European Excursion Day Six: A Stroll Through Rome
Day six began very early for us. We had to get up at 3:30am and get a ride to the airport for our flight at 6:00am. The morning was complete with me falling down the wooden stairs, yes I fell again. More like a slide down the steps after losing my footing. Oh the fun times of being a klutz. After that rousing experience we hitched a ride from a friend of Theresa’s, he is actually the husband of the lady that cooked our Thai food, and we said goodbye to Belgium. After a short flight we landed in Italy. One thing that is fun about flying in Europe is you get to walk out on the tarmac. I feel like the president or a celebrity every time we get to walk to and from the plane. I have to resist waving to the crowd, that’s just me finding simple pleasures in silly things. I was really excited about flying into Italy because we would get another passport stamp, but sadly they just let us walk into their country without even looking at us twice. European airports are very strange and lack the crazy security we are use to in the USA, but they do have police officers with extremely large guns (I mean the rifle type, not the muscle arms). So we just bought our bus ticket into the city and walked out into the sunshine.
I don’t really think I had a lot of expectations of what Rome would look like. I just thought about the Colosseum and the ancient ruins. Let me tell you that taking that bus into the city was very interesting and it actually reminded me of Nicaragua. There were palm trees, colorful building chain fences and some shady looking buildings. To be honest I like it because it reminded me of Nicaragua, but I could see how it could be off putting to others. The bus ride itself was a bit crazy. The traffic in Rome is nuts. That is one of the main things I’ve taken away from my time in Rome. I don’t know if they have traffic laws at all or if they just drive how they please. That definitely made for some exciting times trying to cross the road, but we did eventually get the hang of it. The tip is just to start walking, which sounds scary, but if you just stand there they will never stop. After the bus dropped us off at the main station, Galleria Termini, we set off for our hostel which was just a five minute walk away. This was our first time staying in a hostel, though it wasn’t exactly a true hostel. We had our own room with a double bed and there were three other room, but nobody else was staying that night. So we had the run of the place, which included a small lounge area, mini kitchen with cappuccino mix and a blue tile bathroom. Though the best part had to be the window from our room which looked out onto the courtyard below.
We quickly dropped our bags off, left our jackets behind and locked up the apartment with the biggest key I have ever used. It was literally the size of my hand. Then we set off to do some exploring. We made the decision to take Rome a bit slower than Paris. We had two full days in the city, so we divided up the city into two area to conqueror. This was a really good plan to just walk around and hit up the main sites on the map. By doing this we got to have more of a relaxed day, plus we took in all the beauty surrounding us. Rome is such a lovely city. So much history. It is crazy to think that I was walking where people have been walking for thousands of years. We saw were gladiators fought and where Julius Cesar was stabbed. Everywhere we looked we saw history, we were literally walking on history. Like I said we made our way though the city seeing ruins, monuments and basilicas. I won’t list off all the names of the places. One because absolutely nothing was labeled, so I’m not sure what half the stuff I saw was called and secondly I would be typing all night. Here are some highlights:
Colonna Traiana and Foro Traiano:
This is a monument dedicated to the conquest of Dacia by Emperor Trajan. The column was complete in 113 AD and it artistically describes the epic wars between the Romans and Dacians. The ruins are what is left of the forum where there was once a temple, libraries and a piazza.
Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele:
This is actually a controversial monument dedicated to the first King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel. The building was built in the late 1800’s and is now a museum about the Italian Unification.
I think this next one speaks for itself. The Colosseum was built in 70 AD and it the largest Roman amphitheater. Back in the day the Colosseum would hold up to 80,000 people. These spectators would watch gladiator fights, animal hunts, public hangings and Classical mythology dramas. All that in one place, no wonder it’s the most icon image of Rome.
Arco di Costantino:
This is an arch built in 315 AD to commemorate Constantine I’s victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge.
An Italian Lunch:
We ate in view of the Colosseum! It was our first Italian meals, so it was a hard choice. We ended up splitting our food so that we could each try the different dish. We ate outside which was nice, but in Italy that means you can smoke and smoke is something the Italians really enjoy doing. Though that didn’t stop us from having a fantastic meal. We ate Italian pizza, pizza sandwich, chips, a ginger drink and the restaurant owner even gave us a free croissant dessert.
Palatino and the Ancient City:
This is one of the most ancient parts of the city. It is located on one of the seven hills of Rome. People have been living in this area since 1000 BC. It is also the home to many Roman emperors and you can see the ruins of their palaces.
Santi Gregorio Magno:
San Gregorio is a church and a monastery. The original building has been added onto since its original building date of 575 AD. There was also a statue of Mother Theresa in the garden opposite the church.
Santi Giovanni e Paolo:
Now this was the big surprise of the day. From the outside this basilica look just like every other building, but as soon as you stepped inside you were blown away! Everything was covered in painting and gold. There were even chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. The church was built in 398 AD in the memory of two Roman soldiers who were martyred under emperor Julian.
In the evening we ended up in some side streets across the Tiber River. This had to be my favorite part of the day. Don’t get me wrong I loved seeing the historical sites and walking through ruins. The streets were just so cute and stereo-typically Italian. They were lined with cafes and little shops. There were also street vendors selling handmade jewlery and artwork. It was all so very lovely. I wanted to stay there forever. Plus we had some delicious gelato. It was my first gelato experience and well worth it. Since had a long day of travelling we went back to our hostel a bit early to relax by watching American TV shows in Italian and catch up on our sleep. Funny moment of the day had to go to be asking Sam is there were any cathedrals in Rome, for which her reply was “Ever heard of Saint Peter’s Basilica?” Oh my blonde coming out. All in all a very successful day exploring Rome and hitting up a bunch of sites.
Until next time…