03 June 2010

When in Rome...

At the end of April Mom and I hopped on a plane bound for Italy. Rome, Florence, and Venice to be exact. While I've been all over North America, this was my first "overseas" trip. And even though my mom was an experienced traveller, I was the one completely in charge. I used the Rick Steves Italy 2010 guidebook and his podcasts of audioguides for major sites in all three cities. I cannot recommend these books highly enough - Rick never once led us astray, and his tips truly made the trip more enjoyable and efficient. His books will be my go-to guides for all of my future trips to Europe.

Things I learned along the way:
  • I don't function well without sleep, and I rarely if ever sleep on planes. I actually knew this about myself, but man, oh man, was I aware of these flaws by the time the plane landed in Rome at 8 a.m. and I had been up for over 24 hours.

  • Taking a short nap will not kill your ability to adjust to the jet lag. We wandered around the neighborhood of our hotel and had lunch while mostly comatose, killing time while we were waiting for our hotel room to be ready. Then we took a 2 hour nap, got up and out, and were still able to sleep soundly that night. After that the time zone felt completely normal.

  • IKEA is everywhere:

Our hotel was literally around the corner from the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Even though we didn't visit these sites until the next day, it was just amazing to see that much history. Nine days later I was still overwhelmed by it all.

We mainly wandered around the Colosseum, Piazza Venezia, and the Capitoline District that first afternoon and evening, not straying too far from "home base."

Piazza Venezia is home to the Victor Emmanuel Monument, which is what I'm 'holding up' here. While Romans apparently deride this monument by dubbing it the "wedding cake", "typewriter", or "dentures", it did serve as a great landmark because it's basically in the center of the city. The Colosseum, Forum, and Capitoline Hill are just south, the shopping district with the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain are to the north, the Pantheon is just the the west, with Vatican City being further west past the Tiber River, and the National Museum and train station are to the east.

So far I've uploaded 624 pictures from the trip to my Flickr page, and am slowly going through and identifying them all. However, there are probably another 200 or so that I still have to upload to my Rome set, as we were there for over 4 days and I've only uploaded pictures 2 1/2 so far! I'm going to pick out a few favorites from each day to blog about, more as a reminder to me than anything else. Feel free to enjoy these few snapshots, or take the much longer trip through my Flickr account.