Babymoon Part 1 ~Rome

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November 18th 2018
Published: December 5th 2018
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Day 1 (Fri): Babymoon is on!

We planned this trip beginning of the year with a stealing deal for flight to Rome! Now in November, guess what, I’m 20 weeks pregnant! After confirming with two doctors that I’d be ok to fly, it was on! I actually feel good after the nasty morning sickness subsided. My bump isn’t so big yet either. The only thing is, though, I had to remember: no caffe, no wine, no prosciutto, no fresh mozzarella, and no tiramisu...sad face. But hey, there are a lot that I can eat like pizza, pasta, and pastries.

Flight was not the most comfortable but I was more worried about catching germs, staying hydrated, and circulation. I clorox’ed my seat to death, wore compression socks, and made sure I had the aisle seat so I can get up often. Eating took a back seat as there was nothing around our lodging. We finally made it ~midnight, showered, and hit the sack at 1-ish. Despite the light sleep on the plane, it was another light sleep until 5 am. Next thing I knew was it was 8 am. Definitely jet lagged.

Day 2 (Sun): Crowd calibration in Rome

Out by 8:30 am, not bad. First stop: Regoli for maritozzi. Yes, I verified that the whipped cream was pasteurized, yay. I couldn’t eat more than a few bites anyway cuz it’s too creamy for me. Everyone had one of those and coffee, dang! It’s like eating a huge chunk of cake for breakfast! Colosseum was a short walk from there. We happened to follow the path through a park. The path descended straight to Colosseum with a dramatic appearance, epic! Security line was still empty but there were gazillion info guys asking if you need tickets. It almost felt like they were scalpers but they were legit official info peeps. This place must get crazy. We weren’t intending to go inside and they were taken aback, haha. By the time we made rounds to the Forum and back at 10 am, the whole area was packed with people and every friggin’ line was snaking. And it is supposed to be the low season, go figure.

Next stop: The Spanish Steps. Roman Holiday all the way! But first, we had to figure out the metro. Automatic vending machine was refusing to take my 20-euro bill. Out of desperation, I asked the guy at the kiosk to break it, he sells the tickets right there. Grrr, why didn’t you tell me! Ok now that we have the tickets...ehhh, where do we go? I didn’t map out the exact route so I didn’t know how Coloseo and Spagna stations connected. There was not even a metro map in sight. Last resort, ask someone who speaks English...a good ol’ method :p.

Needless to say, the Spanish Step was filled with people. It was definitely cool to be here as I LOVE the movie. Continued the walk toward Trevi fountain. It’s more tucked away in a corner than I thought. I must say that the reality exceeded the expectation for this overdone tourist Mecca. It was breathtaking. Very elaborate structure was all white, without water stains. Not too far from there, we ran into one of Pompi outlets. I knew they’re the tiramisu go-to. Although I was forbidden from it, I wanted V to try the real tiramisu. A portion is pretty large but V thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it. According to him, it’s pretty much all cream, very little coffee-soaked ladyfinger. I’m proud I didn’t even touch that spoon although some tears might have been involved… Next stop: Piazza Venezia. This is also worth visiting. Just as we passed through the gate, the staff was telling us no sitting on the steps!

Continuing on westward from there. I had a few eateries marked in the area. Emma was busy at 1:30 pm. The lady told me it’ll be an hour wait. We were starving! I left my name anyway and off we went to see the alternatives. Welp, we didn’t see one of them and another was closed on Sunday, face palm. Last option: Forno Boccione for their famous ricotta tart. This unassuming corner outlet has no signage whatsoever but the line hanging out the door gave it away. As we got closer to the door, I realized that there was no more ricotta tart 😞. I saw some whole ones wrapped and had name on them. Must be good. We picked up some biscotti instead. They were nothing like I’ve ever had. Mild flavor, soft, and loaded with almond and dried fruits! Back at Emma, it had only been ~30min but our turn was not too far!! At 2 pm, people were still rolling in. Finally, we got seated. We got suppli, stuffed zucchini flower, and pizza. They were all great! Pizza was literally paper thin that bufala was falling off. Cheese was ooozing out of both suppli and zucchini flower, mm mmm.

On to the north to Giolitti for gelato. Yes, about gelato. I had to read so much about it and came to a conclusion that I should stay away from any creamy flavor with the fear of uncooked egg and unpasteurized milk, although that’s the only kind I usually get. But better safe than sorry. This is a pretty large shop but it was literally bun-to-bun inside. We went deep where the actual gelato was only to realized that we had to pay first at the other end. It was a pure chaos. Lines going in all directions! Finally popped onto the supposed paying line because the cashier was so far there was no way to know for sure. This was just the beginning. With the receipt in hand, we had to now go to the gelato counter and fight our way to the guy behind the counter!! You just hold the receipt up and they randomly grab it. You’re to quickly tell him the flavors. No tasting business! Somewhat traumatic experience for an orderly Japanese gal here, haha. Finally! My receipt was taken!! But! They didn’t have the flavor I wanted. And the pressure I was under to come up with the backup...mamma mia! The guy was obviously getting irritated!! Ugh, takes away from the greatness of the gelato! We enjoyed cherry, mango, and mixed fruits nonetheless. On a random note, central Rome was full of swat teams. I’m not sure if it’s like this all the time.

At Campo de Fiori. Things were wrapping up as the sun was setting. We had walked a lot already and my out-of-shape legs were pretty beat. We sat on a ledge for a bit. The thing here is, though, escaping ciggy is hard. There is always smoke coming from one direction or another. We walked through Trastevere to Testaccio for Trapizzino. Tasty fast food. For 3.50 euro, you get a bread cone stuffed with cacciatore and the likes. Curiously, customers were pretty much all speaking North American English. This place had kicking wifi though.

Ready for the real meal at Da Felice! We got there ~30min before opening at 7 pm but people were popping in and getting rejected nonstop. A good sign!! I was ready to eat their raved cacio e pepe! Little did I know that expectation was about to crumble so quickly. We were maybe third party in line. First party got in. From then on, they were taking parties with reservations. They were somehow all Japanese. Then, a waitress said, sorry, we’re fully booked for the night. What?! We left in disbelief, hunger went out the window. This place turned out to be impossible. We thought to try again for the last night here next Sunday. I called the next evening and was told to call in the morning. I called mid-day the day after and got hung up. Thoroughly annoyed. We took our business elsewhere.

Hey, look at the bright side. We have more time to explore the lit-up monuments before tomorrow’s rain! Metro back to Trevi. Thinner crowd but still loaded. It was gorgeous. We even walked to Colosseum from there. Another epic sight. Surprisingly, it was pretty much deserted. I guess people visit this to go inside.

All that walking and missed dinner was making me hungry. I just wanted fruits from a supermarket. Amazingly, there was none that was open. I guess it was Sunday night and all but there are a lot of people here. Ha. I’m just not on their wavelength. That what I felt all day, to be honest. Perhaps that was my instinct for not having visited here until now. It’s overrun by tourism. It’s like you’re in North America because that’s what you hear everywhere. Everywhere you go, they’d rather you order in English which is a bit of a buzzkill for me. C’mon, let me at least attempt to say “uno”.

Day 3 (Mon): Vatican

We had pre-purchased tickets to the Vatican Museum for 2:30 pm entrance, in hopes to get mercy on the crowd. We’ll see how that will work out later. For now, we had St. Peter’s Cathedral dome to be! It opens at 7 am. I read that queue for this only gets worse throughout the day. In November, 7 am is just at the crack of dawn so we opted to leave the apartment at 7 am instead 😊. Subway was super packed in Monday rush hour. A lot of locals got off at Ottaviano too. It was a brisk overcast morning. St. Peter’s square was about 10-min walk. Straight to the dome entrance. No line yet. At the ticket office, you can choose to go up by foot or take a lift for 50% more. This preggo picked foot, of course hehe. Actually, the stairs to where the lift goes up to is super gradual and not bad all. It drops us off to the base of the dome, directly above the alter. Very spotty visitors at this point. From there you can go further up for a tiny observatory for a 360 view. This part, which the extra elevator fee doesn’t cover, gets narrow and steep. The observation deck is tiny. I can’t imagine during the peak season/hour. It started sprinkling while we were there.

Time to head back toward Ottaviano for breakfast. Caffeteria Ruberto was decently busy. Pastry choice wasn’t stellar (people just eat croissant or something here…) so I had a piece of a pound cake. I had to stay away from coffee and yummy-looking panini because of either cheese or ham, pout. V had both of them, haha. It wasn’t exactly warm in there but escaped the sprinkle for some time. Believe it or not, 11 am was fast approaching. This means lunch place opening! I was already ready for a real food. Power of pregnancy! We slowly made our way toward Cipro station for Pizzarium, a raved pizza-by-the-slice place. It’s pretty small and low key we literally walked by it a few times before we found it. The entire place is a counter full of rectangular pizzas with various loaded toppings. You pick, they cut a strip, and heat up. You can eat along the walls or outside, no seating. Pizza was quality from dough to topping. It wasn’t even noon yet and we had until 2 pm for the museum but we couldn’t stay here long. We decided to take refuge at McD’s near the museum.

At 2 pm, finally, it was time to hit the museum! You really can’t miss the entrance as there are many info guys around here too. Even if you don’t seek any info, they see that you’re a tourist and ask if we’re going to the museum. Entry was super easy and self-serve. The museum was a mad house from the beginning to the end. People people people everywhere! Many are led by a guide whose sticks were obstructing the views. All that aside, this place is out of control. There isn’t a spot on the wall or the ceiling that is empty. You go through countless rooms with super famous art works and long corridors jam packed with more arts and decors. Versailles what. Just impressive. After a long visit to all of these, which took us almost 2 hours, we finally reached the highlight: The Sistine Chapel!! This room. Wow!!! We spent 30 quality minutes just admiring the amazing artwork by Michelangelo. The walls and ceiling are pretty much bare. Everything else including the drapes and beams are painted, crazy!!! It was truly worth seeing this in person. No photo in this room. So it says clearly and there are guards saying that periodically. But of course, there are those who decide to violate that. Really rude, ugh.

At 4:30 pm, we were hungry…exactly what not to do in Rome: eat dinner before 7 :p. l had Angrypig marked for Porchetta sandwich. But it wasn’t where my app said it was 😞. This happened a few times too many on this trip. Gotta check the app in future. It turned out it was a few blocks away but there was no way for me to know at that point. Plan B: Bonci. This is owned by the same guy as Pizzarium we went for lunch. I read that we can ask to make Porchetta panino. This place is straight-up bakery, except on the counter, there is a slab of Porchetta!! I asked if she can make a sandwich. Uhhh…yes…EYE ROLL. What?! Why the reaction?? The place had people coming in and out constantly, buying bread, sweets, and Porchetta. We waited for a long time to get that toasted panino, artichoke in oil, and baked ricotta cake to go. There is a tiny tiny counter space for standing outside. Fast food style but it was one of the best foods we had! Picture doesn’t do justice. V loved that panino!! It was loaded with meat and bits of crispy skin for just 4 euro! What was expensive was the ricotta cake. I missed it yesterday and I had to have one. I got the thinnest portion possible and still came out 8 euro! We had it with tea back in the apartment and it was super yum! Right up my alley!

Day 4 (Tue): On to Malta

With 2:30 pm flight to Malta, we had a little bit of time in the morning. Since it was forecasted to be rain, we’ll visit Testacchio market, although we’d have to walk 10min from the metro station. At 8:30 am, stalls were just starting to get ready. We took a breather with good ol’ reliable tangerines and coffee for V. At 9 am, Mordi e Vai opened. Let’s give panino con trippa alla romana a shot. It was a bit tripey for me but it was nicely stewed with tomato. We also had cacio e pepe macaroni at a fresh pasta stall. Strong Pecorino…mmm. As we were getting more tangerines for the road, this produce stall got popular quick…or we were behind a few ladies who was buying the entire store!! 10 archichokes, bag full of spinach, this and that and this and that! Took forever and the customers were accumulating around the stall to pay for their single purchases. We hit our curfew by the time we paid 2 euros for our tangerines. Luckily the rain hadn’t come yet.

Going to Ciampino airport was smooth with metro and bus. That’s when it started sprinkling. When we were getting on the place, which involved walking to the airplane, it was pouring. Left rainy Rome behind to warm Malta! Apparently, it was all rain the day before in Malta. Boy, are we lucky! Bus to Valletta was packed! But thanks to Maria’s instruction, we made it to the apartment smoothly. We immediately walked to Mamma Mia for dinner per Maria’s recommendation. It had a nice waterfront view, just like the apartment but from the opposite sides. Surprisingly, their Aljotto (Maltese fish soup) was probably the best I had throughout the trip. We also ordered ravioli and pizza, being still in Rome mode. So.Much.Food. The portions were American size!! A guy on the table next to us barely put a dent on his pasta bowl. Welcome to Malta. Night was still young. We took a bus to see Valletta lit up! It was warm, pleasant, and pretty.

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5th December 2018

Congratulations on your pregnancy!!!
I was in Rome in September and was appalled at the crowds. I was there when they had the half marathon and thought of you. Even at 20 weeks pregnant I'm sure you could have finished the race in good time.
14th December 2018

Thank you!!
The crowd was a bit much for me too :(. I hope to visit other parts of Italy when I can drink wine :)

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