We pulled into Rome this morning, having had a much better couchette experience. We were all able to sleep this time, our train was much cleaner, and it provided a much smoother ride! We waited at the train station for Gwen and Bob (the professors leading this trip) to get our metro tickets before walking the short distance to our hotel. Upon arrival we found out that our reservation had not gone through and they had no rooms for us at the moment. So we used their restroom to freshen up and stored our luggage in the lounge. We began our busy day, hoping they would have rooms available for us when we returned.

Our first stop was the Colosseum. It wasn’t too far of a walk, and it wasn’t quite as crowded as I had imagined. We were bombarded by men trying to sell us random things as soon as we got near the Colosseum, and that was the same all throughout the city. We were polite at first, but after the 50th time our no, thank you’s turned into forceful no’s!! We hired an English tour guide to show us around inside of the Colosseum, so we got to skip the incredibly long line of people waiting to get in, and got a bonus tour of the Forum. The Colosseum was an amazing sight! We had watched a movie in class about it, so we were at least familiar with much of what our tour guide was saying, and what we were seeing. It was so cool to actually see and walk around it. The main floor has long since collapsed, leaving the intricate system of underground tunnels exposed, which was the coolest part in my opinion.

After the Colosseum we had a short break for lunch (spinach ravioli) before meeting up with a different guide for the tour of the Forum. The Forum was at one point a very popular center for business and trade, and it was weird to see mostly ruins where all that activity had once taken place. Our guide was great, explaining and pointing out several of the buildings in the vicinity and their function/importance.

After exploring the Forum, we made our way over to the Trevi fountain. The area was extremely crowded but we were able to make our way right to the front of the fountain for pictures and to throw our coins in! It was an awesome experience!! We stopped at a little gelato shop on our way to the next stop and had our first taste of real Italian gelato. No one was disappointed, and several of us have made it a goal to eat it at least once every day while we’re here.

Our next stop was the Spanish Steps. We came out on the very top of the steps and walked down them instead of the other way around, which was a great idea. There were neat Christmas lights and decorations up still, which included a large nativity scene in the middle of one of the platforms. The area around the steps was the most crowded area we had been in all day. We took our time walking down the steps and taking pictures before locating the metro. We were barely able to squish us all in and were forced to stand like sardines in that train car all the way back to the main train station.

From the train station it was again a short walk to our hotel. They thankfully had our rooms all ready so we were able to move our luggage in. Caitlin, Aaron, and I are in a triple room again, but this one is much nicer! It’s a huge room, Caitlin and I have a big double bed to share and Aaron has his own pull out bed in a whole different room. We dropped our stuff off in our rooms and set out to find a restaurant close to the hotel for supper. We hadn’t made it far out of our hotel before a nice little Italian woman approached us, trying to entice us to come to a restaurant. She was extremely sweet, telling us about her niece who lives in New York and how much she loves America, so we decided to check out the restaurant. The woman, Anna, escorted us all the way to the restaurant and in the door, assuring us that she would put in a good word with the boss for us. We had a great time eating, and some pretty good food (spaghetti carbonara), although it needed up being a little expensive. We still have not gotten used to restaurants being unwilling to split the check for us, but have managed to work it out so far.

This whole day was incredibly busy but it was amazing to finally see these extremely old and culturally significant places that we have all only heard about before. They were even bigger and cooler in person that I had imagined! Tomorrow is our day trip to the Vatican City, which I am very excited about. Pictures will be coming very soon!! We are all ready for bed, having walked almost 10 miles today. Talk to you soon!