Friday, April 19, 2013


Oh hey there friends! Guess what!! I'm finally going to write about Rome. It only took me 3 weeks. A little more than 3 weeks. More like 4. But close enough. Also, be prepared because this is a marathon of a post, and I had to write it over the span of a week. Enjoy!

We left for Rome on Thursday evening, although it was more like Thursday afternoon because we had to take forever and a year to get to the Beauvais airport. There was also a ton of traffic leaving Paris so rather than an hour and 15 minutes on the bus it was more like an hour and 45 minutes. And then some. We then rushed to make it to check-in, ended up in the wrong terminal because the signage at Beauvais is terrible, and ended up waiting in line for about 20 minutes to check-in. With our plane leaving in about 45 minutes. Leaving. Boarding in 15. The line to check in was ridiculous, especially because this family checking a ton of bags managed to take up both check-in desks for about 10 minutes, and the people actually behind the desk were in no rush to get things done. Despite the fact that there was a huge line for a flight about to leave in less than an hour. You could say it was our own fault EXCEPT that we were on the bus designated for our flight time and run by the actual airport so being late was out of our control. We eventually all got checked in, made it through security and then had NO idea which of the 4 gates was ours. It was time the the plane was supposed to be boarding, and yet there was no one boarding. We looked around to ask someone but there was literally no one working for any airline anywhere in the terminal at all. Super helpful.

Eventually we figured out which gate was ours and it turns out the plane didn't start to board until the time it was supposed to take off. Wonderful. And by wonderful, I mean wonderfully annoying because it meant we got into the city of Rome around 11:30. By pure luck we found a place to eat on our way to the hostel that was still open so we got pizza. I love Rome already. Except that tap water in restaurants isn't really a thing, so you have to buy bottled water. Or get dehydrated. You also have to pay around €1 per person to actually sit in a restaurant. But overall, the food situation in Rome is good good; relatively inexpensive but also delicious.

Our hostel was tiny and hidden inside a large apartment building. If we didn't have the address we never would have found it because there was no sign. At all. But our room was decent and it was just us, so no complaints. Yet.


The next morning (Friday) was the Ides of March. So it was pretty awesome that I was in Rome. Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to reenact Caesar's murder, or even stab someone, so it really wasn't THAT exciting. Instead we met up with our friend Shannon (from the Ireland trip) who is studying in Rome and she showed us around for the day. Oh! Before I get too far, I need to talk about the hostel breakfast. We got a "croissant" which was filled with the gourmet gross fig/chocolate filling. Also there was coffee. Which my one friend managed to put salt in, instead of sugar because she didn't properly read the labels. I mean the labels weren't THAT legible. But still. I will make fun of her anyway. I then had another friend burn her hand after pouring coffee in a mug that had an invisible crack in it, so it kind of broke more and it was unfortunate. Breakfast was quite the fail.

But lunch was good. Shannon took us to walk around this market and then to get pizza at this place that prices it by weight. I got a lot of pizza for not that much. It was wonderful. After lunch we went to this gelato place right by the Vatican where you can get 3 flavors for €1.50. It is my new favorite place ever, and I'm kinda glad I don't live in Rome because I would eat a lot of gelato.

We then went to the Vatican, which was really cool because it was only 2 days after they chose the new Pope and you could still see where the cameras were set up, and the red curtain was still there and yeah. Unfortunately this meant that the Sistine Chapel was still closed, but we were able to go into St. Peter's Basilica, and oh my god goodness. Words can not describe how beautiful it is! I mean I've been in a LOT of churches recently but I'm pretty sure I actually just stood there in awe for over a minute. Just staring. Pictures can't do it justice, but I'll try:

Pope John Paul II

I really should not have been that surprised, since the rest of the Vatican is absolutely beautiful too. It helped that we were there on a beautiful sunny day!

St. Peter's Square

St. Peter's Basilica
Fluffy chilling on the fountain in St. Peter's Square

Since we couldn't go into the Sistine Chapel and it didn't really make sense to go to the Vatican museums since it was getting late in the afternoon, we decided to climb to the top of the dome on St. Peter's Basilica. It has a special name but remembering it would require me to be attentive and responsible. And apparently I'm not because I forget. But we climbed all 5,000 steps (I made that number up, it was probably more like a few hundred but it felt like 5,000) and it was totally worth it!

The view just part way up
 Half way up we ended up outside on a terrace-like area, which allowed for some good pictures and stuff of the actual architecture and what not of the mini domes and such. That's the official name, they are called mini-domes. I might be lying.

Just a mini-dome

Fluffy was there too. Obviously.

Looking down on the church.
 Actually getting to the very top was somewhat difficult. It involved a lot of slanted corridors and at one point, a crooked spiral staircase with a rope to hold on to. But totally worth it:
The view from the top.

St. Peter's Square from atop St. Peters
When we got back down to the bottom, there was a group of people in front of the basilica going through the rosary to pray for the new Pope and we were invited to join in. I chose not to but some of my more religious friends did and it was just a cool experience to witness. The cool part of about the Vatican is regardless of your religion or level of religious-ness, you get slapped in the face by centuries of Catholicism. In a good way. It's impossible to not take in and appreciate how much history is there and just how significant it all is. The sense of tradition is also kind of amazing. There is no way I can describe it, especially considering how terribly I am writing all of this to begin with.

After the Vatican we went and got a snack and coffee at this random bakery place we stumbled upon near the river and then some of us headed back to the hostel to relax/nap for an hour before dinner. Because the annoying part about Rome being giant and confusing is that you spend the whole day and a ton of energy just doing one thing. But oh well. It also took a lot longer to get back to the hostel because Rome is giant and confusing and has a terrible public transportation system but it all worked out.

For dinner we went out with our Rome acquaintances (well, technically they are American but they study in Rome) to this place where you get an appetizer, two types of pasta, pizza, dessert, and unlimited wine for €15. It was delicious and the fact that it was only €15 made it so much better. Also the unlimited wine was a nice touch terrible idea.

The gang's all here!
But it was a fun evening. Until one of the Rome people accidentally took my coat (although at the time I had no idea who took it) and some of us were left without keys to the hostel. Which wouldn't have been a huge issue except that the rest of everyone had gone back and fallen asleep by then and the hostel doesn't have 24hr reception. I learned that evening just how important this is. We called their "emergency" number and got the ever-so-helpful response "I'm asleep, sorry about your luck" or something like that. But eventually someone came to give us spare keys. Needless to say it was an emotionally draining evening.


I woke up feeling tired. Kinda like I'd been punched in the gut with a bag full of staplers and then run over by a car and shot with a tranquilizer gun. This had less to do with the "unlimited wine" thing as it did with me not getting enough sleep. And also having a mental breakdown in the middle of Rome. Fun memories. But regardless, we went and found breakfast and some random place and everyone else thought it was painfully mediocre but I had THE. BEST. JUICE. EVER. Freshly squeezed blood-red orange juice to be specific. It was magical. Granted it cost more than I'd like to admit but I am such a juice junkie I don't even care. See most people wake up and all they want is coffee, or tea, or meth or something. But for me, all I want is juice. So finding the best juice in the world was really what I needed at the moment. Here's a picture of us at breakfast. I stole this picture from someone else because I didn't have a camera all of Saturday since it was in my coat pocket and I (spoiler alert) didn't get my coat back until that evening. I guess it's not really a spoiler alert. We got a text when we woke up that morning that the other Rome folk had my coat, so the nightmare was pretty much resolved. Yay.

Note that sexy glass of orange juice in front of me.
Also sorry Laura! It's not my fault this is the only picture of my OJ!

After breakfast we meandered our way down to the Colosseum and what not. It was big and stony and such. I stole this picture from one of my friends so you can appreciate how big and stony it is. Stony in a made-of-stone sort of way, not in a hostile-unfriendly-cold kind of way. Although I guess that could work too. Maybe. Probably not. I also probably didn't have to explain that.

The Colosseum

Inside the Colosseum

It's disappointing that my friend Kate has still not put her pictures up on Facebook, because I could show you our awesome picture of us fighting to the death. It was very appropriate, considering the setting, but that did not prevent several people from staring/taking pictures of us. But alas, you will just have to wait until it goes on Facebook.

UPDATE: I have the picture! Behold:

This should win some type of award.

The Colosseum took awhile and we were hungry so we went to this Irish pub-style place for lunch because it was the only cheap-ish thing around. It wasn't the best. I wanted to try a Caesar salad because Rome. Caesar. Also I was craving salad. What I got was not Caesar salad. It was a disappointment that didn't even have dressing. So I split a pizza with someone. The pizza was great. I was also really hungry. By then it too late to go tour the Forums, which was disappointing but I still got to see them from afar. So it's ok. I also would not have been able to appreciate most of what I saw without a guide of some sort. Oh well. Instead we met up with Rome people and I finally got my coat back. Yay! It was warm and I had missed it. I then ate delicious gelato because that's just what you do in Italy.

We then walked around and several of us made our way to Piazza d'Espagne where the Spanish steps are. It was really pretty, especially since it was starting to get dark out and there were lights and everything. Even though I technically had my camera I did not take pictures. Probably because the battery was dead. Or because I didn't feel like it. Also it was nice to just sit on the steps and take it all in. It was also nice to have my coat since it was starting to get pretty chilly.

Since we were getting hungry, we walked across the river to this neighborhood with a bunch of little restaurants. Unfortunately since it was already 9pm and thus prime dinner time on a Saturday evening we have to split up but it all worked out. I had some amazing pasta. And split a tiramisu with someone. After dinner we went to this bar/chocolatier/bookstore for these things calls chocolate shots. It's a shot glass made of dark chocolate filled with the liquor of your choice and a bit of chocolate syrup, then topped with whipped cream and sprinkles. You then put the whole thing in your mouth at once. It was as magical as it sounds. Also only €3, which is impossible to believe because if you go to a bar in Paris you could easily pay that much for a regular, crappy shot. I like prices in Rome. Also chocolate.

That was pretty much the end of the trip. We fought for a taxi home since we were on the completely opposite side of the city from our hostel and packed and went to sleep. Then we got up a little before 4 to catch the shuttle for the airport to catch our ridiculously early flight Sunday morning. Only to get to Paris and have to take a hour fifteen minute bus and a metro home. I don't think I have ever been so tired in my entire life. I thus spent my St. Patrick's Day in a mostly comatose state of sleep, but at least I wore my 'Irish Drinking Socks" that I bought in Ireland. So it wasn't entirely lame.

Well that's it. Mostly. I left out some small stuff that isn't really important because otherwise this would be even longer and it's already a kajillion pages long. Granted it doesn't actually show up as pages but whatever. Thank you for taking the time to read this. High Five!

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