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Thursday, August 30, 2018

Mother Daughter Euro Trip Part 4

HERE for Part 1 Paris 
HERE for Part 2 Venice
HERE for Part 3 Florence
HERE for Part 4 Rome (you are here)
HERE for Part 5 All you need to know + my custom itinerary (coming soon)

Sunday June 17, 2018

Sad to leave Florence but ready to visit another city and growing travel weary we were up early to grab a quick bite of breakfast and walk to the train station to catch our 9 am train to Roma!  We arrived in Rome with a million other travelers and caught a taxi to our hotel.  We immediately could tell that Rome is a sprawling city.  We arrived at our hotel, Hotel Andreotti, and were able to check into our room.  We unpacked and then asked the reception for a good lunch recommendation that was close before heading out into the city for our first day of sights.  He recommended and Italian/ Turkish restaurant that has been around for ages.  It was so good and had a family type vibe.  You could tell the few people during lunch that came there daily as the waiters knew them and they also knew the routine of the restaurant.  They had a really good starter buffet with some yummy bean salads that I took notes to make in the Summer months at home.  We both ordered a tomato pasta dish that was really good.  After lunch we walked to the Cappuccino Bone Church.  It is exactly like it sounds but not as creepy.  Little tombs through-out the church with hundreds of human remains and the bones were organized into intricate patterns.  You can read more about it HERE!  No pictures were allowed inside.  After the church we continued our tour on foot all the way to Borghese Park.  We had  reserved museum tickets later in the afternoon and I thought we could explore the park before hitting up the museum.  The park, like Rome, is also sprawling and by the time we made it there we were TIRED of walking LOL.  Luckily at the entrance of the park there were some bike rentals.  We got a double seater and started our journey.  Although we did still have to peddle it was something other than walking and were able to see other parts of the park we probably wouldn't have walked to. 

We came across a great lookout spot where you had really good views of Rome and I even spotted the Vatican.  We returned our bike after an hour or so and finished the walk to the the art gallery.  It was pretty and had a great AC so it was a nice escape for a bit.  After we went through the galleries we caught a cab to take a peak at the Trevi Fountain.  It was really so crowded here we didn't stay long and couldn't get very close to really inspect and fully appreciate the fountain but it was beautiful.  I wanted to go out really late at night or super early during the morning hours before the crowds set in but we never got around to doing that.  

After the Trevi we just set out walking in a general direction and wondered through several churches as we came upon them.  One of the really pretty ones that is notable is the Sant'Andrea della Valle which was STUNNING!  You can see beautiful churches all over Europe and the world for that matter but of course Roman Catholic Churches are even more abundant and beautiful in Rome.  You can tell back in the old days where all the money was spent....decorating and adorning all these churches.  It is truly amazing to see them.  We stopped in at Venchi for some really great gelato to cool off with the rest of the crowds.  

some Roman ruins we passed

Since we had a late and big lunch we weren't really up to heading out or hanging out until dinner time.  We decided to go into a local grocery store and buy some tapas and just hang out in our room and picnic. We were really tired from going NONSTOP for 10 days so far and were trying our best.  Rome was really hot and comparable to Cairo to me.  Both are really ancient cities and as they have grown they are huge cities that aren't walking friendly.  We didn't find a type of public transport that worked for us in Rome which left taking taxis that were pretty expensive.  Also I'm not sure if it was because it being high season or if Rome just has a sanitation problem much like Egypt does but there was trash everywhere.  It didn't so much bother me  it was just something I noticed.  

We had a nice first day in Rome, we saw some things but also chilled.  Once we made it back to our hotel we watched old movies and had a bed picnic.  We were excited for the next day as we were headed to Vatican City. 

Monday June 18, 2018

We had tickets to the Vatican early Monday morning.  I had pre-booked the Vatican Gardens and Necropolis tour.  Buy tours for the Vatican HERE!  We sort of but aren't sure if we completely skipped or cut the line of hundreds of people but within minutes of getting out of the taxi we made our way to wait for our tour to start.  We all got a set of headphones to go with a station that our amazing and very knowledgeable German guide would talk through to us and guide us through the Vatican Gardens and the Necropolis.  Not many people see this part of the Vatican and it was nice to escape the crowds and learn about unique things.  This burial ground was found around 10 years ago when excavation for a parking garage was under way.  Now it is covered by a building but is available for tours.  It was so interesting to learn about the burial sites and how old they were.  

The Vatican gardens were extensive and our guide was so knowledgeable and had great stories and facts about the gardens and their contents.  After our tour ended around noon we went inside the Vatican Museum complex and grabbed a slice of pizza for lunch at their cafeteria style restaurants.  We needed our fuel to fight the crowds and find our way to the Sistine Chapel as well as St. Peters Basilica. 

The hallways and rooms we marched through on the way to the Sistine Chapel were so pretty.  The intricate paintings and tile work were really unbelievable and again left us in awe.  The Sistine Chapel doesn't allow pictures but we felt let down by this big square room.  I'm not sure if it is because our expectations were so high or if it was the mass of people but we took it in quickly and then made our way to St. Peter's Basilica which was AMAZING!  Again our love for the churches and not museums shown through once again.  The pure size of it is just too much to describe.  It really is a sight. 

above is the hallways and some of the artwork leading to the Sistine Chapel

this is a tile floor that if you don't look closely would think it a rug
We bought elevator tickets to go to the top of the dome of the basilica and it was sort of a disaster!  A total of 551 steps if you wanted to climb it or you could buy an elevator ticket. Elevator ticket it was....the only problem was that the elevator only took you 200 steps up you still had to climb 351 steps!!!! Of course this was something we did NOT know when we set out.  It was a tight fitting winding staircase that really you thought would never end.  I kept on marching as there was no room to move aside and knew my mom would push on. Well she did, it took her a while and a panic attack but she made it.  I think we were just worn out and literally the stairs NEVER STOPPED.  I felt horrible when she emerged looking shaken.  We walked around the dome and took in the views and rested a bit before making our way back down to the main level which was way easier going than coming.  Once on the ground we explored all the chapels inside the basilica before heading out to the front courtyard of the Vatican. 

We exited the Vatican and stopped at a little gelato shop to grab a snack before walking on and seeing the sights in Rome that are around Vatican City.  We walked past Castle St Angelo along the Tiber River towards the Spanish Steps.  There were little stalls along the river like in Paris and it was nice to walk along in the shade.  

We stopped in to have a drink and escape a heavy down pour of rain before making our way down Via Condotti the "fancy" store street of Rome that dumped us out right at the foot of the Spanish Steps.  We made the short climb to the top to have some cool views of this part of the city.  At the top of the stairs we decided to take a taxi to our hotel to recharge before having dinner.  

I researched restaurants for every city we visited and one of the top restaurants to eat at in Rome was Ditirambo....unfortunately it fell flat.  It was a really bland modern menu that we didn't like at all.  The table beside us was seated and left THREE TIMES before anyone could even take their drink choice because they decided against it.  It was a really busy area so we just stuck it out.  The dinner wasn't bad just not great and not a place I would recommend.  After dinner we walked a bit before catching a taxi back to our hotel to rest up for a full last day in Rome.  

Tuesday June 19, 2018

Our last day of Rome was spent doing very tourist things.  We used our Roma Passes to skip the line and enter the Colosseum and boy could you tell this entire structure is ancient.  I can't even being to imagine the coming and goings of this era of time.  After we toured the Colosseum we headed across a lawn to walk and take in the ancient ruins that is the Roman Forum.  We also entered this for "free" with our Roma Pass. 

Once we finished our wondering of the Forum we walked to the Pantheon to take in one of the oldest Greek Temples, now church, in Rome.  The Pantheon is a Church but also all about science.  The architecture of this building is really amazing and we loved seeing it.  We had a really great lunch at a restaurant overlooking the Pantheon and were able to take in some street art and people watching.  After lunch we walked some more just taking in the city before stopping at Grom for a last gelato of the trip.  We felt accomplished in our sightseeing so headed back to the hotel to pack up and get ready for our departure back home the next day.  Later in the evening we walked around the corner to the restaurant we ate at our first day for lunch and had another awesome Italian supper. 

We packed up at the hotel and took a taxi the following morning to the airport for our flight home.  We loved our entire trip but Rome was both of our least favorite city.  I would like to explore the city a bit deeper and the surrounding areas outside the city in the off season for a more enjoyable experience.  Overall I couldn't have asked for a better trip or a better travel companion.  My Mom was a real trooper even when I know she wanted to complain and cry about being tired, hot, and having blisters from walking so much she kept on trucking to make this trip truly once in a lifetime experience for us together.

Stay tuned up next is a post with ALL the links, sights, maps, and itineraries of our trip so you too can enjoy 2 weeks in Europe and make the most out of your trip! 

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