When in Rome…

We arrived in Rome early afternoon, and were greeted by our Budapest friend, Francesco (told you he’d pop up again) who had offered us his apartment to stay in for the few days we were in Rome. After a quick catch up and freshen up back at his place, he drove us into Rome city centre in order to be our personal tour guide.

We made our way through the crowded, hot city seeing all the typical tourist sites – the Colosseum (wow), Roman Forum (wow), the Pantheon (wow), Piazza Venezia (wow), Vatican City (wow), Trevi Fountain (wow), Parliament building (wow),  Basically everything was just wow. You can’t help by walk around this city and be enthralled by everything – how you can be walking down a quiet side street only to be greeted at the other end by a beautiful, elegant building or a beautiful, serene fountain. Everything is just so expressive. So elaborate and over the top.
We decided to pay in order to get into the Colosseum because you know, when in Rome, and it was pretty impressive and definitely worth the extra bit of dollar in order to see it.

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It’s just amazing to see a building which has lasted for so many years – you can almost feel the history pouring out of its walls, it’s just incredible. It’s difficult not to compare it to buildings now, in this modern era, where they are built up and built quickly, not quite like the elaborate and vast buildings that pop up in Italian cities, especially Rome. I found Vatican city truly amazing, however at the same time strangely disconcerting with all the statues staring down at you in a massive semi-circle, but you can see the affect that this magnificent place has on people – with our Italian friend saying “in here, I am a good boy”.

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The next day was possibly the most stressful day of my life. And I’m not even exaggerating. The muck up after the whole Genova/Florence debacle meant that we had to shift our dates around, especially since we had already booked our Megabus home from Paris. However, we were stupid and never got around to booking a train to actually get us to Paris. Which you know, is probably the dumbest thing ever to do seeing as Rome is one of the most popular tourist destination in the world and getting out of Rome at this time would prove to be the most difficult thing to do in the world. Ever. We spent the morning trying to find a train to book which would get us to Paris, however every one we found seemed to be fully booked so with growing frustration we headed to Roma Termini to see if the ticket people there could help us out. We found the ticket booth and headed over full of confidence and eagerness. And then we saw the queue. The massive queue. We took a number from the machine and sat down on the floor in the boiling hot furnace of a station and waited. And waited and waited and waited. What seemed like a day and half later, our number was finally called. We heaved ourselves up and went over to the woman behind the desk only to find that our number had been replaced with another. No. The ticket lady finished talking to the number after us and we made our move.

“Hello” we said “We’d like to book…”
“What’s your number?” the kind and ever so helpful lady asked (she wasn’t).
We told her our number and she looked at us like we were complete idiots and said “No I’m on the next number now”

We stood with open mouths trying to work out if she was serious. If she had seriously waited a split second for us to get up to her desk before she moved on to the next number. If we had seriously waited 3 hours in a boiling hot station in the middle of Rome for her to tell us that we had spent to long walking over to her. She was serious. We hated her. We stalked off and sat down and wondered what to do next. We were not going to pick another number and wait another three hours for another moody Italian ticket booth lady to just go straight past our number and not even talk to us. Full of despair and with our stress levels rocketing, we made our way back to Francesco’s apartment where we spent the whole day trying to find another way to get to our Paris Megabus in a couple days. There seemed to be no route out of Rome which got us in on time. We hit ourselves for being stupid and dis-organised. After a number of phone calls with my Mum who was trying her best on her end to help find us cheap plane tickets, we decided our best way was to forget about Paris and the Megabus and spend a few extra days in Rome before flying out. We found a flight from Bologna and went to book it. My friend booked it, no problem. However, of course, my payment didn’t go through. Not the first time I tried, not the second time I tried, not the third time I tried. I was close to tears at this point, the stress was just too much. My step-dad and Mum paid for the plane ticket for me under my promise that I would pay them back, and finally we were set and organised to leave Rome. By this point, it was early evening and I was starving. Apparently I don’t eat when I’m stressed which is news to me. So, we made our way along the river and had some dinner in a Steak restaurant. Lots of wine and lots of food was the perfect end to one of the most stressful days of my life.

Feeling very hungover and not so fresh the next morning, me and my fellow travel buddy made our way into Rome central in search of porchetta. However, by the time we finally got to the delicious porchetta shop we had found the day before, they had stopped serving which made us very sad. Instead, we had to make do with gelato, so we ambled around eating our ice-cream and taking in the beautiful city.

Our final day in Rome was a sad day. It meant our trip was over. We were going home. We awoke once again feeling hungover and not so fresh (this is becoming way too much of a regular occurrence) and packed up all our belongings and popped them into Francesco’s car. And then he and his flatmate drove us to one of the most amazing viewpoints Rome has to offer – Gianicolo (Janiculum Hill).

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A large piazza offering sweeping views of the whole city made for the perfect end to our stay in Rome. After a walk around the park and a quick dip in the small swimming pool, we finally had to say our goodbyes to the amazing city we had grown to love. We headed to the train station and said our goodbyes to the two Francesco’s (Francesco’s housemate was also called Francesco. Fancy that).

As the train pulled away from the station to take us to our last and final stop of Bologna airport, we felt a flurry of bittersweet emotions – sad to be leaving Rome and ending our trip but excited to head home and sleep in a comfy bed and not have to pay to go for a wee. And to see friends and family. Of course.

Europe, it’s been a pleasure.

Here’s back to reality!

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