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Published: June 25th 2018
The most well preserved ancient building in the world. Or so my guide said.
It was a rainy afternoon when I arrived at Ciampino airport. The temperature dropped significantly compared to Greece. I expected that part but it wasn't too bad. I expected the commute to the city to be difficult like from what I've researched but it turns out you can buy return bus tickets right in the airport and it was only five Euros. I went outside to walk to the bus station only to find my ticket missing. I walked back to the airport and found my ticket wet on the ground.
I arrived in the city late at night. My hostel was not too far from the drop off point so it was convenient. Upon arriving at the street where my hostel was supposed to be, I couldn't find it. There were no signs. I was on a street where there were mostly old dilapidated buildings. It didn't feel particularly safe either. I called and there was no answer. I was so worried because it was already late and booking a hotel at the last minute would be expensive though there was one right across the street. I went up and down the street for about an hour trying to
figure out what was wrong. I rang the door bell at one of the doors I suspected to be my hostel but no one answered. I asked around some more feeling a bit nervous about where I was going to sleep that night. Then a shady looking man showed up out of nowhere and told me to follow him. So I followed him inside the dark old building. I've never seen a worse hostel in my life. I expected much more from Europe. Then again I booked the cheapest one I could find. It was actually quite scary. The elevator looks like one of those temporary elevators used on buildings still under construction. Two Ducks hostel had very bad reviews but I thought I'd be okay because 1- I am a poor man from the Philippines who's used to bad living conditions. 2- I wen't to boarding school so this was a very familiar setting. 3- I've been in more backpackers hostels than I can remember in Southeast Asia. So all the bad reviews from all the white folks could just be an exaggeration. Like first world problems that are totally fine with me. But I was wrong. The place
was cold and damp. The building was very old and looked quite dirty. I've seen worse places in Manila but I've never had to stay in one. My roommates were mostly Italians and no one spoke a word of English to me. Which I didn't mind as I was in Italy but they were just not friendly.
Italian roomate: Italian gibberish while pointing at the ceiling
Me: yeah you can turn off the light
Italian roomate: turns off the light
Me: whoa! just three days in Italy and I can already understand Italian!
Lot's of people told me to be very careful of pickpockets in Rome so I kept alert. One day though when I got back to my hostel an old man at the entrance of the building was looking at me. When I got inside the tiny elevator he went in with me. I went to bed to take a nap before I go out again for dinner with a friend who also happened to be travelling in Italy. When I woke up I couldn't find my wallet. I was so worried though I had most of my money and spare credit cards
and ATM in another purse inside my pants. I traced my steps and I remembered the man who was waiting at the entrance when I went in and watched me as I entered the elevator before going into the elevator with me. Then it suddenly clicked. That man was a thief! . I was positive that I had it with me when I entered the building because I bought strawberries just outside the building before going in. I checked in the reception maybe I just dropped it somewhere. When I asked the receptionist I was surprised that it was there! I asked him how it got there and he said he didn't know. But I was positive I didn't drop it! Maybe the thief returned it for some unknown reason? Maybe he saw my ID that said Philippines and thought he was too good to rob a poor man from a third world country who was staying in a dingy hostel, the cheapest one in the city? Or maybe I really did just drop it inside the hostel.
Anyway Rome was cold but sooo so beautiful. Everywhere you turn is instagrammable! There were so many famous sites like the
Trevi fountain, Coliseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, and the list goes on! The frescoes inside the churches were just astounding. It felt incredible to see the works of famous artists I've only seen and read about in my books growing up.
I also entered the catacombs in Via Appia Antica and it was incredible! I've always wanted to see one and I was so glad I did. I read so much about the early Christians hiding from persecution inside catacombs so that was a special moment for me. Too bad taking photos inside the catacombs were not allowed so I can't show you what I saw. There were British children on a field trip when I visited the catacombs. I was surprised how far they got for their school field trip. They looked like 4th graders. I wonder if it's normal for European children to travel that far for school field trips.
Via Appia Antica was a nice walk too after exploring the catacombs. It was the most important road in ancient Rome that connected the capital to Brindisi in South Italy. You could still see a few ruins. Food was amazing and lived up to all the hype!
Not all of their pizza had cheese which I don't eat because I'm vegan. I ate mostly pizza every day. Grew tired of it after a few days but it was the cheapest I could find. It's usually just five Euros for pizza. I didn't get to eat in any restaurant because I couldn't afford it. But the pizzerias were amazing and more than enough for me.
It's very easy to imagine what Rome looked like two thousand years ago because the structures are still there. It must have been so amazing to arrive in Rome then when pretty much everywhere else in the world looked like a farm in a small rural village. I can imagine coming in to People's Square and gazing up into those huge marble statues hanging up in the high walls as your first glimpse of Rome when you arrive. Cue majestic music!
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