Did you know legend has it that if you throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, you are bound to return to Rome one day? Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do this because the Trevi Fountain was under construction while I was there and we weren’t allowed to throw coins in as the fountain water itself was drained. Find more details about the construction here.
Seeing as my Vatican Museum tour was over ( previous post) and I no longer had a tour guide to make key decisions for me like whether to turn left or right, or go on to the next floor, or take a potty break, I had to put my thinking cap back on. Luckily, I still had the map that got me successfully from the shuttle stop to the Vatican.
I had mapped out the nearest metro station (Ottaviano) so I walked over there, bought a metro ticket, and hopped on. I felt like a pro at this point, having bought several metro tickets on my previous stops in other countries. It was a short ride to Spagna, where the Spanish Steps are. I didn’t have a lot of trouble finding the steps at Piazza di Spagna as there were tons of people sitting on them; there were tons of people, period! I didn’t even attempt to try to find a spot to sit down, I just walked on and made do with people-watching and admiring the structures nearby.
There were some pretty intimidating looking guards in front of the Spanish embassy, I saw a tea room (I can only imagine they sell tea there, but why not call it a tea store or tea shop?), I took pictures of some pretty impressive statues as well, and come to find out- they love their Heineken! even making lamps in it’s honor :).
While waiting for the free tour guide to show up, I indulged in some light retail therapy (postcards and fridge magnets from a street stall). Then I noticed some people with a Scottish accent so I went over to say hello and engage in mindless chatter for a bit, as one does while on holiday– I would probably never do this at home, by the way.
I was excited for this tour because according to the website, it seemed like it would hit all the major sites I had researched and planned on visiting. So it was really convenient for me as I didn’t have to find my way anywhere or get lost. Here are the places I had on my list to visit:
- Spanish Steps
- Roman Forum
- Trevi Fountain
- Saint Peter’s Square- Vatican City/ Vatican (museum)
- Pantheon (different from Greek Parthenon)
- Circus Maximus
- Palatine Hill
- Ostia Antica
- Baths of Caracalla
- San Clemente
- Capuchin Crypt
Trevi Fountain (under construction). See links above for how it looked before. So beautiful! I bet it will look even better afterwards 🙂
At the end of the tour (it ended at the Colosseum), the tour guide gave a touching speech about tips- luckily, I knew it was coming – from experience in Edinburgh, and also luckily, I had set aside some cash for this so I gave the tip and decided it was time for gelato!
I had read online that it was a must in Italy. So even though it cost an outrageous amount, I bought one and it was so good!! Everything I had imagined it to be and more. Indescribable taste, appealed to every single one of my taste buds! I sat across from the Colosseum while I enjoyed it. My reward for all that walking!
As I was sitting, resting my feet, and gobbling up the ungodly amount of calories, a guy came and sat beside me and we had the most bizarre conversation (which I will save for aforementioned later blog post). Let’s just say it ended in a kiss!
By this time, it was pretty late in the evening but not late enough for the hotel shuttle to come get me. So I got up and walked around some more. I walked and walked and I still had a lot of time left, so I decided I had better eat something. I saw a restaurant and walked in mainly because it had a sign that said “Happy Hour” out front. It was indeed happy, they had a DJ in there, wearing sunshades indoors, playing English (the language, not music from England) music. It was about to be very happy for me indeed!
The host came to see what I needed and I asked for a table. He spoke a lot of Italian but from what I gathered, it was happy hour and they had a buffet of finger food and I could eat whatever I wanted. He asked if I wanted a table and I said yes. So he pointed me to a table I didn’t really like so I said I wanted to sit outside- why waste the beautiful weather? And the perfect opportunity to people-watch??? LOL.
For whatever reason, he wasn’t happy about my request but he got me the table. Then he asked what I wanted to drink. Now, if I had been a regular frequenter of happy hours, I would know that I was meant to order alcohol, or an otherwise expensive drink. But I ordered my favorite- water! Oh boy, he got really pissed off and let out a long string of angry sounding Italian. Something about water can’t pay for the cost of happy hour and he wouldn’t be making any money/profit, etc. So I asked for Orange juice. It probably wasn’t ideal but he went and got it.
Turned out it had pulp!! Ewww- Pulp-free is my preference. So I ended up ordering a water, in addition, so that he didn’t blow a gasket. Then I filled up my tummy with the yummy buffet, while enjoying the music and people watching. He did graciously ask me a few times if I was doing ok though. haha.
After my tummy was full, my plate was empty, and he had asked me way too many times if I was doing ok, I decided to take the hint and pay and leave. I still had about an hour to go before my shuttle arrived. So I walked around some more, and started to panic. What if the shuttle never came? What if the shuttle had come early and I had missed it? What if the shuttle came to the opposite side of the road and before I could cross to board it, it drove off? What if I couldn’t identify the shuttle when it came and I got on the wrong one? Can you tell I LOVE to overthink stuff?
As I was waiting, I saw a few people also waiting, presumably for their own shuttles, so I decided I was in the right place. The difference was they weren’t alone- it was usually groups of people. Here, I had a lot of time to think about and question the whole solo travel/ solo female traveler thing. But it was too late by then, I was already on the trip solo. The thing was would I do it again? If you are a regular reader of this blog- you know the answer ;).
And then for the second time that evening, another ‘gentleman’ came to sit by me to ‘talk to me’. I was beginning to sense a pattern here …
Finally, I crossed the road- partly to avoid any more gentlemen and partly because my gut told me the shuttle would come to the other side of the road. And I was right! A few minutes later, my shuttle arrived and I was oh so grateful to get on it.
What a day! Rome (and Vatican City) in less than 24 hours and over 30,000 steps (I think my personal best)!! An experience I will never forget :).
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