Sunday, 7 September 2014

When in Rome...

My hostel was reasonably easy to find from the station, so  I checked in and had a shower before grabbing some dinner. I believe I went for Gnocchi this time.

The next day I invested in a two day train pass, and decided I would knock off country #30 - the Vatican City. To be honest it was a bit of a disappointment as it was really just some glorified buildings with paintings on the roof. There wasn't even passport control, I had expected that we'd be allowed to walk around the "city". All in all, it was a bit boring and pretentious.

Once I finished that I decided to walk to several things that were nearish where I was, and would use the subway where convenient. First stop however was some food - I believe I opted for a panini and some gelato. The next stop was a small castle - Castel Sant Angelo - it looked kinda interesting but didn't entice me enough to go in, to be fair I think I had finally reached castle-apathy. I sat down in front of it and finished my lunch. 

From there I walked beside the river until I got to the next bridge and crossed there and went to the Piazza Navona. From there I headed to the Pantheon. On the way however I came across a souvenir shop and bought my newborn niece a t-shirt and a little pink teddy bear. I decided from then what would be cool was taking a series of pictures with the teddy as I travelled through Europe and back home on the journey back to her. The first photo of course was outside the Pantheon. I wasn't exactly sure what the Pantheon was before I went to see it, as I confused it with the Parthenon in Athens. Turns out the Pantheon is an old church - which is a perfect dome, with a small hole at the top to allow light in. Apparently despite the hole, not much rain enters the church. I thought it was pretty cool. From there I walked and checked out several piazzas and minor sites. At one point I stopped and enjoyed some gelato. The final leg of my walk was down a  big street, and at one point there was an underpass that had become a bookshop, so I had a quick look through there, and then popped across the road and checked out the Adidas store in the vain hope they'd have something All Blacks related and at a cheap price. A failure on both accounts. Eventually the street got me back to a subway station and I headed back to the hostel. After a shower I opted for dinner around the corner at a different restaurant the hostel recommended, all I remember was that it was nice, as I was disappointed the following night when I found it was closed. After dinner I took my laundry down the road to a laundromat to get washed.

The next day I believe I started with the essential tasks, breakfast, investigating and booking accommodation for the next location (La Spezia) and organising my train ticket, and picking up my laundry. On a positive note, the train operator was very helpful and I discovered I didn't need to head to the other main Rome station to head north, I could just get the train from that one- which saved a lot of stress and time. Anyhow, it was midday before I got to the colosseum. I jumped on a tour of the Colosseum which then took us on a tour of the forum. Both were very interesting, albeit a little different to how I'd imagined them to be. After the guided part of the forum was over I had a pretty good look around, and since at one part it overlooked the Circus Maximus, I decided I didn't need to go there and do that myself. My only regret, was not getting to the government building next to the forum earlier, as I believe for free you could go to the observatory at the top. Never mind, Italy is definitely on the return-to list. 

Ted at the Colosseum
Walking back was interesting for multiple reasons - there were excavations like an open cast mine in the middle of the main thoroughfare. Once I had cleared them, a series of Supercars came along. I couldn't work out why, and also why the ferrais and Lamborghinis were allowed into wherever they went- it seemed they were being allowed into the forum- but not the Porsche. When I finally made it back to the colosseum I was tempted by a handout for a
€10 buffet meal - I went as far as finding the restaurant, and checking out the Buffett table, but decided against it as it reminded me of the disappointment I had in London when I went to a £5 buffet and then realising it was vegetarian, despite some things looking like meat. So I headed back to the hostel and had dinner at the restaurant I went to the first night (as the other one was closed). As I was sitting there along came Kate, the Australian girl from my walking tour in Florence, so she sat down and joined me. It was great having a catchup - one of the downsides of travelling is that you meet lots of cool people, but you meet them the once and then never see them again, so it was nice crossing paths again, and sharing our experiences of the in-between days, as well as talking topics that are more advanced than the first time meeting. After dinner we had a beer in the hostel then called it a night. The next morning of course I checked out and hopped on the train for Pisa and La Spezia.

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