I am exhausted. And a bit bankrupt. Okay, quite a bit.
But my heart is soaring. Because we have just returned from another trip of a lifetime. It was a bit of a whirlwind trip, but it was fantastic.
I’ve just returned from Italy. From a trip with my girls. A very special trip with my girls. We had pasta and pizza every day, and ended it off with gelato (yes, every day).
I won’t be able to share everything in one post as, for starters, I took too many pictures and experienced so much, that I will break it down into the cities we visited.
So, here we go!!
Friday, 27 June 2014
Knowing that we had a very long trip ahead of us, we all went to bed early on Thursday evening. It has been a stressful week, trying to finish off work and with last minute scares as the South African government changed the regulations for travelling with underage kids at the last minute. (The fact that Anya and I tried to squeeze in as many movies about Italy as possible, didn’t help…) But, our bags were (mostly) packed and I just had to organise a few last minute things and then we were ready for our transfer to the airport at 10:30am.
But, of course, with all the excitement, I didn’t sleep much all night and was wide awake by 5:30am. And, to be honest I was stressing a bit. What if there was a problem with one of our passports? What if they didn’t allow Bianca on the plane with her child passport? She just turned 16, and there was not enough time to get her a proper adult passport. What if??
Arriving at the airport, I was feeling a bit nauseated from the nerves. I just wanted to get through the check in, through passport control, and on the other side where we could have some lunch, relax and wait for our plane to board. And, alas…the lady at the check in counter were unable to find our booking with our surname. Really?? She tried to find it with our e-ticket numbers, but still struggled to check us in. By now, I was a bundle of nerves, literally!
Eventually, she called a manager, who promptly took over and exclaimed, “You are on the wrong date!”. Unbelievable. 20 Minutes later we were able to collect our forex and from there it was a breeze. The passport man barely gave our passports a second look, and the next moment we were through passport control and having lunch. And I had a big glass of wine!
Our flight was fairly uneventful, and we arrived in Addis Ababa about 5 hours later, where we had a 3.5 hour layover. And let me tell you, Addis is not one of the airports you want to spend too much time at. A bit chaotic and tired, we boarded our plane just after 12am and were on our way to Rome. I managed a little catnap, knowing that we had a hectic day ahead of us.
Saturday, 28 June 2014
We arrived in Rome at just before 7:00am, took over the toilets, getting rid of our winter clothes, brushing our teeth and we were ready for the experience of a lifetime!
A bus ride later, we arrived at Rome Termini station. Of course, I had the address, and directions printed out, and off we were. Except that we didn’t quite know which direction…Eventually, after a few wrong turns, we finally found our apartment at at Via dei Irpini, 36. Patrizia, our friendly host, spent a full hour highlighting all (literally ALL) the most popular sites in Rome. There was no way I was going to take in even half of it, but we were armed with a marked up map, and comfortable shoes, and off we went.
After a quick lunch at Patrizia’s recommendation ‘Al Forno’, we decided to walk to the station and get a Roma Pass. This would enable us to get entry into 2 museums, discounts on more and free use of the Rome public transport system for 3 days.
First stop was the Colosseum. That is right, the Colosseum. When we exited the Metro station, I was like a child with a new toy. I could hardly contain my excitement at seeing this centuries old work of art. And it was truly magnificent. With our Roma Passes, we were able to skip the (very long) queue, and the next moment we were inside.
After the Colosseum, we walked past the Arch of Constantinople, and entered the Roman Forum complex. Unfortunately, by now, the walking (don’t underestimate the effects of walking on cobblestones), the heat (it was extremely hot), the lack of proper sleep and probably some dehydration was getting to us, so the kids were less than keen to walk all over the Roman Forum complex. But, we saw the main highlights, including the Palantine hills, the house of Vestals, temple of Saturn the magnificent Basilica of Maxentius, Arch of Titus and the temple of Antoninus and Faustina.
Stumbling out of the Roman Forum complex, we stopped at the first and best place that sold gelato. Heavinly gelato! The start of a love affair. (The girls also loved the free wifi!).
I promised the girls an afternoon nap, as we had a concert planned for the evening. By now, the 15min walk to from the station to the flat seemed much further than it did the morning, but the shower and air conditioned apartment was a welcome relief after the heat of the afternoon.
A couple of hours later, we were on our way again, ready (and dressed up) for an evening of opera and ballet. The concert was held at Chiesa Evangelica Valdese, a church built in 1883, close to the Piazza Venezia. The show was called ‘Opera e Balletto: La Grande Opera sulle Punte‘ (Great Opera meets Ballet in Rome) and was spectacular.
On the bill were three magnificent singers; the tenor, soprano and baritone performed various arias, including Verdi and Puccini and the concert featured two dancers from the Academy of Lyric and Dance in Rome. They even performed a short dance from Swan Lake. For the first time (and not the last), I wished I could understand Italian, as the singers had the audience at their feet, with laughs and expressions that made you smile, even if we could not understand a word.
After a truly memorable evening, it took us a while to get back to the apartment, as it appears that not ALL buses in Rome departs every 15 minutes (as Google maps made us believe). But eventually we found Line 71, which ended being our saving grace a few times late at night. We fell in bed, exhausted, but looking forward to some more adventure the next day (I did promise the girls a bit of a lie in…).
And with that, it is time for me to get into bed and catch up on some lost sleep!
Ciao for now!!
(View Part 2 here…)