It's a little late, try two months to be exact, but I guess some things are better late than never. In fact I may struggle to piece the whole experience back together, due to A) it was two months ago, and B) it was a short stay, and cramming so many activities into such a short period of time, is more difficult than what I had anticipated.
I'm lucky enough to say this is my second time not celebrating my Birthday in the UK. This was my gift from my Boyfriend, it was something we had both wanted to do for a long time and along with a lot of saving, we finally managed to pull it off!
We left for the airport at 4am on the Sunday, and eventually made it to our hotel around 1pm, we were exhausted but we wanted to make sure we got another whole day there. The lady on the desk instantly became by best friend ever, due to her telling me we share the same Birthday, though to be honest I never saw her again after that.. She seemed to disappear.
We did manage to have a nap before we set out to explore our surroundings. It was needed, I was getting very grumpy at this point (me and a lack of sleep combination is a challenging prospect. We took a walk to get our first glimpse of the Colosseum from outside, it was absolutely breathtaking. My first thought was it looked an awful lot bigger in the real world than it did on the holiday brochures..
Walking around the area was surreal, we took routes down alleys so we got a glimpse of the places tourists don't really go to, because we wanted to get a taste of Italy for what it really is. I guess you could say we kinda cheated the first night though due to the fact we got a McDonald's and took it back to our room. Did I say I was tired? Mcdonald's is where I discovered something about Italian people; they don't queue! Everyone just pushes in front of one another, they don't really seem to understand 'the system'.
We planned our trip before we came, being with someone who lives life by an itinerary is like having your own tour guide, which makes my life a bit more organised as I'm the opposite. I'm more of a 'let's see where the wind takes us' kinda girl, which never really works. We started off at the Colosseum despite being warned about the waiting times, we actually got in within about 10 minutes. Inside was even more breathtaking than the outside. This was followed by going to the Forum and all the Roman ruins. Don't get me wrong I loved it, but once we had decided we'd had enough, it took us an hour to find an exit, it got to the point we actually said to each other we accept the fact we were stuck in there for good.
When we had escaped, we headed back to freshen up and get ready to go for dinner. This is where we found a lovely quiet restaurant down one of the alleys I mentioned. It had an outside area, where it was just the two of us, no one around, and it was probably the most romantic meal we've ever had. I'm not one who likes going for meals so this part of the holiday was particularly challenging, but I felt very comfortable here. This is where I tried my first Italian pizza. Where now I have become a pizza snob, because no pizza has ever compared to this one.
It's my Birthday!!
So, today was the day Melanie gets to call the shots. We spent the day exploring places like The Spanish Steps, The Trevi Fountain, The Pantheon, Sephora, (of course!) etc, and this was by far my favourite day of the trip. We found another place to grab some lunch, this is where I discovered fact number 2 about Italians, in some restaurants the staff like to literally stand over you whilst you're eating. This was probably the most uncomfortable meal I have ever had in my life.
We did some awesome things that were on our to do list. We went to a little ice cream place which we found as the most recommended place for ice cream on trip adviser. Not i'm not really mad on ice cream, but this was something else. I can honestly say that this puts Ben & Jerry's to shame. We sat in this cute little street next to the ice cream parlour, in the shade, where I got most of it down myself than I did in my mouth. That's my inner 5 year old emerging.
It wouldn't be a Mel and Dan adventure though without some form of challenge..
(see my Paris post here). Dan took us for about a 5 mile walk, which took twice as long in the heat, I don't think we were quite prepared for the weather. Don't get me wrong it was beautiful, but for a vacation that is made up of mostly walking, I wouldn't recommend this if you're British and anti heat.
This is the cool part, because for my Birthday meal we went to the Hard Rock Cafe, where it's become 'a thing' now for us to go to Hard Rock Cafes on my Birthday. (Last year we went to London, year before Paris). They had some Elton John memorabilia on the walls, so I was snapping away to show pictures to my Dad. He's always joked he has a thing for Elton.
It was our last full day in the beautiful city, and today we planned to go to the Vatican. I'm not sure what I was expecting to be honest. This wasn't really something that interested me as such. But it was a pretty stunning building. I have a thing for buildings.. Dan however would happily spend hours looking and reading every little detail.
If you go to the Vatican I recommend not eating in their cafe, it was overpriced and for the money totally not worth it. I had the most expensive cheese and ham toastie I've ever had in my life and it was two pieces of stale bread with a slice of ham and a slice of cheese. This is where if I was at home I would have wrote an email and complained as I'm really good at that.
The evening was dawning on us so had to fulfil part of our to do list before we called it a day, this was to get coffee! We found the coolest little coffee place ever, where next door was a man outside another restaurant signing to a band, like you see in the movies, it was surreal. So with the sound of his beautiful voice in the background and the cheapest but best coffee I've ever had, we sat outside and looked back on our adventure before we went to get dinner for one last time.
We went back to the first place we went, the lovely little quiet restaurant with the lovely, friendly, Italian man. We sat inside this time as the outside bit was closed. Can I just say that I managed to have pizza four times whilst being out here, but that still wasn't enough! The decor inside was even more awesome than the outside. This was probably the time I felt like I was most in Italy, because it felt like the culture was all on the walls and surrounding us.
The 3rd thing I learnt about Italians was they are not afraid to have ice cream parlours open at 11:30 at night, this was the coolest thing ever! Were doing it wrong over here. Forget bars and clubs!!
All we were interested on the day we had to go home, was making sure we didn't miss the flight again. We had planned to get the airport way before we needed to be there, just because we didn't want to relive the last time.
We packed up our things and headed to sign out. This is where it's confusing, but to get to the room you have to go through 3/4 different doors, which are all locked, and the same if you want to get out, it's quite a nightmare but I guess you can be assured that you are safe. We headed to reception and went through the four doors to hand the key to the lady at reception who didn't understand we wanted to hand the key back, went out the front door which locked behind us, for Dan to discover he left our passports in the room. You can only imagine the nightmare it was to try and get back in to explain the the lady who didn't speak English that we needed the key back to get our stuff.
We made it home eventually, without missing any flights! I would say that's a mission accomplished. People have kept asking me would I go back, the honest answer is, I wouldn't say no.. I mean I would probably go in winter months if I was to go again. But I've seen it all now, I would rather go explore somewhere new. Though one day I will return to somewhere in Italy just for pizza alone.