Saturday, April 6, 2013

When in Roma...

We finally made the big trip down to Rome back in February.  We used the President's Day weekend to bite the bullet and just do it.  For some reason I was extremely nervous about going to Rome.  I cannot explain why it made me so anxious, but it surely did.

We left on Friday morning, well sort of.  Gavin had the day off from school, and I thought Ethan did; but I was mistaken so we had to fill out paperwork to take him out for the day.  At any rate, we were trying to get to the airport for our flight so we stopped at the ATM on base to get some Euro out, but ALL of them were not working.  So we started out our trip with very little Euro.  We rush to get to the airport only to find that our flight was delayed by at least an hour (it ended up being two or three hours) and that the flight was open seating!  What is open-seating? you may be asking.  Well, my friend; it is where it is a free for all when you get on the plane.  You just plop yourself down in whatever seat you wish.  Now, in the states it would pay to be at the front of the line at the gate because you just mosey on through the tunnel and onto the plane; but here in Sicily you herd up onto a bus; the great equalizer, then you make a beeline for either the front or the back of the plane and up the steps.  We managed to get me and Cody and Norah in the same row; and the boys together in a different row.  Nope, never doing that again.  Only if I'm flying alone will I ever attempt an open seating flight.  On the flight they sold snacks and we lucked out and was given a cup of water.

When I booked our hotel I also booked a driver to pick us up and take us there.  Best 60 Euro ever!  He was standing there at the meeting point with a sign with my name on it and he took us immediately to the van and away we went to Roma.  I don't know why we call it Rome when they call it Roma.  Why is that?  Do other countries call Atlanta something else other than Atlanta?  Just like why is Japan, Nippon there but we call it Japan?  Weird.

We arrived at our little hotel and it was great.  No stress trying to find it.  We checked in and it was like in the olden days.  First they took our passports (everyone over 14) and then they gave us a real key.  It had an enormous key chain on it.  So every time we left the hotel, we would give them our key and then when we came back, they would give it back to us.

Our room was filled with beds!  The two main reasons I booked the hotel. (Hotel Nerva) was for the location which was right at the Forum and very near the Colosseum and the fact that they would let us all stay in the same room.  There was a King Size bed and two single beds there.  One was a roll-away and one was a chair kind of thing that let out into a bed.  It was crowded, but it worked.  The bathroom was a step up and don't you know I nearly killed myself one night tripping up into there to go pee.  The shower was tiny, like a shower in a camping trailer.  There was a bidet, but I didn't use it.  I still think of Crocodile Dundee when I see one of those things.

We lucked up and the free wi-fi actually was in our room.  Many of the reviews said it was only available in the lobby, which by the way was tiny.

We ate dinner at a place just down from the Colosseum and our hotel that was really good.  It was called Angelino Ai Fori.  We ate inside, though they have a patio outside.   I had soup and salad.  The kids had pizza of course and Cody had a fritata.

 We walked to the Colosseum and saw it at night.  It was beautiful all lit up.  What wasn't beautiful were the guys trying to sell laser grid lights and other tschoskys.  They were so annoying  Of course Gavin was all, "Ooh.  How much is that?" which to the guy meant that if he hung around us long enough and tagged along we would finally give in and buy the thing for Gavin.  Dude was he wrong!  I think we told Gavin no 800 times and that guy just kept hanging around.  We finally escaped that guy without buying anything!

I want to tell you that our trip was AMAZING and that Rome changed my life and was spectacular and all of those things but in reality it was just Eh to us.  I wanted to be enthralled, feel the power of being in the Colosseum but honestly is just wasn't that for me.  We pretty much just checked off the boxes of all the places you are supposed to see and called it good.  I'm good with Rome.  If we get an opportunity to go back without little kids I might, but all in all, I'm good.

St. Peter's Square

We did not go into St. Peter's.  The line was pretty long and we had already bought tickets to visit the Vatican Museum and couldn't risk not getting through in enough time to get over to the Vatican.  I'm sure it is amazing and beautiful; but we never did make it back over there to go inside. 

Below are photos from inside the Vatican Museum.  It is huge and there is a whole lot to see; but again when you are traveling with younger children, you kind of have to fly through these kinds of things.  Gavin really enjoyed this one since he had the children's tour and it had specific items for him to look for.  Of course Norah was too young for it and Ethan was too old.  

The thing that struck me about the Sistine chapel (you are not allowed to take photographs) was the way the hands and fingers looked very pudgy.  We didn't spend much time in there.  We were in there with 800 other people and of course Norah is whining about something and they have guys in there yelling "Silencio!" "No photos!"  It would be awesome to visit without anyone else there.  

Swiss Guard

This is what my kids do while waiting for me to write out and mail postcards from the Vatican Postoffice outside of St. Peter's.

Part of the Forum.  We never did go to the main part where you get a ticket and walk around lots and lots of ruins.  We just didn't feel like it.  The kids didn't want to and honestly, once you've seen a half standing building and lots of ruins, it's kind of enough for me.

I saw this nun reading and I just had to have a photo.

One really cool thing is that they shut down the street by the Colosseum on Sunday mornings.  We were able to walk down the middle of the street and get some really cool photos.  There were people walking and riding bikes, but no cars.  It was really nice.  

We went to the National Museum of Rome and saw some really rockin' old statues.  This was one of the best parts of our trip.  The kids loved it.  It wasn't crowded and we were right up close to them.  It was really fun.  

Here is one of the Check Mark things.  The Spanish Steps.  They are steps.  The end.

And another check mark, the Trevi Fountain.  Granted this one was at least entertaining to watch the people.  It is beautiful, but's a fountain.

The Pantheon was nice.  It was free.  There was no bathroom so Cody spent a lot of time walking Gavin back to a McDonald's so he could go to the potty.  I sat in there with Norah while she fell asleep.  It was interesting.  

The ceiling in the Pantheon.  There is a giant hole.  It does rain in there. 

This sums up my visit inside the Colosseum.  I sat on a rock and held Norah.  It was difficult for me to visualize where the seats were and just how awesome this place was supposed to be.  

Lunch after the Colosseum

Gavin after the Colosseum

We also went to visit the Capuchin Crypt.  That was very cool.  Again, you can't take photos in there, but we did pick up some postcards.  There were bones arranged into artist sculptures, alters etc.  Here is a link to the museum.  It really is worth a visit.  

Another highlight of our trip was eating at the Hard Rock Cafe!  Yes, it was so great to get a good burger and just relax in a restaurant that we knew what to expect.  

So there it is.  We in all honesty were not impressed with Rome.  We're glad we went, but it just wasn't our cup of tea.