When my dad asked if I wanted to meet up with him and a family friend in Paris to see Jimmy Buffet in concert, I said “heck yes!”. I hadn’t seen my dad in months and the family friends in years. I had seen JB in concert before, but this venue would be extra special, as it’s a lot smaller and more intimate. Plus, I’d never been to Paris before. Neither had Diego, so we really wanted to make this trip happen. Thanks to cheap airfare between Western European countries, we didn’t have to spend a fortune to get there (actually just 20 euros a person each flight). Then about a month later, we decided to “tack on” another city to enjoy before Paris, and agreed on Rome. I’d never been to Rome and reallllly wanted to see the ruins and eat amazing food, so even though Diego had already been, it wasn’t hard to convince him to go again.
I had prepped Diego for what to expect flying on an airplane with me (and my phobia of flying). He was a bit weary about it, but everything went well minus a bit of turbulence and me having an argument with the gate agent about the size of my carry on luggage while in a drugged up stupor.
Rome was amazing. I loved the history (I thought Spain had history…), the Roman ruins, the catacombs, the people, the weather, and of course the food. We stayed in an Airbnb close to the Trastevere neighborhood, which was an amazing find by Diego. Actually, Diego pretty much planned everything for our time in Rome and really impressed me. I’m so lucky to have him by my side. He even downloaded an audio guide of all of the big stuff in Rome for us to listen to. It was in Spanish, which was even better so I could get some practice in. I’m also really thankful for the suggestions from Diego’s sister Eva, who gave us amazing tips on food and places to see, my Aunt Laura, who saved us a lot of time waiting in lines, and from an American girl living in Rome from a “Girls Love Travel” group I’m in on Facebook.
Nearly everything we wanted to see was within walking distance except for the catacombs, which we went to on a vespa-like scooter that we rented for 2 days. That was by far the best decision we made in Rome (okay, my opinion). But really it was a ton of fun to ride on the back, take in the sites, feel the fresh air, and try to snap some photos without losing my camera or my arm. Anyone that’s been to Rome knows that the drivers there are absolutely crazy. Running a red light is extremely common (just do it slowly, and no one bats an eye), crosswalks don’t matter (just drive right through and swerve around people walking), and honking your horn is imperative to make sure other drivers know how annoyed you are at all times. Honestly, I would describe it as a free for all. So the fact that Diego got us through that mess for 2 days without getting into an accident is probably a miracle. But it ended up being an extra adventure, because we got to explore around more and find some lesser known parts of the city.
Of course we had to see the Vatican (can I add that to my list of countries I’ve visited?), St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. Seeing the paintings in person is truly awesome. I think I stared at Michaelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” for a good 10 minutes straight, telling myself over and over that this is the real thing! We didn’t get to see the Pope, but I did mail a postcard from the Vatican City post office. Advice: buy tickets to get into the Vatican museum online and early. You will skip a long line.
Seeing the Trevi Fountain was impressive, as was that whole neighborhood. I love walking down small side streets, seeing local restaurants and shops, and just wandering around. The Spanish Steps were closed off but we saw them from a distance. I was most impressed by the Pantheon, which is one of the few Roman buildings that is well conserved (because it was converted to a church). Photos just don’t do these buildings justice: the size of the columns, the details in the marble, the height of the domed ceiling…and to think that this building has been standing since the year 126 AD. Wow.
No trip to Rome is complete without seeing the colosseum. We ended up seeing it every day of our trip, driving by. It’s truly an impressive building, yet like many other Roman ruins, has not been well preserved or restored. It’s still worth a visit, and really made me want to watch the movie Gladiator (dammit, Netflix! Why can’t you have that movie?!).
For the 3 full days we were there, we ate pizza, pasta, and gelato. I was determined to become so tired of all three that I wouldn’t crave them anymore in Spain. Well that definitely failed, as right now I would love to eat all three. I stopped by an “Italian” gelato shop here in Madrid yesterday, and was sadly disappointed–it’s just not the same!
I’ll never forget our time in Rome. We only had 3 days, but we saw so much and had a ton of fun. I definitely recommend a trip there, and it really inspired me to see more of Italy.
Well I feel like this post is extremely full, so I’ll post Paris separately…