Saturday, April 19, 2014


Waking early to go do something is hard work but you have to do it sometimes. Waking up at 5. I hurried to make sure that everything was packed. Checking to make sure I was not forgetting anything I headed into the kitchen where Maurice and Maria Carla had breakfast ready for me. After a quick coffee and some toast. I grabbed my bag, said my goodbyes to Maria Carla and headed with Maurice to the train station. A quick goodbye, I validated my ticket and hurried onto the train. Finding a quiet seat by myself, I settled into the seat awaiting the train to take off.
As the train slipped slowly away from Domodossola into the darkness of Piedmont. As the train stopped more and more people joined me on the train heading for Milan Porta Garibaldi station. I looked out my window as we passed Arona were I had such a good time at the antique markets on the edge of Lago Maggiore. Listening to my ipod I caught a few lyrics from the song Strawberry Swing by Coldplay that fitted my situation perfectly. "People moving all the time in a perfectly straight line, it's such a perfect day. Now the sky could be blue but I don't mind, without you it's a waste of time."
Before long the train was quite full and I happily made my exit from it when we arrived at Porta Garibaldi. 

Carrying with me a bag full of sandwiches, cookies and sweets from my loving foster family of Rolandi's. I found a quiet bench in the middle of the bustling train station and enjoyed the sandwiches. Finishing them, I headed to try and find my train platform. It wasn't showing on the monitors but I found a schedule and off I headed to platform 14. Making sure to use the toilet twice, I found the proper platform only to learn my train was 10 minutes late. Bummer. 
I waited for my train and it finally arrived. Finding my seat, I shoved my bag up above and settled in for the ride. The lucky part was that the train had wifi so as we journeyed down the Italian countryside at 240 mph I had some time to attempt to revise my travel plans. The train arrived 20 minutes late into Roma Tiburtina. 

I was off at a run, hurrying along with my bag like a seasoned pro. Moving through the crowds I got my metro ticket with perfection, already having counted out my coins needed for it. The next challenge making sure I was going in the right direction. After a small mix up of going down stairs, under a platform and up stairs to realize I was on the wrong one! Down and Up I went before getting on the right train.

I switched trains at Termini and finally reached Cornelia, the destination of where I needed to catch the bus. Leaving the metro I was startled by all the sunshine and wandered around desperately attempting to find where the hell bus 246 was. Finally managing to find the bus, I got onto it and hoped that it was going in the right direction. 

I found my stop! I found the hostel! I got off, almost doing a little happy dance as the bus left me on the side of the road. 

I hurried up the ramp and across the pedestrian over pass heading towards Camping Village Roma as if I was in the Amazing Race and coming in first place. I had made it. I had arrived at my destination at around 1:45 with 15 minutes to spare. 

I walked up towards the reception area to be greeted by a small group of my now fellow tour mates. We met, exchanged names that I memorized for all of a few minutes, nationalities and current employment. We waited, wondering if we were supposed to be there or what. We learned we were supposed to be in a tent with the rest of our group. There was no signs, reception hadn't mentioned anything. We all hurried up the hill for the tent feeling a mixture of bad for being late and mad for being early and then ending up late cause no one told us anything.

Into the TopDeck tent we went and sat down at the tables, settling in to fill out forms and briefly meet the other members of our group.  After forms were filled out, we were told we would be doing a walking tour of Rome but first to go to our rooms and drop our luggage off. I was to be rooming with Josie, an Australian and Whitney, a New Zealander. 

We settled into our little camping bungalow which consisted of three beds and a bathroom. Doing some freshening up we prepared to hit the city by storm and headed to meet with the others. There were only thirteen of us. Our tour leader Betti lead us down to the bus, handing out tickets and we got onto the next best heading for Cornelia. We were pressed onto the bus with a school group. Unlucky us. Getting off at the metro we headed down and hurried onto a train. 

Colleen and Celine on the bus.

Our first stop after getting off the metro was the Spanish Steps. The weather in Rome was gorgeous. Amazing blue skies. The place was busy with tourists and no wonder, the city is just full of beautiful sites and so much history. Betti gave us a break to go and count the steps and take some photos.

They call them the Spanish Steps because they start in the Spanish Plaza or Piazza di Spagna. In turn the piazza and the steps owe their name to the Palazzo di Spagna, the embassy of Spain. There are 135 steps. When I counted them I got 136. I could have possibly counted the very bottom drainage gutter  which seems to happen a lot for people. I recently watched the last episode of the Amazing Race and the steps were featured in it. The staircase is also the widest in Europe.

Rebecca, Whitney, Celine and Josie

Our next stop on the walking tour was the Trevi Fountain!  I had always wanted to see it and now here I was in Rome. The fountain was beautiful despite being swarmed by tourists. Coins were being tossed over shoulders and wishes were being made.

An estimated 3000 euros are thrown into the Baroque fountain everyday. I added three coins but I'm not telling you what my wishes were.

We walked through the winding streets of Rome and found the Pantheon.  Again we got a small photo break and I headed into the building. I tried to take everything in as well as admire its beautiful ceiling, walls and floor.

The Pantheon was a temple to the gods of ancient Rome, but it is now a Roman Catholic church. It was built in 126 AD! Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon's dome is still the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. 

After seeing the Pantheon, we did the most important thing on the tour which was to stop for gelato. I happily chose lemon and Lion flavours. This was such a nice treat from Betti.

Andy, Eddy, Rebecca, Adam, Colleen and Celine enjoying their gelato.

After our allotted gelato time we headed off to the Piazza Novana where the sky was so beautiful.

We walked to the the Altar of the Fatherland which some people call the Typewriter due to its shape. They started building it in 1885 and finished it in 1925.

Santa Maria di Loreto

The ruins close to the Colosseum

We left the Colosseum and headed onto a very very cramped public transit and managed to find the bus back to the camp. We had a very delicious dinner waiting for us when we arrived as well as the group we were to join. We had gone from being 13 to being 41. I had just figured out everyones name and now I had to learn more!

The sun setting over Rome and our hostel restaurant. After the filling dinner I was ready for bed.

Next post Verona and Venice


  1. Another busy and beautiful day for you and your new friends. Once again the pictures are amazing, the Gelato looked so good, what more can I say! I won't ask what your three wishes were, but I hope they come true for you. Sounds like they are feeding you well, the hostel restaurant looks nice!
    I look forward to seeing more and more! xoxox

  2. I'm so glad you got to watch AR. I was thinking of you being there when I watched. So much fun!