Right now, an American couple is walking down a cobblestone alley in Rome trying to find their hotel. The sky is clear and the air is crisp. The husband is confidently walking closer and closer towards the Colosseum attempting to locate their hotel. He doesn’t want his wife to know that he doesn’t know where he is going. She knows, buddy. She knows. She doesn’t care though, because they’re in Rome…and BAM! There is the Colosseum, a structure she has only seen in movies and pictures. I know this is happening right now because it is a beautiful cycle the Romans know too well-and it was us about a week and a half ago. I wonder how often Romans get a “Scusa, do you know how to get to…”. Daily? At least weekly I am sure of it. We were so grateful for all the kindness of the Italian people. Not one of them ignored us or turned us away. Somehow, the couple always finds their way back to the hotel.
The first night, our sister Kym and her husband Joel had bought us a food tour in Travestere. They had been on the same one and loved it so much that they knew the only way our cheap butts would go would be for them to book it for us. It was incredible. We met nine wonderfully entertaining people, tried some great food, and got just drunk enough to get lost on the way home and get a good night’s sleep.
Our first full day in Rome we went to see the Catacombs under the Vatican. Not many people are allowed under there per day, so we had to book way in advance. We weren’t allowed to take pictures, but it was pretty neat. I wish we could say we learned a lot, but the truth is that we could barely understand our (very lovely and obviously intelligent) tour guide through her thick Italian accent. We can’t decide if the pope has St. Peters’ head or some other dude and they’re 95% positive it’s Peter and if you don’t believe it’s Peter you aren’t Catholic and Jonah was not swallowed by a whale, but by a sea monster and THATTTTTA EEEESSSSA THE POINTTTAA. Not sure what that sentence meant? Us either. Anyway, the Vatican was cool….
On the way to the Vatican that day, we saw a building through an alleyway (there are lots of cute little alleys with shops and restaurants.) The building looked like something very very old and very very big so we had to check it out. Um….it was the Pantheon. So to recap, we ran into the Colosseum on the first night, and the next day, we ran into the Pantheon. Rome….you’re so cool.
Before we went into the Pantheon, Rick just HAD to take this photo because HORSE….
The food, ya’ll. The FOOOOODDDDD. There was nothing we didn’t absolutely love. Okay, that’s not true. We didn’t like Gorgonzola on the food tour because EW, but everything else was awesome. Rick fell in love with a street food called Porchetta. It’s spiced pork with olive oil on bread. Fun story….Porchetta is pronounced porketta. According to a really nice man who laughed at us when we asked for Porchetta(like Porshetta)-it sounded a lot like another Italian word “Porchella”(sp?) meaning slut. So…yes….Rick and I had asked for a slut sandwich. The more you know.
That last one is Rick licking the plate of some legit tiramisu like a good little American.
We went to the Trevi Fountain at night because my friend Ansley said it’s beautiful when it’s lit up. As we walked around Rome (about 12 miles a day), we kept running into unimportant beautiful sites. When we were heading towards Trevi, we saw another fountain. It was very big and lovely and didn’t seem to be anything significant. No one really paid it any mind. Rick joked that the Trevi was probably around the same size, but for some reason was dubbed more important by tourists. A few moments later, we arrived and were blown away at the magnificent marble display. We enjoyed a gelato, made our wishes, and threw our coins into the water.
We had no idea what to expect from the Spanish Steps. Unlike many tourists, we really didn’t go into this trip with any prior knowledge or plans-because that’s how we roll. I googled reviews on the Spanish Steps. “They’re just steps.” “I went because everyone told me they were amazing….they were….steps.” “It was hard to see the steps because everyone was sitting on them.” Well, I guess Rick and I are just classic country mice, because while the steps are, in fact, steps, they were really attractive multidimensional steps. Oh! And we got to watch a mother take 500 pictures of her little girl doing gym poses-an added bonus!
Finally, we got to see the Colosseum from the inside. We downloaded Rick Steve’s free audio tour of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum and went at our own pace. It was amazing to imagine these buildings in their prime and knowing that our current house couldn’t make it 100 years without maintenance. Rick pretended to be a gladiator and I a Vestal Virgin as onlookers thought to themselves, “They must be American.”
The beauty of this trip, other than the obvious, was the little things. Running into the Pantheon. Talking to strangers. Saying, “PREGO GRAZIE SCUSA!” to everyone-because that’s literally all we knew. Taking a moment to appreciate the gelato penguin…
Seeing a couple getting married in Rome like it’s no big deal…
Buying an Italian suit from a cool dude named Rafael….
Bartering for a cheap umbrella to walk in the rain…
Missing our son but enjoying our trip…
Saving our change for tips and donations…
Trying to find our way out of the Vatican Museum rat maze and fully acknowledging our lack of appreciation for all the fine art surrounding us…
Discovering buildings that history buffs and tourists who do their research know all about, but we didn’t know existed until we walked upon it….
I hate to get too sappy here, folks, but to go on a trip like this with your best friend is just the greatest thing ever. Figuring out where to go and what to do with Rick was the easiest adventure ever. While we did miss our son, our conversations weren’t centered around him. It was nice to go back to just us for a little bit. A good reminder of where we started. Two broke kids who fell in like, then in love, got married, had a baby, bought a house, saved some money, and finally went to Europe. I couldn’t have asked for a better life mate to join me on this adventure.
While we’re on the topic of saving money and trips, I feel like I MUST give my PSA here. You can go to Europe. You can afford it. You just have to save. Our trip (including flights and hotel, but not including spending money) was $2700. We booked through www.europeandestinations.com and we highly recommend it. We will definitely do it again. Check out the site, see how much it’ll cost, add in your spending money and start saving. It might take a couple of years, but it’ll be worth it. Stop saying you’ll do it one day, and start planning now. We are so glad that we did. Ciao!