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.

  • And, we have a baby bird! A cowbird, that is. ⁣
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We were so excited when we found eggs in the nest two house finches built in a fern on our front porch in Pawhuska, Okla. When we posted a picture of the nest last week, several readers pointed out that one of the eggs was not like the others - - it was a cowbird egg.⁣
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Cowbirds, it turns out, have kind of a bad reputation. It seems that they don’t build nests of their own. Instead, they lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and let the other birds raise their chicks. The cowbird chicks tend to develop faster than the other nestlings, and sometimes out compete them for food and resources. Because of this, there are those who give advice to remove the cowbird egg from the nest. ⁣
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According to an article we read on the Audubon Society’s website, though, there are several reasons to leave the cowbird egg in place: ⁣
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First, cowbirds are native to North America and have been here for millions of years and we are never going to teach them how and where to lay their eggs a different way. ⁣
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Second, cowbirds are, like all other songbirds, protected in the US. In short, it’s illegal to remove their eggs.⁣
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Third, cowbirds have been known to check the nests where they leave their eggs and will, occasionally, destroy nests from which their eggs have been taken. As a result, all of the resident chicks would be killed, as well, instead of one or two being outcompeted for resources. ⁣
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Because of these reasons, we decided to let the natural process play out in our fern. We’ll see what happens. But what we do know is that the cowbird hatched first...and that chick is hungry.
  • 🏡 We've had such a wonderful time at our Pawhuska, Okla., home. It felt so good to actually pack a suitcase again, even if we just went to our house there and stayed put. We walked together every day, drove through the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, and chatted with friends from a distance on our front porch. We took time to watch the sunset and see a mama house finch care for her babies in our hanging fern. We also explored a state park and found a waterfall. ⁣
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Most importantly, we got to see our daughter, Meghan. She is an ICU nurse in Tulsa and because of her potential exposure to coronavirus, we'd not spent any time together in months. But Ann found a way to create a safe (and decorative) outdoor space for all of us to visit, share a few meals, and just be in each others' presence. We can’t tell you what a comfort it was to see her again. ⁣
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In this time of sickness and uncertainty, it was nice to have a clean, safe place to get away. We are so thankful to have found this gem of a town, so many supportive and caring friends here,  and a second place to call home.
  • As we've been home since March 12, Steve has taken up bread making as a hobby. His sour dough starter is looking promising, but he also found the easiest four-ingredient artisan bread recipe that is so impressive. ⁣
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We've shared the results a few times on social media and many of you have asked for the recipe, so he wrote a blog post about it. We've included a link in our bio with step-by-step instructions on how to make it. ⁣
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If you bake this artisan bread, we'd love to hear about it (and see a photo). Just be sure to tag us @postcardjar. ⁣
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We love this bread plain, with olive oil and seasoning, as toast with almond or peanut butter, and grilled for bruschetta. If you use the #Noom app like us, it is about 100 calories a serving (12 servings in loaf).
  • As we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice this Memorial Day, we hope you will join us in honoring others in a time of reflection, gratitude and respect. ⁣
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Both Steve's grandfathers and Ann's grandfathers all served in the military and fought in WWII. We took this photo a few years ago at Wyuka Cemetery in Nebraska City, Nebraska, where Ann's grandfather, Donald Shrewsbury, was laid to rest.
  • Today is the day! This afternoon our friends and fellow travel writers @lindseyranzau and @coleranzau are taking over our Instagram stories and we can’t wait for you to meet them.⁣
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⁣They are travel experts on everything Minnesota and will also be sharing some of their favorite Midwest destinations in honor of #NationalRoadTripDay! ⁣
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⁣Lindsey and Cole have traveled the world and love finding hidden gems and writing about them on their blog, Look About Lindsey (link in bio). You’re going to love their personalities as much as their incredible photography so be sure to watch our stories and say hello.⁣
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⁣And, to see our picks for best Midwest road trips, follow @lindseyranzau where we’ll be taking over her IG stories. It’s going to be a blast and we hope you’ll come along.
  • We are so excited to announce that Minneapolis-based travel writers Lindsey and Cole Ranzau of the blog Look About Lindsey will be taking over the Postcard Jar Instagram stories Friday, May 22! In celebration of National Road Trip Day, we are trading places (and IG stories!) to show each others' followers some of our favorite Midwest road trips and destinations. ⁣
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We encourage you to check out our stories tomorrow to meet Cole and Lindsey (they are so much fun) and follow @lindseyranzau where we'll be sharing some of our favorite Midwest travel experiences on their Instagram stories. When the time is right and you feel you can travel safely, we hope you'll consider a road trip in the Midwest. ⁣
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You can check out the Look About Lindsey blog at the link in our bio. ⁣
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@natdaycal @pilotflyingj
  • The @pwmercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, reopened today. We have talked to folks here who said employees have been working hard to clean and sanitize everything. On our walk today, we noticed that hand sanitizer that was readily available, tables were spaced out, and Merc employees were wearing face masks in accordance with CDC recommentations. We hope visitors to our little town will also do their part to keep everyone safe and healthy.

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