**Pictures will be added soon
Sleep was limited on the train to Rome. What I find comical was how excited I was about an overnight train, just to be very disappointed. I had planned on taking something to facilitate a nice long sleep, but it was crowded and I ended up swapping bunks, so it was difficult to get to my bag, and I figured I was really tired I should just sleep. However, between being hot, then freezing, only having a sheet for the bed and to cover me, sleeping on a hard surface with tired, sore muscles… it made for a long sleepless night. I would say about half the people slept, while the other half of people slept like me. Although, this really was the only night since starting the trip that I had a hard time sleeping, so I can’t complain too much!
Today was our first full day in Rome. It was also our last day with 7 of our travelers. I opted to skip the orientation walk and explore the city with a couple other members of the group. We had a great breakfast of eggs, toast, bacon and cappuccino, which helped start the day on the right foot!
Our first stop was the Colosseum, which was massive. We opted to go in, and to our luck, without pre-purchasing tickets, we were actually able to get in the short line! I feel like this rarely happens. It only took us about 15 minutes to get in, meanwhile people with tickets were waiting much longer. One fact I learned, was that they used to be able to flood the arena, to simulate aquatic battles. It is a shame that materials from the Colosseum were used for other buildings, as it would have been great to see it more intact. It was really neat though to see the view of the underground quarters from above. I really enjoyed the walk around and taking it all in.
Next up was the Palatino con Monstra, which are the gardens across the way with a lot of ancient ruins. I really enjoyed walking along the paths, and imagining what it would have been like when these buildings an gardens were filled with people. The one disappointment to this section, was the addition of modern art, which added no value to the area. If anything it took away from sights and the beauty of the area.
At this point we are starving, which seems to be a common theme with this trip, so we walk to the canal, past the MOUTH OF TRUTH, which we did not stop because of the long line, and unbeknownst to us, into the Roman Jewish quarter for lunch. The cafe we settled on, was endorsed by Anthony Bourdain and it was quite good. I was so tired, that when I sat down for lunch, all I wanted to do was put my head down for a quick nap. Instead I asked for espresso. This is not a common practice in Italy to order coffee before a meal, but if I wanted to stay awake for the meal I needed something. You would have thought I asked the waiter for an elephant by the way he looked at me. He asked more than once if I was sure that I wanted it now, and not after the meal. This was the best espresso I have had so far, and I am not quite sure what was in it, but it kept me up the rest of the night, and with added energy!
Lunch was very good, and it was really nice to have that break from all the walking. Thankfully we had it just in time, as rain was coming in just as we were leaving. We made it to the Pantheon, built between 27 BC and 14 AD, then rebuilt in 126 AD, right as it started to really rain. There was something magical about being there in the rain. The Pantheon has the world’s largest un-reinforced concrete dome, with a circular opening (the oculus), in which the rain came pouring in and hitting the floor. It was quite a sight, and not one you could really plan for. This is one of the best-preserved ancient roman buildings and it is awe inspiring. To think that they could build this beautiful structure without the tools of today.
Last stop on the way to the metro was the Trevi Fountain. Even in the rain, it is a stunning fountain, with the white stone and the blue water. It is said you should throw two coins in, one to make a wish and the other so that you return to Rome. I did both, although I will not be sharing my wish! By the time we had finished, the rain had subsided and we made it back to the hotel with time to shower and recharge before the last dinner with the first group. I must say what an amazing shower it was!
Dinner was at a really fun Italian restaurant, where food was good and so were the prices. I shared some delicious wine with other travelers and the restaurant gave us a complimentary shot of limoncello to complete our meal. From here we went to an outdoor bar and then to a club to go dancing, although I am not sure where exactly in Rome this club was.
Tomorrow is our last full day in Rome and when we say goodbye in the morning to 7 of our travelers and hello to 5 new ones.
Fun Fact: The phrase “When in Rome” was used a lot today, and it is much more fun to say it, when you are actually in Rome.
The Rome metro is pretty well useless. We bought a 48 hour pass thinking we would use the metro as much as other places, but because it is in an X, and it is not very close to a lot of the places, we used it very rarely.