A big happy New Year from the DaMClarks!
Today we are 102 days into this current swing through Europe. At this writing, we are in London getting over colds we have had since our arrival here. While not something anyone wants to deal with when traveling, when you live on the road you have to figure sooner or later something like this will happen - particularly when everywhere we go during the last month there have been an astounding number of people coughing. We will put a wrap on our European travels this time around and head back to the Pacific Northwest next week. Just know we will continue to post the rest of our 2016 European adventures as they are ready to go and just waiting for the time consuming effort of dropping in D's glorious photos. With that, we send our best to all of you in this new year. Cheers!
We left Florence on November 10 by train bound for Roma, Italy. Our Airbnb apartment was a fifteen-minute walk from the local train stop and a ten-minute walk from the Pope! We are in Rome only so Dennis can see what one should see when in Rome.
We had an early morning the next day as we had scheduled a four-hour tour of the Vatican with an English speaking guide. The tour guide was well-schooled in the history and obviously had a passion for his work. The tour was excellent. Dennis was able to see the giant pine cone (check that off his list) and I was able to see a few different things from my last visit here in 2003. Even if you start before the hoards descend on the Vatican, as we did, you eventually get caught in the squeeze of humanity in the corridors. You see, the Vatican was never set up to be seen by the masses so there are corridors full of people trying to move through doorways meant for a few. Che sarà sarà! After four-hours up and down stairs walking all over the Vatican, we were worn out and had yet to see the Pope!
We were back at it the next morning for what would be a 28,000 step day (12-miles)! We started with the Pantheon (favorite of mine), onto the Colosseum, a walk up to the Palatine Hill (I had not been up there previously and have added it to my favorites of Rome), and a nice slow walk through the Forum (another favorite of mine). We enjoyed contemplating all the history standing on stones and mosaic floors from over 2000 years ago - gives me goose flesh just thinking about it. While we didn't see anyone running around in togas, we could imagine what it must have looked like and could almost hear the sounds of ancient Rome, Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears...
The following day we limited our walking to the newly restored Trevi Fountain, and walked up and back down the Spanish Steps fighting off the many hawkers trying to distract us with whatever they were selling. They were like pesky flies! While these two sights are really not that special, in my book, when one is conquering Rome, one does Trevi and the Spanish Steps.
We enjoyed staying close to the Vatican, but Rome is rather gritty while at the same time wonderful, and our neighborhood was no different. It’s a mix of ancient and modern with people from all over the world roaming its streets. There are nicely kept buildings right next to buildings that need more than a facelift. It is a traffic nightmare where there are no rules of the road for vehicles or pedestrians. Even though there are groups of bins for garbage and recycling found all over the city and are emptied almost daily there is still a lot of garbage lining the streets. Even with the litter and graffiti in our neighborhood, we found close-by grocery shopping, cafes for morning espresso, pizza delis, and the perfect Italian restaurant on the ground floor of our building (Ristorante I San Pietrini), but there were homeless people wrapped in blankets sleeping on our street and in the walking tunnels around the Vatican. You should know, though, we did not feel threatened at all. Although, I’m not sure I will ever get over seeing a homeless guy wrapped like a mummy in a blanket from head to toe with the rain pouring down on him; and, frankly, hope I never do.
Still, Rome is a vibrant city and one of the leading tourist destinations of the world. We work at traveling smart and are not easily intimidated. This will allow us to experience the world as it is rather than staying away from the gritty parts. Dennis can now officially say he has conquered Rome, check that off his list!
Thanks for joining us on our journey.