After much convincing and talk, I decided to accompany a friend Jane on a cruise from Rome, Italy to Istanbul, Turkey and back to Rome back in the summer of 2013. She was a world traveler and was intrigued by this cruise that provided 3 days in Istanbul, so plenty of time for her to shop and me to see the sights of this world class city. Things were a bit unstable in Istanbul during this time, so our stop and ability to sight see was in jeopardy and it was not until a few days before, that the Captain was able to confirm our stop there. Wow! She was delighted! I am to meet Jane in Rome, so I book my own way from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to Rome, Italy. I find a decent fair that takes me from here to Houston, to Frankfurt, and then to Rome. I do not mind the changes of planes because I like to get off the plane for a bit and also find the best airfares this way. Yes, it takes longer, but it is okay!
My plan was to meet Jane in Rome, Italy as she was coming from her home town area of San Francisco, CA and I was coming from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. She had arrived a few days earlier and was waiting for me at the Hotel Fontanella Borghese located just a few blocks away from the Spanish Steps in Rome. Jane always chose 1st class hotels with incredible breakfast buffets, so I was sure not to be disappointed. Upon arrival at the Rome International Airport, I was to meet 2 other ladies who were friends of Jane’s and would be accompanying us on the cruise. A little bit nervous trying to connect with people you do not know, but to my surprise I knew them already! It was a fun encounter and everyone was relaxed to hang with other familiar people and off we went in our hired car that had been waiting to take us to the hotel to meet Jane.
Jane knows Rome from her previous travels and she was a great guide leading us to dinner at the Ristorante Alfredo where the original Alfredo Pasta sauce and dish was invented!
The next morning it is time to explore Rome because I only have a day to see all that I can see. Our end of cruise is back in Rome, however we head directly to the airport after the cruise. Where to start? Of course being located right next to the Spanish Steps and early in the morning, it is the best place to visit early because there are far less crowds. Then we find one of my favorite ways to get the overview of any city, Hop on Hop off buses. Spending the next few hours riding around Rome past all the major sights gives me an overview as well as an orientation to the city. Then when I am ready after I make a complete round trip, I use the Hop on Hop off features of these buses to see a specific site.
Our first stop is the Trevi Fountain and with my obligatory coin toss I make my first visit memorable! Remember the legend for the 1 coin toss is that you wish for a return to Rome someday, 2 coins and you will return and fall in love, 3 coins you will return, find love, and marry! One coin is enough for me!
We continue on and walk around the many plazas and sights around Rome, with the next stop at the Parthenon which was a former Rome Temple that has the unique circular opening to the sky at the top. Considered to be the 8th wonder of the Ancient World, it is a very fascinating place built in 125 AD featuring an amazing rotunda with tributes to gods.
Right next to the Pantheon is the huge famous Piazza Navona which we kind of stumbled upon and it was an excellent place to hang around for while. It features 2 fountains, one at each end, one called Fontana de Nettuno and Fontana Moro with the Museum Gladiotori located in the middle side of the plaza that stretches for about 2 blocks. Lots of people, cafes, and vendors are found in this relaxing square.
We continue on our Hop on Hop off bus and walking tour of Rome by heading over to the area of the Rome Coliseum and Palatine Hill where there is a park of Roman ruins. We decided to go into the coliseum and do our own self guided tour while doing the same over at the Palatine Hill an archaeological site where many ruins from Rome exist including several that have been moved to that area.
For our final stop and long walk is across the Tiber River to visit Vatican City, the home of the Catholic Religion. Vatican City is it’s own city and country and is the place for St. Peters Cathedral and the home of the current Pope.
Today we are leaving Rome and taking the train to Civitavecchia, the port for the city of Rome about 45 minutes away to catch our cruise on the Celebrity Reflection for the next 10 days. I will write about that cruise with stops in Mykonos, Santorini, Athens, Istanbul, Ephesus, and more in another blog. Keep in touch!