I will start by explaining my first day a bit more, a few key things anyways. As I was waiting at the airport train stop for the Leonardo Express to the Termini station I stopped by a group of middle aged Americans (they had been on my flight). We started talking a bit, their cousin lives in Florence so they were headed there for 10 days. Not sure if it was the mother in them or the fact that they saw me balling my eyes out at the airport but they gave me their phone number and made sure I would call them when I got to Florence for dinner. It was so sweet to meet such genuine nice people right away :)
Next I got to the Termini station and I have to admit my first experience in Roma was horrendous. Mostly my own fault, but I went out the opposite door at the Termini (it is a HUGE station) so I was already completely lost as to which way to go to my hotel (which according to the map was only 4 easy blocks away). So I got out my map, stared at it and waited for the blinking blue dot to show up and tell me exactly where I was and the blue line to tell me my exact directions, turn by turn. After awhile I realized I was not on my googlemaps and had to figure this one out the old fashioned way. Which after 12 hours of traveling (not to mention feeling feverish, thanks Ellie) was not easy. I wandered around awhile trying to get my bearings, unfortunately Rome streets are not marked well (more to come on this). I knew I needed to get to the other side of the Termini to get where I was going so I went down a random escalator on the side of the station hoping I could get to the other side. No beans. I then discovered that the up escalator was broken so I had to hulk my 45lb F*ing suitcase and about 10 lb shoulder carry on bag up 3 flights of stairs. A very kind Italian did take pity on me studying my map and tried to give me directions. I greatly appreciated it but still had no idea where exactly I was. Anyways after about an hour of wandering the streets with my huge bags I came to Hotel Romae! This moring I walked to the Termini and it's really only a 5 min walk away J
So onto the rest of Day 1. I showered and forced myself out. It was a beautiful day out so I decided to take it easy and focus on getting to Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. As you can see from the pictures I made it to both! I got lost multiple times along the way but always came across something beautiful. The pictures say the most. Although my feelings were a little hurt by the lack of Italian men attention (after all the warnings I got) I did get a self esteem boost when my 19 year old, braces wearing waiter did invite me out for drinks. lol. I said no but at least I got one invite the first day! :)
Today, Day 2 was jam packed. After forcing myself out of bed, still wrestling with the jet lag I headed to the Colosseum. I decided to take the metro (only 2 stops away but well worth the 1 euro). It was completely amazing to step out of the modern, sort of dingy metro and instantly in front of me was the centuries old Colosseum. At the Colosseo I decided to skip the hour long line to buy a ticket and paid an extra 5 euro for the guided tour (and no line). That was also well worth it. I learned a lot and fell in love with my little tour guide, best Italian accent J From there I went to Palatine Hill and the Forum. Palatine Hill had beautiful gardens, it was surreal walking through the rubbles that once housed all the rulers! The Forum was equally stunning, hard to imagine the hustle and bustle of once was the center of the world. By that time I was starving and went to a Rick Steve's recommended restaurant for lunch, my first authentic Italian meal in a small cozy little place. I got the house special which was cataloni stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach. Delicious!
Then fueled by pasta and wine I took the trek to the Pantheon but along the way was extremely taken by Capitol Hill. I don't know if it was the hours of walking through rubble trying to imagine the grandeur or the wine I had at lunch but I could have sat and stared for hours at Capitol Hill. The huge white columns, the massive, ornate statues, the stairs, it was amazing. I went to the upper terrace which had a stunning view and I couldn't pass up the chance to sit and have an espresso at the terrace café J. Then onto the Pantheon which was my 2nd favorite of the day. It must be the columns that get me. Then to Piazza Navona where I meet Roberto the statue cowboy (see pictures). He bummed a smoke and proceeded to tell me his whole life story (needed to practice his English maybe?). The restaurant I wanted to go to didn't open until 7 so I got my first Gelato to tide me over, wandered around the sunset streets and finally sat down for dinner at Osteria Da Mario (another Rick Steve's recommendation). It was a classic mom and pop set-up complete with the checked tablecloths. It was again delicious. So now it was time to head back. I got so terribly lost. I have become an excellent map reader, the problem is the streets are randomly marked, so I am guessing or asking half the time about where I am. So lots of walking, tons of sightseeing and amazing food and wine make this a very successful day!
I'm sure I'm leaving things out but that's a lot for now. Tomorrow I will tackle the Vatican city!