I have been thinking about writing this since I have been there, infact while I was there. Thanks to gazillion amount of work, I haven’t been able to get to it. But I don’t trust my memory cells anymore and have a feeling that I’ll start to forget everything if I don’t write this soon.
Even though I don’t want to keep out any details, I think it is impossible for me to write everything, and nobody is gonna wanna read an unnecessarily boring post so I’ll try to control my emotions and write the relevant things. But what the heck, this is my blog, so I will also write what I want to write! (There is also a shorter and concise version here )
10th October: We boarded our flight from Hyderabad to Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) from the Saudia airlines. Unlike what we were told, the airlines did provide food and the seats were decent. There was a layover in Jeddah for about 10 hours, but the excitement of the trip kept us from sleeping. There was not much to do on the airport except trying weird colored lipsticks (read yellow and what not) on the airport. The flight from Jeddah to Milan was relatively VERY empty and we got the entire three seats to ourselves, each, and could finally get some sleep lying down.
11th October: From Jeddah to Milan, Milan to Rome
Landing in Milan felt so unreal. The airport wasn’t that busy, it was 6 am in the morning, we were sleepy AF. My expectation was that somehow everything would seem very different, would seem out of the world. It seemed like a normal airport, just cleaner, and with signboards in Italian as well. I had expected something to go wrong while reaching here, my worst fear was that our bags will be lost in transit (I am always afraid of that), but well that did not happen. Carrying our three trolleys and two backpacks, we were on our way to figure out how to reach Rome at 7.00 am in the morning. Before I forget, the immigration was a piece of cake, like literally. The immigration at Maldives airport had asked me more questions than what the Milan officer asked. We took a bus from the airport to Milan Centrale, the main railway station. We had checked online and apparently there were not a lot of trains to Rome but after reaching the station, we realised how untrue it was. There were trains in every 20 minutes to and from all the big cities of Italy. The only problem was they were really costly (like 120 Euro each), if not booked beforehand. Somehow our Forex card was not working, so panicking, we went to the customer service agent there and that agent suggested that we buy the Euro Rail pass for 4 trips. It was for 160 bucks, and then we had to pay 10 bucks for every trip so thankfully we were not going to get bankrupted. We finally boarded the train. The plan was to watch a movie but obviously we slept during the entire train ride.
Getting out of the Rome station, Milan seemed less fancy all of a sudden. The high buildings, the busy station, the sidewalks, the way the cars stopped for pedestrians! I was just smitten by anything and everything. Our hostel was at a 5 minute walking distance from the train station. We checked into the hostel and tried to get some sleep. It was around 1-2in the noon by then. I couldn’t sleep much. After trying to sleep for a few hours, we got ready and decided to head out. Though we were not sure how safe/unsafe the streets are at night! We asked the girl at the hostel reception about what would be a nice place to go at that time. She suggested a few places, which were two stations away from the metro. Boarding the metro was a challenge in itself. Sometimes I feel that when you are trying to do everything right, you make the most silly mistakes and end up doing everything wrong. Anyway, we took the metro from TERMINI to SPAGNA. The plan was to go to the Trevi Fountain. When we got out of the station, we were met by a completely different sight. This was the main street of Rome (or so it felt). There were so many people around, the street was crowded but yet beautiful. We used the maps in our phone and made our way to the Trevi Fountain. I ate a bombass huge gelato over there. After spending some 15 minutes trying to look at the fountain amidst all the rush, we headed for Piazza Del Popolo. It is so easy to just walk. The street that we had to take to reach the Piazza was no less than a fashion street. The shops, the clothes, I don’t know how it was possible for us to not spend all the money that we had and buy those amazing coats. Chatting and admiring, we finally reached the Piazza. It was pretty deserted but different.
We decided to go near the metro station and have dinner. We ordered a pizza and a bottle of wine (because there was no way on this earth that my first proper meal in Italy was going to be without wine). A little lost, a little tipsy, we made our way back to the metro station. I get really paranoid in such situations but after some wrong turns, some misread signs, we were there. There are these famous Spanish Steps there, which are just huge, well, steps. We sat there for some time and then came back home.
12th October: Colosseum, and places nearby
We had pizza and some beer from a place nearby and headed for the great Colosseum. Like I said, everything is so near, it was 2-3 metro stations away. We went from TERMINI to COLOSSEO this time. We were a little apprehensive about taking the tour guide but they are convincing enough and the line was too long so we took the tour guide. For 45 bucks each, they took us to Colosseum and Palatino, along with explaining the history. The way our tour guide explained the history of the Colosseum, I had no idea that I had any interest in history before that. But it made sense to have someone tell you about the history of a place otherwise you are just standing in a huge amphitheatre, you click a few pictures and then what? You wouldn’t have seen the place if you did not hear even a tiny bit about what and why and how of it.
There was a different guide for the Palatino. He had a different way of story telling but that was fun too. After that we spent some time in Palatino, looking at different ruins in the entire place. But it was almost 4 in the evening so we thought of going back to the hostel as we were very tired. While getting out of here, we caught a glimpse of a wedding (we have always been fascinated by Christian weddings). As we got out of our metro station, we though of exploring some new road around the station. And voila ! We discovered another grand street, at a walking distance from our hostel. All the pain from our legs was gone and we ended up walking on that street, window shopping for another 2 hours. We finally headed to our hostel, with a plan to get out after some time with warmer jackets. But once we went back, we didn’t want to move. We had some ready to eat food and a half empty bottle of wine so we decided to have that. It felt different to not eat pasta/pizza or a sandwich with only tomato for a filling for a change (we are vegetarians! )
Somehow the girls in our dorm were not very talkative or out going. And somehow they were always sleeping, when we were going out, when we were coming back. So we used to prefer sitting outside in the lobby. We started drinking the wine while sitting on the sofa, talking random shit, as usual. Abusing in hindi was not a problem at all as nobody around us could understand us. Somehow, when we were a little tipsy, we heard somebody abusing really loudly in Hindi and then two girls walked in to the apartment. Turns out, two Indian girls had been allotted our dorm sometime during that day, who were really drunk and really loud and finally we didn’t feel guilty for talking so loudly all the time.
13th October: The day I lost my phone
I got up really early in the morning because one of the loud Indian girl was video calling someone and calling her gorgeous and congratulating her. I think someone got engaged but I didn’t want to ask because I was internally abusing her for waking me up with the loud shouting. Tossing and turning, it was finally time to wake up. We did not have a particularly fixed plan that day but we had to go to Pantheon for sure and maybe some castle across the river. Today, we took a bus who dropped us somewhere at a walking distance to Pantheon. Everyday we were discovering something new about the infrastructure and public transport of Rome. Entry to Pantheon was free but they were a little strict about the clothes. Today, we did not get a guide and tried to listen to the audio boxes placed here and there but hard luck, everyone wanted to do the same and obviously there was a queue. So we googled a little and read. We roamed here and there after that, tried to click pictures, went inside a few shops. One particular shop was selling very cute stationary but somehow the mind convinces me to not spend so much money on things I’ll never use :/. Wandering, we reached the river. I had heard about it, the Vatican City was just across it. It felt like we could cover the entire city on foot if we were up for it. No wonder the Europeans are so fit, despite the cheesy food habits. The loud Indians girls had told us about a dish called Gnocchi, so we decided to have that for lunch. I am not gonna lie, it was one of the best meals I had during the entire trip. The waiter was cute, the Gnocchi was SO TASTY, the view was good, the feet were finally put to rest. We were sitting just across the Pantheon. After that, we decided to click some pictures. And then just went in the opposite direction, sort of towards the hostel and the road we had discovered last night. The plan was to end the day with shopping. On the way there, we came across a few more museums and a huge building, which we had seen the previous day from Colosseum. Curious, we went inside. Apparently there was a lift in the building which was so high that you could see the entire Rome. But we satisfied ourselves by just looking from the terrace of the building as the price and queue, both were too much for our taste. After a lot of wandering around, discovering new paths and getting excited to find that we were very close to the Colosseum, we headed for the street.
Before that, we spent some time at an ice cream parlor for a gelato. Then using my phone for navigation, we headed to the street. We went inside one shop and I tried a jacket. After that we went to a Bata store, yes we did. Apparently Bata is not Indian and so it didn’t feel as bad to go to Bata in Italy :P. We went to a few more shops after that and while we were trying some jacket, I realised I didn’t have my phone. I reached into my bag but knew it wasn’t there. We rushed out and traced back but the phone was nowhere. It was switched off as well. Bata was the only store where we had kept our stuff down for some time and gone away and I knew that that’s where it happened but we couldn’t really do much. I was crying my lungs out (why am I like this?). Aanchal was SO SUPPORTIVE the entire time. We called a few people and asked someone else to get the number blocked while we get an FIR in the police station. Well, the police kept sending us from one station to another, making us cover all the streets that we had not by now. We finally decided to go back as it was dark already and we were not familiar with the streets. We could not afford any more loses, to things or to us! So we came back, while I cried on the phone while talking to my parents, who were very supportive btw! All the pictures of that day were gone but well.
14th October: Vatican City
The first thing we did was to go the the TERMINI and get a new phone and SIM Card because I was going crazy without a phone. I bought the cheapest and most relevant phone I could. Thankfully, the new SIM they gave had better internet connection. Finally re-united with my dear old friend Instagram, I was ready to see the Vatican City. Entering a new part of the city, and soon to enter a new country, last night’s tragedy forgotten (partially), we were happy again. After getting down from the metro station, we booked a tour with one of the guides we met. Our tour was scheduled after 1 hour or so, so we got down to eat. With the recent experiment with Gnocchi, we decided to be daring and try something new again. So we ordered Carbonara. It was not bad, it was different, but not that good. It was finally time for the Vatican City. I had heard so much about it and had so many different images in my head, I was finally going to see it. After crossing many lines, and technically the border of a different county, we were in the Vatican City, the smallest country on earth. The first proper stop was the Vatican Museum. There were so many things there, from sculptures to paintings on the ceilings that looked like plaster work because of the 3D effect, eyes and feet on paintings that followed you wherever you went, paintings that could not be exposed to sunlight lest they degrade. The Sistine Chapel, where you had to keep quiet and just look at the painted ceiling. The St. Peter’s Basilica which was so huge and had the remains of some important people (including St. Peter, which we couldn’t even spot in the first go) in the cellar. We went to see a Castle St Angelo after that, but just outside the castle, a guy was playing keyboard and this was on the bank of the river, so we decided to skip the castle and just sat at the edge of the bridge, listening to the music, watching the people go by, the scenery around us and enjoying the last evening in the best city we ever went to! That night we just cooked a ready to eat Shahi Paneer we took with us with some ready to eat Rice. At night, we went to the Spanish Steps and the main street for some time.
The rest, to be continued!