Sunday, August 28, 2011

Italian Job Part 4: Rome

This is going to be a long post because I spent 6 days in Rome! I might separate it into 2 parts if its getting too long.

Lets start!

Day 6 [04.07.2011]

We arrived in Roma Termini Station about 2 hours later from Naples. We got off the train and straight away entered the Metro. There, using the machine, we bought 2 CIS - Integrated Weekly Ticket which cost €16.00/person since we'll be staying there for almost a week.

Then we board the metro from Termini to S. Maria D. Soccorso. I just followed bB and according to him, its nearer. So once we arrived at S. Maria D. Soccorso, we asked around for our hotel but no one really spoke English, and no one really knew where our hotel were. Luckily, our hotel is situated next to Auchan Hypermarket, so when we asked how to get to Auchan, they told us which bus to take. It was fairly easy to get there but really far from the centre.. We got off the bus once we saw Auchan. Unfortunately, I forgot the bus number.

Arrived at S. Maria S. Maria D. Soccorso. I was shocked looking at their metro trains! totally vandalized!

The first 3 nights we're staying at Hotel Idea. If you've read my post about TVIexpress here
and here, you would understand why we stayed at 2 different hotels.

Anyway, once we got there, we checked in and asked for internet connection. There's a funny story about the WiFi. When I called the hotel before flying to Italy and asked about the WiFi, they said, the WiFi costs €7/day.. but when we asked for WiFi on the day we checked in, they gave us for 2 1/2 day free WiFi connection. Another thing is, we never saw the girl who was in charge of the counter that day again after the day we checked in. Then when the WiFi was disconnect, we asked the receptionist to reconnect it again, she said it costs €7/day. We were a bit baffled by it, but thought, guess it was just our luck? Alhamdulillah.. €7/day is too expensive for an internet connection.

Ok, back to the main story. It was raining quit heavily once we got into our room. So we just relaxed, watch tv, surf the net and nap for a bit. When the rain stopped, we got ready and head out to Auchan to buy some groceries. Then we went around the blocks to see if there's any halal restaurant around, we didn't find any, so we just bought 2 slices of pizza to bring back to the hotel. We returned to the hotel, eat our dinner that we bought, then sleep... ;))

Shopping for groceries.

Day 7 [05.07.2011]

We woke up about 9am. Had breakfast. It was a really good breakfast with a wide range of food to choose from.

Breakfast at Hotel Idea Roma Z3

After breakfast we head out into the city, we thought of catching the 2 p.m Free Tour to the Colosseum but saw it was quite late. I have no idea what we did after breakfast that we couldn't catch the 2 p.m tour.

The hotel provides a shuttle bus to Rebbibia every hour except for from 12:30pm to 6:00pm. So at about 2 or 3 p.m we went out and took the bus at Via di Grotta di Gregna, and unfortunately I forgot the bus number too. The bus goes to Ponte Mammolo metro station. We took the metro to Termini station in search of Halal Restaurants.. There were quite a few halal restaurants around Termini station, so we picked one Turkish restaurant and had lunch there.

After lunch, we made way to Spagna station for the Free Tour. We arrived 1/2 hour early, so we hang around the Piazza di Spagna and took some pictures.

Piazza di Spagna, The Spanish Steps and   Trinità dei Monti church.

The City Centre Free Walking Tour starts at 5 p.m. We waited in front of McD's for the tour guide. I forgot his name though. :P

So we started with the history of Piazza di Spagna, to Trevi Fountain, Piazza di Pietra, Pantheon, and ended at Piazza Navona. The tour took about one and half hour. Pretty short tour I must say. After the tour ended, we hang around Trevi Fountain while eating gelatos. Then we walk around the city looking at souvenirs and shops. We went back to Piazza di Spagna to take some photos. While taking picture at Piazza di Spagna, a dog had to sniff my jeans! WTF?! Like seriously?! Is there no one else to sniffs? I was pretty upset because it's my favourite pair of jeans. By 8 p.m, we head back to our hotel from Spagna. We had to return to the hotel early, I think they're doing some renovations or upgrading the metro system because Line A is opened only until 9 p.m.

The Pantheon

Fontana di Trevi. The water was so clear and cold I felt like jumping into the fountain!

Piazza Novona

So we took the shuttle bus from Rebbibia Station at 9:00p.m to return to our hotel. Then we bought some food at Auchan, and I had to dig some soil near Auchan to clean my jeans before going to bed. Thank God the place had a lot of soil!

Day 8 [06.07.2011]

We woke up quite late today. Almost missed breakfast. After breakfast, we took the shuttle bus at 11:30 am to the metro station and head out to the city. We're catching the 2 p.m Free Tour to the Colosseum today.

We arrived at Spagna quit early, so hang around there for a while. Trinità dei Monti church is situated at the top of the Spanish Steps. So we went up the Spanish Steps and took some picture of the church, the steps and the piazza from the hill top.

Piazza di Spagna view from the Spanish Steps.

Then we had lunch at McD's while waiting for the tour to start. At 2 p.m, the tourguide came, and we waited for about 10 minutes for everyone to settle in.

The tour starts off from Piazza di Spagna, to Colonna di Marco Aurelio, Piazza Venezia, Campidoglio, Colonna Traiana, Foro Romano and ended at the Colosseum (Outside). The tour took 2 hours. We thought of entering the Colloseum but then we saw the queue was really long, so we decided to enter the Colosseum another day since we still have some time in Rome.

Colonna di Marco Aurelio


Foro Romano

Then we went to Termini to buy lunch. We picked an Indian Halal restaurant. But the service was so horrible! We said one thing, and he understood another, and he blamed us for changing our minds on what to order. He snapped at us, and we snapped back but he insisted that we were wrong. I was already having a bad mood throughout the day, even while we were touring, plus this - It completely ruined my mood at that time, and I my anger was channeled to bB. We could've just walked out of that restaurant but I really don't know why we didn't. Instead, me and bB had our misunderstandings due to that event and went back to the hotel separately.

Once arrived at the hotel, I just went to sleep and our lunch was eaten for dinner, when both of us had cooled down. LOL! what a day..

Day 9 [07.07.2011]

We're checking out from Hotel Idea Roma Z3 today. So we hang around the hotel until 12 p.m. Then we took the shuttle bus at 12.30 p.m to the metro station and head to Termini Station. Today we're checking in at Bolognese hotel. It's nearer to the centre. The map we got didn't cover the whole city, just the main attractions, so we thought the hotel was near the Termini Station but we had to walk quite a bit to reach the hotel. Later we found out that the hotel was nearer to Castro Pretorio Station.

Bolognese hotel is more expensive than Hotel Idea Roma Z3 but it was quite awful. The rooms looks more like a hostel rather than a hotel. Enough said.

After checking in at Bolognese hotel. We walked around the centre. We had lunch at Hard Rock Cafe. After lunch, we went to Villa Borghese. It's the largest park in Rome. It's really beautiful! A lot of sculptures and fountain. Although I find the lake to be quite small, but it's really pretty~!

Lunch at Hard Rock Cafe, Rome.

The lake in Villa Borghese

After walking around the park, we went to Via Washington to Piazza Del Popolo. Then we walk through Via Del Corso which I think is the main shopping street of Rome. There are shops varies from Zara to H&M, to Chanel and Guess, and the lists goes on. Then we head back to Piazza di Spagna from Via Del Corso.

Street Dancing at Via Del Corso

3 stories ZARA. Didn't find anything I like though, except a pig-skinned belt. -__-

While in Zara, I accidentally touched a belt that looked like it was made out of pig skin, I didn't know if it was real or synthetic skin, but I was in doubt. Since I was in doubt, I had to clean my hands with soil! So where in the middle of the city can you find clean soil? So we had to go back to Villa Borghese to find soil.. We walked from Piazza di Spagna to Villa Medici, where I took some soil. Thank God we didn't have to go all the way to Villa Borghese to find soil. I would've lost my feet back there.. All the way there, I thought I should have brought the soil I took from Auchan. Would have saved me all this trouble. Life oh life~ So then, we walked back to our hotel. And I cleaned my hands. Phewww~ After cleaning up, we hang around the cafe for a while and used the internet before going to bed. Too much walking today. I'm dead tired.

Panoramic view of Rome before entering Villa Medici.

Day 10 [08.07.2011]

We're entering the Colosseum today! We woke up really early today. We went to the cafe for breakfast and guess what's for breakfast? a piece of bread and coffe. That's it. Really? For the price I'm paying? Ok, fine it's in the centre, but its really expensive and breakfast could have been better. I'm cursing TviExpress as it is. ;P

Ok, then we made our way to the Colosseum. We arrived there by 9 a.m. The queue was long but shorter than the other day we went. Just until the entrance. But it went by quite fast too. We bought the tickets and bB rent the audio thingy to know roughly about the history. The ticket costs €12 per adult, worth for 2 days includes the Colosseum and Foro Romano.

We entered to Colosseum first, went around the Colosseum, taking pictures and reading the info. There was a Nerone Exhibition/Museum held inside the Colosseum until September. We visited there too.

Inside the Colosseum

Then we entered the Forum Romanum. It was noon by the time we got out from the Colosseum and blazing hot! The fun thing about Rome is that, drinking water is free around town. The water comes straight from the mountains, so we kept refilling our water bottle. I didn't get any upset stomach drinking it unlike the time when I went to Egypt, so I guess they're clean. We didn't feel quite satisfied though visiting the Colosseum and the Forum because we had no tour guide, so we didn't really know the detailed history of the place. The audio thingy didn't help much though.

Queuing for water.

Panoramic view of the Forum.

After walking around the Forum, I wanted to visit the Cat Sanctuary at the Largo di Torre Argentina. So we walked from the Forum to Area Sacra dell'Argentina/Largo di Torre Argentina, passed by Campidoglio, so we took another picture with the beautiful building.

Once arrived there, I was looking around for cats in the Area, but didn't saw any cats. I was pretty disappointed and so was bB. So we rested at a Ducati Caffe near the Area, had some drinks and asked the waiter about the Cat Sanctuary. Unfortunately, their English understanding was limited and they didn't understand what we were asking.

Ducati Caffe

After our drinks, we went around the Area and I found a sign that said "Charity Cat Shop". I was so excited!!! I guess this is the place. So we went down, and played with all the cute cats. Most of the cats had sad stories and cases though. Most of them were sick too. It was pretty sad staying there, but I loved the fact that there are people who loves and care for the cats. So I made some donations to them because I'm a cat lover too.. ;))

Cat Sanctuary entrance.

This little kitty is amputated but was so active! It was so hard getting his picture!

bB was happy that I was satisfied. Then we took a bus back to Termini Station and had lunch in another Halal Restaurant. This time we went into a restaurant owned by a Bangladeshi. He was very kind and friendly. Then walked back to our hotel. Hang around the cafe again to use the internet before going to bed. ;P

Take ur pick! ^_^

Day 11 [09.07.2011]

Today, we're going for another Free Tour to the Vatican. The tour starts at 11 a.m covers Piazza di Spagna to Via Condotti, Piazza Augusto Imperatore, Ara Pacis, Ponte degli Angeli, Castel S. Angelo, and ends at Basilica di S. Pietro (Outside).

Ponte degli Angeli

Castel S. Angelo

Basilica di S. Pietro

I must say, out of all the Free Tours we've been to in Europe. Italy is the most boring! Sorry Italians..

We didn't enter the Saint Peter Basilica since both of us aren't Christians and our friends that went inside says there's nothing there unless you're Christians because most people just pray while they're in the Vatican. So we just took some picture and went back to Spagna because bB wanted to try the coffee at Caffè Greco which is the best known and oldest bar in Rome. bB ordered Cappuccino and I just bought a glass of Coke. We just ordered from the bar, because the price is doubled if you decided to sit. They didn't even allowed us to look around inside. If you want to look around, you have to sit and pay double!

At Caffe Greco

Then we went souvenir shopping, met Shafiq (a friend from Moscow) for dinner at yesterday's halal restaurant. We knew he was in Rome from foursquare. Technology! ;P After dinner, we hang around the Circo Massimo and watch the sunset. By the time it was dark, we took the trams to Colloseum and hang around there watching the night scene. For a week we've been in Rome we had never spend any night hanging around the city because of the Line A metro closing at 9 p.m except for Saturdays. But we forgot that tonight was a Saturday, so we didn't go to Spagna or Fontana di Trevi. I'm sure it would've been nice and beautiful to see the fountain at night.

Circo Massimo

The Colosseum at night.

We returned to our hotel and started packing because tomorrow we'll be leaving to Riga before heading back to Moscow.

Day 12 [10.07.2011]

We checked out after breakfast and made our way to the airport at around 10 a.m. because our flight is at 1:35 p.m.

From Termini to Fiumicino Airport.

At the airport, we had some minor fits with the steward at the counter. I really don't know what was his problem, but he gave us a lot of problems. First, he asked for our visa to Riga which we didn't need any visa to enter Riga. So we thought he was asking for the visa to Russia and showed him the Russian visa, which then he asked why are our visa expiry date is different from each other. Does it matter? Then we had to convinced him that we didn't need visa to Riga.

Then he gave us a problem with my luggage. Saying it was too big [yeah, it didn't fit the measurement, but it never had any problem before in flight. It always fits in the cabin compartment], so we tried to convinced him that there wasn't any problem with the bag in Moscow or Riga, and he replied "This is not Moscow, This is not Riga".. WTF, I had reached my boiling point. He asked us to pay and put the bag in the cargo. So then wanting to try our luck, we queue at the next counter, but his colleague told on us, and the the problematic steward said, if we don't pay for the luggage, we can't ride the plane. GRRRRRRRR~!

We had no choice, but to pay for the luggage. Costs me €30!! And that just ruined my visit to Italy! My mood was off the whole 2 hours in the plane until we reached Riga. Wasn't really a warm goodbye, was it?

Riga or Kuala Lumpur? ;p

Oh well, other than that our trip as a whole was really fun.. I do miss Italy, especially Venice, but I miss the time spent travelling with bB the most. Hopefully there will be more travelling in the future! ;)

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