Caio from Rome, Italy!

We made it and Rome and intentionally did not pre-plan much of our first day in Italy. We tried that a couple of years ago but a mechanical issue caused our flight out of Omaha to be canceled and we lost money on pre-purchased tickets for a Vatican tour. We ended that day eating Papa John’s pizza at Omaha’s Sleep Inn. We weren’t going to make that mistake again, so we left our first day in Rome wide open.

Since it was about 60 euros each way to take a taxi from our hotel into the city, we opted to save money by taking a shuttle bus and train instead. It was our first day abroad, after all, and we wanted a little adventure. We took the free shuttle bus back to the airport, then paid 14 euros each for a train to the main station. From there, we walked what seemed like 68 miles to buy a 24-hour Metro subway ticket for 7 more euros, each, so we could get to the Colosseum.

Our first stop in Rome was the Colosseum and Forum.

We’d toured the Colosseum a few years ago, but didn’t have a chance to walk around the Forum much, so we thought we’d try that if we could get a ticket. We walked around for a bit trying to decipher Italian signs and find an entrance to the Forum. We walked up and down hills, across cobblestones and flagstones, and even in and out of a church, looking for the entrance to the Forum. We finally figured out that tickets for the Colosseum and Forum were one in the same so we headed to the entrance of the Colosseum.

The forecast was not looking good when we arrived.

As we drew close, every five yards or so we were approached by a vendor selling everything from bicycle rides and guided tours to bracelets and hats. It was incredibly annoying. Finally, one of them asked if we would like a 40-minute guided tour of the Forum for 25 euros each. We considered paying the overpriced fee for a quick second, but then noticed dark clouds moving in and told him we’d come back another time. He insisted it wasn’t going to rain and pointed to a small corner of sky that was only partly cloudy. Knowing it seemed cloudier now than  just two minutes before, we still opted to try for the Forum another day.

Boy, are we glad we did. We walked back to the subway just as thunder and lightning began to fill the sky. We were hungry by then, and decided to look for a place to get our first tastes of authentic Italian pasta and wine.

We remembered a wonderful little place we’d eaten when we visited Rome three years ago, but couldn’t remember the name or location of the restaurant. Then, I had an idea! I remembered taking a photo of Steve pouring wine from a liter pitcher at the restaurant and searched through the photos on my phone. Finally, I was able to justify to Steve why it is necessary to keep 27,502 (and counting!) photos on my phone.

A search for wine in my iPhone photos found 150 matches. And no, I am not ashamed.

I easily found the photo from the restaurant (by searching for “wine”) and we got back on the subway to head that direction. When we arrived, we were about to leave the station when we realized it was a complete downpour outside. People were coming down the steps from the street above completely soaked. We shared a smile that we weren’t standing like wet dogs in the Forum.

Thunderstorms filled the sky on our first day in Rome, Italy.

At this point you probably assume that we reached into our trusty backpack and pulled out our rain gear. Well, you would be wrong. We forgot to pack any (#travelisreal). Instead, we reached into our pocket and pulled out 10 euros to buy two overpriced “Roma” ponchos from yet another random guy wandering around the station selling them to make a quick buck.

Yes, we paid 10 euro for two glorified garbage bags.

Thinking we had two or three blocks in the pouring rain to the restaurant (best we could tell from Google maps) we emerged from the underground station and had a good laugh when we saw the restaurant about 30 steps from the subway entrance.

Cute Roma poncho, don’t you think?

In any case, we made our way in, ordered a liter of the house wine, and enjoyed a wonderful Italian meal.

A liter of the house wine was just what we needed after a long day/night of traveling.

We started our Italian food experience with a four-piece bruschetta appetizer. The picture below shows three of them. Steve was just little eager to taste the prosciutto and mozzarella one and had it in his mouth stomach before I could take my 27,503rd photo.

The four-piece bruschetta sampler.

We shared a caprese salad (one of our favorites) and each ordered a pasta dish. Steve had the bucatini all’amatriciana (thick spaghetti with a bacon and tomato sauce) and I opted for the carbonara. Both were delizioso!

One of our favorites, caprese salad.

We ordered two pasta dishes, one with a tomato and bacon sauce and the carbonara.

After our late lunch/early dinner, we took the overly crowded subway (and when I say overly crowded, I mean my body was touching at least six people at the same time) back the main train station, bought a ticket, and attempted to find the correct train back to the airport. It was a bit confusing and when we asked for help, we were directed to the wrong train. I got on before Steve pulled me back off.

One of our many stops at the train station on our first day in Rome.

We then went to the wrong track, backtracked, and missed our train. Thankfully, we could easily catch another one. The airport express runs every 15 minutes, unless the train is running late, which it was. We finally got back to the airport and then hopped the free shuttle to the hotel.

Rome is a busy city, full of people from all over the world. We were happy to represent Crete, Nebraska, USA.

By the time we got back we were ready to be away from the crowds of people that had surrounded us all day and get some sleep. We showered, did a quick load of laundry at the hotel (it will likely be our last chance for 10 days) and crashed. For about nine and half hours, to be exact.

Next stop – Siena, Tuscany, and our time with Massi the Driver and Italy Unfiltered. If you missed our earlier post about our hosts, Deb and Massi, you can read all about them HERE.

PIN FOR LATER

What we did in Rome, Italy, when we arrived with no pre-booked tickets or plans.

  • Strawberry fields forever...⁣
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While traveling, we adore stopping in farmers markets and checking out the fresh produce available for sale. When we saw these strawberries in Tallinn, Estonia, we just had to take a picture.⁣
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The vibrant color of the berries tells us they were ripened naturally on the vine. You just don't get that color trucked in to a supermarket. And that natural ripening means, of course, that these are some of the sweetest strawberries you'll ever taste. Yum! #postcardjar #midlifetravel #emptynesttravel #goplaces #emptynest #emptynesters #midlife #couplestravel #couplestrip #celebritycruises #cruising #seastheday #cruise #sea #beyondborders #humansatsea #cruiseaddict #cruisecritic #tallinn #lifeisbeautiful #cruiseship #cruiselife #estonia #strawberries #farmersmarket #lifeisshort #visitestonia #adventuregirls #tallinngram #berries
  • On our Baltic Sea cruise, we stopped in Stockholm, Sweden. To get there, we had to sail through the Stockholm Archipelago. ⁣
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For days leading up to our arrival in Stockholm, the captain of the ship kept telling us that we should plan to be up early so we could take in the scenery as we passed through the archipelago. After enough repetitions, we resolved to get up early to see what he was so excited about.⁣
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We are so glad we set the alarm. That morning, we sat on our balcony and had breakfast watching some of the most beautiful scenery we'd ever seen pass by our cabins. We had an up-close view of land that we've rarely had from a cruise ship unless it was docked. ⁣
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Sure, we travel to see specific things. Who doesn't? But we really love it when we find something like this that we didn't know existed, but it is so amazing it enriches our lives and makes us want to go back again and again.
  • In the @visitmasoncityiowa airport, is a new restaurant called CAVU American Kitchen & Cocktail Lounge. Offering chef-crafted foods and incredible cocktails, this restaurant has the best airport food we've ever eaten. In fact, we'll call this airport a destination.⁣
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Pictured here is Chef Cassie's fried potato salad. This was her elimination dish from the show, "Master Chef." Apparently, Wolfgang Puck didn't think much of it. After trying it, we don't think much of Wolfgang Puck's taste.⁣
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This dish, which is served warm, is composed of crispy fried potato chunks covered in delicious potato salad dressing. The combination of flavors and textures had us going back for more. #postcardjar #midlifetravel #emptynesttravel #goplaces #emptynest #emptynesters #midlife #couplestravel #couplestrip #midwestliving #midwestlivingmag  #midwestmoment #igersmidwest #midwestisbest #masoncity #clearlake @masoncity
  • In Rochester, Minnesota, in the shadow of the famed Mayo Clinic, is a beautiful pedestrian area called the Peace Plaza. Because of its location, it's often the last area a person walks through as they go to the clinic hoping for help. And, it's the first place people pass as they leave the clinic sometimes with good news, other times to confront their own mortality.⁣
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The designers of the plaza seemed to understand the huge role the space would play in the lives of the people coming through. They designed it as a calming, meditative space filled with tranquility. It's a place you can refocus a little, and take some time to transition from the clinic to the world. And, it's just one more example of the ways that @minnesotas_rochester demonstrates humanity to the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come each year to the clinic.
  • Are these salt and pepper shakers not the cutest?? Pawhuska, Oklahoma, is a magical place at Christmastime. We stopped by the @pwmercantile this morning and snapped a few new pics. Getting excited for the Holiday Lights Parade tonight!
  • We have four holiday gift guides up on the blog for the traveler, home cook, cruise lover, and road tripper on your shopping list! Just click on the link in our bio to check out our blog. ⁣
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One of our all-time favorite items (it made two of our lists) are these @EagleCreek packing items. This starter set goes with us on every single trip. Last year, Steve packed 16 size XXL shirts in on of them. They are super lightweight, safe space in your suitcase, and help you stay organized as your travel. ⁣
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What are your favorite gift ideas for travelers this year? ⁣
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#postcardjar #midlifetravel #emptynesttravel #goplaces #emptynest #emptynesters #midlife #couplestravel #couplestrip #giftideas #giftsfortravelers #traveler #travelgifts #giftguide #roadtrippin #packingtips #packingbags #howtopack #packlight #eaglecreek #celebritycruises #travelblogger #packing #packinghack #giftsph #holidayshopping #giftidea #travelgram #packing101
  • Who's ready for some pumpkin pie??⁣
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The thought of digging in to a piece of pumpkin pie (served with a cup of coffee with pumpkin spice creamer) takes us back to a small town festival we love. ⁣
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A few years ago, our town of Crete, Nebraska, began holding the Great Pumpkin Festival during the first weekend of October.⁣
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From spring to fall, local volunteers tend gardens filled with pumpkin vines so that folks who come to the festival can take home a reasonably priced, locally-grown pumpkin. ⁣
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The festival is full of games, food, performances and fun. It's a wholesome day where the town turns out to celebrate another year together in a relaxed, calm atmosphere.⁣
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Does your town have a festival? Tell us about it in the comments below.
  • ***NEW BLOG POST *** Today is exactly 8 months since we started our weight loss journey using the @noom app. See how we’ve lost 126.3 pounds while traveling. Just click on the link to our blog that’s in our bio to read our answers to your most asked questions about weight loss. And click to the second photo here to see our “before” pic.

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