April 25, 2011

When in Rome: Easter Vacation (April 17th–18th) Part 1

This past Easter I was able to visit Rome on vacation and I had an absolutely wonderful experience. I spent four days and five nights in Italy and was able to see so many unbelievable and breathtaking sights – things I never thought that I would ever be fortunate enough to see with my own eyes. I was also fortunate enough to meet a handful of really awesome travelers – people who I may never see again but will never forget! For blogging purposes, I’m going to break the adventure down into numerous installments so that I can include everything. This is the first part of my vacation, which includes the first day of travel and the mishaps that came along with it, and the first days in the city! After that, I’ll write about my day trip to Naples and Pompei and the last of the adventure. Enjoy!

Brenna and I left Munich for Italy on Sunday, April 17th – barely a week after we’d first book our flights. Our plane took off from Franz Joseph Strauss around 5 pm and, after an hour or so in Zurich, Switzerland, we touched down in Rome. Traveling wasn’t bad at all – we didn’t encounter any delays or problems at any of the airports. We had to deal with expensive airport prices but that was about it. Once we got to Rome though, it got a little hectic. Our hostel was far outside of the city and since we had arrived in Rome at around 10:30 at night – all of the trains had stopped running by the time that we wanted to leave the airport. Between the train platforms and the airport itself, we wandered around aimlessly trying to figure out what the hell we needed to do to get to our hostel. We were harassed by every taxi or shuttle driver in Italy, at seemed, before one company gave us a good deal on a shuttle price - 30 EUR each for a shuttle directly to our hostel. Because we had a few other riders in the vehicle – Brenna and I were able to see a lot of Rome’s sights as we drove through the city. Our driver pointed out to us the Spanish Steps, old Roman walls, churches, various monuments. By the time we arrived at our hostel, it was pushing 1 am and we were tired. Unfortunately, we found out that Brenna had accidentally booked the wrong days and we didn’t actually have a booking – or a room – for that night. Fortunately, they were extremely hospitable and they gave us an upgrade and let Brenna and I stay in a private “suite” for our first night. And by private suite, I actually mean a two person trailer with a private bathroom. It was kind of ghetto. Haha. After we settled in, we both passed out – ready to enjoy our first day in Rome.

DSC09088Waiting at the airport in Munich. Excited!

216273_1897268868750_1152450433_32057582_2625579_nMunich to Zurich! And then onward to Roma!

224128_1897269548767_1152450433_32057587_2698937_nFound it!

On Monday morning, Brenna and I woke up and got ready for the day and then checked out of our “suite” and moved over to the hostel dorms. They had originally booked us for the 20-person female shared dorm but because it was slow season, they moved us into a three-person female shared room and kept it at the same price. So Brenna and I had a room to ourselves for the four nights that we stayed at this hostel, which is, by the way, called Camping Tiber. There was an extra bed in our room the entire time but they never checked anyone into it. So that was nice for us! After settling into our new room and having some breakfast, Brenna and I jumped on the shuttle bus (provided for free from the hostel) that took us to the train station in Prima Porta (super ghetto!) where we jumped on a train into the main city center of Rome. This process meant that we took a 20 minute train ride from Prima Porta to the Flaminio station just outside of Piazza del Popolo and then we jumped on an underground to get to Termini (or other various places). (Side note: the Roman transportation system made us really miss Munich’s efficiency. The trains were dirty and disgusting and unreliable and closed early and were just generally bad.) We weren’t familiar with locations at that point so even though we could have just avoided the underground altogether and walked through Piazza del Popolo, we didn’t. Haha. Instead, we went with the directions that we had written down (Flaminio underground to Termini station) and headed in that direction. We decided to be spontaneous and got off of the subway at Barberini to see the Trevi Fountain instead. We felt it was a worthy start to our vacation.

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The Trevi Fountain or the Fontana di Trevi, as it is properly named, is absolutely breathtaking. It’s gorgeous. It’s construction and location symbolizes the junction of the three roads of the ancient aqueducts that once supplied water to ancient Rome. It is said that if you throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain then you are guaranteed a return to Rome. There is another legend that says that it is lucky to throw three coins with your right hand over your left shoulder into the fountain. You better believe Brenna and I did that!

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After the Trevi Fountain, we wandered through the streets of Rome intent on finding the Colloseum. We happened upon all kinds of random landmarks, fountains, piazzas, and parks that we didn’t know the names or significance of until the day was over and we looked them up. One of which was the Palazzo della Consulta at Piazza del Quirinale, which is the place where the Constitutional Court of the Italian Republic is located and where the president of the Italian Republic lives. Fun fact, it used to be the summer residence for the Pope! We also happened upon a quaint little park (Gardino del Quirinale) and wandered through some beautiful Italian streets, shaded with orange trees and quiet side streets.

217727_1897272988853_1152450433_32057616_4582597_nPiazza del Quirinale

223075_1897273228859_1152450433_32057618_3780267_nGardino del Quirinale

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Once we made it onto a busier street, we ended up finding a map at a tourist information booth and that made it a bit easier to navigate the streets of Rome. Eventually, we found our way to Piazza Venezia, the Colloseum, the Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. Which is where we spent most of the day, just wandering through the ancient ruins and taking in the history of this incredible city. The palace at Piazza Venezia is absolutely incredible. It’s massive and is so powerful on the landscape of the city. Palatine Hill was absolutely gorgeous and the view of the Roman ruins was surreal – a once in a lifetime moment. The Colloseum, of course, was stunning. It was such a strange feeling to be present at such a historical and world renowned landmark. We had lunch, delicious paninis and Italian Coke, on a stairway just opposite of the Colloseum so we had a great view as we ate our lunch.

216023_1897306509691_1152450433_32057803_4975191_nNavigating

DSC09155Palazzo Venezia

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After lunch, we used our map to find our way to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, which our cab driver had pointed out to us the night before. On our way there we stumbled upon a gelateria and had our first taste of Italian gelato and it was delicious. I had a combination of melon, caramel (crema), and chocolate and Brenna had piña colado, coconut, and chocolate. The melon was my favorite – it tasted just like you were biting into a big, juicy cantelope. SO GOOD. After our gelato, we found the Basilica – which was gorgeous, as always – and then walked to Termini station where we got the train and made our way back to the hostel for dinner and drinks at the bar. We had to leave the city fairly early every night because of the horrible train schedules and the effort it takes to get back to our hostel. But it was a worthy first day in the city!

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DSC09283Basilica del Santa Maria Maggiore

DSC09303The sign says: Happy Hour, Good Beer, Good Friends. True!

Day one in Rome, SUCCESS!

2 comments:

hayley j said...

Sounds a bit hectic, but well worth it! Really great pics. I have yet to go to Rome but it is on my travel wishlist :)

valid said...

Ahhh, I wish I could have been your tour guide! I took a class all about Roman art history :) We talked a lot about Pompeii, too!

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