#TandJLeaveUSA: Rome

With the terrible experience in Venice behind us, Tiona and I stepped off the bus in Rome, wiped the crust out of our eyes, and headed toward the train station. For the first time this trip, buying a metro ticket wasn't optional (well it'd technically been the rule in each country, but Tiona and I managed to cut trip costs by hopping on trains without buying passes and preparing to play the "dumb tourist" role if we got caught.). This time we had a place to lay our heads, so we navigated the metro system, transferred trains, and got off at Ri de Roma where our host awaited us.

As we made our way back to his apartment, we made small talk to get acquainted with Adil, the college student who'd be housing us for the next two nights (maybe more, who knew?). Once we arrived, we looked at him and said, "We just need to lay down for a minute. We're exhausted. Long journey."

"A minute" turned into two hours, and we were awaken by the smell of eggs and Italian seasoning. Yes, our host, a young college student, prepared a delicious breakfast of eggs and fresh bread before we started our day. I loved him already.

His roommates slowly made their way out of their rooms and greeted us, one of whom was pretty well versed in the city of Rome and all there is to see, despite being from a small city in Turkey (they all were). He was eager to send us to the best of the best areas and they all pleaded that we try gelato and tiramisu before leaving Italy. (No brainer, but glad they confirmed.)

Unlike our previous hosts, Adil came out to explore the city with us. He'd moved to Rome for college only a week and a half before we got there, so he had just as much exploring to do as we did. Even still, he put on his tour guide hat and gave us a history lesson as we made our way through the city. For hours.

As I type this, I'm remembering how small and insignificant I felt standing in front of the magnificent Colosseum. I was blown away by the history as our host explained how the ruins became what they are today. This world is so much bigger, older, and greater than I realize.

The Colosseum. I feel so small beside it!



We made our way to the Spanish steps, Pantheon, and Piazza Venezia before making our way home to prepare for an early dinner in Adil's neighborhood.

"Italians are so lazy," Adil said on the way home, "all the restaurants are closed til 6pm. It's okay, it's okay, we'll make dinner here." Before Tiona and I could tell them that they didn't need to go through the trouble, the roommates were out the door and off to the grocery store.

They returned with grocery bags and two bottles of wine and immediately got in the kitchen, so Tiona and I used it as the perfect opportunity to figure out what our next move would be. We had no host in Paris and weren't even totally sure we wanted to see Paris given our whole "traveler, not tourist" mission. Perhaps I'd make it a romantic vacation for me and Derrick (#AJandDHideaway Part 2?). We weighed all options, searched all bus/flight/train routes, and even suggested new possible cities to visit, but we eventually led to, "is another city worth the money?" 

Turns out, it wasn't. With the possibility of another Venice ahead, we decided the best option was to spend four more days in Europe and head back to the states on the flight leaving from Amsterdam. There's no way we could spend another week and a half living like tourists (which is much more expensive).

They did good!

We ate a delicious dinner of pasta, bruschetta, and assorted fresh meats with creamy mozzarella and watched our host get drunk off of two glasses of wine. Highlight of our night. During dinner, we offered to clean the kitchen, but the guys refused. From the moment we arrived, the guys why were not only accommodating but made it a point to take excellent care of us, so we had to repay them somehow. Our host refused.

"In our country, we are taught that women are the greatest gift to man, and we view them as queens. It's our job to take care of them and treat them like they are a gift. You don't worry about cleaning, we will handle everything."

It's safe to say Tiona fell in love.

After dinner, we hopped on the train and headed into town, where they took us to a secret staircase that led to a magical view of Piazza del Polpolo and Vatican City. Absolutely breathtaking. It was there that we made the executive decision to grab gelato and beers, and we popped a squat in a park to listen to live music. On our walk home, Tiona and I mapped out our last day in the magical city, which included an authentic Italian lunch, a walk to Vatican City, and pizza and tiramisu with our hosts before leaving for the bus.

She risked it all for this incredible view.

Came to the Pope's house, but he wasn't home. :(

Quenching my thirst at these convenient little fountains all over the city!
Spaghetti alla carbonara....delish!

Again, the goodbye was harder than expected. These four college students opened their home to us, paid for literally everything, and made sure our potentially last stop in Europe was as magical as possible. Adil gave us cookies as a parting gift, and we made our way to the bus station, prepared for a 32-hour bus ride back to Amsterdam.

I look crazy, but these hosts were THE absolute best!
Unfortunately, during this journey my belongings were taken, including my MacBook and camera accessories, clothes, and toiletries (thankfully I put my passport, camera, and Derrick's anniversary gift in a purse I took on the bus with me). Devastated. We definitely made the right choice in going home a bit early. 

As we landed at BWI, I wanted to cry. We'd created a trip of a lifetime, sickness, homelessness, adventure and all. One-way ticket, 5 countries, 2 backpacks, endless memories. 


Janna: Rome was magical. The ruins, our hosts, the food, everything. I ate the best pizza I've ever had in my life. Sausage and potato pizza with no sauce. Who'da thunk it?
Tiona: Our first night in Rome, our hosts made us an authentic Italian dinner. It was amaaaazing. Also, seeing the Colosseum in person along with other historic buildings left me in awe. 


Janna: As far as Rome goes, I wish we would've been able to spend a longer time there. Our hosts were sad to see us go, and we were sad to go. Also, my Chuck Taylor's reached peak funkiness, and there was NOTHING I could do to hide the smell.
Tiona: After re routing our trip, we had one less night in Rome. What a shame. 

1 comment

  1. Aww so glad you guys had a great time in Rome compared to Venice! Such great hosts!


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