My Mom has been to Europe one time before (that I know of anyway) in 2000. At that time, my brother, my mom and I made a 10-day, all you can stay awake through, touristy, sightseeing, exhausting trip of London, Paris, Luzern, Heidelberg, and Amsterdam. I think we were too young to properly appreciate everything we were experiencing. This time, we decided to just visit one extra place outside of Switzerland so that we could really spend some quality time both there and in our home-away-from-home city of Lausanne. Since everything in Europe is nicely packed together, most of the major cities are just a quick flight away. We immediately narrowed it down to Italy since that was one of the major countries that were left out of our first trip here. We really wanted to go to both Venice and Rome, but in the end we only had enough time to choose one. If you read the title to the blog, then you already know which place we chose this year: Rome!
We flew to Rome with Easyjet out of Geneva and in less than 2 hours we were already there. Easyjet is super cheap (less than $300 for all 3 of us, round trip). But, it’s also a bit stressful because they don’t give you assigned seats on the plane = chaos during boarding. Anyway, it was a nice flight, no delays, and the next thing we knew we had to meet our Airbnb host outside of the apartment. We were lucky enough to find a cute little apartment right beside the Colosseum and the metro. We arrived at the place super late on Sunday night so we just unpacked our crap and went to sleep to prepare for our first full day in Rome!
We heard numerous stories about the incredibly long lines in order to get into all of the major sites in Rome, so on Monday morning we decided to be first in line to the Colosseum. Randy downloaded some audio tours of Rome (the idea came from our friends Jacob and Jessi who used a similar audio tour to explore London http://www.jessimakesthings.com/2011/05/honeymoon-in-london-city-walk-tower-of-london/). Even though we all looked super touristy with our ipods and headphones, it was nice to be able to get some historical background without taking our eyes off of everything or paying some exuberant amount to a local tour guide.
The next stop was close by, Palentine Hill and the Roman Forum. We had no idea how long the tour would take and in retrospect, we should have definitely downed about 2-3 bottles of water first. We ended up exhausting ourselves by walking around the Forum with the noon sun beating down on us. The Forum was amazing. It used to be the happening ‘downtown’ area around Caesar’s times, but now it’s a huge preserved outdoor museum of sorts full of relics and ruins from the early beginnings of Rome. There were even live excavations happening while we were there. We learned that Rome basically rose from 200 BC to 0 AD, thrived for 200 years and then declined for 300 years. During all this time (and even hundreds of years before) the local citizens simply built their homes, stores, and churches on top of what was already there! That means that digging straight down into the ground is equivalent to travelling in time! One church in particular allows you to go a few floors down, with each story from an entirely different era.
It was so incredibly hot in Rome that we definitely exhausted almost all of our energy before lunch. But, we refueled on some water and pizza and spent the rest of the first day walking around the entire perimeter of central Rome to see all of these amazing sights: the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, Piazza del Popolo, Piazza di Spagna, and the Pantheon.
We even did a little bit of shopping since I definitely only brought jeans to wear to the Vatican on our second day. I have no idea why I thought that was a good idea; Rome is so freaking hot!! Luckily, I found a long skirt that met the entrance requirements to the sites at the Vatican, but unfortunately for me I was definitely mistaken for a nun a couple of times. But, here’s proof that those people were idiots, I definitely didn’t look like this woman:
We ended our first night at a lovely little typical Roman restaurant, stuffed our faces with some of the most amazing food we’d ever eaten, and completely crashed out of exhaustion/dehydration/wine overload.
We started off our second day at the Piazza del Campidoglio before having pizza again for lunch.
After lunch, we made our way over to Vatican City where our first stop was the Vatican Museums. We bought our tickets in advance online and got to pass hundreds of these poor tourists melting outside waiting in line. We also managed to find a little space invader:
We spent hours just walking around; there is seriously so much to see in these Museums.
The last major site we had time for was St. Peter’s Basilica. We went towards the end of the day and so we only had to wait in line for like 10 minutes (2 hours beforehand, the line was over 2 hours long.) The church is incredibly gorgeous everywhere you look, just an amazing place to be, we’ve never experienced anything like it. Except, unfortunately for us, they had the famous Michelangelo sculpture, La Pietà, covered up! They were preparing for some holy day or something the next day so we weren’t even able to get up close and personal with the altar.
After spending the day in Vatican City, we were pretty tired, so we took the train back in the area of our apartment and explored the area a bit. We had heard of a cool, somewhat secret site where you can look through a little keyhole for a cool view of Rome, so we struck out to find it.
We ended our last night in Rome at another amazing little restaurant and then called it night before our early morning wake up call the next day to catch our flight back to Swissland. Unfortunately, Henry wasn’t able to take this trip to Rome but thanks to our wonderful friends, Maria and Sergio, we think he had a nice time staying here in Lausanne.