Earlier this month, I went to Rome for a long weekend. It was such a wonderful trip that I suggest anyone interested in art, history, and/or food try to recreate it as closely as possible.
Visit in December. Obsessive readers of this blog might remember that I went to Venice last summer and hated it because of how overcrowded the city was. I’m happy to report that there is a huge difference between visiting Italy in December compared to August. There were definitely tourists and lines, but nothing too overwhelming.
Include the first Sunday of the month. Many of the big attractions are free on the first Sunday of every month. We saved nearly €50 by accidentally going to Rome the first weekend of December.
Stay somewhere close to Termini. There are a LOT of hotels in the area to choose from, and it’s perfectly situated for easy public transport use. The buses from the airports end there, so you don’t have to think while riding them. If you need to get somewhere early in the morning, you are right next to the metro and bus stops. And the Termini Station is full of cheap coffee shops, stores, and grocery stores, so you don’t have to go far for basic necessities.
Walk more often than you use transport. When preparing for Rome, I had in my head that the city was massive. It’s not! We took about one public transport per day (either early in the morning to beat the lines or late at night when our feet were exhausted), and the rest of the time we walked. In addition to saving money, this allowed us to get a real feel for the city. I had such a fun time realizing that we were passing a building that led up stairs to a piazza that we walked to the day before. By the end of the weekend, I felt like I knew Rome in a way I never would have if I’d been stuck on buses or metros.
Use audioguides. The sites are incredible, but without context the amazingness can blur together. At the Vatican Museum and Coliseum, I had an audioguide that made the experience MUCH more meaningful. I recommend an audioguide over a human guide because it allowed my friends and I to split up when necessary and focus on the displays that most interested us individually without worrying we were boring the others.
As you know from my last post, Venice (mostly its hoards of tourists) was kind of overwhelming. I was not excited to leave the hotel for day three, so I threw out this option: “Let’s go somewhere else. We’re near the train station!” My mom is awesome, so she agreed to the impromptu change of plans. Our mission was to simply find a train headed to a city we had heard of that was leaving relatively soon. Those low standards led us to getting €12 tickets to Bologna!!
The two hour ride there was amazing, because I love reading and falling asleep on trains. It is…my normal preferred life activities, but on a train, so it has the aura of forward movement and purpose attached. There was one downside, though, which we discovered when we got to Bologna. Because we hadn’t planned anything or even known where we would go, we hadn’t downloaded Google Maps for the area, and therefore had no idea where we were.
Venice is an amazingly unique city, full of twisty streets, water transportation, and…tourists. It is absolutely FULL of tourists. Granted, my mom and I visited the city at the worst time of the year; a weekend in August is basically asking to be smothered in visitors wearing shorts and sporting cameras around their necks. And it didn’t help that we had just come from Slovenia, which is a country that boasts wide open spaces and mostly short lines.
But okay, can I really complain about Venice? I KNOW how ridiculous and privileged that sounds. I’m not ready to give up on the city, and I would love to return in, like, November or February and see if the experience is more enjoyable. But I cannot tell you how much the presence of tourists made the place feel cheap and fake. I mean, one night we returned to the hotel early to watch Heath Ledger in Casanova, because an ACTUAL fake Venice seemed more appealing than the real thing. Continue reading →
Everyone has a list of places they would go if money and opportunity were no obstacle, right? I mean, my end goal is to visit every country in the whole world, so I’m not too picky. But there are definitely some places that, if given the chance, I would drop everything to visit.
1. New Zealand. I’ve got to be honest. What I really mean by New Zealand is Middle-earth. I think I’ve adequately described how much I loveLord of the Rings in previous posts, but in case you didn’t know: I’m obsessed. My love for this fictional world is what makes New Zealand a distant dream; I need this trip to be specifically tailored to my desire. For starters, I absolutely have to have a fellow LotR fanatic as a traveling companion. 95% of our conversations are going to be about Gandalf, Edoras, etc, and if you can’t keep up, you can’t come. I’m also going to need a lot of money, because I want to stay in Hobbiton, and I want to go on a LotR tour, and I want to helicopter to every filming site. It’s going to break bank, and it’s going to be awesome. Continue reading →
I recently ran across this BuzzFeed list of 11 Travel Adventures That Will Make You Say “Nope.” And, uh, that is an insanely accurate title. The very first image is of hammocks suspended 164 feet above the ground. Granted, the scenery is spectacular, and I suppose the atmosphere could be peaceful…if I could ever convince my brain to stop screaming “I’M GOING TO DIE.”
The list is mostly composed of 1) heights, 2) underwater creatures, or 3) eating gross things. All of which I am perfectly happy to avoid. The one place that I might be brave enough to visit is Derweze, Turkmenistan, where you can walk right up to the mouth of hell (in actuality, a burning natural gas field). But you better believe that since there is no fence, I will be wide-eyed and interested from a long way away.