It was official–I was in Rome.
Finding my hostel was extremely difficult. It wasn’t supposed to be difficult since it was straight down the road from the train station, but the numbering of buildings in Rome doesn’t actually make sense. Let’s say the number of my hostel was 87, because I don’t remember what it was. I found number 88 and 86, but no number 87, since the train station had taken over the odd-numbered side of the street. Still, I thought that maybe number 87 was hidden away inside the building or something, so I weaseled my way into this building complex and went up a billion flights of stairs to a hostel.
Not my hostel, though. Luckily for me the owner of the hostel was incredibly nice and friendly, taking me out onto the balcony to show me where to go, and then letting me use his computer to look on Google maps for my hostel.
Nice people make the world so much better.
Anyways, after walking forever I finally found the building my hostel was in. I then had the problem that I didn’t know where in the building the hostel was, so I wandered around looking confused. Some construction workers were renovating the entryway and one of them pointed me to the hostel, so again… nice people make the world so much better.
I checked in and took a shower, then waited for my friend to show up, for that weekend I was not exploring Rome alone. Instead I was meeting a good friend from back in Minnesota, who is studying in Ireland this summer. He was the first friend I made at my university and we’ve been friends ever since then.
Well, he also ended up getting lost, so by the time he showed up it was lunch time. Normally I don’t eat out much when I travel simply to save money, but there was no way I could pass up Italian food. We stopped at a little restaurant near our hostel and both ordered pizzas, which were simply DIVINE.
Italian food, I tell you. It’s just the best.
After we asked for the check, our waiter brought us a yellow liquid in shot glasses. My first thought was, “Oh yum, lemonade!” but the shot glasses made me pause. I don’t drink alcohol, so I told Jared to try it and tell me if there was alcohol in it.
He tried it and almost choked. Oh yeah, it was definitely alcoholic. Jared couldn’t even finish his, and I obviously wasn’t going to drink mine, so then the question arose as to what to do with these lemon shots. We figured just leaving them on the table would probably be rude, so… we poured them into our empty Coke cans and then got the hell out of there.
We then started our exploration of Rome. First up was the Colosseum. Looking at the exterior of the Colosseum, you might be able to discern that each level is of a different style of architecture. However, this can only be seen on the northern side. In the center of the Colosseum stood the arena, where games took place. In the past, a wooden platform covered the entire area and was covered in sand, but today only a small part of the wooden platform can be seen. Underneath you can see an underground system of tunnels. The Colosseum could contain between 40,000 and 70,000 spectators, who were placed in an area according to their social rank.
The games in the Colosseum included wild, exotic animals. The arena was transformed into something mimicking the animal’s natural habitat, and then hunters were set upon the animal to kill it. More than one hunter was killed during this process, and criminals were also thrown into the habitat, unarmed, to be torn apart. Jugglers, acrobats, and magicians would also perform, most of whom would also end up succumbing to the wild animals. Eventually the wild animals would be killed, and their meat, hides, and tusks were often distributed for free to the public. The afternoons held the popular gladiatorial combats. Most gladiators were prisoners of war or slaves; however, some free men fought in these contests for fame and fortune. The price of losing was high, though, usually ending in death unless the emperor showed mercy.
We went through the Colosseum pretty quickly, though there is a lot to see and read there. After we finished walking through it, we headed over to the Roman Forum.
We spent quite a lot of time wandering through the Roman Forum and the rest of the ruins since the area is huge. We also stopped to take water breaks a few times, since the day was insanely hot and neither of us was used to hot weather. Fortunately for us water fountains are not a scarcity around Rome.
Exploring the Roman Forum was fun; however, I do have one major complaint. There are hardly any signs around the area describing what the buildings were, or what purpose they served. As much of the area is in ruins, it’s very hard to imagine what it looked like in Roman times, especially when you absolutely have no idea what you’re looking at. All the same, it was definitely worth a visit, not the least for this fantastic sign we found.
When we exited the area we happened upon a gelato stand. We were trying to hold out on buying gelato since the gelato near tourist areas is overpriced, but we couldn’t wait any longer. I got chocolate chip and Jared got chocolate.
Oh my word. It was the best thing I’ve ever tasted. I could eat only gelato for the rest of my life and be perfectly happy. It was really that delicious.
After delighting in our gelato, we wandered over to the Vittorio Emanuele II monument, which was absolutely stunning, then we got dinner. I had lasagna, which was the best lasagna I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.
We then bought gelato, again, and OHMYGOODNESS was it amazing. This stuff was much cheaper, so we got three different flavors. One of the flavors I bought was peanut butter, which blew my mind.
It was funny though because my friend ordered before me, and he ordered three scoops. The woman then moved away to have us pay for it, and seemed surprised when I ordered my own three scoops.
Please. I do not share gelato.
While eating our gelato, we walked over to the Trevi Fountain, which we hoped wouldn’t be as crowded at night. We managed to snag seats right by the fountain and stayed there for a long time, just talking. Even with all the people milling around us, it was quite peaceful. We also threw coins into the fountain (people, PEOPLE: right hand over left shoulder!) and then commented on all the people throwing coins incorrectly into the fountain. After we sat at the fountain for a long, long time, we headed back to the hostel and slept like the dead.