Rome is enchanting and exciting…all that history, right in one city!
After doing a little reconnaissance around Rome, learning the ropes so to speak, the 3rd day after my arrival, I took the rapid transit to the termini, then the Metro subway over to the colosseum. My tour was to take off early, and naturally, I was just on time. Not early, just on time.
I was attempting to keep a travel diary and here’s what I’d done so far:
Apr 13th, sneezed a couple times on the way LAX, did not know it at the time, but caught a cold somewhere.
Apr 14th, bought cold meds in Copenhagen. Little help. But I did notice that they seem to work better than the OTC products in the USA. Arrived in Rome at 9:30pm, long walk to local trains…no customs at all! Train had no map, low volume announcements, and an electronic reader that sucked, usually showed station we just left not upcoming. No signs along the tracks at the stations…and two guys (suits) told me, incorrectly, that there were two more stations to go so I missed the stop. Host wouldn’t come where I was so I took a taxi back to his place.
Apr 15th, stayed home in bed. Except for a sortie around the hood. I toured the area and found 3 ATMs nearby, found a coffee shop. Got some more Euros. Then, I noticed a neighborhood grocery store right next door to my apartment. Bought some food, so I could cook my own meals. Saved lots of money that way and intend to do that wherever possible on the trip.
Apr 16th, ventured out in the neighborhood, got a book of tickets for public transport. Found a trolley station just two blocks away from my flat. My host just pointed me to the buses and didn’t mention that a block further on was the trolley. I happened to notice it while I was wandering. Bought a train/trolley/subway system map…waste of $6E, too confusing for a newbie. In order to get familiar with the trolley instead, I just took it to the downtown central station, the termini. While there I bought my train ticket for Naples on the 21st from a ticket machine. It really helps to be able to do these things at your leisure instead of under the gun. Back home, and using Viator.com, bought a ticket for the guided Colosseum tour, then discovered that I’d booked one day early for my trip to Naples/Pompeii. Hah! Well, OK, I’d stay in Naples overnight. Why not? Found a hostile and booked one night. Naples is just a 1 hour local trolley ride from Pompeii, after you take a high speed train from Rome to Naples. I wanted to take the train and all…part of my trip plans were to ride the European rails at 200MPH.
Apr 17th, took trolley to downtown, then subway to colosseum (2 stops away, well marked), met the tour group & toured colosseum and forum, etc. When finished, took a tour bus around city. That night, I bought a ticket for Vatican and St. Peter’s online. Again, from Viator.com. Liked their website, prices, and tours. Really handy to be able to use my tablet to join the tour…didn’t have to try to get a ticket printed out. Phone displays of your ticket work for Viator too.
The colosseum tour started early, around 9AM in order to avoid the crowds. I could have chosen a different time of course. Our tour group gathered right across the street from the colosseum and was limited to 25 people (but there were several other tours gathering too). The guide was a local with very good English, and years of experience.
Notice that we walk right by those tourists all lined up in the que.