In the interest of documenting my Italy and London holiday, I have revived this very irregularly updated blog. I was lazy and thought maybe I should just not write any blog entries at all, but I would like to have something to remember 10, 15 years down the road when I reminisce about all the countries I have been to. And it would be very hard to remember what happened on the trip, what were the significance of the places I visited, if I only had FB photos to rely on.
So two weeks ago, near the end of October, Jessie, Pri and I headed for our very first trip to Europe! Technically it’s not really a trip to Europe, as we only visited Italy and London. Okay, our first time setting foot on the Europe continent, then.
Because it was our first time in Italy/Rome, we thought it might be better to go on a tour instead of doing it on our own, so we booked a tour using Trafalgar. Although it was nice not having to worry about the gritty details and planning, I wouldn’t go on a tour in future – too much of being a tourist and not enough blending in, plus some other stuff which I will touch on later. Onwards to photos!
Bring out all your sports shoes! Me and Priscilla both wore comfortable sports shoes with matching socks in preparation of the long-ass flight (13hours).
In Rome, we stayed in this hotel called Ergife which is located in the outskirts of Rome. It’s a conference centre as well and every day there were people coming in and out of the hotel. Our hotel room was not too shabby – pretty nice actually. Except that they had no bathroom door. So we had to get pretty creative during bathing time in case of um, accidental exposure.
After settling in, we decided to head out to explore our area and visit a flea market that was supposed to be nearby. Unfortunately I read the map wrongly and took the wrong turn from the start. We eventually ended up in a sort of busy intersection and decided to break for lunch. First meal in Rome was in a takeaway diner.
In which we got lost
Here’s the point where we got hopelessly lost. We asked 4, 5 people for directions to the flea market and they all gave us differing answers. One said take bus 268, another said 490N, another one said it’s too far by bus, and… yeah in the end we decided to go to the bus station and try our luck. We found a bus driver and asked him and he told us to take (yet another different) bus to the end of its route.
So we took the bus and watched as the scenery changed from city centre to suburb to really wealthy suburb AND THEN OVER A RIVER ….
I was panicking a little. What if the bus took us out of Rome and to… whatever Italian province there was. I’m sure it would be nice but we had a tour meeting that afternoon.
Finally the bus stopped at a bus terminal in a really fancy part of Rome. We were definitely not near any flea market. We were near the river, and it was really rather scenic with lots of nice buildings. Yet there weren’t much tourists around, surprisingly.
Artichokes for sale!
We went to this really lovely bakery selling tons of baked goodies.
More baked desserts inside! Would have loved to try some of them, but decided to go for gelato instead. We walked to this bridge intending to take photo of the river, before we realised that we actually stumbled across a Rome landmark!
The view of the river from the bridge.
Ponte Milvio was actually the site of the famous Battle of Milvian Bridge. It’s also famous because couples would attach love padlocks onto the lamp posts, which were removed in 2012 because the bridge was in danger of collapsing from the combined weight of the padlocks.
After which we decided to take a cab back to our hotel, since we had a tour meeting with Trafalgar. The tour director ran through the itinerary of the next few days and some ground rules. It was when we discovered that a lot of the places we wanted to go and things we wanted to see, were actually not included in the tour and had to be added on. For example, to see Sistine Chapel and inside of the Coliseum, we had to pay an extra… 69 euros? I can’t remember exactly.
But apparently a lot of tours are conducted this way in Europe (get the baaaaare basics, pay for add ons).
After the meeting, the tour group dispersed and we left to look for dinner. (There was an optional excursion to go to a restaurant outside the Coliseum and be serenaded by music under the stars but there was no way we were going to pay so much more for dinner! Harrump) Instead we walked out of our hotel, where we saw a Ristorante Chinese earlier.
Chinese fooooddd! Quite nice actually. Sweet and sour soup, sweet and sour pork, omelette and tofu. Plus we got this huge-ass bottle of Coke for like 2 euros. First night in Rome, done!