(Written last week, but I didn’t have time to edit it – oops!)
Day one of Rome started with me flying into the airport, missing buses because of the enormous demand (due to Easter) and then ultimately getting into the city! When we drove in, the bus went past some of the southern monuments, including the Colosseum. My first thought, honestly, when arriving there was “Whoa. That looks just like the Colosseum.” Sleep deprivation does things to you, and I don’t think my mind had quite figured out I wasn’t in France anymore.
Obviously, I figured it out a split second later, and whipped out my phone to snap some pictures as we sped by. The bus took me pretty close to my hostel, which was so nice! The name of the hostel where I was staying was called The Freedom Traveler Hostel and I really really enjoyed my time there. The staff was just so extremely helpful and so incredibly nice. When I checked in, the staff woman pulled out a map that showed Rome and circled all the “must see” places. Basically it was every highlighted attraction. Which meant I needed to get started right away, despite being barely able to walk straight due to my 4am wake up time.
So I dropped my stuff off and headed straight back out the door. The thing to remember about Rome is that there are only two subway lines and neither goes near anything you’ll want to see, with the exception of The Vatican. The reason, as you can probably guess, is because it would endanger so many of the ruins and monuments to have tunnels running underground near them. But it does make transportation (other than by bus) a little more tricky. The good thing is, a lot of things are clustered together, and there are beautiful structures to see that aren’t even on the maps for your walk to in between places.
Day one I decided to head back down south of where I was staying, BACK to the Colosseum. The great thing about traveling on Easter weekend was a lot of monuments were FREE! The bad thing was that there seemed to be the whole of Europe there to visit.
When I walked up to the Colosseum the line was impressively long stretching out farther than I could really see. It was at this moment that for some weird reason the movie Big Hero 6 came to mind, and I started looking at the insanity in a different way. I started walking around the building and found another line to the side that apparently no one knew existed except for the 10 people in front of me – so I got into the building in about 15 minutes (in comparison to waiting hours). Getting in so quickly, and not having to pay made the experience all that much better and I got to savor the guided tours that I joined up inside. I honestly spent so much time in there just in awe and wonder at the magnitude and history that made up the Colosseum. Absolutely crazy.
After the Colosseum it was pretty late for museums, due to the fact that I didn’t get into the city until almost 3pm and they closed at 6pm. So I walked across the street to the Roman Forum where there are just ruins for as far as the eye can see. I also discovered, while walking around, that Italy has doughnuts – which was one of the best moment I’ve had in months. I don’t even know why, but I’ve been craving doughnuts for months and to finally get a real fried doughnut (France has them, but they’re baked – gross) was just heaven.
Even though it rained the first day, the overall mood of the city was on fire. Everyone was having such a good time and you could tell. That’s something I really miss from Paris. As weird as it sounds, happy people are not in an abundance there and it starts to rub off on you after a while.
Italians are loud and expressive and sarcastic and fun. Italian couples, not matter what age, were my favorite to people to watch because they are hilarious – so much teasing but in a I’m going-to-play slap-you-and-then-kiss-you romantic way. It actually really reminded me of Ireland and the Irish sense of humor. Which is saying a lot, because Ireland is my absolute favorite place ever.
After all the walking I went back to my hostel and got to chat with my hostel roommates – Pat and Kat. Which is just awesome that those were their names. One was a student from The Philippines, who was studying in Denmark and the other was a single mom from Hawaii who just decided to go to Rome on a whim. They both were just so incredible.
That really is so much of the experience of travel. Yes the sights and the ruins are amazing. I love museums and paintings and castles and churches. But what really makes a trip a good one is the people you meet. I absolutely love bing able to hang out with other travelers and swap stories and ideas – they really are my favorite kind of people.