A Cape Town Castle of Good Hope tagged image from photographer – Gregula as published on Flickr.
Saturday, July 24th Roma Tour
Image by Gregula
Saturday, July 24 – Roma
Lodging: Hostel Rosen (phone = +39 348 339 3199; email = email@example.com).
We awoke by 8:30 and dressed for the day. We headed down for our free breakfast (orange juice, some kind of danish and coffee with lots of milk and sugar). We then headed up to the common room near the reception area to recharge the various batteries and work on our journal entries. We talked to the front desk again about possible tours for today. She was unfamiliar with the Ancient Footsteps Tour going on today, but called to check it out and reserve us two spots. We got in – Yeah! We went upstairs to our room (have we mentioned that it is WAY UP?) and finished getting ready for our new adventures.
We walked to the Metro station instead of waiting for the hotel shuttle. We boarded the metro at Due Ponti again and were certain of stamping our ALL DAY passes! We got to Flaminia Station, crossed the busy intersection to the meeting place (Piazza del Popolo) and hung out waiting for our guide. (We were to meet at noon.) Gregg took several pictures of the cool statuary and fountains all over the square until our guide directed us to gather round. (He did not exactly fit the description the front desk person had given us, but oh well…)
There were MANY of us on the tour, somewhere between 30 60 people (we are not really sure but it seemed a lot for the guide to keep track of). The first part of the tour included a bus ride down Via del Corso (Corso Street) to Piazza Venezia. The bus ride was EXTREMELY cramped, all of us got onto a tiny bus (half the usual size – is everything small here aside from the architecture art?) that normally holds eight seated passengers. Thirty to sixty people on that tiny thing? The guide just kept repeating SQUEEZE!
Piazza Venezia includes a palace built by a cardinal who was working toward being Pope later taken by Moussilini (sp?) for his offices, a building built on order by Napoleone Bonaparte for his beloved mother, Mon. a Vittoria which is huge and supposedly Romans hate because it reminds them of fascist times, and another building built explicitly to help the square look balanced.
We then moved on by foot to Capitol Hill (this is where D.C. derived the name of our own Capitol Hill). Gregg got some great postcards on our trek. This piazza was designed by Michelangelo, but put together by his students. We moved on by foot to the Forum and spent a great deal of time there. Lots of amazing stories were told by the guide, too many to repeat in our journal. Sometime at the beginning of the Forum experience, Greggs camera went on the fritz, so that may be the end of our pictorial journal keeping… We then moved on to purchase tickets for the Coloseum, Gregg and Erica passed since we were running very low on Euro. We walked to the Colosso (coloseum) and heard all about it from our guide before he called the tour to an end. On the walk to the coloseum we broke down and purchased a large bottle of ice water – it was HOT and we were thirsty and did not think we could make it much further. Wise choice!
After departing from the group, we headed to the Metro station, hopped on the train and got off at the Barberia stop. We went straight back to the Internet Cafe Gregg had found yesterday. We bought another hour of Internet time and took advantage of the air conditioning – How nice!
After regrouping we decided to go to some of the MUST SEE sights, traveling by foot. We headed out to explore and find Trevi Fountain first. (It is supposed to be phenomenal.) Along the way, Erica found the belt she had been searching out and she and Gregg bartered an appropriate price by walking away from two vendors before getting what we wanted for the right price. 🙂 We found Trevi Fountain while Gregg tried to determine if it was worth it to spend 10 euro on a disposable camera. Erica voted no but Gregg was diligent and kept checking prices throughout the rest of our afternoon adventure. We never did buy a camera, but really everything is available in postcards and books. The only thing missing is us standing in the pictures and a few birds that always seem to appear when you want to take the picture. (How do they get rid of the birds to take pictures for the postcards?)
We then decided to try and find the Pantheon. We first stumbled onto a PSEUDO-Pantheon, something called the Trevi-Pantheon – nice try folks – we are not buying! There was no way that empty Piazza with the ancient columns attached to some other building could possibly be the Pantheon. So we kept looking. We stopped in a few stores along the way and Gregg finally bought a SMART Car model; this one was a Polizia Car – Cool! Erica bought a cool pink bag and a few other little items at another store. We did eventually stumble upon the Pantheon. Now THAT was the Pantheon! Amazing marble all over the place – too many amazing things!!!
Somewhere in this adventure we stumbled onto a wondrous jewelry store with all kinds of different stones in beautiful designs. We both looked through all the wondrous items before Gregg started playing twenty-questions with Erica about her favorite piece. She finally picked an item and Gregg surprised her by purchasing it as an early birthday present. ! She is so spoiled!
We then decided we were HUNGRY. We had seen a great deal on a Large Slice of Pizza Drink for 3.5 euro and we had also seen a Burger King! Those were our objectives when deciding where to eat. We retraced our footsteps to track down our two spots. En route, we stumbled across an amazing mall somewhat like the City Centre Mall in Columbus, Ohio. We went into a store something like a Barnes Noble, with at least three floors that we saw. We rested for a moment on a leather couch before deciding we were too hungry to hang out any longer. We trooped out of the mall to find our desired eating place.
We did find the pizza place and had a decent dinner for not many euro – Wahoo! We enjoyed our slices and Erica moved all of the purchases into her new pink bag – so much easier to carry than the shopping bags! We discussed Greggs camera problems and Erica took her belated vitamins (Gregg opted to wait until getting something to drink).
We then decided to try and find the Spanish Steps – people talk about these darn steps all the time! We found them and stood back and asked – What is the Big Deal? We went, we saw, we moved on. Actually, we moved back – to a cool McDonalds we had seen en route to the steps – not an average looking McDonalds mind you! We walked in the main door and purchased gelato, then we went up marble stairs to the main food area and saw that they had a salad bar/pasta bar area in addition to the normal food items. Gregg saw that they had wireless web access and he eventually worked out that it was only on the main food floor, so we hooked up briefly. Perhaps we will come to McDonalds tomorrow instead of the Internet Cafe – free is better than 5 to 8 euro per hour… 🙂
We then hopped back on the metro to get back to the hostel. We still need to do laundry and it is getting very late (about 9:00 PM) for laundry. We made it back to the hostel to pick up our clothes and asked about hours of the laundromat and hours of the transportation. We would not be done with our laundry in time to come back via the Metro, so we had to find out the other transportation methods. I guess we need to catch Tram 2 from the Flaminio station to the Mancino stop and then take bus 200 to the hostel. (That is only if we try to come back before midnight – there is a whole different mode of transportation after midnight…)
We took the Metro to the Termini Station to try and find the laundromat. We did find it – are you proud? We will finish up our laundry here then head back to the hostel (hopefully without incident) to catch some ZZZZZzzzzzzz.
Our plan for tomorrow is to take another guided tour (the one today was so good – we think we will try The Best of Rome tomorrow) and also try to get in to see Vatican City and some of its wonders and also Castel Sant Angelo (Hadrians Castle). I am sure it will be another busy day! I hope it is as pleasant as today was and as far from the unpleasantness of our first day in Rome as possible. 🙂