Thursday, July 28, 2016

Colosseum & Forum | Rome

Our last and final day in Europe. This was by far the day I was looking forward to most on our entire trip. We knew going into the trip that the first Sunday of every month everyone received free admission into the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. We almost would have preferred that we had paid because we were not able to go down in the tombs since they are closed on free Sundays. We were also worried about the crowds being bad and thankfully they were not too bad.

We arrived at the Colosseum by metro about twenty minutes before it opened. The line was already snaking around the building and it only took about thirty minutes to get through the line. As we were standing in line, we realized that we forgot our tour book of Rome back in the hotel. I was so disappointed because we were not planning on going back to the hotel and I knew touring the forum would be really hard without knowing what we were looking at. Richard contemplated offering to buy a Rick Steves book off someone who we saw reading it, but I did not like that idea. We made the best of it and listened to the audio guide of the Colosseum instead. This structure was just so remarkable that we spent a few hours inside soaking it all in.
^^It looks even bigger in person and it is amazing that it is still standing.^^
^^The Arch of Constantine^^
^^The arena.^^
^^The view of the forum from the balcony of the Colosseum.^^

Once we had exhausted every angle of the Colosseum (like I said, it was incredible), we headed towards the Roman Forum. The forum is basically the ruins of the old town center. There are so many ruins to see everywhere you turn. The forum is right next to the Colosseum and on the way we decided to stop for some lunch. We picked a random restaurant that had a lot of good pasta options and it ended up being our favorite restaurant on the entire trip. The pasta was just so good. They also had a small gelato stand right there and oh my word the stracciatella gelato was so so so delicious. I actually had one cone before lunch and another dish after lunch. Stracciatella is kind of like chocolate chip but so much different at the same time. It is richer and creamier and oh so good. I can't describe it any way else. While we were sitting at lunch, there were some people performing music right by our table and it was fun to listen to their songs. They even played a few songs that I remember from my junior high spanish class. That was funny to hear randomly in the middle of Rome.
We then headed over to the forum and looked around for as long as we could. After an hour or so of looking at the forum and not really knowing what we were looking at we had enough and decided to go back to the hotel to get our tour book and continue with our Roman tour. The ruins were pretty amazing to see especially considering how old they are.

We stopped for one last look at the Colosseum before getting on the metro and heading to our hotel. So amazing.
For our next part of the tour we took the metro to the Spanish Steps. We mostly followed Rick Steves' Heart of Rome tour. Unfortunately, the Spanish Steps were under restoration so we did not get to see them in their prime. There was a tea shop right next to the Spanish Steps that we stopped at to buy some tea as gifts for a few people back home.
Our tour then continued on past some souveneir shops that we stopped at and then onto the Trevi Fountain. This was a really fun structure that was crazy busy with tourists. Legend says that you are supposed to throw a coin over your shoulder into the fountain that means you will return to Rome and if you do not it means divorce. Well, we meant to throw a coin and then we spaced it. Whoops.
^^The Parliament building in Rome. This is where Italy's lower house meets.^^

After the fountain we continued on our walk past a few other fun sights, including Tazza d'Oro Casa Del Caffe which was a famous coffee shop. Richard was hoping to find a coffee shop to buy some beans to bring home so we got lucky this was on the tour. Then we got to see the Pantheon. The pantheon is the most well preserved monument. The interior of the pantheon is a mathematically perfect sphere. It is crazy to think that they made it so well considering they did not have modern day equipment to construct it.
^^The interior dome of the Pantheon.^^

When we were done with our walking tour, we decided to walk all the way back to the hotel. We were no where near a metro station so it was easier to just walk. We were both so tired from the day's activity but figured a walk back to the hotel would at least lead to more sight seeing along the way. We went to dinner at a place close to our hotel that had really good food and authentic Guiness for Richard.
Funny story. There was this group of people that we met while on the Vatican tour that were from Wisconsin. After the Vatican tour, we saw them three additional times in random places throughout Rome. Once at the McDonald's right after the tour, once the next morning when we were walking past the Colosseum on our way to the hotel and once in front of the Parliament building close to the Pantheon. For Rome being such a big city it was so crazy that we kept running into them.

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. We went back to the hotel, packed and got ready for our flight the next morning. We had pre-arranged transportation to the airport that for some reason was super delayed so we ended up just catching a Taxi into the airport. There was a giant spider crawling around on the ceiling inside the cab which was gross. We had to wait in a few different lines at the airport before we ended up in the right line to try to get a tax refund for souvenirs purchased. we finally make it through security and Richard had an extra security precaution that was randomly added to his ticket. He had to be searched prior to getting on the plane so that was fun. The plane ride was smooth and we made it to Detroit where I was able to get surprise Caribou Coffee which I was pumped about. By the time we got home after a long day of travel, it felt like 3 in the morning and we were both so tired and really cranky towards each other. I went straight to bed even though it was only 9 pm and I slept as late as I possibly could. It took me a few days to get over the jet lag, but it was not too bad.

Overall, our trip to Europe was just so amazing. It was everything we needed. We were desperate to get away from a bunch of things we had going on in our personal lives and we were able to do exactly that. The trip was so refreshing and good for the soul that it was hard to come back to reality. We love Europe and hope to make it back there some day soon. Although, we may need some time to recover from such an amazing trip.

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