Rome, pickpockets and passports

Yo yo yo,

We made it to Rome! We had to pay €14 to get from Rome Fiumicino airport to Rome termini station because our interrailing tickets weren’t activated until the 10th.

We met the other three at the Youth Hostel we had prebooked – Hotel Beauty (it wasn’t). Situated around the corner from Roma Termini station and on the second floor, it’s not that bad. We were immediately upgraded to a twin private room. It was nice because we could explode all our stuff, but we were a little secluded from the other travellers. We hung out in the others’ room as they were in a shared room of eight.

As it was our first night of our trip altogether, we treated ourselves to a meal out, and we were accompanied by a cool Australian guy called James who we met at the hostel. It was nice but it was confirmation that Rome was going to hit our pockets hard… We found a fairly decently priced restaurant but we didn’t take into consideration the service charge (which we reckon we might’ve been ripped off for) and not to mention the street sellers. In our meal we were offered music, Psy singing doll (which quite frankly was not even worth a look because it didn’t even dance Gangnam Style) and roses. Kieran made the mistake of buying one when the street seller didn’t leave. He bought one for €1 and then was offered two roses for €3. Anyway, Kieran ended up buying us one each, including James, for €6. It wasn’t the most relaxing meal, but tasted sweet of the success that we’d finally begun our trip.

We ventured through Rome at night, slightly tipsy, to find the Spanish Steps, which were impressive and a nice place to chill. After Kieran and James had performed a few impressive press-ups facing downwards on the steps and we decided against the tequila shots that were going to cost us €5 each and headed over to find the Trevi Fountain.

Rome is beautiful to walk through. You have to be wary of your bag, but Rome is made up of blocks -like America- but the alley ways open up onto squares that are hidden and you wouldn’t know existed. And that’s what happened when we found the Trevi Fountain. It’s in a small square but stunning. A definite must see and I would recommend seeing it at night when it is all lit up. A very romantic sight.

Day two consisted of a rough start. We had to leave our hostel and move across the city to another one as there wasn’t enough room for us to stay another night in Hotel Beauty. With sleep in our eyes and our minds heavy with the alcohol from the night before we set off with our backpacks on our backs and our rucksacks on the front. We had to take the metro. Italy is swelteringly hot normally but underground and donned in all our travelling gear and without breakfast was irritatingly sweaty. The metro is busy and people offering to do anything for you for money. It’s not relaxing. As soon as we entered the metro train, immediately I saw a group of women dart straight for the tourists and begin their swift art of pickpocketing. Rebec, who was wearing her rucksack on her back noticed her bag had been opened and she hit the hand away that was rummaging through her stuff. Slightly spooked and stressed we made it to the next hostel, Happy Days. Once we ventured up the fifteen flights of stairs to the fifth floor we weren’t in best shape.

Happy Days is much livelier than Hotel Beauty and serves free Sangria and Pasta dinner and is cheaper. We were in a room of six, so some poor buggar was left to stay in our room. However, he was a British student from Bristol, who we were convinced was on something. He was later referred to as Stinky Pete. He wasn’t horrible, but lets face it, he was no James.

Rebec couldn’t find her passport. It appeared that the pickpocket had found what she was searching for. Accompanied by Kieran, they set off back to Roma Termini to report the missing passport and to find the British Embassy. The Embassy was closed on the weekends but they were told to return on Monday.

Meanwhile, Em, Clo and myself went for a walk through the city. We visited Castel Sant’ Angelo, walked across Pont Sant’ Angelo. After stopping for lunch via Carrefore, we visited the Piazza Novena (pretty but unforgiving in the midday sun as there is no shade.) The Pantheon is also worth a visit, and I would recommend taking an architect with you (Em) because she’s very useful in describing how the dome shaped roof survives with the massive hole in it. (Whilst walking through Rome, at one point Emily did mutter the words “ooh check out those columns”. We don’t judge, it’s whatever works for her I guess).

Whilst there we received a call from the other two. In true Rebecca Harris style, she’d found her passport in her bag… But anyway, with the stress of the missing passport no longer with us, we met the others at the Vatican.

The queue was long but fast moving and you have to have your shoulders and knees covered up, but it is definitely worth seeing. The grandeur is incredible and the decor is almost daunting. We weren’t able to see the Sistine Chapel because we were too late but it is still a good activity and free.

After crashing back at the hostel for a bit, we went back out on the metro at night to see the Colosseum. It is beautiful. I would recommend seeing it at night because of the way it is illuminated. I’m a bit gutted that we weren’t able to go inside, but hey ho, time to move on! Early train to Venice for the day tomorrow and then on to Ljubljana in the evening.

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Trevi Fountain

One week today!

In case y’all didn’t know, I’m celebrating my last ‘summer holiday’ in style: I’m heading out of the country for 38 days – that’s five weeks and three days or 2,280 hours – whichever you may prefer.

I’m going to document my travels here, so you can keep up to date with all that is going on (and also because it’s easier than writing individual emails – just sayin’. I love you all, even the ones of you I don’t know, but I don’t want to spend the whole time telling you all individually…).

This is an indication of what I’m doing, who with and where.

Firstly, my sister Chloë and myself are heading to France with the old parents (sorry Mum and Dad, you’re not old really). When we get nearish Paris, I’m getting dropped off at a station and heading to see my pal in Chantilly. After a few days I’m getting the train from Paris to Agen to meet up with my family again to enjoy a lush week and a bit in Condom (I kid you not) in the South of France. Then on the 9th August, Clo and myself will be flying to Rome to meet the rest of the crew Edenbridge masseev.

In true ‘Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents’ style, I’ll introduce you to ‘the gang’. We have Clo, my 18-year-old sister who has completed the International Baccalaureate (ooer) and knows she’s going to Leeds University in September and who has already enjoyed a week in Malia. Emily, 20, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro last year, so she’s pro with a backpack. Rebecca (also known as Rebec) is 22, Emily’s sister and is currently on her second summer at Camp America in Massachusetts. She’s going home for a few days before flying to Rome. She has also purchased a backpack with wheels “which will make everyone else jealous because she can wheel it along when everyone else’s backs hurt.” Then there’s Kieran. ‘The boy’. His hopes are that he meets another boy en route so he can have some ‘guy time’. He’s not gay.

We are all students so this is inter railing on the cheap. Well, we say cheap but we’re not camping… But still, you get the gist.

Our itinerary is loose. We’ve booked a couple of night’s stay in Rome and a couple of night’s in Amsterdam, but the rest is as we go. This bit is for Kieran’s mum who has no idea where her son is heading: The route so far consists of Rome (Italy), Venice (Italy), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Bled (Slovenia), Vienna (Austria), Budapest (Hungary), Kraków (Poland), Warsaw (Poland), Prague (Czech Republic), Berlin (Germany) and finishing in Amsterdam (Netherlands).

I can’t wait. All we have to do now is pack!