Friday, May 11, 2012

Tips and Thoughts on Traveling to Rome

Soon after I returned from my trip to Paris, a good friend of mine, lets call her C, left for a few days in Rome.  Upon her arrival home I had the brilliant idea to pick her brain for tips to give to my readers.  She volunteered to write a guest article on her personal experiences while in Italy to share.

"This is my own personal experience of my trip to Rome. Others may have different advice but this is my advice.
I flew via Ryan air because it was very cheap and quick. I stayed at the Arcadia hotel near the Ciampino airport. My first piece of advice: DO NOT stay there!! It was horrible!! The place was falling apart and the beds were so uncomfortable. The free breakfast was not good at all! There is no night bus that goes there so it was so inconvenient. I have paid less for a lot more! 

The subway metro is the absolute most convenient way to travel Europe. Look for a hotel within walking distance of a metro station. You can get a three day tourist pass for about 15 Euro, I can’t remember the exact price, but it was worth it! The tourist pass is good for buses and the metro. It is very simple to figure out the metro but it stops running at 9pm on the weekdays, then the night buses take over. So there is always a mode of transportation available to you. There is a hop on hop off bus that takes you around to the different major sightseeing places; but traffic in Rome is very bad and you could get stuck on the bus or the bus stop for a while. It is good for those of you that don’t know exactly what sights you want to see and it is very informative. But if you are on a tight schedule and know where you want to go then you might want to stick to the metro. 

The first thing I did was the coliseum and it is huge!! We didn’t do the tour and it took us about 2 hours to go through the whole thing. Keep in mind my husband is a photographer and takes a lot of pictures. Also you will see a lot of guys dressed in Roman armor and they will offer to take a picture with them. DO NOT do it!! It cost me 5 Euro for each picture and each camera!
When we bought our Coliseum tickets we opted for the special price that included Palatine Hill. Palatine Hill is also very big and there is a lot of walking involved.
The next thing we did was the Vatican, and it was packed! We opted for a tour that cost 45 Euro for each of us but it was worth it. You skip the lines and the tour guide was great. But it is a very long tour! The Vatican is very big and an fyi don’t expect to take pictures in the Sistine Chapel. They are very strict about it and you can’t even talk in there.  Also there is a dress code for the Vatican. I was wearing a tank top and had to put a jacket on.  Just bring something to cover yourself up.  
My favorite was the Trevi fountain; it is absolutely gorgeous and huge! My husband and I got some gelato and just relaxed by the fountain. The gelato was so delicious and the Trevi fountain is free, how can you beat that? It is a bit difficult to find but just follow the signs and listen for the water and you will get there! It is also very crowded so prepare for that! It does light up at night but unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to see that.
We also decided to do a bar hop because we bumped into a Californian who moved to Rome and he was running the bar hop. He was passing out flyers by the Vatican and his name is Josh. I don’t drink a lot but Josh was really nice and it sounded like a fun experience. The bar hop was 20 Euro and you got an hour of open bar, a t shirt and a shot at every bar we went to. Josh was great and told us the best places to shop and all of his favorite things about Rome. I’m glad we did it because Rome is amazing at night and we got to see the Spanish steps at night as well so it wasn’t so crowded.
Getting back to our hotel at 4a.m was a nightmare though. We took the night bus to the metro closest to the hotel but couldn’t find the night bus to our hotel. My husband had a few drinks so he wasn’t helping much and we ended up on the same bus that took us right back to the Termini station in Rome. So I got so frustrated and took a taxi to the hotel, which was not cheap. We got to the hotel at about 4:45a.m and the hotel doors were locked!! We banged and yelled at the door and 20 minutes later some guy came out from the back and let us in, but he was very rude. 

All of our money went to food. It is not cheap to eat in Rome! My husband paid 3,80 Euro for a red bull sized coke and he was not happy! We ate at a cafĂ© right next to the Vatican and it was so expensive and the food was horrible. It was self service but the servers were rude and very pushy. If you want good and decently priced food try to stay away from the “touristy” areas. The best thing we ate the whole trip was pizza from a tiny shop down a random street. It was the best pizza I have ever had in my life!
That is about it! It was a fun trip and I’m glad I went."

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