Lifestyle · travel · Uncategorized

Summer in Europe: Rome

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My second city on this Europe trip was Rome.  I have been to Europe several times, and this was my first time to Italy.  Rome, was always a city that I wanted to visit.  I have planned 4.5 days since I expected that there will be many historic landmarks that I want to see.  I was also prepared to walk a lot.  Rome’s public transportation is not that great.  Especially inside of the Rome City Center (Old City), all the places are only accessible by foot.  There are only two subway lines and only run along the perimeter of the City Center. We had an early afternoon flight from Amsterdam.  We stayed in the Generator Rome Hostel with a private room.  I Stayed in Generator Hostel in other cities in Europe.  The experience that I had in other cities was pretty good, for the money that I paid.  The design of Generator Hostel is always contemporary, fun, creative, and targeting young adults.  The communal areas such as the lobby, game, bar, and dining always have a stylish and pop design.  Sometimes I even forget that this is a hostel, instead, I feel like this is a boutique hotel.  The location of Generator Rome Hostel is very close to the Rome Termini Station, which is the main transportation hub of Rome.

Day 1

It was already late afternoon after we checked-in and I was extremely exhausted because I didn’t sleep well the night before.  I was debating if I should just rest in my room or go out and explore.  At the end, I decided to take a walk in the shopping area of Rome’s historic center (near Spanish steps).  In the evening, I took the train back to Rome Termini Station, and I had dinner at the Mercado Centrale Roma, a market that features artisan food stalls.

Day 2

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We went across the Tiber river and explored Trastevere, a charming neighborhood with allies, winding streets, cobbled stones, and colorful houses.  It was a very pleasant stroll, and of course, I took thousands of photos.  Restaurants with outdoor seatings are all over this area.  After we had lunch in one of them, we headed back to the Rome city center.  Just roaming around in this historic town, we were able to hit several popular places: Campo de’ Fiori (farmer’s market), Piazza Navona (largest piazza), Pantheon, and Altar.  Before heading back to our hostel, we walked up to the Capitol Hill for the sunset view.

Day 3

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This was the most exhausting day of the entire trip—Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Pristine Hill, all clustered in the city center.  From my research online, visits to each of these places requires long waiting in a queue, so we decided to join a private tour (all these 3 places were included) so we can “skip the line”.  I was not so sure initially, but it was totally worth the money even though we paid triple the actual admission price.  The private tour was able to bring us up to the highest level of the Colosseum, and also the underground, where all the animals stayed.  These two areas inside the Colosseum are excluded from private tour only.  Then we continued the tour to Roman Forum and Pristine Hill.  Roman Forum, was the social gathering place or a marketplace in the ancient time.  It is a huge plaza with several ruined government buildings.  We started the tour from the top of the hill and then descended.  Please do take advantage of enjoying the overall view of the Roman Forum if you are on the hilltop; it was amazing.  I wasn’t too impressed of Pristine Hill.  I would say, if you are not joining the tour and running out of time, you could skip it.  You also have an option to split the tour into two days if you are too tired.  Part of it made this day so tiring was the weather.  Walking outdoor the whole day under the sun with 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  Could you imagine?!

For dinner, we went to a wine and tapas bar in a local neighborhood, Tree.  It has a very good vibe with a good mix of people, outdoor seating (my favorite), and good food. I highly recommend if you want to stay away from the tourist area.

Day 4 

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Exploring the Vatican City, located on the opposite side of the river from the city center, was another long and intense day.  Because of the awesome experience that we had with the private tour the day before, we decided to join a private tour for Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Square (all were included in one tour).  After the tour, we climbed up to the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.  I highly recommend doing this, if you are physically capable.  You have an option to take the elevator to the roof level, and then continue taking the stair and climbing up to the top of the cupola.  The winding stair gets narrower and dimmer while proceeding to the top, and it made the journey even more interesting and mysterious.  Once we were at the top, the reward was amazing — view of the whole Vatican City.

Later that night, while we walked toward to the Castello Castle to take some pictures of the exterior, we spotted there were lots of restaurants under the bridge and along the waterside.  The overall vibe looked amazing.  Without a thought, we decided to hop into one of the restaurants, Bar, and dined there.

Day 5

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Although there are still more tours that I want to join and learn about the Rome history, we decided to chill on our last day.  We spent the whole day in the city center, including stops at the Spanish Steps, and the Trevi Fountain which was jam-packed with people.  We walked around, shopped a bit, and just wanted to get the feeling of this city vibe.  When we got tired, we took a break in a random piazza’s restaurant, chilled, drank, and people watching.  For lunch, we found a really nice restaurant randomly — Angelina Restorante, the interior is contemporary and super cute, surrounded by plants.  With the garden type of tables and chairs, I felt like I was dining in a garden.  For my meal, I ordered pasta, and surprisingly it was very good.  The actual size of the pasta bowl was extremely large.