8.10 am. Early morning check out. At this rate everything for the last few days have been early morning. Amazing how loud a dollar store alarm clock can be!
9.00 am. Eating breakfast (Chef Express at Club Eurostar, la di lah, I feel so grand) and still no sign of which platform our train to Rome will be on. The notice says platform 12 but unless the numbers come up on the big screen at the top we can’t be sure. This is Italy. Things change at the last minute.
9.23 am. Our train is at 9.33. Still no sign of the platform. We go and wait at one end of platform 12.
9.30 am. A train pulls into platform 10. Lo! They announce this is the 9.33 train to Rome! We rush madly to platform 10, to find our coach (no. 1) is at the other end. Never have I run so fast with a carry on in tow. We needn’t have rushed. This being Italy, the train is 10 minutes late. Or as they say here, “Ritaro”.
A bit sad as this is our last rail trip in Europe. After this, our Eurail pass is good no more, having been all used up. It indicates our vacation was close to an end. It was a bittersweet realization.
11.20 am. Rome! We arrive at Roma Termini station. We buy the Roma Pass (which gets us transportation for 3 days in Rome, plus free entrance to any two sites on a list).
12.00 pm. We are at the Coliseum!
Oh la la, there’s a special line for Roma Pass. We buypass all the millions of people waiting to get in, and we use our Roma Pass to get in free. Take that suckers!
12.15 pm. This is just amazing. I am a history buff, and I can just close my eyes and imagine the scene thousands of years ago. Crowds streaming in the entrances by the hundreds. The hot, sticky atmosphere inside the Coliseum.
The thousands baying for blood. The emperor silencing the crowd with a wave of his hand, and then, as a the flag drops, the gates open. Horses, chariots rush in. There’s lots of dust blown about. A tiger. A lion. A few gladiators. Blood everywhere.
In front of me are the ruins of what was once the highlight of the city on a weekend (did the Romans have weekends?).
This is the view Caesar would have enjoyed.
Down below, once can see the remains of what was the holding pens where they kept slaves, prisoners, and animals.
A cell for prisoners.
The sky is picture perfect blue with a puff of white clouds.
Amazing when you think the Romans knew the technology to cement and it was lost for hundreds of years when the Roman empire fell, until it was reinvented in the modern era. The Coliseum’s still standing.
1.30 pm. We have exited the Coliseum and are now walking in Fora Romano, the ruins of ancient Rome. There’s actually a wedding going on here!
The bride looks nonplussed with thousands of onlookers snapping her pictures.
The groom looks like her chauffer!
2.00 pm. Man this Fora Romano’s big. The ancient Romans should have built their cities keeping tourists from 2000 years on in mind!
This is so cool. It’s like a history lesson coming alive.
The Greco-Roman columns, the Forum, Palentine Hill, arches, it’s all here.
Arch of Constantine
I see the arch existed since the time of Rome. Wonder if the arches in Islamic mosques etc. came from there.
Rome is hot! It took us back to our London and Paris days, full of heat, lots of attractions, walking and hot underground railways.
5.00 pm. We are at the Pantheon.
This used to be a pagan temple until it was a Christian church. Interesting to see how much Christianity, particularly it’s imagery and traditions have been influenced by pagan rituals and customs. No wonder Islam is so strict on bidah. The Pantheon’s huge! It looks decrypt from outside but it’s really nice. Despite seeing what seems to be thousands of churches, basilicas and cupolas, the Pantheon’s in a class by its own. We didn’t see the French one so can’t compare.
We make sure to see the parts covered in the movie Angels and Demons as well as Raphael’s tomb.
Again I see some people praying. It IS a church after all. Again I wonder how can you pray with all this commotion!
Obelisks! Already we have seen two obelisks. One’s outside our hotel near some fountain. There’s one in front of the Pantheon.
6.00 pm. Piazza Navona. Another obelisk!
We are at the Fountain of Four Rivers – of special significance to fans of Angels and Demons again.
Man, there’s lots of tourists here!
7.30 pm. After walking back to the Pantheon, then navigating the maze of streets of Rome (why do European streets never go straight?) we finally arrive at the Trevi Fountain.
We can hear its roar from far away, but what really took our mind away was the sheer number of tourists and people just thronging the fountain. It was PACKED! They tell me if you want the fountain to yourself come at 4 in the morning but er, safety is a concern. We see plenty of people throwing coins (even, gasp, one whole euro!) into the fountain. We do a ‘pretend throw’ picture.
Yet another wedding shoot
One thing I have to say is the sheer number of Bangladeshi hawkers I have run into in Rome. At Trevi fountain, they held what seemed to be dollar store cameras, trying to get people to pay them to take their pictures. We fight our way to the front of the fountain and grab a cool seat for some GREAT pictures of our own.
8.30 pm. Back at the hotel. Dinner is pizza and pasta. I think I had more pizza in this last week then I had in my life total!
Continued in: Eurotrip Diaries - Rome (Part II)