This morning we woke up in Civitavecchia, Italy. It’s a port about 1.5 hours outside of Rome (unless you’re our bus driver, who managed to plow down enough cars to make it in about an hour). Since I have never been here, I chose to do the group tour “Highlights of Rome”. When I read the description, it was basically “hit these few cool places and have some time to wander around”. With traffic it was more like “hit these few cool places and if you’re lucky you get a chance to pee”.
When I got on the bus, I met another solo traveler, Lottie (GOT A NAME THIS TIME). She was from Atlanta, so we stuck near each other for the duration of the trip. Our first stop was to Colosseum. I’d read some about it, and I knew it was smaller than most people think. I wasn’t overy surprised by how small it seemed compared to pictures. We didn’t get to go in (time constraints), but got to snap a few neat pictures here and there.
Our tour guide was a 77 year old native Roman. He was born at the start of WWII, and had all kinds of neat tidbits about the city. He pointed out all of the things that happened during WWII under Mussolini, including where Mussolini stood when he declared war. He tended to wax poetic, but considering he was dropping knowledge bombs everywhere, it was more like keeping up with what was pouring out of his brain than getting a whitewashed version.
Our next stop was the Trevi fountain. Looked just like the pictures.
The thing that was not like the pictures was how mobbed it was. This goes for the Colosseum as well. Everything was swamped with visitors, everywhere we went. It wasn’t so much a personal experience as it was floating on a sea of humanity catching glimpses of things you wanted to see. Just a tip: our guide said November and February are the quietest months to visit all of these attractions. The crowds were notable because anybody that knows me is well aware I don’t do crowds. I was probably more stressed about the large amounts of people bumping into me, which kind of killed my experience.
After that we visited another square, and then we headed to the Pantheon. It was actually less busy, so there was some time to enjoy the views.
We herded onto the bus after that, and then took a trip to Vatican City. We didn’t actually go inside the Vatican or visit the Sistine Chapel, but we got to walk through St. Peter’s Basilica, and then visit the square. Again, mobbed with people.
That said, I did walk through the doors that forgive all sins (if you are Catholic, like me), so I essentially picked up a do-over on this trip! That counts for something. Wonder how long that will last. Here’s my eyeball in front of St. Peter’s square:
I think my only gripe (and this applies to the previous year of travel as well), was the lack of free time. There wasn’t any. We were constantly moving from point to point. My preferred travel method is to be taken somewhere, have the points of interest listed with directions, then set free to do my own thing. When I booked this trip I thought that was what was going to happen. Not so much. Next I’m I’ll bite the bullet and just do it on my own.
Since I was more or less a loner on this trip, I wound up taking pictures of myself. I refuse to invest in a selfie stick, so instead I settled for various pictures of me in front of things, showcasing one or more eyeballs.
On another note, it seems my alone-ness has captured some of the staff. The bartender asked me if I was having fun, as he had only seen me show up to order my wine and then hide in corners to write on my computer. I chatted with him a bit to let him know I was ok and mostly just doing my own thing.
I do miss home. But I’ll be back there soon enough. Still lots to see. I’m really excited for France. That’s on Friday. New experience!
As I write, we are sailing out of Civitavecchia and on our way to Florence. Since I have visited Florence already, I’m going to take a wine tour. Hoping to return completely sauced. Also hoping to find a nice box of wine to ship home.
Some things of note:
The pine trees they have here are weird. They trim them into umbrella shapes. I guess cone-shaped isn’t their thing.
The weather still reminds me of San Francisco. Cool and humid, unless you’re standing in the sun, which immediately turns you into baked soup
Hair is still a total tragedy. Humidity 1; Me 0.
I think I hurt my tooth in one of my Bonine-infused nightmares. I tend to clench my teeth, and I think I overdid it. It’s been aching a couple of days, and I can’t eat on that side of the mouth. It’s not an immense pain, but it’s worrying me enough to schedule a follow up dentist visit when I get back. Talk about timing. I had my last checkup 3 days before I left. I’m telling you, this trip is out to get me.