It was our last full day in Rome and we had a 5-hour tour of the Colosseum, Palantine Hill and the Roman Forum scheduled starting at 11:30 AM. Court and I took a nap starting at 8 PM the night before and I woke up at 10 PM and started to write the previous posts. Court slept longer but was awake before I even realized. I was concentrating in the dark typing on my phone. I am now attempting to write this post with my laptop while now in Florence and a sleeping Courtney in the next bed over.
With ending up writing and texting home until 3:30 AM, it was best that I went to bed. We had a long day ahead and we were going to make the most of it. I slept for 5.5 more hours and did some abs on the floor with Court. I am definitely sore today that it hurts to cough or sneeze. Then we got ready to go for our walk which we thought was going to take awhile. It didn't. We were making great time and seeing the high walls and arches of the Colosseum was exciting but still not enough to wake me up. I needed some caffeine.
As soon as we got to the street that kept us from the Colesseum, the many runners for the hunger run was happening and polizia was doing their best keeping tourist out of their way. We probably stood there for about 10 minutes watching them pass until we saw a big gap and about 20 of us impatient tourists made a dash for it.
We made our way towards our meeting spot for our tour. Along the way, un oumo said I had a stain on my shirt. I was wearing my 49ers Faithful shirt because it was Sunday and we were playing the Buffalo Bills. I assumed he was a Bills fan. He said he was from New York and unfortunately pointed us in the wrong direction to use our voucher for our tours. I knew where we were supposed to go. We didn't let him waste our time.
We found our spot at the Palentine Hill entrance and I needed a snack. We had our continental breakfast at the hotel but this was going to be a 5-hour tour with a lunch break but who knows when that was going to take place. We walked towards the main street where our tour bus dropped Cugino and I off four years ago. We saw food vendors and trucks then. I remember getting a Ringo cookie packet. Thinking they would be there again, we walked to the far end with no trucks in sight. I didn't pack any snacks and I was concerned. We ended up walking around the other side of the Colosseum so I can get some grub. I ordered a macchiato, inquired if an omelette was going to take long and it did, but I also ordered 4 mini pizza like pockets to go as a snack. I asked for the omelette to go and I ate it as we speed walked to our meeting spot.
We found our group and got situated. A couple was there from Sacramento and the husband had a wandering eye. He would look somewhere else when he spoke to people. We had a lot of time standing around because someone left their bag in their driver's car and other people just showed up 15 minutes late.
We finally went in with our tour guide, John. He was friendly, spoke clearly and was a bit funny. We started out waiting another 15 minutes for people to use the restroom with all this time, John speaking in our ear through our headsets.
Palantine Hill was massive and truly fit for an emperor. It had gardens, a large open area for exercise where they also displayed statues and art, a hall, underground passageways for servants, deliveries, etc., his own army dormitory and of course a hall where he would sit upon a throne.
John took us to a lookout that showed us the Circus Maximus that was built before the Colosseum. It was a long track for chariot races. It held more people than Colosseum. Also from this look out, you can see the dome of St. Peter's Basilica.
It was a warm day and I was still sore from the squats from the Spanish Steps and being tired from the night before. Because we could hear John thru our headset wherever we wandered to within reason, I often tried to find some shade.Though wearing my Brooks, my feet were also sore.
We went to a lookout point where John explained the Roman Forum, how it was a gathering place for the government, announcements for the people, retail and more. There were places to make sacrifices to their Gods and there was a God for everything.
Then we had a break. We went off to a different direction from our group and dined across the street and didn't bother to wait for a table outside like we normally do. It was warm, there was a sign that said air-conditioning and I needed to get off my feet. We were sat inside and the AC was not as strong as I would have liked. We ordered food, wine and beer. I ordered the anitpasta seafood selection and Court had her caprese salad. My platter came with smoked salmon, a few slices of what seemed to be octopus bologna. It was interesting but tasty. I also had shrimp with shredded vegetables. My platter was perfect. It wasn't heavy, it was seafood and it went perfectly with my wine. We had to go meet our group for the Colosseum tour but first, we got gelato. It was warm and we walked a lot. We deserved it. I had Oreo, strawberry and accidentally said vanilla instead of coconut. It was still good though. I can't remember the last time I had a waffle cone.
After waiting for the stragglers and tardy tourists again, we headed to the Colosseum with gelato in hand. We entered in entrance number 49. I loved that, though we would lose that game to the Bills. It's a tough time to be a 49er fan right now.
I have been to the Colosseum before so there wasn't anything that I haven't seen before. Would I go back to The Vatican or the Colosseum again? Probably not unless we were able to go underground, but the underground tour isn't running around in the area in the center, it's just being under the stage/platform they had installed to show where the floor was. Some things John did mention that I didn't know was that they brought in elephants, alligators and rhinos to fight the gladiators or battle each other. John also mentioned that there have been reports that women versus women fights occured on a rare occasion. The Colosseum and the Circus Maximus and the like were the Emperor's way of keeping the people happy. Entertained community means an adored Emperor.
These places are incredible and it's amazing to imagine what they were like in prime condition, how they were even built with the lack of technology we have today and how they have been able to survive this long. You read about them in your textbooks but they become more real when you've walked on the same land, climb the same steps and gaze out in the distance from steeples still standing.
We left our group and tour guide, John, and headed to the Altare della Patria (alter for the familyhood). It is massive. At the gate, you will be stopped by security to make sure people can leave and then you may enter. Crazy that people have the courtesy to allow passageway. Climb the marble steps and see large beautiful statues of figures on horses and to the left and right of you. Reach one level and there are two gents in uniform guarding what is like the tomb of the unknown soldier in Washington DC with two torches ablaze to each side. Climb more steps on either side and enter inside for MORE stairs. Find yourself on the terrace for another view of this beautiful city. Pay 7 euros to take the elevator to the very top for another view. We declined and moved onto our next destination, the Pantheon.
On our way there, we stopped at a shop where a coat with a unique cut really caught my eye. I haven't bought any souvenirs yet and went inside. I love all the hats, coats and boots. I saw a military like jacket and had to try it on. I tried on the coat that caught my eye but I didn't like it on my. I found the military jacket and tried it in red and blue. I went with the red one. Can't wait to wear it at DW!
We continued on and found the Irish pub that Ivan, our cute cab driver from the night before was talking about. We didn't stop in. I could get whiskey at home and for nothing. Literally. We continued on and found the Pantheon. Unfortunately it closed 30 minutes before we had arrived. So... Wine?!? Yup! We headed in the direction of the Piazza Navona. We missed it the night before because we were so tired after dinner. We were headed in its direction but decided to pick up a taxi where we met Ivan instead. Before making it to the piazza, we picked up postcards to send home. I had to send one to Arya, Nate, Brent, Lola as proof that I went to church since she claims I haven't taken her since Easter, and to my Nikki B. who has inspired me to travel internationally once a year, whom I can practice my Spanish with and who has always been a supporter of everything that I do, plus my fitness aspirations. I had to send her a post card of the Spanish Steps and say how many squats and lunges we did on them.
We found our way to the middle of the piazza where there was a beautiful fountain and obelisk. We checked out the wine list at a few places and went around to find a spot that had crepes, gelato and wine. SOLD! We had a front row seat outside where we could hear music play and the sound of the fountain. We ordered a bottle of wine and I had a nutella crepe with fragolas e coconut gelato. Sooo good. We met Heather and Leo who were sitting right next to us. They were in Europe celebrating her 40th birthday. Who needs a big party? I too would also rather travel the world. They were a couple from Sacramento. Another one! We have met so many people that are either from Sacramento or have ties to Sacramento. Who knew! They were great and I gave them my card. Hopefully they connect with me and come by DW sometime. I invited them to come out and hang out with us that evening but they had other plans. They were doing a day trip to Florence the next day. And the way that night turned out, perhaps it was best.
We then moved on and went to a bar called the G-Bar. Not really a great deal on drinks but it was still a good time. They sat inside while I sat on the other side of the table top on the outside. A group of guys came to sit next to us and were speaking Italian. It was all agreed upon that the one in the New York cap had the best body and was the best looking. Court and I have the same taste so I told her to go get her tequila and buy him one. She did and I asked the bello if he wanted one. He said no and that it was going to be an easy night for him. He spoke very good English which also means that he heard and understood every objectifying comment about him. No shame. Therefore, Court had two shots of tequila. I was not going to partake. Good thing I didn't. Read on.
We went back to Mr. Brown's and I had the same cocktail there. They continued to drink and we met a guy in a beanie named Sebastian. His friend Pietro eventually joined us but was tired and didn't really want to drink. Sebastian pulled out papers and tobacco. It's been a long time since I've attempted to roll a joint as I haven't smoked pot in possibly over 12 years. I have never rolled a cigarette before. Sebastian let me do it. I did and Sebastian said it was poorly done but doable. I had to take one drag from the cigarette I rolled. And done. I actually cannot stand cigarette or weed smoke and Italy is an ashtray. Beautiful city but everyone smokes.
I was hungry and there was a place called Toast next to Mr. Brown's. I basically ordered three different paninis to share and I knew Court needed to eat. She was getting hammered. Her eyes were slowly closing and she was slurring. Roo continued to try to get Pietro to drink. He wasn't having it. The paninis were OK. To me, their sandwiches lack flavor and they're rather dry and simple.
We eventually walked back across the bridge with no particular place to go. We parted ways with the boys and we grabbed a taxi to go back to Roo's. We were only a few blocks away and we could do that walk in the morning when he had to go. They were in the back and I was up front sitting and chatting with Enzo our cab driver. I was obviously tipsy but had the best time speaking to him in my broken Spanish and Italian. We were laughing and he wasn't irritated with my attempts at speaking his language but he understood. Roo passed out. Court kept saying she needed to go to the bathroom. Mother role in me had to firmly tell her to relax and that we'll be there in a bit. We eventually made it to Roo's and for some reason, he said he didn't live there. He didn't recognize the place. I knew exactly where we were and I wasn't going to get any info out of him. Perhaps he checked out already. Perhaps he was actually staying somewhere else because Vicente left that morning. I don't know, so I apologized to Enzo and had him take us to our hotel. I gave my card to Enzo. He was so great and fun to talk to! We made it to the hotel, there, the two crashed hard on the bed immediately and I had to sleep in the middle at 1:45 AM. What a fun, last night in Rome.