Rome, Italy: Part 2

Day 3/Palm Sunday

I woke up sicker than the prior day but wanted to at least leave the Airbnb for a bit. We decided to walk down to Vatican City to meet Hannah’s cousin Claire at Palm Sunday Mass in Vatican Square. The square was not as packed as I had expected. There were 2 security checkpoints look through bags and such, but it took maybe 15 minutes to get into the center. Once there, Hannah and I took it all in for a minute. While the papal procession was still far away, I could still discern where the pope was and see even greater detail on the smaller tv screens. I listened intently to the ethereal angelic harmonies of the choir weaving through the air. When the choir was not singing hymns, I could hear the gentle lapping of the fountains interrupted by the sound of olive branches and palm fronds creating friction with backpacks and shirt sleeves. It was an experience that will resonate with me for a lifetime.

Hannah, Claire, and I made our way east toward the Spanish steps, Trevi Fountain, and Pantheon. It was great to have additional company, especially family, and to spend the day in half a world away from where we normally would see one another. Claire led us to this amazing local gelateria called Giolotti. It was packed with locals and tourists alike. With a small cone mixed with dark chocolate and nougat (with cream on top), I was ready to take on the afternoon. One of our next stops was the Berghese park. It is a park suspended above the rest of the city with a great view. People cycled through the maze of trees and barricades on 4 seated bike carts. We took a break at the peak and sat on a park bench while discussing career goals and the start of new journeys.

After parting ways with Claire, we took a train back to our area of the city to get off and grab dinner. Our train tickets said single ride, but good for 100 minutes. We misunderstood this and thought we could transfer or jump off for dinner than back on for the last bit of the ride. We were wrong. I was fairly sick at this point, but obstinately refused to spend the extra 3 euro on another pair of train tickets (much to Hannah’s dismay and aggravation). We walked about a mile home in the cold rain. I was running a 99-101 degree fever that night. Jokingly, my Hannah took a picture of me lying in bed bundled up and shivering for her later blog entries on the less glamorous side of extended travel.

My superstar wife started laundry, used a blow dryer on our clothes, filled my water bottle, and re-wetted a cold compress for my head throughout the evening. I am pretty sure she was cursing me under her breath for being so cheap and stubborn as not to get another train ticket. Naturally, she was right, and almost always is. It was a rough night and I felt terrible. We elected to keep the next day simple.

Day 4

The fever had mostly passed by morning and I was slow, achy, and apprehensive to undertake any resemblance of an ambitious day. Typically, we intend to take a rest day or small agenda and end up spending far more time out than anticipated. In this case, we stuck better to that resolution so that I could get better,

We arrived by train at the Colosseum only to find that reservations were needed for a time slot. The alternative was an extremely long line that wrapped around 1/3 of the circumference, with the beginning snaking rows of turnstiles. It also did not guarantee a ticket for that day, since tickets were technically good for 2 days. I was in no condition to stand in the sun and wait for 2 hours or more for tickets. Flocks of private tour solicitors with fake information jackets and badges persistently asked tourists around us if “they want to skip the line” or “private tour, English?”. Their badgering only added to the sourness of my mood and my attitude toward them became increasingly ambivalent. Tickets with one of these guides would be about 300% more than the normal pricing, Sadly, we abandoned the plan to see the Colosseum. This upset me a bit, it had been a lifelong dream since I was a boy to see the inside. We vowed to return another time and find out what I missed.


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