…EAT. I know that’s not exactly how the saying goes, but I’m assuming that’s what the Romans did. With all of the pizza, pasta and gelato, how could you not?! After spending the first few days of Semana Santa in Paris, I got up at 5:30 am on Sunday morning to catch a flight to Italy. I almost ran into a snag with the guy at the reception desk. Remember we squeezed four of us into a two person room? Yeah, we didn’t get caught but I feel like it’s frowned upon…Anyway, I made my flight and got a bird’s eye view of the Alps:
After landing, I took a shuttle to my hostel, conveniently located right next to Termini station, THE main bus/train station in Rome. What luck! I chatted with the guy at the reception desk (he got a kick out of the fact that my last name is Italian for ‘strawberry’), threw my stuff in my room and met up with some friends studying at the Temple Rome campus. We got pizza (which was okay, but I would find much better pizza later in the trip). Afterward, we walked by the Trevi Fountain:
The Spanish Steps:
Through a park overlooking Rome and then through the Piazza del Popolo (Plaza of the People):
Also, I found water fountains! I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but after not having them in Spain, coming across one that spits out water straight from an aqueduct was pretty awesome:
After seeing some sights, I got gelato:
And there’s proof about my name, for anyone who didn’t believe me:
Later that night, I had a dinner of salad, pasta and grilled pork. Boy was it good, and more reasonably priced compared to Paris. I hit the sack early that night because more Temple Oviedo friends were coming from Paris the next day and I wanted to have enough energy to see plenty of Rome. We met up late in the morning, saw some of the same sights I saw the day before, but then we took a different path. We got gelato again and here’s my name. Again.
We weaved through the crowd of Italians, saw some unadvertised yet stunning churches and stumbled across a mountain of pasta!
We made our way over to Trastevere, a neighborhood of Rome filled with restaurants and bars. We ate lasagna, ravioli, pizza, gnocchi and tiramisu. And it was CHEAP. After nearly entering a food coma, we bussed back to central Rome and slept. The next day, we got up early and went to Ancient Rome. We stopped at the Colosseum first:
And afterwards we walked through the Roman Forum, a part of the city with the remains of an enormous palace and an ancient Roman neighborhood:
Unfortunately, this is where my camera died 🙁 But you can bet I charged that battery before seeing the Vatican. We got up bright and early (well, kind of) and actually had a chance to see the Pope speak that morning. Afterward, we headed to the Vatican museums, but stopped for gelato first! Here I am FINALLY EATING FRAGOLA GELATO:
My life is complete.
We got in line and walked through the museums for hours. One room that I thought was particularly interesting was a hall lined with old maps of Italy and other Mediterranean countries. We finished our walkthrough in the Sistine Chapel which, although stunning, was different from what I was expecting. I think I thought it was painted more like one, connected work rather than separate pieces. Regardless, it was awesome. Then we hit up St. Peter’s Basilica:
It was definitely very impressive, but so overdone in my opinion. A few of us were also a little angry after we found out that the palace, other buildings and statues were disassembled/taken from the Roman Forum to construct the basilica. How cool would it have been to see a section of Rome today how it was thousands of years ago?! Well, what can you do? Such is life and I did get to take a lot of great pictures inside the Vatican, so it started to make up for it. We headed to the Pantheon after, but stopped for pizza first. And delicious doesn’t begin to describe it. In the traditional Roman fashion, we chose what kind of pizza we wanted (I had four kinds between the two days. Let me list them: provolone & pancetta, sun-dried tomato with mozzarella & basil, margherita and mozzarella & gorgonzola. YUMMMMMMMM), chose the amount that we wanted, had them cut our slice from of the gigantic rectangular pizzas, they weighed it and we paid by the weight. It was extremely different than the normal pizza ordering situation and I obviously prefer it this way:
Back to the Pantheon. It is one of the best preserved Roman buildings and I believe it is the biggest complete Roman structure. It’s that really well known building with the hole in the roof that everyone seems to recognize:
After saying goodbye to Rome, I took a train to Civitavecchia, a nearby port city. From there, I hopped on my boat:
And set sail for Barcelona. While there, I saw La Sagrada Familia, an absolutely stunning modern church inspired by nature. It had pillars that branched in a way reminiscent of how trees do and absolutely breathtaking panels of stained glass:
I also ate two churros, one filled with NUTELLA and the other with CARAMEL:
I also went up Mont Juïc, a mountain on the coast with a really old castle on top. After that, I went to Parc Güell, a park in the middle of the city, and spent hours there. It was beautiful! I even climbed up another mountain and had the most amazing panoramic view of Barcelona. Also, I happened to stumble across not one, but two really cool musicians/groups in the park. The first was a man who went to Africa to learn how to play the kora, a West African harp, and came back to Spain to share his music, a blend of traditional West African with Spanish lyrics. The second was an interesting mix of people consisting of a French female singer, an Argentinean man playing a ‘mouth piano’ for lack of a better word, a man from Mallorca playing a washboard and another man playing an upright base. I snagged a CD from each. Unfortunately, my camera died, again, and I don’t have pictures from anything after the church. Such is life.
After soaking up the Mediterranean sun for a little too long in Parc Güell, I ran back to the hostel, grabbed my things and set out for the airport to catch my flight back to Oviedo. Though it’s hard to put into words how the break was, I’ll say that IT WAS ABSOLUTELY AMAZING AND THAT I WISH I HAD MORE TIME IN EACH CITY I VISITED. Yup, that about sums it up. My next post will be about my trip to Sevilla, the fourth largest city located in Andalucía, the southernmost region of Spain. ¡Hasta entonces!