The Forum, Palatine Hill and the Colosseum were finally open!
Entrance to the Forum/Palatine Hill. I followed Rick's (as in my good travel buddy, Rick Steves) advice, and went to the Forum/Palatine Hill before the Colosseum, because the lines would be shorter, and I could use my Forum pass at the Colosseum and bypass the line. As usual, Rick was so right, but the line to get in was still one hour. A group of girls tried to cut in front of me right when I got to the front. All I could do was give them the "Asian girl staredown", but they were completely oblivious to it. Fortunately, a man behind me asked them if they were with me. They said they were looking for the back of the line, and he said "it's wayyyy back there." Thank you Mr. European Man.
This tree reminded me of the baobab tree from "The Little Prince."
Where Julius Caesar's funeral pyre was.
Inside the Colosseum. The cross marks where the emperor used to sit and watch the games.
On to the Trevi Fountain. So amazing and worth the hype and the crowds.
Gazillions of people, milling around the fountain.
I went to a nearby cafe and bided my time for about two hours, waiting for it to get dark, so that I could take a picture of the fountain with the streetlights lit. It was lovely to sit around and do nothing but read and people watch for two hours.
Arrivederci Rome. You aren't my favorite city in Europe, but you are beautiful and I'm glad I visited you.
Monday, 10/24: Venice
Met up with Lynda. Yay! No dramatic embrace at the bridge - it was more like, hey, we actually found each other!
View of Orvieto from the train, on the way to Venice.
The Grand Canal, from the Rialto Bridge
All of the bridges and waterways in Venice were charming.
Per Rick's advice, instead of spending 90E on a gondola ride down the Grand Canal, we spent 6.50E to take a 45 minute water taxi ride. Again, great idea Rick!
View of the Rialto Bridge from the water taxi
I didn't take any pictures of the B&B we stayed at, but I really should have. Lynda described it this way - "It looks like my eemo's house!" And it really did look like an older Asian woman's home, even down to the random Asian knickknacks scattered around the place. It was small, pretty far from the center of town, and a little bit creepy, but it was clean and cheap and we were only there for a night.
Thoughts on Venice: beautiful, cold, damp, really confusing to navigate through the streets because there are 5000 alleyways and hardly any signage. But Jin - Lynda and I both agree that we're glad we came!
The most miserable part of the entire trip so far was lugging my 65-pound suitcase to the train station, through the cobblestoned streets of Venice, over 4 bridges in the pouring rain. Thankfully, a stranger took pity on me and carried my suitcase over one of the bridges for me. I've decided that if strangers offer to carry my suitcase for me while I'm here, I'm going to gladly take them up on the offer. If they try to steal it, they aren't going to get very far with it, so I'm safe.
On the two-hour train ride from Venice to Florence, I learned how to play Monopoly Deal. Really fun, but super frustrating. The ladies next to us kept staring at us while we were playing. Weirdos.
Wednesday, 10/26: Florence
Airbnb came through again - the flat in Florence is beautiful, clean and huge. It's also in a great area - 5 minutes to walk to the Accademia, 10 minutes to the Duomo and Mercato Market.
Living room ceiling
Lunch at Trattoria Mario. We had the spaghetti with meat sauce and a steak, but we both forgot to take a picture of it. It was excellent, and the restaurant has been written up about in a lot of blogs and sites for the quality and cheap prices.
The Duomo. These pictures do not do justice to the sheer amazingness of the building.
Interior of the dome
The floor of the Duomo
Piazza della Repubblica. We ate gelato while listening to a woman singing arias while a man was playing the accordion. It was like something out of a movie.
A 3D map of Florence that we stumbled across in the Piazza della Repubblica.
Next up, the Accademia to see...
David! No pictures are allowed in the Accademia, but I snuck one anyway, and this was the result. Obviously, I'm not meant to take illicit photos. Lynda and I were wandering around, and then we turned the corner, and we looked down a long hallway, and under the arch, there was David. I literally got goosebumps when I saw it. Lynda and I were both amazed at how David's expression looks one way when you look at him from the front, and then it looks completely different when you look at him from the side. That Michelangelo - what a genius.
For dinner, we tried to find a specific trattoria, but even though we were on the right street, the numbers just stopped! We were too tired to search for it, so instead, we got...
The fries weren't great because they weren't hot, but the filet o' fish was even more delicious than they are in America, because the Italians use a different tartar sauce.
And that wraps up day 1 of Florence. As everyone predicted, I love it here. It's urban, but not as frenetic and crazy as Rome. There are groups of tourists here as well, but not in the overwhelming doses that I ran across in Rome.
Our plans for the rest of our time here is the Uffizi, the outlet mall outside of the city, more eating, more shopping, more gelato and more sitting around in piazzas.
Location:Via Gino Capponi,Florence,Italy