Monday, February 27, 2012

Europe Part 2: Rome

Continued from Part 1 ...The train from Menton to Ventimiglia was short and sweet (although late). Ventimiglia to Genoa was ok but we missed the train from Genoa to Rome and had to buy new, first class tickets (when we got home we were able to refund our original tickets because it was the transit system's fault we missed the train not ours). First class was lovely, we relaxed and watched the Italian countryside roll by while eating some pretty decent prepackaged ham and mozza sandwiches we bought on the train. We arrived in Rome around 6pm at the main train station, which feels a lot like an airport/mall. We took a taxi from the train to our hotel, the sun was setting and although the driver drove like a maniac I really enjoyed the ride. We checked in to our hotel (which was perfectly comfortable and not too far from the city centre, I would recommend it if you want a hotel in Rome) and had some german beer and roman pizza at the hotel bar before passing out in the room from exhaustion. Little did we know that exhaustion we felt was nothing.

Rome. Kicked. Our. Butts.......


Each day we would go out into the blistering heat and run all over the place seeing things, trying to find somewhere to eat, taking busses, subways etc. On our first full day we saw the Colloseum, The Roman Forum, Palatino and Ostia Antica. The trip to Ostia Antica (an old roman village ruins that are really well preserved) involved taking a filthy, graffittied, stiflingly hot train devoid of electric lighting, but it was worth it. That day we ate sandwiches from a street vendor and dinner at the hotel restaurant (minestrone, cantalope wrapped in proscuitto, etc.). On our second full day we saw The Pantheon, The Trevi Fountain, The Spanish Steps and Piazza Navona. We ate delicious pasta at a wine bar, had gelato by the Trevi Fountain and dinner near Piazza Navona. In Piazza Navona they have this light/music show on each night that blares opera, shoots lasers and projects images of the Virgin Mary and other italian stuff on the side of a building. This was at first enchanting, hello Italian opera being played during an open air dinner, but soon became obnoxious and embarassing. On our final day we got very ill and MISSED SEEING THE VATICAN while we hid in our hotel waiting until it was time to catch our overnight train to Paris. However, the last day was not a waste. I ventured out into the neighbourhood surrounding our hotel to get a few supplies and I learned a few things. First, I learned that while a woman travelling in Rome with a male companion is 100% safe from Italian catacalls the second she ventures out alone she will be hit on. Second, restuarants in Rome are expensive and grocery stores are mind bogglingly cheap (and they sell super cheap wine, like $2 CAD a bottle!) If you plan on visiting Rome try to stay in a vaction rental with a kitchen and cook food yourself, not only will you save money but you will probably get a much more authentic culinary experience.

Now for photos...

View from the train of the Italian countryside

Gladiator on a smoke break outside the Colloseum


Black cat who appeared to live in the Colloseum.

In the Colloseum

Walking across the road from the Colloseum to the Palatino, it's probably about 10:00 am and we are already sooo hot and tired.

Roman Forum

I couldn't get enough of the olive trees!

Gardens inside the Roman Forum


At a Roman theatre in Ostia Antica
Foundations from the old town left intact in Ostia Antica
Passageway from one room to another grown over with ivy.

 Bath house in Ostia Antica

 The Spanish Steps (not nearly as busy or filled with Romans as usual because we were in Rome around august 15th which is a holiday when everybody vacations outside of the city for two weeks or something. It was kind of eerie, just a bunch of tourists wandering around.)

 View looking back after reaching the top of the Spanish Steps

The Pantheon, we went inside later but when we got there at first there was mass going on. It all sounded very lovely in echoey Italian.
The Trevi Fountain
Crowds at the Trevi Fountain

Pasta at a wine bar!

Sitting in the hotel lobby after checking out, killing time, missing the Vatican, staying near free bathrooms...

We got on the overnight train to Paris around 7 that evening....I thought nothing could be worse than our complex, delayed and exhausting trip across the Atlantic, but I was wrong. Nothing could have prepared me for an overnight train ride with a stomach bug.

If you have any questions about visiting Rome, feel free to comment and I will try to answer them!

Up next: Europe Part 3: Paris (a very short story)

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