On Friday afternoon, I left Oxford on a bus straight to Gatwick. The ticket was 38 pounds. I know now with cheap RyanJet or EasyJet plane tickets to factor the expensive bus tickets to the obscure airports into your travel budget.
I arrived at Gatwick entirely too early so I had four hours to kill in the huge duty free shopping area they made to tempt travelers. I was proud of myself, all I bought was gum for the plane for 50 pence & a salmon sushi salad from Pret A Manger
Finally, it was time to board the flight. They announced the gate we were leaving from 40 minutes before departure so everyone rushed to get on our tiny little plane. I sat in the middle row, but had my plane pillow so all was well. I tried to read dear Virginia on the flight but was super distracted. I think the flight lasted less than 2 hours but Italy is two hours ahead of England – so we landed at night and boarded our EasyJet bus that took us to the actual airport.
I then got on the train to Termini for 14 Euros. It was super confusing which train to board and I was made aware that my “study abroad in England” is never real because I can always speak English! Jenny, Jenny’s boyfriend Jerad and Lauren were all waiting for me at the train station around 10:30 PM and we took the subway back to Jenny’s amazing apartment in Rome. Lauren and I stayed up all night long talking since both of us were still on both England and American time:) Jenny woke us up around 9 but we didn’t get up out of bed until 10 and didn’t leave her apartment until 11 PM.
Lauren and I drank some coffee with Jenny and Jerad and then headed off to the Vatican. Jerad told Lauren to book the student tickets online early and I’m glad we did. We spared ourselves a rather long line outside of Vatican City.
I couldn’t believe how crowded it was. It felt like we were in a mob walking into the Sistine Chapel and of course we got stuck behind a large Korean tour group which kept coming to a halt in the hot descent down into the holy chapel. Here was their illustrious leader
Lauren and I shimmied our way into a corner and could sit and look at the chapel in peace. The best part I remember was the air conditioning and the silenced hush after the crazy journey to get inside:) We took some photos which could have landed us in Vatican prison – but it was well worth it!
After we left The Sistine Chapel, Lauren and I we’re bet off confused what was next. Some how we followed the crowds and didn’t skipped St Peters Basilica. Finally Lauren asked some security lady, “Is Peter or Paul here?” She was sweet enough to redirect us to St. Peter’s grave without laughing at us.
I hope it’s true that St Peter was crucified upside down outside his own basilica and that the legends are real. As I was looking at the huge
monument celebrating the “first pope” I couldn’t help but think of Jesus prophecy to Peter, “On this rock, I will build my church.” That’s powerful when you see his grave and ornate church built around his supposed remains.
We were also excited to take tons of selfies in the square where the Pope is announced and we kept hopping pope Francis would appear. I’m a big fan of his tweets:)
On the way out, we detoured to a free exhibit partly sponsored by the American Bible Society
It seemed this exhibit had every ancient Bible ever written and explained the history of the Word of God. It was so professional and they had so many jaw-dropping artifacts. We saw parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls, one of Constantine’s Bibles, blocks from the Gutenberg Press and the first Bible to be translated into Persian ( pictured below where I’m giving a thumbs up). The exhibit was close to empty and Lauren and could have wandered for hours. They even had a room honoring Jim Elliot and the tribe he worked for in South America. I learned so much!!
I then forced Lauren to march farther than she wanted to a picturesque side cafe for lunch
Greatest part of our quaint cafe, is they gave us wifi!! The ham pizza was fair, the wine fantastic and you can’t beat the atmosphere for 22 Euros.
On the walk to the Metro we stopped and got my first gelato. Coffee flavor is the way to go – it was seriously unreal how good it tasted.
Next, we were off to the Colosseum. We convinced the lady at the ticket office that we both studied in Europe and were under 25 thanks to my Bodelian Library card so the tickets were only 7.50 Euros to see the Colosseum and the Roman Forum which we explore tomorrow!
We waited for Jenny & Jerad to arrive by eating some brushetto and expensive 7 Euro wine as we looked out over the Colosseum. We definitely paid for the view!
Jenny, Jerad and their boss Austin all work in Rome and they took us to one of their favorite restaurant one metro stop up. It was the perfect way to cap my first day in Rome – with a bottle of Prosecco and Red Wine.
After people watching a bit on a fountain, we took a scenic 30 minute walk back to Jenny’s place. We passed so many of the sights and walked right outside of the ancient Roman walls. A wedding party was setting off Chinese lanterns and the night scenery was more than ideal, as was the weather
Tomorrow, we are going to Palm Sunday service at the church where Jerad, Jenny and Austin work and then we're going to explore the forum!