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Published: January 11th 2015
Having welcomed in the new year just 12 hours before, I made my way to Luton Airport for the first holiday of the year. Wasting no time and being joined for once, by other people, I was headed for the Italian capital, Rome.
After flying over the snowy Alps, we eventually arrived in a chilly Rome, where we boarded our prebooked bus to the city. After stopping off for a Pizza, we eventually arrived at our apartment for the next 3 days, where we dropped our stuff and walked just 5 minutes down the road to the Colosseum. Despite it now being cold and dark on a January evening, there were still many people outside, and we of course took many group shots behind the illuminated building. Having left our selfie stick at home it was actually handy that there were Bangladeshis selling them. After walking around the building, it was already quite late, and so I made my way back to the apartment to get some sleep for the next day, which would prove to be our busiest of the trip.
The first full day was the day we had tickets to
explore the Vatican. However these were for the afternoon, and so we first got up and walked around the other attractions of the city on the way there. Walking past the President's palace, we made our way to the Trevi Fountain. Just as the Colosseum had been the night before, this was covered in Scaffolding, which unfortunately meant the fountain wasn't very easy to see, and neither was there any water. However there was a temporary bridge over the fountain that gave us all views of the sculptures from close up.
After this we continued walking, and as Jenna exclaimed "Oh wow..." we had reached the Pantheon - the oldest Roman building still in use. However she then finished her statement with "...they sell crêpes", having missed the famous attraction by being overwhelmed by the shop next door. Nethertheless, we took a look inside before walking on the Piazza Navona, and eventually making it to the Ponte Umberto I bridge, where views over the river Tiber of the Vatican can be seen.
We then headed to the Vatican itself where impressive views of St. Peter's Square awaited us. By now
it was already lunch time and so we made a swift move round the corner to the Vatican Museums, where we walked past the 2 hour or so queue and went straight in thanks to our Pre Booked tickets. The museum was mostly just artefacts and paintings, however there were some nice views of the Vatican Gardens and the highlight of the museum, the Sistine Chapel.
The museums were absolutely full of tourists, and unfortunately the layout of the museum means that everyone is pushing through to see the Sistine Chapel - meaning that even if you wanted to look at the artefacts on the way there you couldn't. However to see the Creation of Adam painting by Michaelangelo is a real must when in Rome, and so it was worth it - even if it is surprisingly small.
After reuniting as a group we then headed back to St. Peter's Square, where we attempted to enter the Basilica itself. The queue was around 80 minutes long, but moved pretty quickly and again was worth waiting for to gain entry inside. Whilst the other guys joined mass, I went back
outside to witness the changing of the Swiss Guard. After this we headed back towards our apartment for the rest of the evening, where like true Brits, we annoyed our neighbour who came down at the first point possible to shout in Italian about her frustration of our noisiness. Meanwhile we hid in the bedroom...
On the final full day of the trip we made our way back down the the Colosseum, where again we had walked past all the stupid tourists who hadn't pre booked tickets, feeling superior. We then latched on the the end of a tour to get some information about the building, before making our way around the huge complex and getting views of the Roman ruins on the other side of the square. After this, we headed off down the main street through the oldest area of the city, before popping back off at our apartment.
The final area for us to visit was the northern part of the city, where the Spanish steps are located, getting an ice cream on the way. The area around the Spanish steps was evidently the shopping district of
the city, and the steps themselves were full of tourists, and again prime location for selfie stick selling by militant Bangladeshis.
Taking a walk around the steps themselves, and finding like most other places, much of the sites were covered in Scaffolding, Saman decided this would be the perfect place for her to bust out a tune. This then developed into a sales pitch with her singing "Umbrella" by Rihanna, just as the clouds opened and the Bangladeshis replaced selfie sticks with Umbrellas for sale. Walking back down the bottom of the steps, Saman burst into song again, despite no one else being willing to join her, as I read a sign stating that shouting and singing on the steps was in fact illegal.
After this, we headed to the final spot on our itinerary, the Piazza del Popolo, where there was lots of street entertainment. After sitting for a coffee and grabbing some quick food, we then made our way back to the apartment where we finished off our leftover booze, and again annoyed our neighbour - hiding again in the cupboard in the bedroom.
trip was very nice, and even though Rome was cold and covered in scaffolding, it is still a very interesting city with a lot of history, and it was nice to actually visit somewhere with others. Unlike most other places I had visited, being there felt much different to how I had expected - not better, not worse just different, and this has somewhat changed my perception of the city in a way I cannot explain how nor why. Despite the trip being a bit of a shock to the system by including a lot of faffing, and therefore being a lot busier than it would have been, had I done it alone, I'm glad we went
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