At the age of 27, it was finally time to travel the world on our own. We decided to go to Rome, Italy. I don’t consider this a review as much as random ramblings about what I remember – this is close to a year ago now.
We ordered the trip from Expedia, which didn’t give us any problems at all. The plan was simple;
- 3rd July, fly from Oslo to Paris, and then from Paris to Rome
- Have a blast in Rome for 8 days
- 11th July, fly from Rome to Amsterdam, and them from Amsterdam to Oslo
Getting to Rome
We traveled by plane to Paris, where I had the opportunity to test my French skills for the first time since school. I managed to order food. Not bad if I must say so myself. We continued by plane to Rome. No immediate problems after landing. Attempting to withdraw money from what looked like an ATM machine were unsuccessful. We continued outdoors to see a lane of Cabs waiting to pick us up. They drive people to their hotel in Rome for a fixed price of 60€. It seemed like a pretty simple arrangement, but since they’re motivation is primarily to drive as many trips as possible in one night – it also mean they don’t necessarily drive safely
In Rome, the Cab driver dropped us off. We had established that his English was horrible. We paid 100€ expecting change, he smiled and took off – I don’t think I’ll ever forget that. Lesson learned; Don’t exit the cab before you’ve taken care of business.
Arrived at the IQ Hotel, where we chose to stay. We got a special offer because we spent more than 7 nights. It was also a very new hotel, with working wifi and good A/C. Very polite and helpful staff, and things were pretty shiny in general. My favorite feature was the switch next to the bedpost, which toggled a DND-light visible outside the room. My understanding is that the staff was able to see when we turned that light off, because it didn’t take long before we left the room until it was cleaned. The cafeteria/lunch-place was the kind of place we’d expect. I don’t think mediterranean breakfast culture is anything I will get used to anytime soon. We’re both very happy with the time we spent at this hotel. It was awesome in every way we care about.
Rome has a lot of ruins. All over the place, there’s a stone that used to be a part of something bigger. Even though this is very amazing in its own way, it lost its appeal after a few days. However, you can’t visit Rome without paying a visit to Colosseum, Palentine Hill, and Roman Forum. Those are must-see ruins, and can be done in one day if you combine them as one trip. We got our tickets to Colosseum from the guides that hijacked us outside. It was money well spent, as we could cut through some of the lines without waiting too long – and the guide was good.
You should also visit the Vatican State, regardless of your view of the church. There’s a lot of history in that place. Mind-boggling to say the least. The bad part is that a visit to this place, basically means walking/standing in line for an entire day. Looking at an amount of treasures or work of art that is beyond most peoples ability to absorb. It wouldn’t surprise me the least, if this was the largest collection of treasures in the world.
We arrived a bit too late to look at Pantheon during rain (actually, we stayed inside, waiting for the weather to clear up) – which was bad. The Pantheon got a large hole in its dome, letting rain or snow through.
(The video is not mine, but it serves to prove my point)
Capuchin Crypt is one of the places we saw that I hadn’t heard of before we came there. It’s a pretty unique sight, and the entrance fee was symbolic. Alas, being a holy place – we were not allowed to take any pictures.
Other silly adventures
Looking for Mal’
Nathan Fillion, the actor playing Mal’ in the Sci-fi series Firefly were in town at the same times as we were. He played games with his twitter-followers, showing them images of places were he had hid stuff for them to track down. I managed to figure out it was on Ponte Garibaldi, but alas – we were too late. It was fun, it got us out of the Hotel Room – and we found Alberto Pica. It’s all good.
The Time Elevator
Don’t go here.
Porta Portese Market
This is a flee market near Circus Maxximus. Fun place to browse for stuff. Far between the unique carts, as most of them are basically identical carts selling the same crappy goods. Some of them stood out as unique, though.
The Spanish Steps
The guys pushing roses are extremely annoying. Buying roses to your partner is usually a romantic thing. When they give your partner a gift, and then pander you for money – it kills the mood for everyone. It’s just … Pushy and silly. We ended up with 7 roses before I learned the trick of turning them down with a closed fist. Didn’t feel right at all.
The Trevi Fountain
Like the Spanish Steps, this place is extremely crowded – and also contains its share of pushy vendors. I don’t think you miss anything if you steer clear of this place either. Well, it’s nice to actually get to see it – but when you’ve seen it – you’re basically done. Move on. Let’s get something to eat.
Rule number one: Use Lonely Planet, or a similar good tourist guide. Most of our good experiences, came from using Lonely Planet. Most of our bad experiences, came from not using it.
Found with Lonely Planet while doing other silly things, this proved to be a place we really regret that we only visited once. They had a lot of different flavors of ice cream and sorbets. They have a few flavors that are quite unique; Rose petal and rice, to name a couple that comes to mind. It was excellent, and I regret we only got to visit this place once.
A quite nice place that we visited two or three times. The prices are a bit steep, but the tea is lovely – and we had excellent brunch here. Staff was nice, too. I don’t think this place is for everyone, though.
We also did try to find places who served good pasta-dishes and pizza – we’re in Italy after all. I can’t say we found anything unique here. I believe you can find good pizza in most countries, and as far as Pasta goes – I still haven’t found a place that serves anything that tops homemade carbonara – which we’re perfectly able to make ourself. We also ate at Hard Rock Cafe, which is a nice place – but not really worth the long wait (I think it was about two hours). And Hard Rock Cafe is something you can find other places as well.
Getting back home
We had a bit of a hurry in Amsterdam, to make our flight. Too bad our luggage didn’t make it – it had to take a later flight. A few days later, our luggage was delivered at home. Lesson learned; Try to make room for actually performing the transfer, when ordering tickets.
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