I’m finally getting around to writing about our Europe trip back in September last year. I had intended to at least start on these before 2017 began but by the time I’d recovered from the holiday we were into the busy end of the year (hello Christmas) and I just decided these posts would have to wait.
This was the longest holiday we’d ever taken, spanning a whole month across two countries with seven different destinations in total. This also made it the most anxiety inducing trip we’ve ever put together. Here we were about to travel across the world to places we’d never visited before, having limited to no knowledge of the local language, with no guides apart from ourselves to get us from one place to another. Months were spent researching and planning everything we’d need to know for this adventure so it would go as smoothly as possible (and give me some peace of mind). Thankfully, almost everything come together and we survived :P.
Our trip began flying into Rome, noting the ‘odd’ stone pine trees lining the streets and the sandy painted buildings from above. Getting out of the airport was an interesting peek into Italian cultural quirks, including seeing people walking their dogs in the airport (more on this later). After some confusion around train tickets, we finally traveled into the city and wandered the old streets to our hotel not far away where we could finally get some rest.
Day 1/2 – Walking around Rome
The jet lag was real for us and we figured a day of exploring around the local area would be our best bet for the first day. Up early, we jumped on the subway and decided to work our way from the Spanish Steps to Piazza Navona.
As it turns out, the Spanish Steps were closed for restoration works so we got the rare sight of seeing NOBODY sitting on the steps. From there, we wandered down to the Trevi Fountain enjoying the many apartment balconies filled with pot plants.
We continued to stroll down the winding streets passing restaurants and small gift shops until stumbling upon the towering Pantheon. With these kind of buildings I’m always astounded by the shear size and craftsmanship of such a structure and equally impressed by the fact that they have survived centuries of cultural upheavals and changes (the Pantheon is nearly 1900 years old). We escaped the heat and spent inside admiring the dome structure and marble interior.
Our final destination was the Piazza Navona though being a Sunday, there wasn’t a lot going on except for tourists roaming the area. After wandering around and appreciating the various monuments, we called it a day and headed back to rest up.
Our 2nd day was meant to spent at the Villa d’Este however after an hour train ride out to Tivoli, we discovered that the gardens were closed on Mondays (why I didn’t put this in my notes, I have no idea). The day ended up being a bit of a write-off but it was fine as we were able to come back later that week and it gave us another day to continue resting up to get over our jet lag.
Day 3 – The Colosseum and Roman Forum
One does not simply go to Rome and not see the Colosseum. We got up early in an attempt to avoid standing in the glaring sun while waiting in lines and as we walked out of the subway there it stood right in front of us – this huge, imposing monument. I’ve had a few people tell me that the Colosseum didn’t live up to their expectations but on first impressions I was already in awe. Inside the Colosseum was fascinating as the ruins revealed the many different levels of seating and the corridors that ran below the main stage, with large archways that towered above us.
Getting there early was a good strategy as we arrived before opening and when the gates were finally opened, it only took us maybe 15 minutes before we were in. I’ve found this to be a good tip for travelling anywhere in Europe, especially at popular tourist destinations.
We then headed over to the Roman Forum filled with so many equally interesting and impressive ruins, all condensed into this one area. It’s deceptively large – just when we thought we’d seen everything, we’d take a new route and discover a whole new area. There were small museum/galleries focused on particular elements of various ruins scattered throughout which served as good escapes from the hot weather. A favourite part of mine was overlooking the Forum from the high viewpoints, surrounded by the more modern architecture of the rest of the city. We wandered around for hours until the heat started to really get to us and our legs were too tired to keep climbing up and down hills.