Our plane landed earlier than expected! We were separated on the flight from Abu Dhabi to Rome, but it didn’t really make much difference. We made our way off the plane and the mixture of joy and exhaustion hit us. I can remember standing there, waiting for our luggage to appear on the carrousel and just saying to Ellen, “Oh my god! We’re in Rome!”
We started the trip feeling a bit cautious, and of course the airport made us feel very overwhelmed, but the people were eager to help and we were quick to negotiate transport prices for a drive to our hotel. I kept my eyes plastered out the window the entire time and I don’t think I’ve ever felt more child-like in my adult life – the anticipation, the excitement, everything was just charging through my body and I knew that no matter what happened I would make the most of every second I had of this trip.
The check-in process for our hotel took no time at all and we were up in our room and showered with clean clothes on within about 30 minutes. We decided to have a quick rest – just enough time to check in with the families and regain our wits – and then we were off on our first Roman adventure.
Despite a few “where the hell do we go” moments, we navigated our way through cobblestones and shops, and I remember feeling surprised at the lack of people around us. Piazza Navona was beautiful, but before we could take it in we had to celebrate finding our way there without assistance (unless a map check counts?).
We got into the habit of high-fiving each other at the smallest of successes:
Don’t have to ask for directions? High Five!
Dominated the Public Transport? High Five!
A Merry-Go-Round was set up in the square, and we realised quickly that this was the place to be, as we watched children playing games and street vendors selling everything from walnuts to balloon animals. Little did we know that when we joined our Topdeck Tour the next day we would be back here in the evening to learn a bit more about the amazing architecture and symbolism behind the fountain and tower that stands tall in the square.
Our first meal was beyond amazing, although looking back on the trip it feels like each new place was a better feed than the last…
I laughed and joked with Ellen about her pizza choice, and she soon did the same to me, days later when I ordered a Margherita pizza for the 5th time! Dad always said to me, “you rate an Italian restaurant based on how well they do a Margherita Pizza!” so I felt it was my duty to try as many of them as I could. At the end of the meal we were also served complimentary Limoncello – and if that doesn’t tell you that you’re in Italy then I don’t know what will!
Anyone who knows me will know that I love my Limoncello – and how could you not love it when it’s used in the same sentence as “complimentary”?
We wandered around for a little longer before finally deciding to grab some gelato for the walk back to the hotel. Again, another super satisfying experience for my tastebuds and my tummy. We were far too worn-out to continue our journey, so we got into bed and I did a bit of reading. I think I must have read the same line at least 12 times before I decided to put the book down. We had our alarms set for 7am, hoping we could get 8 or 9 hours sleep. The last time I looked at the clock it was 7:30pm, so it’s safe to say we definitely exceeded our sleeping expectations.