Today, I got back from yet another incredible adventure—ROME!! This past Friday my friend Melissa and myself headed to the romantic country of Italia. We had an early flight Friday morning, with a cheap European airline—Ryanair. What a mistake! I was always told, you get what you pay for, and this couldn’t have been more prevalent. After about 2 hours on the flight, the plane decided to land in the wrong airport in Rome. And, because that airport wasn’t expecting the arrival of our flight, there was no gate in the airport for us to go. So the crew and captain made us sit on the plane, parked in the wrong airport, for about two hours. Well, I can officially say I know what Italians look like when they are mad. People started yelling at the flight attendants in either Italian or Spanish. Everyone was frustrated. After about 2 hours, we departed for the correct airport. The flight was literally 10 minutes (including take off and landing). I was pretty mad, because I was wasting my entire day, especially because I knew I had limited time in Rome! Then, we got off the plan and had pre-paid for a bus to take us to the middle of the city, because this airport was a little bit outside of the city. Well, the bus didn’t arrive for yet another hour or so. So, by that point I was pretty mad. It was nearing 4pm and we were supposed to be in Rome by noon that day. So, Melissa and I got on some random bus, paid for another ticket and we were finally on our way to the city. We got off the bus about 30 minutes later, and went and bought a map. We knew our hotel was somewhere near this metro station, we just didn’t know where. After going the wrong way a couple of times, we finally found our cute little hotel—Hotel Dolomitti. We checked in as quickly as possible and we were ready to put the day behind us and start exploring the city.
At this point it was about 4:30 or 5pm, so we decided to take the metro the Vatican City. WOW! That is really all that I can say about the Vatican. It is hugeeee!! These old brick walls surround the city, and inside there is a half circle of pillars. In the middle of the half circle is the Vatican. We went into this city and were amazed at how many camera crews were still around—because of the new Pope being announced just a couple days earlier. Being in Vatican City, during such a historic time for the Catholic Church is something that I will never forget. To see the chairs still lined up, and camera crews still set up, and the curtains still hung where the new Pope gave his speech, was amazing. I knew that I was not only standing in a historic place, but also living through such a historic time for the Catholic Church. After exploring the outside of the city, we decided to head inside the Vatican. We went through security, and walked into nothing but beauty and perfection! Just to give some perspective as to how big this thing is, the written letters that line the ceiling are each at least 6 feet tall!! (see the pics below) People walking through this building look microscopic! What a site to see, definitely yet another unforgettable moment!
After exploring the Vatican, we were ready to get some Italian food for dinner! We walked out of Vatican City and found this cute little café. All the restaraunts and cafes in Italy are filled with incredible murals, pieces of art, and are just cute in the layouts and furniture. We sat down, ordered some Italian wine along with Gnocchi and Ravioli. After a delicious meal, we had to try some Italian gelato. So we walked some more and came across another café that had an abundance of gelato choices. Let me just say, I definitely fed myself like a queen on this trip! That night, we were exhausted from the traumatic day, dealing with Ryanair, so we ended up going to sleep early.
The next day (Saturday), we woke up really early and were ready for our Colosseum tour. We had pre-booked a walking tour of the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. Although it was expensive, it was worth every penny!! We had a cute Italian breakfast at the hotel, took the metro to the Colosseum and met up with the tour group. We had an English-speaking tour guide who was an archeologist. We knew we were lucky. We were about to be guided through Roman ruins by a professional archeologist. We got individual head sets, to hear the tour guide speaking. You could be about 5 meters away from the guide, and still hear her perfectly. We started our tour in the Colosseum. There are absolutely no words that can explain how incredible this monument is. To think about how old it is, and to see how far our world has come is mind-boggling. We walked the perimeter, learning about they wear-and-tear. Some of the holes that you see in pictures are from wear-and-tear and others used be the placeholders for doors or gates. We also learned that the reason that reason the south side of the top of the colosseum is missing is because people used to come and steal the stone and use it for building other things. After walking the perimeter, we entered the colosseum. What an experience. The overwhelming history that floods the walkways and arches in this place is unbelievable. We walked up original roman stairs and walked down the original roman roads. Even the slightest of details, like the steepness of the stairs, has a purpose. They were steep, so people could walk up them slowly—to better enjoy the atmosphere—and walk down them faster—as a safety issue to get everyone out of there as quickly as possible. We walked passed original stonewalls, that were once filled graffiti and now we they are key in determining what really went on in the colosseum. Historians use these pieces of graffiti to determine the outfits worn by the Romans, the animals involved in the shows, the people who watched, etc. Inside the colosseum historians also found things in between the seats—which helped determine what the Romans used to eat and do during these gatherings. Chicken bones, nuts, and berries were found, along with a vase-like bottle for drinks and a board game, similar to backgammon.
After the Colosseum, our tour walked over to the old Roman Forum. Here, we got to see ruins of old temples, arches, government buildings and even the pathway that was used by the romans upon returning from conquering other lands. The Roman Forum was filled with ruins, and it was often hard to picture what it looked like beforehand. After the tour guide showed us pictures, of what these buildings once were, and what they were once used for, it was incredible. To be standing in an area with, again, incredible history and once beautiful buildings used by the Romans was a wild feeling. After walking through the Forum, we walked up towards Palatine Hill. This was a hill that housed the old royal palace. Although there was not much left of this palace, we walked through areas that were once the dining room, bedroom, and courtyard of the royal Romans. There were random slabs of marble still left on the ground. Our tour guide decided to pour water on the old marble to give us an idea of the colors, shapes and designs that were used in this royal palace. After walking through ruins of the palace, and trying to picture what it once was, the tour ended and we headed to lunch.
We found this cute little café right outside the colosseum, had some Gnocchi and white wine. After lunch we looked at the map to see what our next move was. We walked away from the colosseum and stumbled upon this GIGANTIC memorial building. (see pics below) It was a memorial for unknown soldiers. After taking a few pictures in front of this huge white memorial, we headed towards the Pantheon and Fontana di Trevi. We walked into this little courtyard, and found the Pantheon. It was an incredible sight to see, but it was nothing more than a quick walk through. The Pantheon is the oldest standing unreinforced concrete dome in all of Europe—it was great to see. After viewing the Pantheon we walked down this cute street (with some shopping on the way) and finally found the Trevi Fountain. I was a little surprised at first to see the size. I guess I was so used to seeing it in moves, which portray it to be larger, that I was caught offgaurd. But, this wasn’t going to stop me from making my wishes. We ended up grabbing gelato on the way to the fountain and had not finished our desert yet. So we sat on the steps in front of the fountain, thinking about what wishes we were about to make. After that we walked down a couple of stairs to the fountain. One after the other, Melissa and I, made our wishes. I made three wishes by myself, and then afterwards Melissa and I made a wish together and threw the coins over our shoulders. It was amazing to be standing in a place filled with peoeple’s wishes…and money.
After making our wishes, we decided to shop some more (shopping is dangerous in Italy). After a couple hours, we were ready to eat some more food and get some more wine. We stumbled upon the Spanish Steps, which are the widest staircase in all of Europe. We took a couple of pictures and had dinner right outside the Spanish steps. After dinner, we decided to head home—we had walked over half of the city in one day, and we were exhausted.
The next morning, we woke up and decided to walk to the south of Rome and find other monuments. The Rome marathon was going on at the time (on Sunday) and so we walked along some of the runners cheering them on. Afterwards we came across an open flea market, and decided to walk through and look at some of the junk. At the end of the flea market, we looked at the map and we knew we were lost. So, we walked for a while, thinking we were going in the right direction—luckily we were. We came across another beautiful fountain on the top of this hill with an incredible. We sat on a bench overlooking the city, on the top of this mountain, and took it all in. We pondered the idea of all the incredible ruins and monuments we had seen before, and sat enjoying the view. After that, we were on a mission to find another famous statue. We started walked, and again we were lost. For some reason, our map didn’t really have the small streets written so we had no idea where we were going. We came across this huge park, but we knew that we would definitely be lost if we tried to walk through it. So, instead we walked this small side street, hoping we would run into a street name that was on our map. After about an hour of being lost, we finally saw the dome of the Vatican. We were heading in the right direction!! The sun was setting, and we just made sure that the Vatican was in sight at all times. Soon enough we bumped into the Vatican walls. We decided to try to go into the Museum (which was closed the day before), but instead we decided to try to go to a Mass inside the church. I have never been to a Catholic Mass before and I knew that my first time couldn’t have been in a better place. We went through security and entered the Vatican for a second time. Everything always seems to be better the second time because you kind of realize that what you saw before wasn’t a dream—everything started to become surreal. We walked through and grabbed a seat at the main altar. I was about to sit through my first Mass. It was not only in another language (Italian), but there were prayers, kneeling, standing, sitting, and reciting. So, I decided to just sit through the entire thing and take in the culture and atmosphere that I was in. After about an hour, Mass ended and we walked down some cute side streets to find a place to eat. We decided to walk back to the Trevi Fountain, to not only see it at night, but also eat in that cute area. We found a restaurant with incredible art on the walls. After yet another delicious dinner, we decided to find a pub and celebrate St. Patty’s Day. It started to rain, but this wasn’t going to stop us. We had heard of a huge pub crawl going on and we were determined to find at least one of the pubs. We couldn’t find it but stumbled upon another pub. This was a tiny pub on a side street that was filled with Irish natives. It turns out, that this was the last pub on the pub crawl. The bar was owned by the young Irish guy, and was filled with Irish people. We got a taste of the Irish culture, in Rome. Irish was music was playing all night, Guinness drinks were being passed around, Karaoke even broke out at one point in the night. It was definitely a night for the books, or the blog. J Early morning was approaching (3am) and we had a 6am flight. We had to leave for the airport at around 4am, so we decided to just stay awake and go straight to the aiport—and boy was that an adventure. We stayed at this pub until about 3:30 in the morning, then took a taxi back to the hotel to grab our stuff and take a taxi to the airport. We arrived at the airport, a little after 4am and were exhausted—but it was all worth it. We got on the plane safely, and made it back home to Madrid with no problems.
Rome definitely has a place in my heart, and it was a trip that was filled with rich history and memories. I cannot believe how blessed I am to be able to travel to such an incredible city. I am only home for 2 days before I head off the spring break. Next stops: Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam, & Paris
Thanks for reading!!
Besos y abrazos