Archive for February 1st, 2011
Welcome to Day 6! Today is our final day in Rome. I didn’t plan anything for this day, because I figured there would be something we would want to do, that I wouldn’t be able to predict ahead of time. Let it be known, I can function, without a plan, for at least 1 day. Of course I did have a couple of ideas sketched out in my head, just in case. One of those ideas was to visit Ostia Antica, which is what we decided to do. Ostia Antica is an ancient Italian port town that was covered in river mud a long time ago, and thus well preserved until uncovered by archeologist somewhat recently. It’s kind of like Pompeii, but much closer to Rome. Getting to Ostia Antica is fairly easy, you take the Rome metro system to the edge of Rome, and then you can use the same Metro ticket to board a regional train to Ostia Antica. As an added bonus, Ostia Antica is near the beach, so you can also check out an Italian beach while you are there.
We took the Metro to the Pyramide station, where we would switch to the regional train. Something seemed off, because there were a lot more people in the Metro stations, and they all seemed to be in a big hurry to board the trains. Still, we made it to the Pyramide station, and headed towards the regional train tracks. Then they started closing all the gates. When we looked confused at the Metro workers, all they said was “strike, strike”. The Rome public transportation system had gone on strike. Wonderful. The good news is we didn’t make it all the way to Ostia Antica, which would have been around 20 miles from Rome, but we were still about 2-3 miles from the central part of Rome. Fortunately, the taxis were still running, of course now everyone wanted a taxi, but after a little wait in line, we got a taxi to take us back to central Rome. Below is a picture of the Pyramid near the Pyramide Metro station, where we waited for our taxi.
I wasn’t really sure what to do at this point. We had seen most of the main attractions in central Rome, but with the public transportation strike, I wasn’t really comfortable going anywhere else. One place we hadn’t seen was the Castle St. Angelo, so that’s where we went. The Castle St. Angelo is near the vatican, and once upon a time, it was used as a fortress and hiding place for the Pope. Supposedly, there is a secret walk way between the Castle and the Vatican. I tried to find it, but I was unsuccessful. Today the Castle St. Angelo is a museum. Here is the bridge leading to the Castle.
The best part of the Castle St. Angelo is that you can climb to the top, where it has great views of Rome and the Vatican. This is the view of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Here is Rome and the Tiber river from the top of the Castle St. Angelo.
After the Castle St. Angelo, we took a Tiber river cruise. The Tiber river isn’t as scenic as say the Seine or Thames, but the cruise would take us to Trastevere for lunch, without walking or finding a cab.
This is a street in Trastevere. Trastevere is a neighborhood in Rome with many pubs and restaurants. I would describe it as artsy. If you look closely in the picture below, the restaurant has a chalk board that reads: “We are against War and Tourist Menus”. We didn’t eat there. We did eat at the Ristorante Paris, where Anthony Bourdain ate in his show No Reservations. We had the fried artichokes, and they were very good.
After Trastevere, we walked around the Villa Borghese park for awhile, where I saw this graffiti. I had been practicing my Italian before the trip, and I was able to translate this as: “And after a year, we are still here to talk” or something like that. Good for them. Also, is graffiti an Italian word? Because it sounds Italian, and that would make a lot of sense, because there is a lot of graffiti in Italy. Hmm…
A view of Rome from the Villa Borghese with St. Peter’s Basilica in the background.
This is some type of water clock in the Villa Borghese. It was so hot, I totally could have jumped in that water.
Here is another fountain in the Villa Borghese. This fountain is on the way out of the park, and while walking by it, an Italian girl came up to me and said: “Scusi, dov’e Villa Borghese?”. And I knew what she meant!!! I was so proud of myself, I pointed up the hill and said, “Uh, that way”. She looked at me funny, said “Okay”, and walked off. It was exhilarating. But now that it’s over, I wonder, why did she think I was Italian? I also got mistaken for German on this trip. That I can kind of understand, but do I not look American. I always heard that Americans stand out in foreign countries. Is that a myth? Or do I just have an international flare? I’m going with flare.
On our last night, we ate dinner near the Spanish steps at the same restaurant we went to on night 4. Kiko was a fun waiter, and we wanted to see him again. We also walked around the shopping district near the Spanish Steps. Here is a street artist doing her thing with spray paint. She was fairly talented.
Our last stops on the trip were for gelato and to see the Trevi fountain at night. It was a Friday night, and the Trevi fountain was packed with tourist. Very pretty though. Afterwards, we tried to get a taxi back to our apartment, but the taxis in Rome on a Friday night only want to take you places that will pay them to bring people. Like some casino the taxi drivers kept mentioning. The metro was still shut down, so we had to walk for a bit until we found a taxi that would take us. Ugh.
And that is pretty much it. It was only 6 days, but they were exhausting. I’ll have one more post with some odds and ends. Expect that sometime in the next 4 months or so You can see more pictures from my trip here and a few videos here.