Several months ago Jake was sitting at his computer, and out of the blue he asked me if I would prefer to go to a beach, or go to Italy. Every year since we have been married, we have been blessed to be able to take an annual trip. Year one was our honeymoon and we went to Orlando, Miami, and the Florida keys. Year two was Hawaii which was awesome! However this year, I really wanted to save money, I was fine staying home because I didn’t want to spend a ton of money. And we now have a 17 month old child that will be traveling with us. Plus Italy? That just sounds expensive. So I told Jake lets stay home or go somewhere inexpensive. I should also tell you that when Jake makes suggestions on travel, I don’t get overly excited because they sound expensive and I probably come across a bit frustrated that he is even talking about going to these places. But when it comes time to leave for the trip, I’m beyond excited and have yet to regret one of them.
Well, about two days later he tells me, “Guess who’s going to Italy!” And that’s exactly how it happened! I was shocked and I made him explain exactly how this was going to be an inexpensive trip, even though the nonrefundable tickets were bought and there was nothing I could do about it. He responded with, “I found tickets that were the cheapest I have ever seen!” My husband is very good at selling something that he wants to do. 🙂 But I have to admit, the tickets were very very cheap. About as cheap us flying to a destination within the US.
If I haven’t already told you, it needs to be said that Jake loves researching and planning trips. He will spend hours researching reviews and picking top hotels that are affordable. So from that point on, Jake researched and planned and itinerized(I know that’s not a word) the ENTIRE trip! He booked amazing hotels and then emailed them to find out what train stations were nearest their hotel so that we could walk right to them. We didn’t have to worry about transportation, because he bought all our train tickets before we left the US. He uses Trip Advisor for everryyyything! If you don’t use it, you need to. For the last several years, this is how we’ve picked hotels, restaurants…activities. It’s never let us down! We also try to review everything we do and everywhere we stay. It’s wonderful because you can avoid going somewhere you’ll regret. It’s kind of our travel Bible.
Now onto Rome! Getting there was rough, to say we were exhausted is a huge understatement. I literally could NOT keep my eyes open by the 3rd plane transfer. But I had to because of Crew! I’m so glad we have a well behaved child that made the flights go perfectly and smoothly. Umm…not! It was torture for crew and for me. We need our sleep. 🙂 We stayed up most of the night driving to Dallas to catch our flight. We slept for four hours in a hotel in Dallas. Then we got up for our first flight to New York. Very little sleep. From New York, we flew to Paris which was 6 hour flight. Crew slept for a chunk of it and I watched movies. Jake kept telling me I should be sleeping. I didn’t listen. When we reached Paris I was done and ready for bed, but we still had two more flights ahead of us. Paris had customs and we had to go back through security. A tired mother and a tired toddler probably didn’t make for the friendliest flight companions. Then we flew from Paris to Milan. By this point, I kind of wanted to hurt Jake for putting us through this sleepless nightmare. Finally, we flew from Milan to Rome.
Once there, we went to get our luggage and immediately spotted my suitcase and the stroller, but not Jake’s bag. That was a depressing feeling but better his bag than mine. Is that wrong for me to feel that way, after all I had all of Crew’s clothes in my bag. After waiting a few more minutes and watching the baggage claim area clear out, there were only two lonely bags left….neither being Jake’s. He immediately talked to the baggage claim lady and she got his address and said IF(not when) they find it, they would send it to the hotel. Luckily Jake is very responsible and had packed an extra outfit in his carry-on. And THANKFULLY his suitcase did arrive on the second day and we were so relieved! (Jake didn’t have a lot faith it would come to the Hotel, so he snuck in some shopping for a few new shirts.)
From this point, Jake had arranged a transfer from the airport to the hotel. He used Blacklane.com which is a fantastic service and doesn’t cost much more than a taxi. They wait for you after baggage claim with sign that reads your name. They take you directly to your hotel in a Mercedes. I would highly recommend using them in Europe. During the drive to the hotel, I couldn’t even take in the beauty, Crew and I were out the second we got in the car. Jake woke me up to look at the Colosseum as we drove by and then I was out again.
Jake booked The Building Hotel and it was really cool! Our room was super modern, and had a staircase up to the second floor where we had a round bed and Jacuzzi bathtub out in the open. At this point, we learned that Italy does not use a/c this time of year. Heh heh, the upstairs was a SAUNA. We opened the huge window downstairs (I’m sitting in the window in the pics above) and immediately the entire room cooled wonderfully. There was also a small skylight window upstairs that we opened and it helped some! Crew and I finally crash out around 8pm and I’m expecting it to be the best sleep I have EVER had because I’m so dang exhausted. Nope. I start drearily realizing that I’m sweating like a stuffed pig. All the covers are on the ground, and I squint through the darkness to see my skylight window is closed(Jake had done it for safety reasons, well screw safety with that level of heat). At some point in the night, I notice Jake isn’t in bed with us anymore. My wonderful husband was downstairs sleeping with the windows open and it was so cool! So I grab Crew and make my way down to an amazingly cool room perfect for sleeping. Jake rearranges everything on the little duvet/couch and we all crash back out. Except now I’m freezing and uncomfortable because it was so small. After turning into a Popsicle for a few hours, I made my way BACK up thinking it would even out with the heat and I slept for a few more hours. I roasted. But I did get 14 hours of sleep total. Luckily that was the first and last heat stroke we had to endure.
This would be our first exposure to an Italian breakfast! And it would be the start of an amazing morning routine. The funny thing is they call it an American style buffet breakfast at most hotels, but it is so much better than any breakfasts at American hotels. They sent a tray to our room with tons of breads and pastries, different cheeses, fresh tomatoes and scrambled eggs. It was GOOD! Jake also got his first of MANY cappuccinos. We packed up the room and left our luggage at the hotel so we could go explore. The hotels let you leave your things so you can explore, which is really convenient. It was really warm and dumbfoundingly gorgeous. Every building was incredible, the streets were all cobblestone, the doors were MASSIVE and had really pretty details. It was like we had stepped into another world. I was dying to try gelato and so we quickly used Trip Advisor and found an adorable place tucked into a back street that was ranked really high. It was immaculate and so cool looking and I got two heaping scoops of pistachio and dark chocolate. Blegh. Hated it. The pistachio there tastes just like the nuts!! Not the kind we eat here in America that has an almond extract flavor. So be warned! It’s different! I was a tad bummed, but made up for it soon after by trying another place. I got better flavors more in line with my palette.
After looking around for awhile we went to our new hotel, The Barocco Hotel. This Hotel became our favorite hotel for the duration of our entire trip. They were SO friendly and wonderful, and we felt like we knew them by the time we left. One particular employee, John Franco was so kind to our family. He gave us so much helpful advice and treated Crew so sweetly. He showed her pictures of his dog. But the entire staff was amazing and helpful. I would stay here for sure if you are in Rome! Their breakfast buffet was INSANE as well. They had every kind of pastry, bread roll, juice, cereal, jam, cheese, fresh fruit, warm foods, tomatoes, cold cuts of meats. I mean pretty much anything you can think of was set out. And of course Jake and his cappuccinos. We plowed through food every morning! That’s what got me out of bed so easily. We ate Pizza for dinner, which was different. They use less sauce in Italy, and tons of mozzarella cheese. I ate probably 15 pizza’s by myself the whole trip. Jake genuinely thought I was going to come back to the states weighing 10 pounds more. I ate like a COW! Momma likes her food…what can I say?
Jake had booked our hotels so they would be centrally located and near places he wanted to visit, such as the Colosseum. It was maybe a 10-15 minute walk. It was PACKED with people, we didn’t even go inside because there were so many tourists and we had heard that the outside was where the real beauty was anyways. This is probably where we felt the most vulnerable to getting pick-pocketed. Jake wore a backpack the entire trip that had snaps and a pull strap that would cinch the top closed. Well we were there and this large African guy came up and said he wanted to GIVE us these bracelets, we tried to say no, and he kept saying, “Just take them, it’s a gift! I have a young daughter too! Take them!” So finally we take them and are walking away and he then proceeds to drop two small plastic ham bones in Jake’s hand and says it’s for luck. Ehhhhhh, no tanks! As we walked away, we looked for a trash can because we feel like it’s stuff they use for Voodoo, and we’re Christians and not about that life! Then the guy appears again and starts asking for money!!! It irked me, like, stop the acting with “the gift” crap. But Jake gave him a couple Euros, and the guy asks me for money, which I really didn’t have and then we walked away and tossed our treasures and I noticed Jake’s backpack was undone!!! Nothing was missing, thank God! But I’m guessing they do all that to distract you while someone else tries to steal! Ticks me off. But that was it, we never really felt threatened again, and we were on full alert. I was REALLY firm in saying no to anyone from then on out! I was like, “I said NO!” Bahaha, Jake said that I was convincing. People are so persistent there and don’t take no for an answer pushing things into your hands. So I had to take cur of bizness! 🙂
We got up around 6:45 and went and had a dynamic breakfast. Then a guy came to pick us up to take us to a tour of The Vatican at 7:30. Wow. Wow wow wow. The Vatican is mind blowing! There’s so much to take in, and it’s so ornate and detailed. Very gaudy, but very cool! Super religious too. Every single decoration, wall, picture, statue, pillar, etc. was related back to some sort of religious reasoning. The Vatican is rolling in the dough, especially with the number of people touring it! It was a cool experience and really interesting to learn about from a historical perspective. We had headphones and our tour guide explained everything and the history behind it. I would suggest doing that if you are going to go, otherwise you will have NO idea about the significance regarding different areas of the Vatican.
After the Vatican, we went back to the room and napped while Jake went out and got us food. He’s so good about that, he loves going and looking around and always brings me back delicious food so we can just relax and eat it in the room. Then at night, we would walk across the little square outside our hotel and go and get Gelato. I think I ate there 5 or 6 times and Jake was embarrassed that we went back so often for Ice Cream. Hahaha. I was not embarrassed at all! Crew loved going out, we would push her in her stroller. If we came to a stop, Crew would start racking her body like a bucking bronco for us to start pushing her again. She would wave and smile at everyone and it was just pretty stinking adorable! She also started to learn the word “CIAO” pronounced “CHOW.” Its the local hi and bye. She also loved the bath in our hotel. We took like 3 baths a day, and the floor right outside the tub was heated, it was just super cool and fun for us since we’re bath people. Jake didn’t care as much.
Our final day in Rome. We slept in past breakfast and you could feel the mourning and despair in the room. We had to settle for a little sandwich shop right outside our hotel and I got my first tomato and cheese sandwich! They have yummy toasted bread with tons of mozzarella and fresh juicy tomatoes and I loved it!!! That is very common in Italy, simple and delicious! Of course gelato was involved(for Crew and I…not so much Jake) and then we went to the train station to head to Florence. This was our first experience with trains and it was easy and very simple! The trains leave on time, and a worker would come by and scan the tickets. That was it! Very spacey seats, plugs at every table, and a food car. We enjoyed the train rides a lot! I wish there was an option for it where we live!
Crew slept with us the whole trip, and she would nurse falling asleep, and then she wouldn’t nurse again until morning! It was wonderful, we all slept really well! I of course didn’t have access to my Diet Dew, so Coke Zero and Coke light became my new best friends. In the mornings, I would get a latte Macchiato and add 4 packs of sugar and one packet of brown sugar and it was delicious! I found that I needed that boost to survive! So that was our few days in Rome! We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and didn’t want to leave, but we were excited to see Florence. If you are thinking of going, you should! And if you have any questions about anything…our itinerary, places to eat, etc…just let me know in the comments! Jake might should get on here and explain it all.