I am starting with Rome because it was probably my favourite part of my trip at Christmas. Five days is a little bit of a lie because once you take out travel time, we ended up with only three full days to cram everything we wanted into our time there. Since I haven’t talked about this trip yet and will talk about it a lot more in other posts, I feel like some background information is in order. My friend Reilly met me in London after I travelled to see my family for a week in England. We set off together for two weeks to see as much of Europe as possible on our Christmas break. We hit five different countries, spent way too much time in airports and celebrated New Years before our friends and family had even eaten dinner.
So why was Rome my favourite city? It’s hard for me to say. I think it was a combination of so many amazing historical sights, INCREDIBLE food and the fact that we went horseback riding, which always makes a trip more special. We stayed in a very nice hostel called Hostel Alessandro Downtown where we stayed in an eight-person dorm room right by the main Termini station. We had the most fantastic restaurant across from our hostel which had the best pizza of the many, many pizzas that we tried during our time in Rome. Honestly, Reilly and I lived entirely off of pizza and pasta, just alternating which one we had for lunch and which we had for dinner.
Our real struggle in Rome was finding enough time to fit in everything that we wanted to do, and I know that I could easily go back and find other things which I have yet to do. For example, we went to Vatican City but didn’t get a chance to go into St. Peter’s Bascillica because the line up was so long and we didn’t get to the Pantheon either. However, we did do quite a good job, if I do say so myself, on fitting in everything that was a must-see on our list.
The day that we arrived was hell. Honestly, hell. Neither of us had ever been so tired because, in an effort to save money, we booked a 6:30am flight on New Years Day. That meant being at the airport 2-3 hours before the flight, so we left our hostel at 3:30am. Now, when I say we left our hostel, I don’t mean left the comfort of our beds, I mean left the lobby of the hostel where we had been squatting for the night. It seemed silly to book a room in the hostel where, after New Years Eve festivities, we would only stay for three hours before leaving for the airport. Needless to say, neither of us were able to sleep in the lobby, so we were boarding our flight with zero hours of sleep, plus three days of bads sleeps before that. So that is why our first day was hell, but we did save a lot of money. Once we arrived at our hostel, we weren’t able to check in so we, along with 6 other people, slept in the lobby until the rooms were ready for us.
Our first day in Rome, January 1st was a total write off, but we rested and got up early for our second day in Rome. On the 2nd we travelled to Vatican City, which we left an entire day to do since it can get so busy. We waited in line the see the Sistine Chapel for two hours and when we finally got in we had to walk through the entire Vatican museum before getting the ‘main attraction’. It seemed a little bit pointless to me but I am sure there were some people who came to see the museum as well. By the time we were done and ate lunch, the line of for St. Peter’s was so long that it wrapped all the way around the courtyard of Vatican City, and neither of us felt the need to wait in line for another three hours.
From there, we headed to Castel St. Angelo which was one of the most interesting and underrated sights that we went to. Interesting fact; it was originally the mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian and his family but it was turned into a fortress for the Pope when Vatican City was under attack. It is also over 1500 years old, which is pretty damn cool if you ask me.
On January 3rd, we headed to the Apian Way, a road that the Romans built to connect Rome with one of their ports. We got to travel quite a ways down the road on horseback, veering off into fields to let the horses run. The road is dead straight and made of cobblestones, with mausoleums and other Roman buildings lining the way. From there, we were told that the Colosseum was just a thirty-minute walk, so we headed down the winding roads in the Italian countryside. We reached the Colosseum two hours later, only to find that it was closed.
On January 4th, the Colosseum was at the top of the list, considering we didn’t make it inside on the first try. But believe me, it did not disappoint. It was very crowded, as one would expect, but we were able to see everything that we wanted to see before heading over to the Roman Forum. The forum was incredible, to see all the buildings and the society that was still intact so many years later. From there, we went to find the Trevi Fountain. The most amazing part to me was that you find yourself walking through very narrow and unimpressive streets when all of a sudden you turn and see the astounding spectacle which is the fountain right in front of you. Of course, we tossed coins into the fountain which is supposed to mean that we will return to Rome one day.
We left for Paris the next day, leaving at a much more reasonable hour than when we arrived. I loved Rome and I really hope that I will be able to return one day, but I think that I will have to see Venice first as that is near the top of my bucket list.
I will try and write another blog soon about the rest of our travels in Europe but for now, I will end with the exciting news I mentioned at the end of my other post. I have accepted a job in France this summer where I will be working from the middle of May until the end of August. I have planned a five-day trip to Berlin, Germany before I got to France since I won’t be able to travel much this summer because of work. Following that, I will be travelling to the Netherlands to attend Erasmus University Rotterdam for a years exchange program. I am very excited about these opportunities that I have and am very fortunate to have family and friends who support me wholeheartedly in my next adventures.