Well, after Paris, my next stop was Rome and it did not disappoint.
Firstly, my accommodations. I did not know which hotel to pick as there were literally hundreds of them in Rome. So, I just randomly picked one, checked the price and made the booking. Little did I know that I ended up booking myself into a 4-star hotel smack in the city centre! Luckily they were having their off-peak promotional prices and only paid 30% of the peak prices. The room was the largest hotel room that I have ever stayed in by European standards. The bathroom itself was as big as my first-year accommodations in Cambridge. The location was excellent as it was within walking distance from almost every major Roman tourist attraction.
Secondly, the timing. I flew into Rome on Tuesday and went to the Vatican on Wednesday morning in time for the Pope’s weekly public appearance. We got there just in time to listen to the ending of the English version but stayed a while to witness the thing in several languages. I was just glad that I brought my zoom lens with me and I got a few shots off. It was literally ‘people mountain people sea’ in St Peter’s Square. There were huge screens set up to project his face and there was a stage set up right at the entrace of the Basilica.
Thirdly, the experience. My dad got his pockets picked right in front of my eyes. I witnessed the entire thing. In fact, I already saw them gypsy girls come in at the metro station. Then, one of them got in between me and my dad on the train and made her move. All I could do was to drag my dad out of there and told him that his pockets have just been picked. He said that he felt someone touching him and he thought the girl was being nice in helping an old man get off the train. Luckily, I had the wits to get him to empty his pockets just before we got into the metro station. All our pockets were empty and we carried everything in a single bag. Like I told my friend – put all the eggs in one basket and protect that basket – was my strategy.
Fourthly, the food. Well, my friend in Rome brought us to a nice place called “Taverna Cestia” for dinner one evening (it is located near the Piramides junction). The food was excellent! I was told that the restaurant was quite famous and it seroved Roman food, not necessarily Italian. We got to try different things and the food was all good. We had asparagus, seafood salad, pizza (and some other bread like thing), lobster linguine, chicken ala roma and proper tiramisu. The waiter gave us a look when we asked if the tiramisu had any alcohol in it – turns out that tiramisu only turned alcoholic in modern times.
All in all, Rome was interesting.
Pics to follow soon.