Category Archives: Italy

My Week in Rome – Day 2

18th June 2012

Colosseum, Rome

Colosseum, Rome

Well, after my nanna nap yesterday afternoon I went for a walk and had the nicest surprise. I turned down a little street not far from the hotel and there was the Colosseum a few blocks away. I wonder how long it would take before you stopped being amazed at things like that? I think for me it’ll be a while yet.

I had planned to catch one of the hop on hop off buses the next day but was in the right spot at the right time that afternoon so jumped on one of the red ones. I’m not used to public transport even in Australia and can’t see myself being brave enough to try it yet in Italy so figure this might be the next best thing.

Today I made a beeline for the Colosseum and spent half the day there. It was fabulous, I continue to be amazed by how old everything is here and how accessible it is also. Our settlement of Australia started not much more than 200 years ago and here is a place built almost 2,000 years ago. This is what makes Europe so enticing for me, all this history just sitting here waiting to be discovered all over again. I thought the audio guide was a great tool too, it allows you to go at your own pace and choose your own route. I would love to come back at night but that will have to go on the list for next time I feel.

Pantheon roof

Pantheon roof

I made use of my hop on hop off bus ticket to go to the Pantheon this afternoon and I think I might have found my two favourite famous places in Rome in one day! I hired an audio guide again and was happy I did, makes it much easier than trying to read from guide books or something while you’re looking at everything. I’m not big on religion and I know the Pantheon is a tourist spot but I was a little disappointed at how noisy people were, after all it is still a church, or maybe that’s just a sign that old age is starting to take hold.

I still had plenty of day left so decided to go find the Trevi Fountain while I was in the area. Good grief – what a crowd, all trying to get photos taken of themselves at the fountain. It was good to go and see and I threw a couple of coins in the water but didn’t get any decent photos I bought a couple of postcards though. There was a quaint little church just across the piazza from the fountain that was worth a look inside as well but I don’t even know it’s name, oops. Think I enjoyed the church than the fountain, but I’ll try to come back again before I leave to give it another go.

Eating alone – now there’s something you read a lot about! I grabbed a sandwich last night while I was out and about and ate that back at the hotel but decided tonight to try one of the bars nearby for dinner. There were only tables free outside so I did feel a bit conspicuous sitting there on my own – but do you know what I’ve decided? – it doesn’t really matter. I caught up on a few texts while waiting and by the time my very yummy pizza arrived there was a mun with two children at the next table so the kids and I had a funny little chat about our respective dinners, they in Italian, me in my very basic mix of Italian and English.

So I survived my first full day sightseeing in Rome with flying colours I’d say. I had an absolutely great day, one I won’t forget in a hurry that’s for sure. Now my biggest problems for the next few days will be deciding what I want to do and when – oh, for all problems to be that easily solved.

3 Comments

Filed under Italy, Mid-life travel, Travel

A good start to my week in Rome

17th  June 2012

After saying all my goodbyes it was time to move on to my new home for the next few days – ON MY OWN!

I haven’t had to carry my luggage or organize anything since I arrived at the hotel in Milan almost 3 weeks ago, just listen and be at the right place at the right time. A few of us even failed at that a time or two, but we all got there eventually.

As we were near the termini a taxi was no trouble and my new hotel’s on via Nazionale so that’s easy to say. If someone told me I’d have trouble with the next bit I’d have thought they were nuts, but I arrived at the correct address, there was a sign on the outside of the building and on the doormat to tell me I was in the right place but do you think I could find anything else remotely resembling a hotel reception area – no, nothing, nada, nowhere to be found! All I found were closed doors, a set of stairs and the tiniest elevator I have ever seen in my life, no other signs or directions to the whereabouts of the hotel.

Smallest elevator I've ever seen

Smallest elevator I’ve ever seen

Okay, I had my reservation paperwork with the phone number so I rang and explained my problem, no worries he said, just go in the elevator to the 5th floor. So, I got myself, my 20kg (I think it was really more like 25kg by this time) suitcase and my carry-on bag into the elevator – barely, and went to the 5th floor. Here I was in groundhog day, the same place but 5 floors up – nothing but a set of stairs and closed doors on the landings, no hotel reception, no signs.

Darn, down I went to the ground floor and phoned again, yes, yes, you have to go to the 5th floor!

I did go to the 5th floor I told him!

Yes, yes the 5th floor he said, so I repeated the process just in case I had been on the wrong floor, nope, still the same so down I went again and rang – AGAIN.

You know what it’s like when you’ve already asked someone the same question 4 times and still can’t work out what they’re saying? I just smile and nod and hope for the best but obviously that wasn’t working in this case, time for me to buck up and think for myself.

I loaded myself and all my gear back into the elevator and stopped at every floor, had a peek out and kept going until I got to the 4th floor where I hit pay-dirt.

Found it at last

Found it at last

Woot woot, I found it – reception!! I guess 4th and 5th  sound pretty much the same in a lovely Italian accent, don’t they? Oh well, I apologized profusely for being so painful, but he was lovely and didn’t mind a bit me phoning 3 times in 10 minutes for directions when I was already in the building. He probably shook his head a number of times though when I left!

What a start to my solo travel career, I was almost ready to phone home in tears, thankfully the time difference saved me from that mistake.

So I did the next best thing, found my room, had a nice refreshing shower and a sleep. Yeah, it was only midday but my theory about not missing anything on the tour made for one very tired “mid-life” traveller by this time.

Rome can wait a few more hours for me.

Leave a comment

Filed under Italy, Mid-life travel, Travel

Day 18 – Last Day

16th June 2012

They say all good things must come to an end, well today’s the day to say goodbye to everyone on the tour. A few of us had a little sniffle with promises to stay in touch so I hope we do. There aren’t many of us staying on in Rome, some had spent time here before the tour started and others are going elsewhere and then coming back later.

If you’re interested I travelled with Albatross Tours on their Italian Grande tour. They are an Australian company and I couldn’t recommend them highly enough. Everything about the tour was fantastic and exceeded all my expectations and to clarify, this is just my travel diary, Albatross have certainly not paid or sponsored me to write any of this.

Now I’m really on my own – don’t know which emotion is winning at the moment – excitement or anxiety, so I guess the only way to find out is to get out there and start exploring.

Thanks to those of you reading and following my blog, it feels like you’re keeping me company on my new adventures both travel-wise and blogging. Next up will be my week in Rome on my own and then I’ll be joining one of my daughters in Athens for 10 days in the Greek Isles – I think excitement is going to win!!

5 Comments

Filed under Italy, Mid-life travel, Travel

Day 17 – Roma!

15th June 2012

Fishing Maiori style

Fishing Maiori style

I had a wander around the town and down to the water for a last few photos this morning before we left. There weren’t many fishermen around but the one I did see was eye-catching, I don’t think he could get any closer to the edge if he tried!

We’ll be in Rome tonight, yay! Our driver and guide look very suave in their suits this morning. Maybe you don’t notice or appreciate little things after a while but it made the day seem special to me. Also the fact that they’ve genuinely been so nice and helpful to everyone gives you a good feeling. Anyhow, enough of the warm fuzzies for now..

For some reason lots of people seemed on edge this morning while we were on the coast road, even the tour guide seemed quite watchful. Me, I was still craning my neck to see everything and hopefully get some photos without reflections from the windows, and I thought Andrea did a wonderful job again. It took longer than I expected to reach Rome but when we arrived on the outskirts we picked up another guide, had a driving tour around and saw heaps of the famous sights. It was a pretty surreal way to first see places like the Colosseum, the Forum and Vatican but was a great introduction and orientation.

First glimpse ever of the Colosseum

First glimpse ever of the Colosseum

I can’t wait to start exploring on my own tomorrow although I’m not sure where to start first there’s so much I want to see. One of the couples in the group have lent me a great little book called Walking Tours of Rome so I’ve been studying that the last few days and my list grows longer all the time.

We had our farewell dinner tonight at a restaurant just across the road from the  Teatro dell’Opera, only a short walk from our hotel. We had a very authentic menu with about 6 courses I think, I keep losing count. Every dish and the wines were delicious, the waiters were lovely and the company was unbeatable, we had an absolute ball.

Leave a comment

Filed under Italy, Mid-life travel, Travel