Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Toussaints #6: Rome

Rome: Where I saw very old things, took way too many pictures, climbed a tree, and fell in love with a church

Aaah, Rome. It most definitely lived up to it's reputation. Rome was no question one of my favorites, despite the number of people who tried to force me to buy selfie sticks or roses or cheap bracelets and how difficult it was to find anything to eat. I wish we had been there for more than a day and a half, but even in that short time we saw quite a bit.

We had our fourth and last covoiturage trip from Florence to Rome, which was... interesting. We got to our meetup point hours too early and we ended up hanging out outside of an opera house, listening to birds, talking about music and just relaxing. And of course getting coffee, which served as our best friend and primary source of energy throughout the whole trip.

Our driver was a well-dressed guy, probably in his late twenties, driving a really swanky car. He spoke barely any English, sp there was quite a bit of Google translate involved. He stopped three times for coffee, with each trip his eyes seemed to get wider and wider. After the last one he got back in the car, hit the steering wheel a few times and shouted "let's go, go, go!!"

"How much coffee do you usually drink?" I asked, stunned by his sudden burst of enthusiasm.
Five pure shots a day? Geez.

Speaking of coffee... I don't think I've commented on Italian coffee yet, have I? It seems like everywhere I go the coffee shrinks. In the US we have nice big cups of relatively weak coffee which I miss dearly. In France I get coffees which are about the size of two shots, they make me sad. And then we get to Italy, where you need a microscope to see the tiny espressos they serve, way too strong. The last few days of the trip I gave up and started ordering cafe lattes (here's a tip: don't order a "latte" in Italy, for them it just means steamed milk) which were really, really good. Okay, coffee note over.

We started talking about our stay in Rome and he asked us where our hostel was. When we told him he looked at us with big eyes that said "oooh....that's not a good place." He typed something into his phone to translate, turned it around and it said, I kid you not: "beware of rapists."


I spent the rest of the trip terrified, quietly staring out the window.

When we finally got to our hostel we saw that it wasn't bad at all, I don't know what that guy was talking about. It was a strange hostel though, a hostel/hostel hybrid, where some rooms were regular hotel rooms, and some were shared. We had a long room with four beds in it. Not as homey as our Budapest hostel, but better than our Florence place, and a palace compared to our box in Venice.

We got there, locked our stuff, and headed out to see Rome at night.

And then I fell in love with it a little bit, it was beautiful. We quickly lost our way and then spent four hours wandering around, until about midnight, maybe later. The city is gorgeous at night, after most of the tourists have gone to sleep and everything is lit up. The sites were closer than we had thought they were going to be; one moment we were at the Pantheon, the next we were right next to the Colosseum. Good news, since we only had one full day there.

They say that the best museum in Rome is the city itself, and I completely agree. Most of the walk was us swiveling our heads around saying "ooh, that's a cool-looking thing with a dead guy's statue on it, let's got there."

The best part was that we both finally had fun. Throughout the trip when one of us was "awake" (a relative term), the other had a tendency to be half dead, but that night in Rome we were both energized. At one point we stopped in Piazza Navona and stared at the Fountain of Four rivers while sitting in the middle of a walkway next to the entrance of a restaurant we could never afford. We talked about nonsense, took endless selfies, and discovered that Chelsea can't open her eyes very wide which, in the state we were in, seemed to be the funniest thing in the world.

Afterwords we walked to the Spanish Steps then climbed up and wandered off onto a quiet road where we got an amazing view of the city. I wish my camera took better photos at night, it was beautiful.

On our way back we passed by the Roman forum and the Colosseum, took more photos, and then we walked home through a park, I climbed a tree, all was good.

Bottom of the Spanish Steps
I wish my camera was better, it looked so much better than this photo

The Pantheon, one of the best-preserved Roman ruins built in the 2nd century. There were bats in there! 

Fountain of the Four Rivers. Google it, my pictures suck. 

Roman Forum, there were many sections like this, I suggest YouTubing it: "It was for centuries the center of Roman public life: the site of triumphal processions and elections; the venue for public speeches, criminal trials, and gladiatorial matches; and the nucleus of commercial affairs. Here statues and monuments commemorated the city's great men. The teeming heart of ancient Rome, it has been called the most celebrated meeting place in the world, and in all history" Wikipedia 

Finally both awake and ready to wander! 

The next day was our only full day in Rome. We started off by going into the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and the Colosseum which was great. I mean, we were walking through the remains of 2,000 year old buildings and palaces. Definitely worth 12 euros.

After that there was lunch and more wandering. At one point we actually ran into two other assistants who had also decided to go to Rome, it was crazy.

We ended our day in the Vatican. We didn't get to go into the Vatican Museum to see the Sistine Chapel, since that itself takes a full day, but we did go into St. Peter's Basilica which blew me away. It. Was. Stunning. Hands down the most gorgeous church I have ever been to. It was gigantic and the ceilings and walls were amazing and there were Michelangelo art pieces... it was like a museum but better. And it was free. Even the square around the church was amazing, which made waiting in line to get through the security check (yes, they screen you before going in) a pleasure. Honestly, do me a favor and google "St. Peter's Basilica," because my photos just fail to capture how gorgeous it was.

We went back to the hostel relatively early since we had a very early morning and a very long day ahead of us. Like I said, I loved Rome and if I ever have the chance I'm going to go back to see the rest of it.

Roman Forum, the ancient center of Roman public life

Palatine Hill, one of the most ancient parts of Rome

If I remember correctly these were some old apartments 


Some random park we found that had parrots

View from said park
Wall of the Vatican

Outside St. Peter's Church. Google it, these pictures don't do it justice

Haha, typical child in a catholic church

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