Monday, March 25, 2013

Rome/Nearing the End!

So I just realized it's been almost two weeks since I returned from my mini mid-term break that was spent in Rome and I haven't blogged about my amazing time! I want to write about it before I forget :) So, here are the details of my trip to Rome!

On Saturday morning (March 9th), Sarah and I got on our bus to the London Stansted airport (the same one we took to Dublin that unfortunately takes three hours haha). We got to the airport pretty early, and thankfully we discovered there that Sarah's credit card was being declined. Sarah had dropped her wallet two weeks before at the airport in Dublin and had just been sent a new card, but the bank didn't know she was overseas. So being the smart girl she is, she contacted her bank and let them know and the matter was resolved before we headed to our gate! We were so glad that was figured out before we got to Italy because that would have made things a lot more stressful and confusing haha! So we got on our flight and arrived about two hours later at around 7pm. Now, the reason ryan air is so cheap is because they usually make you fly into airports outside of the city, so we had to take a bus that took about 35 minutes to get into the main city area. But it was easy to figure out and it was cheap :)

The bus dropped us off at the Termini train station (the main station in Rome) and from there our bed & breakfast was just a five minute walk away! We found it easily and then checked in! 
Our cute room! Compared to some of the hostels we've stayed in, this felt like a five star hotel! We even had access to a hot shower and free use of towels! Haha!
The view outside of our window! A bunch of homes stacked high haha

Of course by the time we put our stuff in our room, we realized 1. we were hungry and 2. we had access to REAL Italian food!!! So we headed back downstairs to the restaurant that is owned by the same family who owns the bed & breakfast (and if you eat there, you get a 10% discount for staying at the bed & breakfast!) Sarah and I got amazing bruschetta (which I discovered is actually pronounced "brew-sketta", somehow we've messed that one up haha), which was a lot more simple than how it's made in the States, but it was so good and fresh! Then we had awesome bread, pasta, wine, and finally tiramisu! We weren't planning on eating there every night, but it turned out to be the best food we had while in Rome so we ended up eating the same meal every single night haha!
Spaghetti alla Matriciana (I think that's how you spell it?) with fresh bread and awesome white wine that I couldn't pronounce if I tried haha

^^Real tiramisu! I'm emphasizing the real because I don't really like tiramisu in the States, but tried a bite of Sarah's when she ordered it and it was like heaven! Sometimes, we mess stuff up haha but now I know I like real tiramisu :)

After our stomachs were happy and full, we went to bed early (for us) around 11pm. This ended up working nicely because then we were up at a decent hour haha! If you know me, you know I can sleep forever so the fact that we were up before 9am says a LOT! We headed down to the little eating area where we were served free breakfast every morning, consisting of two chocolate croissants, cappuccino, and orange juice. It was so yummy and nice! The man that served us each day was from Boston and had moved to Rome after meeting and falling in love with his now wife! He was so helpful and told us where to go and what not! He was missing home a lot so I think he appreciated our American bond :) After breakfast, we headed out to find the Coliseum, which was only about a 20 minute walk from us. We were excited to be outside because it was about 60 degrees and sunny, both things we haven't experienced in England haha (it snowed this past weekend and is still in the 30's). I was so excited to see it when we got there!

We waited for about 40 minutes to get in and it cost 12 euros, but it was SO worth it! It was incredible to see such an ancient building and imagine the gladiator-like battles that took place here. After taking it all in, we walked to the Palatine Garden.
So pretty!
In the Palatine Garden! I loved the trees in Rome!
View of the Coliseum from the garden

After seeing the Coliseum and the garden, we planned on walking to the Trevi Fountain. So we started walking and used a map...
In Piazzo Novano

We got lost after a while but turned back to the right direction and stopped for lunch. This turned out to be pretty funny...the waiter was quite infatuated with miss blonde Sarah (something Amanda had warned us about before). Not only is Sarah blonde, but she's also tall, two things Italians aren't haha so she stood out. The waiter liked her so much, he kept bringing us free things: wine, bread, and tiramisu. We ended up not having to pay for a lunch that by the end would've cost us more than 50 euros haha! We didn't hate it ;)
Wine for days

After our long and huge lunch, we wandered to the Trevi Fountain...
It was so beautiful! I loved it!

Afterwards, we headed back to our bed & breakfast and called it a night. The next day, we decided it would be a good day to go to the Vatican. First, we stopped back at the Trevi Fountain because it's just that pretty :)

Afterwards, we did some little street shopping, which is always fun! Then, we walked to the Spanish Steps and found the street that is like the Rodeo Drive or 5th Avenue of Rome. I don't remember what it was called, but I was loving it!

^Spanish Steps

After seeing the Spanish Steps, we hopped on the metro (which we are pros of by the way haha, even in a different language!) and headed towards the Vatican. I have never had so many people try to sell me things in my life than at the Vatican, which I find extremely ironic haha! Whether it be expensive tours, or crappy shoes, they WILL try to make you buy crap! But we were strong haha :)

The Vatican!

^The gelato place that my friend Sarah from APU who studied in Rome last semester told me I HAD to go to...with good reason! Cookie and coffee flavor = YUM! And it was right near the Vatican!

After walking around a bit and buying a few things, we headed back home and enjoyed our usual dinner at our restaurant downstairs and then headed to bed.

The next day, Tuesday, was our last day. We were HOPING that since this was the first day the cardinals would be voting for the next pope, that maybeeee, they would agree and then magically the Sistine Chapel would be open for us to see, but that didn't happen haha! So we split up the last day, as Sarah wanted to spend the day in the Vatican museum and what not. I didn't really have an idea of what I wanted to do, but I had fun wandering and felt really confident :) I took the metro to the Coliseum because it was raining off and on, and walked around the ruins.

It's so crazy to walk around these ancient ruins! Like, I couldn't even grasp how OLD this place is. I was thinking of how big the Roman Empire was and imagining gladiator-like scenes and I was just kind of laughing to myself, unable to grasp where I was. But it was SO great! I loved every second of it!

After wandering for a while, I walked to a little cafe and got pizza...and ate it all hahaha! But to clarify, their pizzas aren't regular sized. And I was walking a lot...whatever I was in Rome haha no justification necessary! It was great! After that I walked around some more and took pictures of cute buildings. 

Cobblestone & awesome architecture! Rome knows how to do things!
SO many birds that ALWAYS fly right at me haha!
A yummy thing I bought without knowing what it was (the Coliseum is the blurry thing in the back central of the photo)

After enjoying my day, I took the metro to the Vatican to meet up with Sarah. We headed back to the bed & breakfast. We thoroughly enjoyed our last dinner. Our catch phrase regarding Rome became, "how do you come back from this?!" The food was so amazing and the weather was awesome, we didn't know how we'd be able to come back to icky English food and no sun haha! But nonetheless, we've been back in Oxford for almost two weeks. I had such a great experience in Rome! It was so beautiful and full of history! I can't wait to take Josh there someday! :) p.s. In case you haven't been watching the news, the new pope was elected the night we got back to Oxford. A pope hasn't been elected in that little of time since about the 1930' about disappointed haha! But even more reason to go back!

So three weeks from today I will be on my plane flying home to the States!!! I'm so excited! This whole experience has been so good for me! I have grown so much, in ways that I don't even think I'll realize until I'm home and have settled back into normalcy. But I am so ready to be back in America! You really don't know what you have until it's gone haha! Cliche, true. But it's truth! I am so much more aware of how great our country is! I appreciate other countries and their cultures, but there really is no place like America :)

As for now, we're in "British Landscape" class. This means most days of the week we wake up early to head to Wycliffe Hall, watch an hour long video about some part of British history, take a break, hear a lecture for an hour, have lunch, and head home. Once a week we have a field trip, which is really a great way to see other parts of England! We've seen Stonehenge, Old Sarum, Salisbury, Porchester Castle, and Portsmouth! I just submitted my first paper for the course this afternoon that was about William Wallace (we get to choose our own essay topics and I picked Wallace because after going to Scotland and watching Braveheart, I'm kind of obsessed haha). We have one more paper due next Thursday (that I will write on how the famous war poet Wilfred Owen spoke for a generation, which is awesome because we read Owen last semester in my British Lit class). After that, we have our last week free of classes to finish our long essays that will be due that final Thursday. So pretty much, I only have two papers left and I'm so excited! Haha!

Meanwhile, everyone except me is getting to see the cutest baby to ever be born! Okay, not everyoneeee. But my mom and Jamie got to fly to Florida this past week and meet the newest addition to our family, Luke!

He is seriously the most precious thing I've ever seen! I can't wait to meet him in almost a month and spend the whole summer watching him grow! Good job, Aaron and Cassie! Haha!

Well, with that, I'm off to socialize as I've been holed up in my room all afternoon trying to start research for my next paper but mostly procrastinating haha! Love and miss you all!


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