Trip to Rome
Rome Travel Blog› entry 4 of 4 › view all entries
Day 1 started off with a comedy of events.
4am and the alarm went off. It was time to make the first part of our journey, to the Airport. We were due to catch the 4:36am train from Hendon Station to Luton Airport, however, when we got to the station we had just missed the train, which meant that we ended up sitting around for nearly 30 minutes.
It was really cold and wet not to mention that we were the only two people waiting around at the train station (Maybe because any sensible person would have been in bed!). The next train was due to arrive at 5:36am, which would have meant that the likelihood of missing the flight would have been high, so we decided to order a taxi instead of waiting.
From what I can remember, I was very short tempered but Henry dealt with me very well. I am sure that if the roles were reversed I would have probably abandoned him! (Joking)
It was 5am when the taxi arrived. He was very friendly and efficient. That was until he missed the exit coming off the M1! Still, he managed to get us to the airport on time (6am).
Once we had arrived at the check in hall, I very quickly realised why I hadn't ever travelled on a bank holiday weekend. The queues were pretty impressive and there was a whole lot of orderly chaos. Everyone was in a rush to be at their holiday destinations!
Eventually we boarded our flight, however, we didn’t end up sitting next to each other. This was my fault because I was insistent that we should wait until everyone else boarded the flight. All because I couldn’t be bothered to wait in a queue! Anyway, Henry pretended to sleep for pretty much most of the flight whilst I befriended a couple who were staying at the same hotel as us.
When we landed in Rome I was disappointed because the weather was windy and rainy, not too different to the weather in London! We waited ages for our bags but that was nothing compared to when we had to wait over an hour for the Terra Vision couch to turn up! To top it all off it was pouring with rain and we had no umbrellas or macs!
On arrival at the Termini Station (public transport hub) we were wet and parched and were on a mission to find a café for coffee and carbs! We ended up circling the block only to end up in a café that would have originally taken us 2 seconds to walk to from the bus stop!
I am sure that from what I have written so far it may seem that the trip was doomed, however, on the contrary Henry and I were actually very cheerful and optimistic! I suppose it was either that or we would have killed each other!
En route to the hotel, which I have to add that I found through my great Portuguese navigational skills, we bumped into a couple from Spain who were lost. They had initially tried to ask Henry for directions but of course he doesn’t speak Spanish! So, I tried my best to point them in the right direction by speaking to them in Portuguese instead. Henry thought I was acting like a show off though! Oh well, I guess it pays to be bilingual!
Some more walking and we got to the Midi Hotel (Via Giovanni Giolotti 415, Rome, Lazio, 00185). The area was not that great. There was loads of graffiti everywhere but I thought that it added to the character of the place. The hotel room was small but clean and we had our own balcony which overlooked the neighbours’ pretty gardens! We were both exhausted, having been up since 4am. We both took a shower and then fell asleep for most of the afternoon.
When I woke up I was pleasantly surprised to see the sun shining. I was so determined to start exploring the local area, even though it was a bit of a ghetto. Having refreshed our energy levels, we got dressed and headed out towards Piazza di Porta Maggiore and caught the number 8 tram. Initially, we had no idea where the tram was heading and after about 5 minutes we realised that we were going in the direction of a residential slum! As Henry quite rightfully put it, "You know that you are going in the wrong direction when there aren't any other tourists on the tram"! We quickly got off at the next stop and got on another tram that went in the opposite direction.
After taking a little heritage tour of the slums and ghetto we eventually made it back to the Termini Station. We then found a tourist information centre and sought advice on how to use the public transport system, i.e. maps. We were told to purchase a Roma Pass, which for €11 is suppose to give you unlimited usage of the public transport system (for 3 days) as well as access to museums. We were told that we had to purchase these passes from either a tobacconist or a newsagent. The challenge was that no one actually stocked these passes, so we ended up purchasing a normal 3 day pass (without access to museums) for the same price!
At that end of all the drama / trauma, we decided to have dinner. Again, being Evete and Henry, nothing is ever straight forward, so we walked up and down several streets before agreeing on a restaurant! 30 minutes later and we ended up at a trattoria called La Mensa de Baccus. It was a nice little trattoria with an outside terrace. The only downside was the wine, which tasted like it had been diluted with water! The food was very nice, we had pizza and tiramisu!
After dinner, Henry and I stopped off at a little delicatessen that sold wine and food. Henry purchased a bottle of white wine and I insisted that we also purchase Italian chocolate mini rolls! Henry was a little tipsy from drinking too much white wine!
Day 2 and we were on a sightseeing mission.
We missed breakfast and overslept. Our initial plan was to visit the Colosseum and then the Vatican but that soon changed when we got onto the wrong Metro train (Metro A instead of Metro B)!
Our next plan was to visit the Trevi Fountain and then make our way to the Vatican, but that changed too when we missed our stop and just carried on towards Ottaviano San Pietro (St Peter's Square)!
We walked a short distance, to eventually arrive at St. Peter's Square quite breathtaking really, especially as everything is so large. We were going to view the Dead Popes' chamber but the queue was ridiculous! Instead we went inside of St. Peter's Basilica, the paintings and the architecture was amazing. To be fair it is one of those places that you would need to visit and see for yourself, in order to truly appreciate it. Apparently, you can attend confession in order to obtain absolution. The problem was that we had only scheduled 1 day to see the Vatican! It was a sunny day and quite warm in comparison to London. We walked around the courtyard for a while and I was quite amused by the fresh water drinking fountains, which have been around since Ancient Rome.
Our next stop was the Vatican Museum, to see the Sistine Chapel. We walked through several nicely landscaped court yards. I stopped to take a picture in a little court yard that had calla lilies and ferns growing from a small pond / fountain. We carried on walking through several galleries; one which was particularly interesting was the gallery of maps, which had paintings on the wall of the conquered lands under the Roman Empire. The maps were a little off in terms of geographical boundaries, but that is understandable considering the Ancient Romans didn't have the benefit of satellites!
At the end of all of these halls and galleries we finally made it to the Sistine Chapel and all I can say is WOW! I can remember studying Michelangelo and his contribution to the Renaissance, most famously the Sistine Chapel, but nothing could have really prepared me for seeing it in person, as oppose to an A5 page in my World History Book! It would have been even more amazing if there weren't so many people pushing me around and stepping on my flip flops! Still, my conclusion was that Michelangelo must have suffered with some serious neck pains!
After our cultural art tour, we tried to find our way back to the Metro. On the way we stopped off for a rest and some gelatti (ice cream). We revisited my torn tourist's map of Rome and the Metro, to figure out where we were going next. My feet were really killing me by this point! Anyway, we agreed to visit Piazza di Spagna, to see the Spanish Steps.
I can't remember there being anything crazy or extraordinary happening, i.e. falling off the Metro platform, etc. We did make it to the Spanish Steps and by then I was complaining so much about my sore feet that Henry went off to buy me some plasters! Whilst I waited I admired this very pretty fountain called Fontanna della Baraccia, which is located at the bottom of the Spanish Steps. Again, I was quite amused by watching people drinking its water! It was quite a warm afternoon and people were sitting / lying down on the Spanish Steps. We walked to the top and then both of us decided to do the same, a little sun tanning. You could see Via Condotti from the top of the Spanish Steps, as well as all of the shopaholics and tourists! An hour later and we had enough and were ready to move on to our next site.
My feet were really killing me and the plasters wouldn't stick because my feet were too sweaty (sorry). To calm my frustrations, I visited the Godiva Chocolate shop and purchased some very yummy truffles and chocolate covered strawberries! I think that I took too long in there because Henry had to come and find me!
We eventually walked back to the Metro station and headed back to the Termini Station to go back to the hotel. OK, I really believed that my feet were going to fall off, so I had to stop off at this shop to buy a pair of shoes! Normally I would be enthusiastic about buying shoes but I was desperate by this stage and well, that is the excuse I have been using for buying this hideous looking pair of black polka dotted tennis shoes. I just don't have the courage to show you a picture!
When we finally made it back to the hotel, we had a shower and fell asleep, again! Our plans for the evening were to take a taxi to one of Rome's popular night spots to have dinner. So, we got dressed and Henry went down to reception to arrange for a taxi. 10 minutes later he came back to the hotel room to tell me that we wouldn't be able to get a taxi for another hour (at 9pm), as this was rush hour! We were both disappointed but made the best of the evening by eating at a restaurant close to the hotel. It was an experience to order from Italian menus as neither of us understood what we were reading! In the end, I ordered this lemon chicken, which didn't taste that great, however, Henry's choice was apparently fantastic (balsamic steak).
After dinner, we were very tired, so we headed back to the hotel.
Day 3 and it was more sightseeing.
We woke up at 11:15am and it was really overcast (but warm) outside. Today's sightseeing plans would have us visiting the Colosseum and the Ancient Roman Forum area. We both got dressed and headed off to the Termini Station to have coffee and to make our way to the correct platform this time! Things were great, so we thought, until I realised that the train we were on was going in the opposite direction to the Colosseum! We got off at the next stop and then caught the next train going in the right direction.
When we arrived at the Colosseum, it was pouring with rain outside. None the less I was really impressed with the view of this great ancient stadium. When we eventually entered the Colosseum, it became very clear as to how magnificent it would have looked in its day. Despite there being a lot of damage, the structure was still very much intact and in some areas you could see the detail that went into its construction. We managed to capture a picture of us whilst we were inside of the Colosseum.
Separate to how the Colosseum looked inside, the views of the landscape outside were breathtaking in particular, the Palatine Hill, the Arch of Constantine, and the Arch of Titus.
Our next site was the Palatine Gardens, which to be honest, we didn't see much of. However, the view from the gardens was amazing, especially as you could clearly see pretty much most of the whole Ancient Forum as well as the Colosseum. So on that note, we decided to walk through the Ancient Forum. Despite it looking like a bomb had hit it, in terms of there being not too much intact, it is very obvious that this area would have been magnificent in its day.
We walked for ages, not exactly knowing where we were going! Until eventually we stopped off in this public courtyard to view the Fontanna delle Tartarughe. I was then able to locate where we were as this was one of the recommended sites to view as per our travel guide. So we then decided that we were hungry and of course we made a challenge out of finding a venue; we ended up eating pizza!
After lunch we then headed back to the hotel. This time we caught a bus and what do you know we actually caught the right bus! When we arrived at the hotel, we fell asleep again! However, this time we arranged for reception to order a taxi for 8pm. Our plans for the evening were to visit the Trevi Fountain and then have dinner.
The taxi arrived at the hotel, an old Mercedes. Yeah, we didn't have to walk, except for a short distance when we arrived at Piazza di Trevi, as the road leading to the Trevi Fountain was too small for a car.
I was very impressed with the Trevi Fountain, despite the pictures not coming out that great! It's a very glamorous fountain. The only downside was that there were just too many people there! 10 minutes later and we decided to find a restaurant for dinner. En route, Henry bought me a pretty handbag!
Initially, we decided to eat outdoors and we found this restaurant that was suppose to serve authentic Roman food. We ended up indoors by the end of the first course, as it was a bit breezy. The food was OK and the wine tasted better, apparently! We both reflected on the last couple of days. We were pretty worn out from all of the walking and rushing around, trying not to get knocked over by cars (joking)!
After dinner, we stopped off at a Gelatti bar to sample some of "the best ice cream in the world". There were so many flavours, which made it difficult to choose a combination that wouldn't make your stomach turn! I think I settled for pistachio, vanilla, & raspberry!
Day 4 saw an end to our journey.
We had planned to wake up early, showers, pack, and eat breakfast. Nope, we didn't do any of those things in a calm order. Instead we woke up late, but thankfully we had booked a taxi to collect us from the hotel and drop us off at the airport! We rushed around to take showers and then to ensure that we didn't leave anything behind. The taxi ride was long but it was great to see the landscape as we ventured out of Rome. It was a beautiful day, I was feeling sad to have to leave such a nice climate to go back to clouds and rain!
It was manic when we arrived at the airport departures hall. The queues were long and people were very irritable and so was I at times! When we got our boarding cards we then decided to have breakfast. I had chosen to sit near the window. I thought I was so lucky to find a seat near the window, especially as the airport was so busy. That's what I thought until the construction workers outside started drilling holes into the buildings foundation! By the time Henry arrived at the table with the coffee and pastries, I no longer needed caffeine to wake me up. Instead I needed vodka to calm me down!
After breakfast I did a little shopping and purchased some Italian chocolates and biscuits. We then went through security to get to the departure gate. We must have stood in another queue for over 45 minutes. The best part was when we were walking to get on a couch that would take us to the plane and a guard stopped me and demanded to go through my hand bag! The bastard made me throw away my Aloe Vera Vaseline lip care! I later found out that I was allowed to carry that item in my handbag, given all the other hand baggage restrictions.
On the flight I felt really ill! The good news was that Henry and I got to sit next to each other. The bad news was that after 5 minutes I am sure he was happy to sit with anyone else! I kept getting up to be sick in the toilets! Eventually, 1hour and 45 minutes into the flight, I was beginning to feel a little better and was quite enjoying the view of the Mediterranean and the Alps.
When we arrived over London it was extremely cloudy, so the landing was interesting. We got off the plane and whilst walking to the arrivals hall I could recall Henry commenting that he wouldn't have to wait in a long queue because he is an EU National. I have to say, I had never come across such an unpleasant Immigration Officer until I met the one at Luton Airport! The remarks that she made were absolutely not necessary!
When we got our bags we headed for Luton Airport Train Station. We waited ages for a train and we were feeling really tired and we were relieved when we got to the flat. I went to bed and fell asleep immediately and Henry followed shortly after.
Looking back on the trip, I had a fantastic time and I couldn't have gone to Rome with anyone else! I love you Henry and thank you for coming with me.
You can view the photo album by clicking on this link. http://www.evete.com/italy/