And one year older and wiser too! Good ol' 28. If I could describe the feeling of being 28, I'd say it's like being a little older than 27 and a little less old than being 29. That about sums it up.
I have some serious jet lag right now.
The Italy posts are going to come at you in a few parts, so it won't be eleventy years long by doing it all in one post. So let's start with the first part of my trip......to Rome!
This whole trip was booked through an amazeballs deal with go-today, and I'll do a separate post reviewing my experience with them and the hotels we stayed at and etc. So, stay tuned for that! Let's focus on the adventures right now.
Italy is magic.
There is accordion and violin music wafting around every corner, food is an EVENT, and all the little cobblestone streets and twinkle lights....just....I....I mean, I know why they say this place is romantic. A girls trip works too, right? :) Quick note about my travel companions: they're the best. THE BEST. End note.
Our trip started on a Saturday, when we flew out of California, over to Frankfurt (including coming close enough to my dearly beloved Iceland that I wanted to parachute out for a quick visit and hot dog lunch), and then into Rome! We planned a lot of our itinerary and eating spots thanks to my friend/coworker Emi's Guide to Rome, at The Well-Traveled Wife. She didn't disappoint! (Thanks Emi!!)
After landing, we grabbed a train to the hotel (I LOVE TRAINS...so pleased at how much train-riding I got to do on this trip!), then wandered the evening streets and alleys aimlessly, soaking up the street musicians and gorgeous architecture. And then, spaghetti at a cafe with red checkered tablecloths! Because OF COURSE. Early on in this trip, we became quickly acquainted with the catcalling of many Italian men ("Princesses!" "Beautiful!" "Signorinas!" "I make you happy, baby!" uhhhh). We rounded out that first night by poking around the Trevi Fountain (and discovered it was covered in scaffolding -- boo!), danced on a bridge over the Tiber River to the tunes of a sidewalk guitarist, visited Fontana di Tritone and Castel Sant'angelo, stumbled across St. Peter's Basilica all lit up for the night....AND ate gelato served by a man named Fabio. Could you ask for better??
Our adventures in Roma continued the next morning with St. Peter's Basilica (550 steps to the top! I counted), the Vatican Museums & the Sistine Chapel (my heart tended to stop in general every time we came across a different piece by Michelangelo -- the Pieta was the first one I saw, and it was arresting. The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was WHOA). We rounded out the day with the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, pizza (they cut it with scissors!), gelato, ravioli, cannoli, Altare della Patria, more wandering around Rome at sunset....also can we talk about how cheap everything is in Rome?? Is it my California goggles talking? I felt like I was robbing the place. (Not mad.) Also we maybe got lost a couple times and walked A LOT of miles. Between that and the stairs, and this 13-hour day out and about, I'm fairly certain my Achilles tendons may never be quite the same. #noregrets
Because....we saw the Pope! I really admire Pope Francis. I think he does such great things and is always addressing real issues like poverty, homelessness, etc. I have always appreciated his humility, authenticity and candor. We heard earlier in the week that he would be speaking on my birthday, so OF COURSE we hit that up first thing in the morning (after grabbing pastries for breakfast). We ended being just a few feet away from him riding by in his Popemobile! It was amazing. I loved being part of the crowd of people all cheering and waving their countries' flags. The atmosphere was electric.
I had a waiter at a restaurant teach me how to say oggi è il mio compleanno, which means "today is my birthday"! After our rendezvous with Pope Francis, we wandered more alleyways, then took in some sun and xylophone(?) music while people watching in Piazza Navona. Then lunch. LUNCH. I could have wept into that pasta -- so good! Then I got exactly what I wanted most for my birthday: a NAP! My travel buddies woke me up from said nap with pastries and candles, which was the best surprise nap-wake-up ever. Then off to the Colosseum and the Trastevere District, with dinner at the cutest little restaurant where the owner was shocked that I was turning 28. "You're venti (20) to me!" He put a candle in our tiramisu and it was just perfect. Perfetto!
Stay tuned for my report on Pompeii & the Amalfi Coast!