Wednesday, May 16, 2018

We're back! Italy Part 1


So yes, I have been back a few days now from our epic European adventure and have been just trying to get our life sorted.  Every day I thought I would try and post but life/business got in the way so today is the day.  Our trip to Europe went mostly smoothly.  We dodged a rolling Air France strike (they were on strike the two days before our flight home), rain, cancelled trains, misplaced luggage(at Vancouver on way home, it turned up the next day) and a terrorist attack in Paris by a couple of days that happened a 10 minute walk from our hotel.  We had a great but tiring trip, saw loads, and likely next time we head to Europe I will have to schedule more wandering days with nothing planned.  This time though we had two adult kids with us so I wanted them to see as much as we possibly could.  

Our flight to Europe was reasonably smooth with KLM out of Edmonton via Amsterdam.  I can never sleep on flights so watched a couple of movies.  We like KLM as they tend to be pretty decently priced with good service.  Our first night was Sunday so we landed, found our AirBNB apartment next to the Vatican museums and got situated.  For our very first AirBNB experience we got extremely lucky.  The owners of this apartment own a couple of apartments plus a restaurant in Rome - very professional people who arranged for an arrival transfer for us to their apartment and met us exactly on time as they were unlocking the unit as our cab pulled up.  The apartment was fully kitted out, excellent kitchen, comfy beds, A/C, four tvs and a small balcony to a central shared green space with other apartments with birds and trees.  We loved it - the kitchen was great so instead of trying to find somewhere to eat that night we found the nearest minimarket and bought some pasta, wine and salad and ate in.  The next morning while the boys rested hubby and I walked 1/2 a block to the Trionfale market which is only open weekday mornings.  I wish I had gotten more pictures of it but we were buying groceries and I didn't want to look like too much of a tourist.  Excellent produce was available so we stocked up on veggies and fruit for our four days in Rome.  It wasn't cheap but at peak of season and tasted amazing.
Trionfale Market

 Monday afternoon we took the metro for 1.40 Euro each to the Colosseum for our tour through a company called Overome which also included the Palentine Hill and Forum.  It was a great tour - 3  hours but worth every penny.  It was a small group of 9 (some tour companies try to take 25 people at a time - don't do it!).  Let's just say that ancient Rome had plenty of sadists and the stories from here will make your blood curdle.  Click here for more info on the Colosseum.
 Tuesday it was a little rainy - it was also Labour Day in Italy so many attractions were closed.  Originally we thought the Pantheon was closed but our tour guide from the prior day assured us it would be open and it was (their website was incorrect).
fountain outside the Pantheon
 The Pantheon is one of the neatest buildings I've ever seen.  It is naturally lit from the hole in the ceiling along with a few small candles.  It was a roman temple but survived likely due to the fact that it was turned into a church which it remains today.  The hole in the ceiling is called the Oculus and is a feat of architecture.  Read here for more info.
Pantheon

Oculus ceiling of the Pantheon

In my next post I will go into how we got to see the Pope (free of charge, tickets are super easy to come by, will give details), and the Vatican Museums which are some of the most amazing museums I've ever seen.

Our apartment was so close to Vatican City - just 3 blocks from the outer wall!

Just a few observations - the Rome metro was much cleaner and more efficient than I expected.  It also had screens in English, so easy for us to use.  The only drawback was that it showed it would take paper Euros for payment - but not a single machine worked that way, only took coins.  I think it is likely due to the fact that they don't have people regular stocking them with paper change.  Anyway, we just saved our change everywhere we went so we had sufficient money to take the metro for the four of us.

Also, I fully expected people to try and rip us off (common thing said about Italy) and to be nasty.  Quite the contrary.  We had left some change in the coin area at the Salerno train station and a man came running after us to hand it to us.  So kind!  It was only 5 Euro but all the same we never at any time felt anyone was trying to rip us off the whole trip.  Also, people were very friendly to us everywhere, not just the tourist areas.  There was only one person that ignored us at the Rome train station where we were trying to buy breakfast at 6am.  There were two ladies serving and one assisted and one ignored.  The one who assisted spoke some English.  I realized afterwards the other lady likely didn't speak a word of it and was afraid to attempt to help us obvious tourists due to language barrier.  Everyone else was truly nice to us - what a relief that was!

In other news just before our trip I got a wonderful letter indicating I must report for jury duty in early July for a civil trial.  I have been called once before but due to managing a travel store with minimal staff right after September 11 I managed to get out of it that time.  I am technically an employee not owner of our company so couldn't dodge the bullet this time.  In Canada each Province is different how they reimburse you for jury duty.  BC only gives you $20 a day!  Quebec pays $90 a day - no wonder people in BC try and get out of it.  Fortunately though yesterday I received an email indicating that my jury duty was cancelled and I won't be recalled for this trial.  Yay!! I would have had to do my regular job anyway since we are a two person company so I was not looking forward to possibly doing double duty for 10 days.  We don't have nearly the amount of jury trials that the States does in Canada so hopefully I won't be called upon to do be part of a jury again.

Work is extremely busy so Part 2 will be posted as soon as I get life sorted.  The weather is beautiful here, sunshine and mid 20 degrees celcius so I planted tomatoes, strawberries, put in my front flower bed and planted a couple of flowers in pots for the back patio.  We also washed the green gunk off (West Coast Winter gunk) the house, got out the patio furniture and had a BBQ with Mom for Mothers day.  No rest for the wicked!

18 comments:

  1. Ah! I’ve been looking forward to this post and was not disappointed! You guys take the best vacations! The pic of male and female.....is that y’all or the two adult children? I’m going back now to look at all the photos again! Great post and I love arm chair traveling with you!

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    1. Haha you could call us adult children but that's us! I am not posting pics of the boys for their privacy :)

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  2. A great read! Looking forward to part deux.

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  3. Glad to have you back in North America. You have me getting excited for our August trip.

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    1. I have some Paris tips for you - will be in future posts:) Paris is a busy but lovely city

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  4. That Oculus is amazing! I'm so glad to hear that you encountered friendly people on your trip. So many sights to see and all so incredible! Glad you had a great trip and that you are home now, safe and sound.

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    1. It was a great trip. Truly one of those amazing world site trips. Food was great also :)

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  5. Sounds wonderful I love Italy and like you have never found the people to be rude or unhelpful. I think if you travel with the mindset that everyone is lovely helpful and kind that will be your experience and viceverca etc. The universe always provides us with what we think about lol. Glad you had such an awesome time looking forward to the next instalment.

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    1. We loved it too - we had a great experience

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  6. Welcome home! I'm so glad you had a good time. That photo of the pair of you is lovely.
    Shamefully when it comes to Italy I've only been to Trieste and Venice, shocking considering I studied Latin and absolutely loved reading about the exploits of the residents of the Roman Empire!
    I've never met an Italian I didn't like (and there's a lot living here!) xxx

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    1. Thanks! We did get more pics of us this trip, will post more later. You would love Rome but not the crowds, go earlier in the Spring if you do go! March/early April

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  7. Great photos and I love what you had to say about your experiences with Italian people. The generalizations people make are so hateful. I hear that about Spaniards, too, and it drives me crazy.

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    1. Generalizations are hateful - unfortunately those are ones I heard repeatedly as a travel agent. So glad we went to Italy. I hope to go back and do a quieter part of it at some point in a future trip, less touristy area. Salerno was like that and we actually really liked it, hardly saw any tourists there at all

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  8. Sounds like it was loads of fun but tiring. Love that crazy fountain in the shot with you and Hubs.lolz
    How did the kids like it? I hope they appreciated y'all taking them along.

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    1. The kids did like it an appreciated it - we all had a good time but were all super tired when it was over. Apparently we can keep up with them though

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  9. Welcome back! Those Romans were brilliant were they not?! The Pantheon is a thing of beauty, the proportions perfect. I'm so glad you weren't affected by the rolling strikes and your bnb sounds lovely. Weird about jury duty isn't it? My sister-in-law has been called 3 times but each time was cancelled. I have never received a request yet. And certainly don't look forward to it!

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  10. Welcome home! Don't worry about not immediately posting - there is so much to do upon return.

    What a trip! I'd love to do a Med cruise and seeing your pictures makes me think spending more time there would be even better.

    I'm late which means there is another post to read. :)

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