Monday, March 7, 2016

Exploring Rome

Thursday was a day of nothing and it was wonderful.  It was exactly what we needed.  Melissa had Arabic class that afternoon and Ryan had some errands to run before leaving for Rome that evening, so Mike and I took the opportunity to just lounge around the Dombrock's apartment. I can't reiterate how nice it was.   All four of us were catching a flight to Rome that evening to meet up with other Olmsted scholars and their families for a little reunion, so we grabbed an early dinner, bid farewell to Morocco and hopped on a plane and headed to our last country stop on our month long trip.  Bonjourno Italia!

Almost all of Mike's classmates had RSVPed yes to a reunion in Rome for the weekend.  They had rented a huge villa outside of the city and scholars placed around the world were coming.  Our little trek from Turkey looked like nothing compared to people's travels from South America and China! Very impressive!  Before we checked into the villa on Friday, though, we had to make a reservation for a hotel in the city for Thursday night.

Our flight was delayed and we didn't end up getting to our hotel until around 2am, but it was worth the wait because this hotel was super cool. We stayed at the Movie Guesthouse, which has a different movie theme for each room.  Mike and I stayed in the Batman room, while Ryan and Melissa got to spend the night with Johnny Depp in the Pirates of the Caribbean room.

Kind of creepy to wake up to!

The view from our balcony.

Melissa and Ryan got to hang out with this guy all night!

Friday morning, Mike found a walking tour in one of the guide books that one of us had and it was a great intro/refresher to the city.  Melissa, Mike and I had all been to Rome before, while this was Ryan's first time in Italy.  It had been FIFTEEN years since I was in Rome, so I definitely needed a refresher.  I'm pretty sure the only sight I wanted to see when I was eleven was the inside of the gelato store or the local pizzeria (both still high on my priority list). The walking tour was great because we were able to see a lot of the sights while setting our own pace (ie stopping for gelato and espresso).
There is an Italian brand called Hogan.  I definitely want to be a member of the Hogan Club!

Our first major stop was the Trevi Fountain. It's as beautiful and amazing as the pictures look. I actually remember being here the last time I was in Rome, which must mean it made an impression on me.

photo shoot time!

We love having photographers to take our picture.

As we were wandering around the fountain, one of us saw a sign for a rooftop bar that offered a great view of the fountain.  We said "when in Rome!" and headed up to the roof for a drink and a great view.

WE had a hard time breaking ourselves away from the view, but our next stop was the Pantheon.  Well, actually it was gelato, but I don't think that was on the walking tour.  Setting our own pace....


We introduced the Dombrocks to the world of Rick Steve's Walking Tour Podcasts with the Pantheon walking tour.  We all put in our headphones and eagerly waited for Rick to tell us where to look and the history behind everything.  The Pantheon is incredible and learning some of the history behind it was even more fascinating. 

There was a salami shop that was right outside of the Pantheon.  We happened to wander in and ended up doing a full on salami and cheese tasting.  Ryan bought some salami and I deeply regret not following suit.  It was so good!

I can see why my brother is a vegetarian....

 We spent the rest of the afternoon just kind of wandering and taking in the city. We wandered into Piazza Navona which is everything you imagine an old European city would feel and look like, filled with huge statues, beautiful buildings and the hustle and bustle that is expected.

After wandering around the city for a while, it was time to go pick up our stuff and head to the villa. It took about an hour to get there from the city, but it was totally worth it.  The villa was located on a large property with a main house and then two guest houses, which was plenty of room for the 30+ people we had.  There was a ton of room for the children to run around and play, while the parents could hang out, catch up and still manage to supervise the all of the kids.  The scholar and his wife who were planning this had arranged for dinner to be served at the villa that night, which was great because it meant that we could all just relax and hang out instead of worrying about finding a restaurant to accommodate all of us.  It was a ton of fun hearing about everyone's experiences and learning about the different cultures.  We were exhausted by the end of the night, but we couldn't help but stay up late catching up.

Step Count: 15,694