How many times have I heard that phrase? Well for our annual pilgrimage to support Wales in the Six Nations Trophy, I decided that the one I was taking with me was the one in my smartphone with only Instagram and Snapseed for company!
And so, last Friday morning at silly o’clock, my other half and I staggered out of bed, picked up some friends along the way and headed for Rome, la Città Eterna, or if your Italian isn’t that hot, the Eternal City.
I might as well point out that no trip organised by our friend Phil is going to be without its’ quirks…this time we flew from Liverpool to Geneva (stop-over 5 hours, glass of wine and studying of the map) and then on to Rome Fiumicino, from where a taxi took us to our final destination for the weekend. As is so often the case, the driver’s English was way better than our Italian, and we enjoyed an enlightening and animated conversation in which we learned about the Italian economy, football and the weather before we finally arrived at our B&B around 6.00pm.
Now it may sound like a lot of trouble, but it’s worth the extra effort when you save as much money as we did – sufficient to cover the cost of our accommodation for three nights. The other challenge is to travel with hand-luggage only- hence the choice of camera!
We headed straight out to find a bar and walked into the middle of a very loud and vocal but peaceful demonstration about the forthcoming elections – it was clear from the demeanour of the people around us that feelings were running very high about the political situation in Italy. Voting took place on Sunday and Monday – I know from reading the papers that the outcome was not the most decisive and leaves the country in a state of uncertainty.
After a quick drink, we made our way to a little Italian restaurant we found couple of years ago on a previous visit and were delighted to be recognised by the owner and waiter as we walked in. Their food is simple Italian fare – but what flavour they pack into it – and the house red wine is pretty palatable too!!
On Saturday morning, after a very hearty continental breakfast we kissed the boys goodbye and Pam and I went off to do a little shopping and exploring and I found time to take some photos. We had a great time, until it started to rain and by the time we decided to break for lunch, we were wetter than a wet thing! No sitting in the Piazza Navona for us this year…we found a little restaurant complete with red and white check table cloths and spent a sociable couple of hours before heading to a little bar we’d visited before to watch Wales show the Italians how to play rugby. Leigh Halfpenny’s boot and two second half tries saw a resounding 26-9 victory for Wales. Da’iawn Cymru!
One of the best things about these breaks is the people you meet…consequently we chatted to a young couple from Wolverhampton, a group from Germany, and American and his wife and assorted Italians during the afternoon. When the men returned, they were a little soggy around the edges but pretty chuffed with the win, and a pleasant evening ensued as we met a Stag party from Barnsley – yes that is ‘Big Bird’ in the pictures and I have one of his feathers to prove it!
Sunday dawned and the weather in Rome had improved dramatically – although the news showed Northern Italy had over two feet of snow overnight! You’ll know the saying, ‘when in Rome’, so we did, strolling down the main road which is closed to traffic on a Sunday morning, watching the tourists queuing in droves for the Coliseum, joggers – lots of them, far too energetic for my liking, and coffee in a pavement café in the sun – lovely!
After that it was a route march to find the ‘best beer outlet in Rome’ which had been recommended as ‘the place to visit’ for real ale. Have to say, the boys were not disappointed by ‘Ma che siete venuti a fa’ and if you get a chance visit Rome, go – what a find! Following which we found a restaurant which offered a 4 course meal for 10 euro each which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
This was followed by a whistle-stop walk past the Vatican, where we saw the beginnings of activity starting to build with the press setting up for coverage of the election of the new Pope, before a final wander through the back streets to our hotel – although not before a last stop at an Irish bar where we all joined in a rousing rendition of Delilah with a large group of Welsh rugby fans!
The Monday morning alarm call sounded at 5.00am with a flight at 7.00 – this time to Amsterdam and the vast Schipol airport where we had a few hours to kill. Diamonds, exhibits from the Rijksmuseum (how many airports have you visited with its’ own museum?) and a last stroll around Duty Free before we jumped on the plane to Liverpool.
So after 4 days and approximately 3000 miles it was back to ‘Chez Ed’ – there really is no place like home!
All the images were taken on my phone and edited with the apps mentioned at the top of this blog proving I think that it’s not what you’ve got it’s how you use it!