16.06.2010 - 17.06.2010 77 °F
The last two days have been a world wind of sightseeing, Italian food and catching up. Alicia arrived safety in the morning on Wednesday and we set out to see the Colosseum, Palestine Hill and the Roman Forum. Alicia made friends with a gladiator and we set off for our two part tour. We made it through the first part with no hitches and then headed off to lunch. We talked and ate before talking and eating some more. So much in fact, that we didn't make it to the second part of our tour. Instead, Heidi (our great information seeker) was able to work our way into a different tour (way to go, Hides) and we set of to explore the Roman Forum and Palentine Hill with Jana. Jana was an amazing tour guide and she even gave us great advice for the rest of the time in Rome. She insisted that we didn't eat in the city center (“Not even for a joke!”) and gave us some good ideas about where we should go instead.
After the tour and a brief siesta in our hostel, we promptly disregarded everything Jana had told us and headed directly to the city center. We walked around for quite a while before finally settling on a charming little restaurant that left more than a little to be desired. Heidi tried to order pesto spaghetti, but the little Italian woman who was serving us quickly shot that down, and insisted she have the gnocchi, just like me. Alicia really splurged with a fancy plate of spinach, but was quickly reprimanded by Flora for putting parmesan cheese on it. We washed it all down with house wine, jumped on the metro and returned to our hostel for a relatively early night.
Our plan for yesterday was to wake up for an early trip to the Vatican. I was particularly excited about seeing the Sistine Chapel and country number 19 (although, I'm still not really sure it counts). We had purchased tickets and reservations online so we wouldn't have to wait in line, and we were able to keep them even after we showed up an hour late (the Vatican wall being a little difficult to follow). The Vatican Museum, especially the Sistine Chapel was absolutely amazing and beautiful. We even enjoyed the inside of the snack shop when our feet were too sore to walk any further.
After the Vatican we stopped at a cute little Italian restaurant and shared a couple pizzas and wine before learning that you can drink beer on the local buses (just expect a couple sideways looks). Heidi and I acted as tour guides for Alicia as she experienced the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain. Then we made a quick stop at the Spanish steps before heading back to our room.
Our initial idea for last night was a nice dinner out in the wine district that Heidi and I had explored on our first night. After just a few minutes in our room, we realized just how tired we were and just how lofty an idea this seemed. Instead, we headed out our hostel in hopes of finding the closest restaurant possible. That's when we found Tre Arche and we were greeted by an excited little Egyptian man offering us free champagne AND a discount – hard to pass up! It turns out that's not all you get when you go to Tre Arche.... You also get seemingly endless glasses of wine, free appetizers from other guests, an apron and high expectations from the boss. Before we knew it, Heidi was drying dishes, I was serving tables and Alicia was taking pictures. Quite the unexpected experience. The guys working the restaurant were all Egyptian and seemed quite pleased to have met us. They even asked us to stay around until the restaurant closed so we could go out with them after. We did wait around for a while, and they took us to a local park (read: little dirt area next to a street) where Heidi talked to their family, and Alicia continued to take pictures. Needless to say, we certainly had an unique and unforgettable experience with our Egyptian Romans.