July 2011 – Rome

Rome – July 2011

Left the house at 2.20am.

Arrived at the airport at 4.00am, took no time at all to check in and get through security.

We were on the 6.00am flight to Paris, then a connecting flight at CDG to Rome.

The Aberdeen flight was 10/15 minutes late in taking off, this might be a problem as we had very little time in CDG to catch the connecting flight.

Landing at TE2 late, we then had to catch a bus to TF2 and run to the gate, where we found out that the connecting flight was 35 minutes late!!

Finally arrived in Rome at 1pm, only to find out that our bags were still in Paris.

Had to sit around the terminal for the 3.00pm flight.

Once we had our bags, we walked the short distance from T1 to T3 to find the mini-bus company to take us to the hotel.

Grand Hotel Olympic Rome

The room was ok – basic, but clean.

The real benefit of this place is the proximity to St. Peter’s Square.

Carol went for a snooze, Katie and I went for a walk and had a Burger King (when in Rome!)

Took one back for Carol, then we all flaked out for the night.

Day 2

Woke around 5.50am.

Showered then down for our breakfast.

We left the hotel at 8.00am.

Walked the very short distance to St. Peter’s Square and in to the Basilica.

At that time of day there were no queues and very few people.

It is hard to describe the scale and workmanship of the building, sculptures and mosaics.

There are lots of people trying to sell tickets for Vatican Tours, we had pre-booked ours, but an Irish lady who tried to sell us a ticket did give us directions to a great ice cream shop, “Old Bridge

The size of it was massive, it helped deal with the heat.

On the way back to the hotel in the afternoon we found a Spar just around the corner, this proved a huge saving during the week.

After supper, Carol and I had a walk to St. Peter’s Square, down to Castel Sant’ Angelo, along the river and had a beer at one of the stalls.

Day 3

Vatican Tour.

We had pre-booked our tour through www.darkrome.com

There were 18 in our group.

The queues to get in to the Vatican Museum were huge, but being part of a tour, we were marched straight through the gates.

The tour too us all through the Museum and on to the Sistine Chapel.

It was mobbed.

Guards on hand shouting “NO PHOTOS!”

The morning tour ended going back through St. Peter’s Basilica, which took 120 years to build ad 150 years to decorate.

After lunch a bus took us around the three other churches that are part of the Vatican; St. Paul Outside the Walls, St. John Lateran and St. Mary Major.

The only downside was that after the tour we were just left at St. Mary’s and to find our own way back to the hotel!!

All the churches were VERY opulent.

One thing that did make me wonder was that all these Christians were happy to through money at effigies of dead Saints in the churches to ask for their blessings, but the same Christians were happy to step over beggars on the Church steps without a second glance?

In total the tour cost us £230

Day 4

We bought Metro tickets and caught the tram to the Colosseum.

Didn’t queue for too long.

The size is impressive, but it’s really just a big ruin!

Plenty of places in the shade and the breeze up the top was welcomed.

Just back on the Metro to the Trevi Fountain, it was mobbed, so we went for a buffet lunch in a great little place called Assaggi D’Autore.

After lunch, Carol managed to get close enough to throw her coin into the Fountain!

In the afternoon we again to the Metro, this time to Piramide and The Circus Maximus, to be honest, there isn’t much there!

Day 5

Went for a walk along the river.

A guy stopped us claiming to be the MD of Giorgio Armani and had ran out of petrol. Could we help him and he would give us some designer clothes as a way of a thank you!

He went all through his well practiced scam, but had met his match…Scotland 1 – Italy 0

On the way back along the other side of the river, another guy stopped and tried the exact same thing, we were even more prepared…2 – 0 (not often that happens!)

Went in to Castel Sant’ Angelo.

The views from the top were amazing.

We walked over Pont Umbero I and down Piazza Navona, then in to the Pantheon.

Walked up via Della Conciliazione and posted our postcards in the Vatican Post Office.

To end the day we went in to the Grottoes were the majority of the Popes are buried.

Day 6

At breakfast we were stuck beside a table of very loud and very ignorant Americans.

Again we took the Metro, this time to Villa Borghese.

This is a lovely park, nice and peaceful.

Went in to the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna.

Saw paintings by Van Gogh, Degas, Cezanne, Modigliani and Giacomo Balla.

Had lovely coffee in the Caffe Delle Arti, then wandered through the park and on to the Spanish Steps.

For supper we went to a restaurant round the corner from the hotel, the food was shocking and we got stung for €56 (2 – 1)

During supper, a beggar came round the tables.

She was really annoying and what made it worse was the fact we recognised her from earlier. She was in the park with her two kids and certainly not short of a Euro or two!!!

Day 7

Went in to the Basilica again and down in to the Treasury.

Lots of gold cups and gold gowns etc.

All very opulent and made us think there wasn’t much religion here???

Spent the rest of the day walking the streets of Rome.

Then back to The Old Bridge for an ice cream.

Feet were on fire by the end of the day!!

Day 8

Went for a walk down the river to the Trastevere Area.

Had a slice of pizza and an ice cream at the stalls, while we were there lots of plain clothed policemen appeared from nowhere and raided the street sellers.  We just sat and watched the show!


In the evening we went back towards the Trevi Fountain, after a very nice Chinese meal the lights came on the Fountain, lovely!

Had a couple of ice creams from “San Crispino” amazing flavours but a bit pricey for the size of the portions.

Katie haggled with a street artist and bought his painting of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers for €30

Day 9

Caught the Metro then a train to Ostia Antica.

An old port town excavated from the mud of the Tiber.

Wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was amazing!

Then back to Assaggi D’Autore for another buffet.

While we were there, had another ice cream from San Crispino.

Day 10

Last day.

After breakfast we handed the keys in before the 10.00 am check out.

The bus to the airport finally turned up at 12.50

He drove through the streets of Rome like the rest of them…crazy!!

Checked in then had a bite to eat.

When the flight was called, folk started to jostle and push to join the queue.

We just sat and watched in amazement, then once the queue had disappeared, we just walked calmly on to the plane.

Why do people do this?


In total the ten day holiday for the three of us cost £2,689

Rome was lovely, but in the middle of July, it was roasting!

There are water fountains on the corners of many of the streets in the middle of Rome.

Make sure you carry a bottle and make use of this water source, it proved a life saver on a few occasions.

One of the major problems we found was the rudeness of the Romans working in the shops, restaurants and stalls.

By the end of the 10 days, we ended up not giving them much cuttings, which I assume would then have a knock on effect to the other tourists!


Rome was a lovely city, but for us we left with mixed feelings, especially in regards to religion.

The opulence of the Vatican seemed to go against the grain of Christianity and we couldn’t help but wonder if their riches could be put to better use for the benefit of all?