Destination No.1 ~ Roma
The “Abroad Adventures and Lessons Learned” series has officially kicked off with our first stop being Rome, Italy.
What is sleep?
First off, the plane ride from DFW to Rome was 10 hours and if anyone knows me, they know I am the world’s lightest sleeper, which means I didn’t sleep on that plane ride. Basically, I had been awake for about 26 hours straight and with the 7-hour time difference I was exhausted when the journey began. I thought when we all got to Rome we would spend a day resting and relaxing and that was not the case. We managed to find a Taxi to take us to our hotel and we began touring around with the teachers. Day 1 consisted of me still wearing my flight clothes, barely keeping my eyes open and trying to function while the teachers guided us around. I clearly looked exhausted and unrecognizable because my teacher introduced himself to me again the second day and I had to nicely reply, “Oh no I was here yesterday just I actually showered today and got some sleep.” Needless to say, it was mortifying. I guess showering and sleep does make a difference.
That night we really became acquainted with European air conditioning…it doesn’t exist. We had to sleep with the windows open and thank goodness I brought my trusty ear plugs because Italians party all night and the street sounded like a parade was going on. Day 1 finished with a welcome dinner and a bright and early wake-up time of 6:30 a.m.
The Beginning of it all
Day 2 started at 6:30 a.m. sharp and I was quickly reminded of how I am not a morning person. Our teacher instructed us the night before not to all come down for breakfast at once or they will not serve us, which was also strange. The breakfast consisted of a croissant and cake. We began our day by walking not taking a bus or taxi and visited the tourist sites. We saw pretty much everything Rome had to offer in three days when at least six was needed to embrace everything. It also became very clear on day 2 that Italians do not drive or take a bus if it is under a 30-mile walk. One girl on our trip brought her Fit Bit and on average we walked about 14 miles a day. Nobody felt bad for loading up on pasta, carbs and desserts since we practically walked it all off in one hour. Now onto the fun pictures of the sites!
We visited the Roman forum and the Colosseum as well on day 2. Our teacher told us all of these fun facts and stories about each place. Apparently, there was a moving floor the Colosseum used a stage and under it was all of the cells where the prisoners and slaves were held to be fought by the gladiators. Our teacher walked us through the Roman forum explaining each rock and crevice as if we could imagine what it looked like and felt walking around 300 years ago. The history was mesmerizing. It was hard to remember how exhausted I was until we actually sat down to eat. You will notice in most of my pictures I have headphones connected to a little blue box around my neck. This was so I could hear my teacher talking from a far distance. He had a microphone he talked into so he didn’t have to yell at all 40 of us passing through other tourists. The Colosseum has a lot of history to offer. The rows of seating were based on your societal status. The wealthy, rich leaders sat on the lower level and then the very top was for the average citizen.
We also visited The Pantheon, which was super interesting. There is a large open dome at the top that is open year round so if it rains the architect, Apollodorus of Damascus, built drains in the floor for it to drain out. The Pantheon was said to be something where when you enter you leave the physical world. My professor offered so much insight on the structure and how the square outside and round inside symbolized that the square was the physical world and the circle was the celestial sphere or city of gods. The Pantheon was built for man to dictate his own destiny, which was later lost until the Renaissance period. The dome is perfectly 43 meters across and the largest dome in the whole wide world. The marble columns on the outside were also imported from Greece. Fun fact: one of the columns fell into the sea and was never retrieved when shipping them to Rome by boat. Treasure hunt anyone? Did you now Raphael the famous Italian painter is also buried here? Don’t worry I got a picture of his tomb!
The next day we visited the Vatican Museum and my pictures do not do it justice. It is absolutely breathtaking and gorgeous. All of the mosaics and frescos on the walls and ceilings were incredible and filled with so many fine details. We were inside the Vatican for over 5 hours and I did not wear the right shoes at all. Trying to look cute in Europe is pointless unless you can rock tennis shoes with every outfit. I actually I had a swollen knee the entire next day from wearing flip flops. Inside the Vatican is the Sistine Chapel that I could not take a picture of but it’s beautiful. It is a chapel that depicts the Life of Christ. We mainly spent a lot of our time learning about the paintings and which era they were from. If you ever have a chance to visit the Vatican and tour Vatican City make sure you set a whole day aside for this and get an awesome tour guide. Also, Vatican City is the smallest independent state in the world. Yes, one step in and you’re in a new state!
Sadly, the Spanish Steps were under construction so we missed out on those. We toured all over Rome in just three short days. We saw even more places than I highlighted such as the Piazza Navona, Galleria Borghese and Via Veneto. I was thrown into a culture in three short days that I would eventually fall in love with forever. I also had to realize wifi is rare, cell service doesn’t exist and I missed my mom and friends a lot.
The nightlife was also so exciting! We tried to visit more Italian bars and venues to immerse ourselves in the culture. They had this really cool Ice Club that was the talk of the town and of course we all went. Wearing shorts and flip-flops was not the smartest idea though; even with the large poncho they give you. We lasted about 20 minutes before turning into icicles!
But really I know you all are dying to see a few highlights of what I ate in Rome. The food was incredible and so fresh. The picture in the slideshow proves how fresh everything was at this little sandwich shop that had everything displayed that they were putting on your food.
Lessons Learned from Destination No.1
- Cell service will not work probably anywhere but at a wifi spot and your room.
- Air conditioning is rare… even in food places.
- Vatican City needs to be toured in the comfiest outfit and shoes ever!
- June is beautiful in Rome.
- Take a photo of everything and notes about what you learned.
- Try something new to eat.
- Splitting the check isn’t a thing in Europe so find a group and take turns paying.
- You will drink wine sun up to sun down and be okay because the wine is cheaper than water.
- Granola bars need to be your best friend for mornings.
- Rome is filled with tourists.
See you all next Monday for our next destination!!!!!!! Lots of love!