Getting there: Air Canada/Lufthansa
Where dpr stayed: The Marriott Grand Flora Hotel – I’ve only been here a night, but as I see the goods are: location – central and about a 10 minute walk to a Metro station, easy to walk to a few sites, too, pretty big room for Europe, mini-gym that’s included, the blahs are: paid internet (if you’ve read my other posts you know this one bugs me so bad), decor’s a bit tired (i.e. my lounge chair cushions have imprints and the carpet’s bordering on me leaving my shoes on for the rest of my stay).
Fun: I’m here for a one day meeting, so I came in a day earlier than I normally would since I’ve never been to Rome. I had a great driver in to the city – his English was good, he was super chatty, and he pointed out lots of the sites on the way in: “To your left is the Colosseum” very nonchalantly! I got settled around 3.30 pm when all was said and done, and yes, I showered at the lounge in Munich again on the way here – as d2 said to me “that’s your new thing, isn’t it?” and my reply is “YES” after being on a plane for that long – some soap and water really helps wake you up! Given what I’ve read about pickpockets in Rome, I decided that I was too zombie-like to be vigilant with my belongings yesterday, so I just went for a walk. It started to pour rain like mad when I headed out, but I always travel with my trusty lime green umbrella, so I was good. I headed to the Spanish Steps first and then did a major walk/shop along Via del Corso. Then I continued on to the Trevi Fountain to check things out (warning! this area is packed and I’m pretty sure it’s a pickpocket haven – I took and couple of pictures and was good to go), then around the corner to find some pizza for supper, and as a bonus, free wifi at the resto, too. I was pretty tired by around 7 pm, so called it a night shortly after that.
This morning I got up, worked out, had a gigantor breakfast to fuel me up for the day (disclaimer: I’m pretty sure the hotel breakfast’s calorie count actually fueled me up for the rest of the week, but can I just add how much I love ordering coffee for breakfast and having it come with its own pitcher of steamed milk? Yes, I love it), and then I figured I was conscious enough to attempt the subway. It was actually no problem – easy to use the ticket machine, well marked for a transfer, and voila, when I popped up from underground: the Colosseum in all its glory. Totally amazing to sit there and think how long ago it was built and how much remains. I didn’t go inside – friends had told me it wasn’t worth it, so I wandered all around the outside and just soaked it up. I also walked up to the entrance of the Forum which is also right here, but didn’t go inside – I wanted to get to the Vatican which is in another part of the city, and thought I would save the Forum for another trip.
So back to the subway and off to the Vatican – first up, St. Peter’s Square and Basilica (free). The size of the square can’t really be appreciated unless you’re there in person, and the same goes for the Basilica. I’m not a religious person, but it was hard not to be impressed by the sheer size and beauty of the church. There are also the Vatican Grottoes here which have all the papal tombs, but I opted out of them – instead I went to the Vatican Museum, where my main aim was to see the Sistine Chapel. The Vatican Museum has an entrance fee, and lucky for me, at this time of year there wasn’t a line up, so off I went, and you pretty much have to walk through the entire Museum to get to the Sistine Chapel. You can also do an audio guide, but since I was really mostly here just to see the Chapel paintings, I didn’t do that either – in all honesty, you could spend an entire day here, which I also didn’t have. The Sistine Chapel is hard to describe – you can’t take any pictures or film inside, and I was lucky to get a bench seat on the side (there are no pews – it’s just full of people gazing at the ceiling, and they try to keep it very quiet) so I could take in where I was, how beautiful the art work of Michaelangelo is and how astonishing the whole thing is. The Chapel is a lot smaller than I imagined, but it’s really stunning. And then I treated myself to a little more shopping on the way back to my hotel from there – it was a good 45 minute walk or so that required a couple of delicious coffees along the way.
So even though I’ve only been here for just over a day, my time has afforded me a picture of what Rome has to offer – the history is just overwhelming and the city is very beautiful. Hopefully I’ll be able to take a breather outside after my meeting, and then, I’ll dream about coming back with d2!