjected to shock and blinded by the light. The gladiators would then wound the tiger to make it weaker to fight.

The arena inside the Colosseum

Me in the Colosseum

After the Colosseum, we headed back and Lauren wanted to rest. Nicole and I had seen some Harem Pants earlier that day and decided to head back up Nationale to buy some. On our way, we had a look in an Italian Leather shop were we both ended up buying a jacket! Out of pocket, but totally loving the idea of owning an authentic leather jacket we returned to our original mission of buying Aladdin pants! When it’s 40 degrees and you are in Rome – you MUST own these pants.

After our splurge and on a high, we rushed back to show Lauren our buys! So, we didn’t exactly get the reaction we were going for. She was pissed off because she wanted to buy one too. Who would’ve thunk it!

We then went out for some dinner at this little Sardinian Place down off the main road. It was absolutely amazing! Not to mention affordable! We all had a great meal, and I was still trying to force myself to eat it even though I was totally stuffed! We drunk 2 bottles of red wine and were extremely drunk by about 11pm and decided to head back to our room which was luckily, only a short walk. As soon as my head hit the pillow, I was asleep.

At dinner with our wonderful food, wine and after dinner drinks!

21st July 2009

We again had breakfast at the same place. Sooner or later, the waitress will love us. After our fruit cocktails, we headed to the metro and caught the next train to The Vatican. We first climbed the stairs in the Basilica to the top of the dome. Saving 2 Euros, we climbed the entire way to the top! It was totally worth it, although as we got closer to the dome, the more people became irritating. I was almost going to tackle these 2 tourists in front of me who thought it was a marvelous idea to keep taking photos during the climb. It wasn’t the fact that they were tourists, or the fact that they were taking photos, it was the fact that I was on a role putting one foot in front of the other, bent to the right (it was a dome after all) and wanting to get to some fresh air. So finally, 551 stairs later, the view was fantastic!

Climbing up the stairs in the Dome

The view from the top!

The Dome which we climbed

What comes up, must go down. Once at the bottom, you arrive at the Basilica were the wax tombs of previous popes lay. It’s pretty creepy. We also took a picture of a statue who Nicole and I thought was none other than Jesus. Turn’s out it was actually Peter.

Wax Pope

We then walked over to the Sistine Chapel. It was truly amazing inside. The artwork and the detail involved was breathtaking. I took quite a lot of photos of the painting I liked which mostly involved women and cherubs. Nicole and I spend the rest of the time trying to find the ‘Creation’ Scene. It’s a huge Chapel and it took us a while to get out! Last stop in the Chapel is of course the prayer room (and we still hadn’t seen the Hand of God) . Iit is supposed to be quite, but there was a lot of whisper. I look up and voila! There it is. I snuck a photo:

There were lots of painting with Cherubs

Me standing in the tapestry hall

The Creation scene: Hand of God.

Once we were out, we headed back to do a bit of shopping. I bought a white dress (19Euro) and another pair of Aladdin pants – Purple of course!

22nd July 2009

Final thoughts on Rome are quite pleasant. After a rocky arrival and thinking we were sleeping on the streets, Roma turned out to be great: Leather jacket, outstanding buildings and architecture and of course, a great hotel.

After waking, we packed our things and checked out and headed back towards Termini where we needed to catch a train to Fuimicino for our flight to Athens. Luckily we didn’t stop for breakfast otherwise we would’ve totally missed our flight – even though it was running a bit late.

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