Flights to Croatia turned out to be ridiculously expensive; so much so that it turned out to be £50 cheaper to fly to Rome two days earlier, pay for two nights of accommodation, and then fly from Rome to Split. So that’s precisely what we did!
Rome was extremely hot; around 32 – 35 degrees each day, and ludicriously humid; it was just like a super hot Brisbane summer. Ahh, the good old days…
Kristy, Shelley I hadn’t been to Rome before, so Julian played tour guide and took us to all the sites. Kristy also had a go at playing Tour Guide Barbie, but she decided it was too difficult to read a map whilst walking; this revelation came after she walked directly into somebody, apologised profusely, then came to the realisation that she had actually walked into a light pole.
Anyway – we started our sight-seeing with the big one: the Colosseum. It’s big! We paid for a tour guide who liked to say “eh?” at the end of most of his sentences, but it meant that we got some of the history of the place (fascinating!) and we got to skip the huge entrance line. €19 well spent.
Our colosseum ticket also entitled us to entrance to the ruins of the Roman Forum, which served as the central meeting point for shopping, politics, and religion back in ancient Rome. Once again, absolutely fascinating; Rome must have been such an inspiring empire in its prime!
A tour of the forum should have been included with our entrance, but after searching in vain for half-an-hour for our tour group, we gave up and got an audio guide. Julian, Shelley and Kristy then got to experience Tour Guide Gerrod, as listened and dictated the audio guide to them. It wasn’t perfect, but it worked well enough.
We ended up walking past the Trevi Fountain at least three times; the first time we had sought it out, the other two times were kind-of accidental. It was much bigger than I had imagined it to be, and at least four times larger than the original (located at Caesar’s Palace, in Las Vegas). It was quite magnificant – and quite popular! There was a constant stream of people flowing around, as well as two guards armed with whistles, which they blew angrily at anyone who got too close to the water.
We briefly walked (or strutted, as the case may be) down the Spanish Steps, though we weren’t allowed to stay long as a film crew was setting up at the base. Once again we were hurried along by angry men with whistles.
We also managed to squeeze in a brief visit to St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City (on a side note: I wonder how Vatican City did in the Olympics?). That place is enormous; it’s hard to describe just how big it is, but suffice to say that its capacity is over 60,000 people. Yowsers!
We parted with a few euro for the privilage of walking to the top of the cupola, for a bird’s eye view of the basilica (inside), and over Rome (outside). It was money well spent, even just for the walk; in parts, the hallway was so narrow and at such an angle, it felt like you were walking through one of those crazy “fun houses” at a fairground.
Probably the highlight of Rome – at least for me – was the food. I had always expected coffee in Rome to be spectacular, and sure enough, it really was. Though I feel I didn’t drink anywhere near enough of it, the shots that I did have were divine. Every cafe that I saw had at least one giant coffee machine, each with four (or more) groupheads. If there’s anything the Romans can do well, it’s a shot of espresso.
We ate fantastic dinners on both nights that we were there. Our first night’s meal was particularly interesting; instead of choosing from a menu, we simply sat down and were served the food of the day. This started with a course of antipasto, followed by pasta, then a meat main, and finished with dessert. Delicious food, extremely filling, and all for about €23 a head, including wine.
I thoroughly enjoyed our brief visit to Rome, and given that I threw a coin into the Trevi fountain, I look forward to the next time we’re there for an espresso!
(More photos available in the Rome photo gallery.)