I Like Roma
Greatest weekend of the semester! Great food, great company, and of course, great sightseeing. On Thursday morning, a whole group of us left Limerick and headed to the Dublin airport. Courtnee, Brittney, Mal, Rebecca, Tera, Maddy, Lauren, and I signed up for a program called Weekend Study Abroad. We pay a fee to the program and they cover our hostel, food, entrance fees, and provide us with a tour guide for the weekend. We took another 3.5 hour bus ride to get to the Dublin airport. Our flight was at 4 so we had to wait around for 3 hours but I would rather be there early than miss my plane. We flew with RyanAir, which is my first time flying with them. The interesting thing about them is that you don’t get an assigned seat. So when they call us to board the plane, it’s a mad rush to get in line and then to get your seat on the plane. When they called us, Mal snuck her way up to the front and got us seats towards the front of the plane. Of course, without fail, a mother and child goes and sits behind us. The small child sitting behind me just ready to kick my seat. The kicking didn’t last long because the kid fell asleep which meant I could. The flight was 3 hours long, but Italy is a time zone ahead, so we landed at 8pm and took a shuttle to Termini by our hostel. The first thing we all wanted to do was eat. We dropped our stuff off in our really nice hostel and stopped by the first Pasta restaurant. Let me just say, you haven’t eaten Italian food until you eat in Italy. I was full the entire weekend.
On Friday morning, someone’s alarm went off at 8am since we were supposed to meet Marti at 9:30 to start our tour. The alarm went off but no one really got up until Lauren came into the room and told us we had 20 mins to get ready. Apparently, whoever set the alarm did not realize that the time zone changed. Whoops! I now know that it is possible for 8 girls to get ready in under 20 mins. It was a scramble to find enough sinks and mirrors, but we did it. Then it turns out that Marti was late so we could of had an extra 15 mins. No one in Italy is on time, ever. Our first stop on the tour was the Colosseum. I was so excited to see it that I watched Gladiator in preparation. Love that movie. The Colosseum is amazing. I knew how big it would be, but I didn’t comprehend it until I was standing inside. We walked around the entire inside and outside and then decided that there were other stops that we needed to get to. Next stop was the Roman Forum. The Forum is under construction and is mostly in ruins so there wasn’t specific buildings we could walk in. But it’s crazy to think that it was were the politicians made all of their decisions. After the Forum, we walked to a panini shop when I ate a salami panini. So delicious. After lunch, we had the rest of the day for free time. So we split up into smaller groups and I went to the Pantheon. I don’t know if anyone has read or seen Angels and Demons, but now when I read it I can say that I’ve been to all of these places. Kinda cool. Once we wandered the Pantheon, it was that time. Gelato time. Throughout the weekend, I tried 12 different kinds of gelato:
- Creme caramel
- Variegato nocciola
- Triple chocolate
- Vanilla and cookies
- Dark chocolate gianduia
- (I can’t remember the last one, but it was delicious)
We sat on the steps in front of a fountain, people watched, and ate our gelato. Then we just meandered through the streets. The map we had wasn’t as useful since it didn’t contain the smaller streets, which is the only place we really were. The main streets somehow evaded us. Oh well. We managed to make it back to our hostel where we chilled and put on warmer clothing for dinner that night. Apparently, the temperature in Italy dropped by 30 degrees right before we got there. It has been the coldest fall in the past 50 years. Awesome. Marti picked us up from the hostel and we walked to the Trastevere area, aka the hip part of town. The restaurant we ate at was cheap and delicious. I got a pizza that had mozzarella cheese, ham, artichokes, olives, and a hard boiled egg. You’re thinking that’s pretty disgusting right? Wrong. The egg was different but I ate the entire pizza. Of course we had wine with it. When in Rome. I still prefer white over red. When I had sufficiently stuffed myself, the group thought it would be a great idea to get gelato. Sounds good to me. Round 2 of gelato was just as good as the first time. After I really could not eat another crumb, we took the bus home. I showered and went to bed. Being a tourist is really exhausting. Plus we ate at 8 so it was late enough for me to actually go to bed.
In the morning, we successfully set the alarm correctly so we could make it to the Underground on time. We took it to Vatican City, which in fact is a country. We had to go through security like at the airport. The Pope is kinda a big deal. Our guide took us through the Vatican Museum, and I have never seen so many statues in my life. The museum was massive; we could have spent all day in there but I really wanted to get to St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to talk or take pictures so I have evidence I was actually there. But it was the most amazing painting I have ever seen. It’s crazy to think it only took Michelangelo 4 years to paint it. The history and meaning of the Sistine Chapel is remarkable. I wish I had pictures, but definitely look it up. Once we left the Chapel, we made our way to St. Peter’s Basilica. Again, I had no idea how massive it actually was. The detail in the ceiling and altar was so ornate. I became obsessed with ceilings. All of the churches had amazing painting on their ceilings. Seriously breathtaking. After getting elbowed and pushed for the last 3 hours, we decided that we needed a little fresh air, plus we had more free time. First on the agenda, food. We grabbed a pizza sandwich from a cart and sat by the river and watched street performers. Let me also add that the sun was shining the entire weekend. I slightly burned my face since I was outside all day for 3 days. Magical. After getting attacked by pigeons, we decided it was time to get walking again. We walked around the St. Angelo’s Castle. This castle is not even close to the ones in Ireland. Ireland kicks Rome’s castles butt any day. We are really good at wandering and finding interesting things to see. But not this afternoon. Marti pointed us in the direction of good shopping. I don’t know what kind of shopping she does, but we were in the ghetto. Time to walk faster and to the Spanish steps. On our way, we walked through the Piazza del Popolo. And we saw Michael Jackson. Or an impersonator. Either way, it was entertaining; everybody can groove to MJ. We made it to the Spanish Steps earlier than we were supposed to meet the rest of the group, so we “shopped” down the main street. This is the richest part of Rome where there are store like Gucci, Prada, etc. I did not fit in. I don’t think I could afford to buy a pair of socks from those stores. Luckily, there were smaller streets with more reasonably priced shops, including more gelato and a pasta store. It took every ounce of my being to not buy the pasta that was shaped like space ships or the pasta that was neon pink and teal. Once we met back up with our group, we went to the Trevi fountain. Legend has it if you throw in one coin you’ll come back to Rome, two coins you’ll meet an Italian boy/girl, and three coins for a divorce. I didn’t understand that last one either. So I threw one coin in:) Next it was dinner time, the most important time of the day. We got a 3 course meal with unlimited table wine. Umm, could my night get any better. Appetizers were a salad and toasted bread with prosciutto, tomatoes, and olive oil. The main course was a traditional Roman pasta, not sure what was in it, but I cleaned my plate. And then for dessert it was a wafer ice cream sandwich and sexy wine. Also known as dessert wine, but they call it sexy wine here. So good! Also, I ordered a limoncello with a couple of the girls. It is supposed to taste like a lemonhead which is delicious and it did at first, but then you realize that it is 35% alcohol and it isn’t mixed with anything. Kinda strong. After I stuffed my face yet again, the group walked over to the Piazza Navona. Again, it reminds me of Angels and Demons. But at this point, I was getting sleepy, so we took the bus home and I showered and passed out in my bed.
Sunday morning arrived, the day I had been dreading. I did not want to leave Rome but our flight was at 8pm and we knew we had to be there early. So in the morning we went to one last spot, St. Giovanni in Laterano Basilica. The cool thing about this Basilica, besides the gorgeous ceilings is that they have sculptures of the 12 Apostles around the church. Plus morning mass was going on. I am not Catholic or do I speak Italian, but it was still very interesting to see. On our way back to Termini, we walked by the Colosseum once more and then got more pizza. I belong in Rome: pizza, pasta, and ice cream everyday. My three favorite food groups. On Sunday, it was Brittney’s 21st Birthday so we tried to find her a birthday outfit when she went out that night, but we got distracted and got gelato instead lol! We meandered back to the hostel to grab our bags and then we took the shuttle to the airport. I was depressed to be leaving Rome, it was one of the greatest weekends I’ve had. The time came to board the plane and surprisingly no child sat behind me or around me. Shocker. The flight was only 2.5 hours this time, but we had to wait until 12:30 to catch the next bus so we got food at the airport. Yeah, I went from traditional Italian dishes to McDonald’s. What!? And tonight I’m probably going to make some Mac & Cheese. We didn’t get home until 4am, so I immediately passed out when I got home and I might not have gone to my morning classes today. Oops. Rome is an absolutely amazingly beautiful city. Everyone, go there (and take me with)!