Rome to Athens to Mykonos to Kusadasi to Santorini to Naples to Rome to Amsterdam to Seattle.
I had this great idea the night before our flight to stay up most of the night, making sure I would be really tired on the plane ride over and sleep. Never having to deal with jet lag. I packed and cleaned and took a bubble bath. Painted my nails. All of the things I usually don’t do at 3 am. We got on our plane and were excited to see some empty benches.
So we moved from our row with only 2 seats and took the open bench with 4 seats. As we were taking off, we realized why that bench may have been up for grabs. Sitting right behind us was a mom and her baby and toddler. They cried and cried. Nonstop. I think the baby finally fell asleep for about 3o minutes and so did I. Flying over, we skipped right through the night and what should have been midnight at home when we landed, was 8 am in Rome.
First Stop: Rome
We bought tickets for the Hop On Hop Off bus tour in Rome and started our adventures. On our own. We lost my mom, dad, Chad, Jenni and Blake on the way from the ticket station to the bus but quickly caught up with them after one stop.
First place we visited (or walked by) was the Altare della Patria. The monument holds the tomb of the unknown soldier with an eternal flame, built after World War I. The monument has been controversial because it’s construction destroyed a large area of the Capitoline Hill (where we lost my parents and siblings as we walked to the bus stop). It stands out as the construction is white, boxy and lacks a dome or a tower. And is often called “the wedding cake” building. (Thanks Wikipedia).
We got to Vatican City just in time to watch, with thousands of other tourists, Pope Frances conduct the Sunday mass services. We never got to see anything like this when we visited the Vatican 6 years ago so loved being able to see the new pope, even if we aren’t Catholic. And bonus . . . he’s Argentine!
We made it to the Spanish Steps and stopped to take some pictures and check out the tourists and vendors. The steps are crowded with people going up and down or just taking a break. We witnessed a random, crazy fight between the vendors and while we all walked away, Gavin decided to walk right in the middle of the fight.
There are artists at the top of the Spanish Steps who will draw your portrait for a fee. Heidi and my parents got their portraits done while in Rome. What talent! I’m used to the crazy caricature portraits and nothing that looks like a true portrait. Such a great souvenir!
Trevi Fountain. The largest fountain in Rome. Tourists throw in coins using the right hand over the left shoulder in hopes of returning to Rome one day. 3,000 Euros ($4000 USD) are thrown into this fountain each day. We decided to save our money so that we can afford to come back one day.
Sights and Sounds of Rome
We walked around the maze of streets from Trevi fountain and finally found the Pantheon. (Not to be confused with the Parthenon. We found that a few days later in Athens.) The Pantheon is one of the best-preserved of all Roman buildings. It was a temple to all of the gods of Ancient Rome but since then has been used as a Roman Catholic church. My favorite thing about the Pantheon is that the only source of light is the open dome at the top of the building and the front entrance. Last time we visited the Pantheon, it was raining and we got wet inside the building.
It was time for dinner and a gelato so we headed to my favorite piazza in Rome-- Piazza Navona. This piazza is built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian and is in the shape of an oval. It’s full of beautiful artwork, fountains and yummy gelato.
Finally we made it back to our hotel, after way too many hours of no sleep, ready to begin our next adventure in the morning. . . Athens.