We rounded up our European adventure at a new hotel in Rome! Our previous Bed and Breakfast owner really tried to sell us on staying at his place an extra night, I mean, Ryan was out talking to Francesco about how we would have to pay anyway at the other hotel for a good 8 minutes! Also, as we were leaving, a plumber had arrived to work on the electric sewage pump that was going off all throughout the night the first night we were at the hotel. We didn’t know that it was broken, but we definitely hated that thing with a passion!
We made the hike from our B&B in the city center to Trastevere, which is a less-tourist populated area just across the river. It took us about 25 minutes to walk to our new location (while trying to figure out where to go, find street names, and read the map). We could tell immediately that the area was different. Instead of tents filled with books, Rome figurines, fake designer bags, and postcards, the tents were filled with fresh produce, socks, stockings, belts, and a ton of other miscellaneous household items. At one tent, we saw scissors, alarm clocks, bathroom scales, and curling irons. It was very funny to see!
Giorgio, who is a fair-skinned blonde Italian, greeted us at our new B&B. He later explained that his mother is English, and that is where he got his light complexion and features, but he was born and raised within a 5km radius of the B&B in Rome. He showed us to our room, handed over the keys, and told us about some good restaurants in the area. We stayed in the room a while, then headed back to where we had just come for some more sight seeing. Notably, we made it to the Tivoli fountain and the Spanish Steps. Both are must-sees on a Rome visit, but really don’t have a ton of historical importance other than beauty, and were just packed full of tourists! We were lucky enough to come across several other ancient sites around the city center while we were walking around and found it interesting to see the juxtaposition of old and new. We also saw a holiday singing and dance show just off of the Spanish Steps, which we stopped to watch for a while. We walked around quite a bit more than we anticipated, grabbed dinner, and headed back to the hotel to sleep. Here are a few photos from the things we saw on Monday.
The Trevi Fountain.
The view of the square from the Spanish Steps.
A Random Ruins site that we came across while we were walking around! These were everywhere!.
Tuesday, we woke up and went to have breakfast in the B&B kitchen. Giorgio made us espresso and warmed up a couple croissants, and we started to talk about some of the things we had seen so far during our stay. Our conversation with Giorgio was probably one of my favorite parts of our entire trip! We stayed in there for about an hour while he explained to us where he grew up, wines, culture, and Italian history including an in-depth discussion about Mussolini and his reign over Italy. He seemed to be so well informed and sparked my attention to read up more on his impact on Italy. He told us that Mussolini had grand ideas about Italy, and that he did some things that change the face of Italy forever. He created large roads that caused the destruction of many historic sites and home, and built up large white buildings made of marble to prove the wealth of Italy itself! He also commissioned building a road that went exactly from the Mediterranean to Rome in a straight line. This was very different from the way that things were built today. He said that it’s almost impossible to dig anywhere without finding ancient ruins, or tombs, or sarcophaguses, and each time something is found, work on that project is completely halted until excavation teams can come in and remove everything. This process takes months. He said that there is a tunnel that they have been trying to widen for 8 years unsuccessfully because of the discovery of ancient ruins and bodies.
After our discussion, we went to the Coliseum, Palatino, and Forums. We were so glad that we were able to see these sites on our tour, it was a great way to sum up our historic exploration of Europe! These were really interesting, but easier to explain over photos.
Palatino Forum -- Ancient Ruins.
Inside of the Coliseum -- It doesnt even seem real!
Outside of the Coliseum.
We also took some photos with some Gladiators, thanks Carrie and Brady for our tickets and photo (hehe):
Grabbed a gigantic, delicious doughnut on the way to the Hammam after a whole day of walking around the ancient ruins.
In the evening, we went to Acqua Madre, which is a Hammam. After some technical difficulties with the Credit Card (uhhhhhhh), we finally went through our Hammam ritual, followed by massages. For those of you that don’t know what a Hammam is (I didn’t until I got to Roam) it’s basically a spa treatment, but it’s pretty intense. First, you cover yourself in this sticky olive butter (it’s very waxy). Then you go in and out of a steam room (45 degrees Celsius) for a while until you are relaxed, warm and have opened pours.. Next, is the scrub. With a very coarse loofa, you get scrubbed neck to toe by your Hamman guide. This was seriously intense! The amount of skin that was exfoliated was rather disgusting, and I felt like I had rug burns all over my body when I was done. Then you take a quick shower, and get into a cold bath. This is supposed to close your pours. After this, we went into the relaxing room for some tea, and then received massages. It was a lovely experience to have; we are both silky smooth now! Thank you to Andrea who got us massages for our wedding gift!
We grabbed a final celebratory dinner at a restaurant and then went home to bed before our busy travel day! We woke up this morning, ate croissants and packed, then walked to the tram. We took the tram to the train station, then the train to airport, then we had to take a shuttle to get to a different terminal, then from the first terminal, we had to get on another bus to get us to airplane, and then finally got onto the plane! It was a long morning already! We spent the rest of our Euros on junk food and snacks in the airport, and then got onto the plane!
Now, we are on the plane! After 30 days, we are on our way back to San Diego! It’s been a long adventure, but I’m still really sad that we are leaving! I thought that I would be ready to come home after 30 days, but I am really feeling not quite ready to get back into my everyday busy life! There are a couple things that I would say that I missed from the US:
1) Well-labeled street signs – The street signs in all of the cities that we visited were posted (sometimes) on the sides of buildings. You had to be right on top of the intersection to determine whether or not you should turn!
2) Dips and Bread served with butter – I’m pretty sure Europe doesn’t know the wonder that is Ranch. Or Ketchup, Honey mustard, BBQ, or any other sauce that we get for free at a drive through. Maybe that is how Europeans stay so thin!
3) Smoke-Free everything – Ya, the smoke was starting to get to me…
4) Ice – At one of the restaurants in Italy, there was a sticker on the menu that said “No Steaks, No French Fries, No Ice.” It was true. I asked for ice water about half way through our trip and the lady asked me twice for clarification. “You mean, ice, for your water?”
5) Usage of our Credit Card everywhere – We did have to take out a lot more cash than we were anticipating, there were a ton of places that didn’t take credit card. There were also a ton of places that said they would take credit card, but wouldn’t when your bill was low. We also encountered several scenarios in which the payment systems were just old and couldn’t handle our US credit cards.
6) Paying 3-4 Euros for a Soda – 1 Euro = 1.4 Dollars. You can do the absurd math. I don’t really drink a lot of soda, but I guess we really take this one for granted.
There were also some things that I didn’t miss:
1) People yelling at people that don’t speak English! – I mentioned this while we were in Prague, and experienced it again on the airplane. The flight attendant starting yelling and vigorously waving her arms because she thought these people in the seat in front of us didn’t speak English (even though I think they did). It made her seem arrogant, and it was difficult to watch.
2) US Travel security protocols – We were in and out of over 9 ports/stations over this trip, and only the ones in the US required finger prints and photos to be taken of each and every non-US Citizen. It did make me feel more secure, but it also made me feel bad for the non-US Citizens that had to be printed. Nowhere else in our travels required anyone to go through as rigorous security scanning as in the US airports.
And there are definitely some things that I will miss about Europe:
1) Good public transportation – We really enjoyed getting around easily and affordably. I know that there are a lot of cities in the US that have great transportation (DC, New York, Chicago, etc.) but we have never lived there, nor have we really spent a whole lot of effort looking into how to use the local transportation. I think that after this trip, we are more inspired to give public transport some extra effort though!
2) Not having a cell phone – This isn’t really a Europe-specific thing, everyone in Europe had cell phones (just like the US) except us. And don’t get me wrong, I love my cell phone, but there was something about being so disconnected for 30 days that was really nice! I wasn’t always checking for a new email, or looking up meaningless crap as the day went along. It was refreshing, and nice, though probably not a habit that I will maintain after our return.
3) Street food – Always an adventure, and usually delicious (and cheap). Though when it comes to sanitation, it is not a topic of which I want to ask too many questions.
4) Non-industrialized trades and shops – In the US, it feels like everything is about making money! There were several spots in our travels (restaurants, shops, etc) that just felt like they were tradition! Mom and Pop were still running their businesses!
5) Sharing uninterrupted meals with Ryan – We seem to always distracted by something, cell phone, email, Googling, reading blogs, forums, etc. But it felt really nice share good convocations over uninterrupted meals.
Our honeymoon was an adventure of a lifetime! We are so happy that the stars aligned for us to be able to make this beautiful and culture-filled experience happen. The things we experienced over the last 4 ½ weeks are priceless memories that we will never forget. Thank you to all of our friends and families that contributed to our travels through our Honeyfund (www.honeyfund.com) and generous wedding gifts!