You would think sitting on a coach bus at 3 am means falling asleep. For me it did this morning, but the seats of a coach bus aren’t designed for people to sleep on. After 4 hours my back and neck were extremely sore. We got to Rome Fiumicino Airport at around 7 am. After people on the group flight back to MSP checked-in and disappeared behind automatics doors into the restricted area, the director of ACCENT Florence and Rome Center took me to Terminal 3 of the airport, where we boarded different trains going to different parts of Rome. Leonardo Express, as the train connecting the airport directly to the central station of Rome – Roma Termini – is called, wasn’t really that different from all the other Italian trains I have taken, even though they claim the entire train is first-class.
Getting out of the train station, I started to haul my bulging and heavy luggage and backpack toward the place where I am staying. It really wasn’t hard to find, but I had quite a panic attack when nobody answered the door after I pressed what I believed is the right door bell several times. Thankfully, someone opened the door, took me into the apartment, and I got a bed to sleep in for the next 3 nights.
Since I am staying in Rome for 3 days, I thought it would be a good idea to get a Roma Pass, which allows the holder to visit two museums/tourist attraction site for free, visit other museums for reduced price, and take public transportation (not all, but most) for free. It’s valid for 3 days after activation, and it costs 25 euros. Is it worth it? I don’t know, but I figured I would probably spend 25 euros or more just going around seeing things, I might as well get one and save the trouble of keep taking out money. The pass also allows the holder to skip lines, which though I felt a little guilty doing when there were like a hundred people waiting to get tickets, at the same time it felt great :P.
So I got into the Colosseum with just a scan of my Roma Pass. It’s a little hard to imagine that it has been there for almost 2000 years. It can seat as many people as the TCF Bank Stadium back on campus, and frankly the purposes of the two aren’t that different. One is just a little less fatal. After hiding in the structure to avoid the rain for a while, I headed for Palatine Hill archeological site and the Roman Forum. As fascinating as they may be, ruins all looked alike after too many of them. Halfway through the palatine hill I decided I am just going to skip to the Roman Forum, which was a little more interesting.
At this point it was noon, and with the sun and no clouds, and with only 4 hours of sleep, I was feeling dizzy. So I sat down on the curb on one of the bigger roads and started eating toast with nutella (I didn’t have a knife to spread the nutella, so I had to dip the toast into the spread). I didn’t think this was strange at all, but I did see quite a few people giving me looks. Oh well, don’t really care that much since I probably am not going to see those people ever again. After quite a while of rest and almost falling asleep on the sidewalk, I started walking toward the Pantheon, on the way to which passing by a gigantic monument for anonymous Italian soldiers buried there.
The Pantheon is one of those things that you see pictures in books for so many times, but when you actually visit it you would still say “wow”. Even though the outside of it was age-worn and under restoration, walking in and seeing that hole at the top of the dome was sill pretty cool. You can even see a large pillar of light shining into the basilica. Fun fact: rain does come into the Pantheon, but would then be drained in 22 holes in the center of the floor.
Afterwards, I visited the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Plaza/Steps, and Borghese Gallery, all on foot. Walking and walking, I was really really tired. Especially after walking in circles in the large urban park area, all I wanted was to go to bed. I didn’t pay much attention in the Borghese Gallery, despite its apparently famous collections, and almost dozed off on one of the large chairs provided for people to sit down and take in a large painting. Good thing I realized that there are buses that actually run from the gallery to the train station, which is really close to the place where I am staying. I am ready for bed now…