I apologize, faithful readers, that it has taken me so long to respond! Four of us went to Rome: Yezdan, Andrew, Yike, and me. We woke up at ~3 am to catch a bus to Liverpool station, then the Stansted Express and finally, the flight at Stansted Airport to Rome Ciampino. It’s a funny story, actually. And by funny I mean embarrassing for me :). I was up working on something (an update to my study abroad director) until 2 am, so I had less than an hour of sleep. I packed everything I needed, thank goodness, the afternoon before. We didn’t have time for breakfast (nor is anything open at that time of morning!) and just barely caught the bus. Andrew and I gave Yezdan/Yike a hard time for not having Oyster cards, so they had to use the inconvenient machines to buy a bus ticket. But of course there was only 80p left on my Oyster card, so the bus driver gave me a mean look and said “You have to top up.” Not only did I have absolutely no idea how to do that at the bus stop, I was out of cash. As we really needed to catch this bus (and the stops only last 15 seconds or so) to catch the train and then the flight, I was so nervous! Thankfully a very drunk girl in the middle of the bus shouted “Just come in!” and so I, with my obviously innocent and confused face, stumbled quickly onto the top floor. A stolen bus ride! I felt pretty horrible but, you have to do what you have to do! Thank goodness for random drunk girls though :). We were pretty jumpy on the bus, because none of the group had ridden the bus before in London. We saw our stop, and moved down to the bottom floor. The doors opened and I jumped out. Then I turned around and noticed that the other three weren’t following me! They stood there looking at me and shouted “where are you going!?” I was just trying to be even more ditzy and confused than before, obviously, so I hopped back on (oh so inconspicuously) and we got off at the next stop. The rest of the traveling went much more smoothly.We stayed in a gorgeous little Bed & Bath and had our own bathroom.
There was also a Bidet (which I have no idea how to use and it kind of freaked me out) and a tv with Italian tv. I could understand most of the signs, but I wasn’t even close to pronouncing them accurately most of the time. The cute Italian lady at the reception desk had a hard time understanding us and vice versa. =P.
The first day we went to the Spanish Steps, which is filled with metro shops and restaurants. And tourists. Lots and lots of tourists. We walked to the shops and picked up lunch. I ordered a vegetable pizza that had a very thin crust and yummy vegetables on top. Unfortunately, they charge for water and bread that they bring to the table! We’re so spoiled in America, with free water and complimentary bread…sigh… Anyway, after lunch we went to the Trevi Fountain to toss three coins into the fountain. We couldn’t decide if it was with right hand over the left shoulder or something else, so we just did it that way. There was a huge circle of people surrounding the fountain, so we had to squeeze our way in to get a good photo. We then searched for San Crispino, a supposed world-famous gelateria. And mmmm it was delicious! I ordered chunky hazelnut and orange/lemon and the cool Italian guy said that his favorite was the hazelnut too. Yike got 4 flavors in a big paper bowl! He must have had 3 days worth of fat, but it was a tasty way to consume it. After a quick break we went to see the Pantheon, which was very old brick structure. It was fascinating for me to see that people built this huge building with only their hands. I stood there imaging how the city would have been back then, with workers piecing together all of the architecture, lifting heavy marble, engraved blocks to decorate their buildings; with children playing in the streets or doing small errands. I’m not really educated much in their every day life, but it would be interesting to know.
That night we went out to dinner at an even more authentic Italian place, and the waiter didn’t speak English. We got away with Andrew ordering for us and me saying “Grazie”, “Per favore” and other things that were a hazy mix of Spanish and Italian :D. As an appetizer we had prosciutto and mozzarella that was SO juicy and good. I ordered a basil & tomato gnocchi that I think is the best mix of taste, texture and excellent preparation I’ve ever had, that it may never again be matched :).
The next day we attended mass at the Vatican. The paintings were amazing and large. It’s amazing how much work, time, and resources people put into building a church for the worship of God. It felt so filled with His presence and happiness when I stepped inside. I think my walk through the building and during the service (which was in Italian) I was constantly praying. It felt so good to pray I couldn’t believe it. After the Vatican we went to finish our tourist-y-ness that we began Saturday. Perhaps my favorite tourist attraction was the Colosseum and Forum. I’ve seen both in books and movies, but the beauty of it is never the same as actually standing beside them. The atrocities that occurred in the Colosseum make you wonder at the nature of the human mind. However, standing in the same place that thousands, probably
millions, of people before me have stood was quite thrilling. I looked into the center and pictured in my head how the floor must have been covered with large sheets of wood that the warriors were able to fight upon. In the forum, I saw even more history in the shape of buildings and carvings. It’s interesting that many ancient societies are defined by the technology they utilized: architecture, pottery, etc. Not until this ancient Roman and Grecian civilization are government and education
really recognized. I think I (and many others) take advantage of all the knowledge available to us today. I even got to hug one of the two century-year old arches! We finished with dinner at a pretty expensive place, we ordered a bottle of wine from Venice to share. Normally I’m not sophisticated enough to properly enjoy red wine, but this one was delicious and light. I had a mushroom-filled ravioli that was also tasty, but nothing beats the gnocchi. After dinner we had a DELICIOUS cappuccino that I can’t even describe. It was just good. That pretty much sums up my Rome trip. We packed and left early in the morning. It was a great way to see the city, and I’m glad we did a lot of walking, because the food was quite heavy.
I had a great time!