Still catching up!
So after my weekend in Amsterdam, I took it pretty easy for a bit. My friend from high school, Marica, who is currently studying abroad in Seville came to Barcelona for a weekend (November 18th-20th) and that was a blast. We hadn’t seen each other in 5 years, so it was great to catch up and show her around the city! Plus, she and her friends wanted to go to the Picasso Museum and I hadn’t been yet, so it was a great excuse to go. It was also nice because I got to play tour guide and use all of the Barcelona knowledge I’ve accumulated over the semester. Surprisingly, I know a lot about the city!!
The following weekend consisted of Thanksgiving on Thursday plus a long weekend afterwards (both Friday and Monday off) due to an IES fieldtrip to Morocco (that I didn’t go on). My parents were supposed to visit, but unfortunately it didn’t work out due to some changes in the Continental flights from the U.S. to Barcelona. Boo. But it’s alright, because I ended up going to Rome with some amigos!
And Rome was quite simply wonderful. For the most part, anyway. To be honest, the city itself is a bit dirty, but the things you see in Rome are totally worth it. I think I’ve been spoiled though, because Barcelona–despite the horrendous smells–is a very very very clean city. They seriously wash the streets almost every day, there are trashcans (and recycle bins) everywhere, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone litter (in front of me, anyway).
Anyway! We got there early on Friday morning and checked into our hostel, which we soon found out was actually more like a hotel than a hostel (my dad would be happy to hear that). We woke up our other friends that had arrived the night before, had a quick little breakfast, and started adventuring out into the city. First stop? The Roman ruins! We walked for about 20 minutes and just waltzed right into a beautiful area of Rome where there are just ruins everywhere. It’s insane, how they just…exist! Just like that, all around the city. After taking lots of pictures, we decided to go see the big stuff, so we bought our tickets and made our way through the Coliseum, Palatino, and Foro.
I don’t know what to say, other than wow. The pictures certainly don’t do the ruins justice. Just seeing this stuff in person blows your mind! I still can’t wrap my head around how they could have possibly built any of this stuff. It’s just ridiculous to think about, but when you’re there, man, it’s a great feeling. Although it is a bit sad, because so the ruins look so worn down…and not that I have any knowledge about preserving ancient ruins, but it’s almost sad that rain and weathering are just slowly deteriorating all of these things and nothing is being doing to help prolong their life (that I know of). Regardless, they are still magnificent. Standing in the Coliseum and imagining myself back in those times was awesome. If only they still used it today!
That took a big chunk of our first day (there’s so much to see!) so by the time we made it back to the hostel, we were starving. We freshened up and asked for a nice local place to eat, and we were directed to a cute little Italian restaurant around the corner. AMAZING lasagna! I completely forgot that, being in Italy, the food was going to be delicious. And boy, it was. I didn’t want my plate to finish! We ended the night by exploring the night life around our hostel, but we soon found out it wasn’t too much of an exciting area. No worries, of course, because there were about 9 of us there…so we managed to entertain ourselves by just walking around!
The next morning, we slept in. It was glorious! Most of our trips are always so rushed, so each day is a struggle because we’re always so exhausted by the previous day. But since it was a long weekend, we had no rush! Once we woke up, we all got ready and had breakfast and then headed out to see the other sights to see in the city. I can’t even begin to list everything we saw. The Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon…all beautiful, all breathtaking. And of course, we all threw coins into the Trevi fountain! We’ll see what happens 🙂
After exploring, we made the slow trek back to our hostel, stopping along the way to grab a slice of pizza. Delicious, of course. We also stopped here and there to look at souvenirs, trinkets, and all sorts of other things to buy. The rest of the day we just sort of explored the surrounding area of our hostel and kept it cool, because we didn’t want to do anything too crazy (except get some awesome gelato) since we had to wake up super early to go to the…
Vatican! Sunday morning, we woke up around 6:30am and got ready for the journey to see the Vatican City. Surprisingly, we all woke up on time! Haha. We took a metro over to the Vatican and, because we had gotten there so early, there was absolutely no line to get into St. Peter’s Basilica. Again, no words to say. The church is just incredible, and there’s something to see in every single inch of it. I think what was super interesting was that there were little masses going on everywhere inside. Like, just off to the side but out in the open, priests were performing masses to a few people here and there.
After spending a good chunk of time inside, we decided to head out to the Apostolic Palace. Unfortunately, there was a huge line by the time we got there…and as we were leaving St. Peter’s, there was also a huge line to get into St. Peter’s. So, we lucked out on getting into the church, but we spent too much time inside! Haha. But the line wasn’t that bad. We waited for probably about 45 minutes and finally made our way in. The best part, of course, was that it was all free because it was the last Sunday of the month!
Once inside, we started going through all of the rooms. It was certainly an experience. There was all kinds of different art and sculptures in each room…now, I’m no artist so I can’t say anything about what kind or from what time period, but it was just really cool to see the progression of different styles throughout time. My favorite painting was most definitely Raphael’s The School of Athens. But there were definitely a lot of other awesome things to see.
Finally, at the end, we reached the Sistine Chapel. Unfortunately, it just didn’t live up to my expectations. The room was really dark, they (the guards) were corralling us all into the room, we weren’t allowed to speak or take pictures in the room, and…I dunno. It just kind of dulled the experience. Now don’t get me wrong, of COURSE it was amazing to be inside the Sistine Chapel and to see The Creation of Adam…but the way we were forced to view the room was not pleasant. Also, as a side note, it wasn’t as big as I always imagined it to be (the room). But still. Amazing!
Starving, we grabbed lunch (I had some amazing ravioli). We were kinda far away from our hostel, but instead of taking the metro back (and since it was such a nice day out), we decided to walk back. It was nice! We got to see the city life, as well as a few cool buildings here and there. We made it back to the hostel and crashed–all that walking and waking up early had killed our energy. But since it was our last night in Rome, we didn’t want to waste it, so we went to a really nice restaurant (we decided to splurge, since it was our last night) and had a fantastic meal. I had more lasagna…of course. Afterwards, we met up with some other friends who were also in Rome at a karaoke bar, and sang the night away!
The next morning was finally Monday, but since we had seen most of the sights, everyone just did their own thing. I went souvenir shopping with some other friends, and grabbed lunch at a pizzeria. Mmm, margherita pizza, how I miss it already. But since our flight was at 5pm, and we had quite a bit of travel time to the airport, we didn’t do much else. So we got back to the hostel, packed up our things, and headed off back to Barcelona.
It was a wonderful last trip to take, and it was a great way to segue into the end of the semester. Now if only I could just get some more of that pizza…or lasagna…