First Day in Rome

May 1, 2015 was my first day abroad, arriving in Rome. So here’s the blog post for that day, a little late per the previous post.

After Day 1 of my travels, so far so good. It started the day before with getting here. The ways things worked out with where I was and using airline miles, I actually flew out of Fayetteville, NC of all places, not a big airport. So my first flight was on a prop plane.

That flight was fine and then I was non-stop from DC. I watched a few movies, read some, and was going to sleep (I usually sleep well on long flights) but it seemed that I was just too excited and with too much on my mind, so aside from perhaps a 30 minute nap, I just stayed awake and listened to more music, etc.

I arrived in Rome around 9am, with only carry on bags so was able to get out of the airport quickly. The customs guy did nothing more than look at my photo, then skip ahead to find a blank place to stamp it. No conversation. No questions.

I took the train to the Ostiense station, which is only about a 10 minute walk from where I’m staying. It was 8 Euros, though a nice trip. But if I hadn’t been a bit delayed coming in from weather, I might have gone with the cheaper bus option, though I think I would have had to change at one point.

I arrived at Ostiense and walked to the apartment where I’d be staying, my first time using an AirBnB. I had been emailing with the woman about it, and was told someone would meet me at 11am, only 15 minutes after I got there. So I got checked in and situated. It’s a nice one bedroom apartment, pretty good size and in a great location. But, as you can tell from my previous post, I failed to get WiFi going correctly when I checked in. Good thing I switched to T-Mobile a few weeks ago so have unlimited data on my iPhone. Granted it’s a slow version of 3G, but the price is right.

So after settling in a bit, it was time to hit the city. My plan for today was to just wander all over the main city center. It’s a national holiday in Italy, Labor Day, so I expected things to be crowded, but was also interested in just starting by exploring what was around me and seeing things. Figuring I head inside places on other days.

The Colosseum is about a 35 minute walk from where I’m staying, so decided to head that way and go from there. While walking there I came across a pyramid and some other old structures. Pretty interesting to just walk, turn a corner, and there’s some old architecture.

Even more amazing was a short bit later I crossed a street and came upon Circus Maximus. I didn’t know what to expect of it, but again very cool just seeing all this massive old stuff while walking down the street.

Getting to the Colosseum, I somewhat knew what to expect since it certainly shows up a ton in various places live movies, tv, etc. But it was still quite impressive. I can only imagine how much more massive it must have seemed back in its original times.

Also while spending time by the Colosseum, and I definitely spent some good time there just sitting and taking it in, I came across what became the bane of my day visiting some of the main sites… Selfie sticks have greatly increased in popularity of late, and you see them a lot, especially in Europe from what I’ve noticed. But now there’s a new part of it that makes it the worst of all. The hundreds of selfie stick hawkers that seem to be all over the city. People walk up to you and shove one in your face asking if you want to buy one “selfies”, “selfie stick”, “want a selfie stick”, are all phrases I’ve heard countless times over the course of the day. No, I don’t want to buy your selfie stick. At least pay attention to who you’re selling to. I’m not taking selfies, and I’m taking pictures with a camera. I can only imagine how cheap these things are to manufacture and what the markup is, for there to be so many people selling them all over the place. And their portability makes it that much worse. The guys selling 100 sunglasses can’t exactly walk up to you with them. Anyway, that was my pet peeve for the day.

After the Colosseum, I kept walking. There was so much stuff along the way, I don’t even know what all I was looking at. But it was all fascinating. Especially just mixed right in to the city center. So I took some pictures, spent some time just sitting and looking at everything and reflecting on it all, and kept going.

I decided to make my way to the Spanish Steps as the next general direction. When I got there though, wow talk about crowds!

I went around the other direction and up to the park that’s above, taking in some great views across the rooftops of Rome along the way.

The park was very nice, especially the area above a large fountain, was a beautiful day and that part of the park was full of people taking advantage of it.

After that I started walking my way back, with a stop at the Spanish Steps from the top side and then walked down it. I’m glad I came back this way, it wasn’t quite as crowded as earlier, and walking down it gives a good view of the steps, all the people just handing out on it, and the general scene around it.

I ended up eating dinner at a Spaghetteria called L’archetto. It was around 4:30pm and I was quite hungry and tired, I hadn’t slept much on the flight, breakfast on the plane was a small croissant and some fruit, and all I’d eaten since then was one Clif bar. So I ordered the Spaghetti Arrabiata and a half liter of the house red wine (that wine was only 5 Euros). Dinner was pretty tasty. I considered a more elaborate pasta dish, but opted for a classic like Arrabiata so I could see how they prepared it. The spaghetti was good, more al dente than I’m used to. The sauce had a nice flavor with fresh chunks of garlic mixed in and a nice spiciness. Pretty simple meal but very satisfying after walking around for 4+ hours. The house wine was somewhat sweet and light, more of both than I would normally go for, but on a warm sunny day after hours of walking it worked quite well for what I wanted, though almost any wine at that point probably would have.

After dinner, I worked my way back to my apartment, stopping at a small market on the way. I picked up breakfast food, tea, and a few other things for the week. It took me a while to find the milk, since I was looking in the refrigerated section forgetting it wouldn’t be there. I was also surprised just how cheap the Italian wines were. I opted for one of the more expensive bottles… it was 3.49 Euros. The number of bottles that were less than 2 Euros was pretty surprising. Eager to see how this one tastes.

Then I just relaxed for a while, got more situated in the apartment, and was in bed by 10pm, so that I could rest up well, catch up on sleep, and look forward to the days ahead.

1 Comment

  1. “I opted for one of the more expensive bottles… it was 3.49 Euros.”

    What….. that is cheaper than Trader Joes.

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