A Europe trip was long overdue for this New Yorker. I managed to clear 19 days (flight time inclusive) to figure out how to plan such an itinerary and came up with:
Day 1 – Fly from NYC to London overnight
Day 2 – Check in hotel, brief sightseeing, sleep
Day 3,4 – Explore London
Day 5 – Daytrip to Paris via Eurostar
Day 6 – Travel to Edinburgh, sightseeing
Day 7,8,9 – Tour the Scotland highlands
Day 10 – Travel back to London, Harry Potter tour
Day 11 – Fly from London to Barcelona, sightseeing
Day 12-18 – 7 day cruise
Day 19 – Fly back home
The most challenging part is planning it all (and saving enough money as well). The flights, hotels, where to go, how to get there, things to avoid, not getting lost, saving money, optimizing time, eating, bathroom stops, what to pack, currency, backup plans for when things go wrong, survival, etc. Somehow, everything went according to plan with a few minor mishaps. Follow me on my travels as I cover the itineraries, highlights, and other random encounters and experiences.
So the ship docks at a coastal city about an hour away from Rome called Civitavecchia. Pretty much everyone finds some sort of transportation to Rome for the day. We get 7-8 hours, so you know it’s gonna be a long and exhausting day. As usual, it was a rainy morning. The plan of attack was to start with the Colosseum to beat the crowds. The other choice would’ve been to beat the crowds for the Sistine chapel, but I’m more of a gladiator fan. To skip the line somewhat, it helps to purchase tickets online. But before you get close to the Colosseum, you have to pass the pushy selfie stick sellers. Since it was raining, they were going crazy trying to sell ponchos and umbrellas. Anyone who did not have a poncho or umbrella was a target, like myself. But a simple ‘No Thanks’ is all you need. Anyway, the Colosseum is still in good shape considering it’s age. But there are parts that require maintenance and restoration so there was scaffolding scattered throughout. To be honest, I think the exterior is way more impressive visually when compared to the interior. But overall, it’s quite impressive.
Perfect time to quote Maximus from the Gladiator movie “Are you not entertained”!?
The Foro Romano (Roman Forum), Piazza del Campidoglio, and Palatine hill is within the vicinity of the Colosseum. Much of the ruins resembled Pompei. It stopped raining and the sun came out with a vengeance.
Gauis Julius Caesar forever watches the tourists roam around Rome.
Continuing along the Via del Fori Imperiali for 10-15 minutes will lead you to the Piazza Venezia. The statues around the culture and heritage building are huge.
By the way, most cafes and restaurants have washrooms (bathrooms) and free wifi. After a quick pizza and gelato lunch at a nearby cafe, we entered the Roman maze of narrow streets. Even with a map, I lost sense of direction a few times. Also, there is no distinction between streets and sidewalks. I’m always looking over my shoulder anytime I hear a motor/engine. Another observation would be that toilets do not have a toilet seat, good luck ladies.
Restoration and scaffolding seemed to be a theme. The Fontana de Trevi (Trevi fountain) was behind panels and there was scaffolding all over it. A water fountain without water. The restoration project should be completed by October 2015 according to Wikipedia.
The Pantheon is one of the best preserved of all ancient Roman buildings; not to be confused with the Greek Acropolis with its Corinthian columns. Quite impressive and free to walk in.
The Piazza Navona is another interesting spot to check out. There are 3 fountains: Center – Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, South – Fontana del Moro (I forgot to takes photos of this one), and North – Fountain of Neptune.
Onward we walked to the Piazza di Spagna (Spanish steps) which appears to simply be a big staircase. Just like the Mona Lisa, I don’t have a clue why it’s a thing.
With about an hour or so left, we headed to the Vatican. The line to the St Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel was ridiculous. It was enough to simply just walk around the Piazza San Pietro and take some photos. Beware the pushy tour operators by the entrance. They speak multiple languages so ‘no hablas ingles’ isn’t very effective.
With the heat and all of the walking, it was time to head back after one last cafe stop for some wifi and bathrooms.