Our 2nd day in Rome

Today is Sunday, September 25th.  We are in Rome, Italy.  Today we walked to Trevi Fountain and checked out that area for the day.

We visited the Parthenon – twice – since the first time they were closed due to a liturgy that was going on at the time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After visiting the Parthenon, we ate lunch  – ravioli, pizza and brochette.

It was all very delicious.  After eating all of that wonderful food, we made our way to St. Peter’s Square and St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.  Before we got to St. Peter’s we stopped off at a Baroque Church- Chiesa Di S. Ignazio – where the ceiling was all done in frescoes.

The photo doesn’t do this justice, you have to take a picture into a mirror to get the whole effect.  Also inside the church was a shroud of some sort.  Not sure where it’s from, but it was very interesting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we made it into the Basilica, just to your right the Pietà sits.

The hall is just spectacular.  Here are D & G posing for a pic – in the distance you can see the alter for St. Peter.

Here is a close-up of St. Peter’s Alter

After walking around and looking in the many vestibules we decided to grab a bite to eat before heading back to the B & B.

Tomorrow, the 26th, should an exciting day as we have a tour of the Paple Gardens – the Gardens on the Vatican City.  Al and I were here before and they were beautiful.

Onwards to Rome, Italy

Today is September 24th and we are on our way to Rome, Italy.  Al and I have been to Rome before – in 2010 for my 40th birthday.  We’ve always wanted to go back so I’m glad our neighbors D & G wanted to go; it gave us the opportunity to visit this beautiful city again.

Rome is awesome.  So much history and the food is to die for — there is nothing like freshly made pasta and gravy.

First off, let’s start by saying that we are definitely glad that we did a lot of the travel between hotels/airports via Avante .  Their shuttle services were always on time and their drivers were always pleasant.

The Avante shuttle picked us up early on 24th, since our flight was around 9:30am, arriving in Rome around 11:20am.  We utilized one of the local airlines – vueling – they are kind of like the smaller airlines here in the US; comparable to Allegiant or Spirit.

Navigating the airport lines were a bit of a challenge, though once you read the placards, we got through checking our bags and through security.  Our plane was on time and we boarded.  After a while on the plane it was discovered some maintenance issues were afoot.  This delayed us for about 2 hours.

When we finally took off and got to Rome, we didn’t realize that the Avante driver wouldn’t know that our plane was delayed.  We walked over to Customer Service to ask, but they didn’t know and advised us to call Avante.  Well, being from the US our phones didn’t have the necessary SIM Card/Service to even begin to call.  We asked the Customer Service assistant again and she was kind enough to let us use her personal cell phone and as well translate the call; my Italian consisted of Ciao.  The conversatation didn’t lead to much and they advised to find alternative transportation.

Upon walking out the luggage area there is this vestibule area where all of the taxi/limo/shuttle services are and low and behold a sign that said “Michalak” – yes, Avante waited over 2hrs for us; I would recommend them to anyone traveling through Europe.

When Al and I were here in 2010, we stayed at a Bed & Breakfast close to the Vatican City.  The Residenza Ave Roma was its name.  It is close to the Bridge of Angels  too – you know the bridge from the movie Angels & Demons.    When we were there the person that greeted us was named Vera.  Well as it turns out, this time we were greeted by Vera’s Sister; small world, eh.

We checked in and took a small rest before walking around.  We headed over to Piazza Navona – a decently sized square with fountains and vendors and the like.  We stopped in the Sant’Agnese in Agone – a Baroque Church located in the square.

For dinner we ate at a place called Navona Notte – an awesome place.  We had the lasagne.  It was amazing.

Our final day in Barcelona

It’s Friday, September 23rd and on our third and final day in Barcelona, we visited the La Sagrada Familia.  The Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family is a large unfinished Roman Catholic church, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926).  This beautiful piece of history is still under construction today.  It is expected to be completed by 2026 – the centenary of Gaudi’s death.

 

After our tour of the La Sagrada Familia, we walked around Barcelona and had some pizza for lunch.

Later that evening we asked the front desk for a recommendation on dinner – they suggested a local Spanish/Mexican place.  During dinner the sky opened up and there was a major rain storm.  As our luck would have it we didn’t have our umbrellas; which made for an eventful walk back to the hotel, trying to dodge as many raindrops as possible.

As we settled in for our last evening in Barcelona, we packed our bags and relaxed a while as tomorrow we begin our journey into Italy.

Our second day in Barcelona

So it’s Thursday, September 22, our second day in the beautiful city of Barcelona.  Today is beach day.  In our previous trip to Europe and the Mediterranean we never thought to step foot in the Sea.  Today we will do that.  The was was a bit cool – I’d say around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

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The beach wasn’t too packed, but there were folks there laying out and swimming.  Another thing we saw was the gym.  Yup, right on the beach there were a couple areas where people were working out, lifting weights and doing exercises.

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In the afternoon, we made out way to Las Ramblas street.  This is the famous street with all the merchants and restaurants.  It was really cool to see the street vendors.

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Later that evening we made our way to the Magic Fountain.  This was supposed to be a light show within a fountain set to music.  Unfortunately, the show wasn’t going to happen as it was Le Merce – a special music festival; so the venue was a concert and was full of people.

 

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The journey begins

It’s 3am and I’m wide awake. Pure excitement and exhaustion – a product of the journey ahead and the last 4 hours packing and ensuring we have all the necessary documents.

Our traveling companions, D & G, are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.  Celebrating big by embarking on a tour of 5 countries across 28 days.

The shuttle driver arrives at 4:45am; clueless as where to go after he loads us all in the van with our luggage.  It’s like he’s not awake yet either.

We arrived at Sky Harbor safely and with plenty of time to get through security, eat and digest before taking off.  The first leg was to Philadelphia – a common stop for my hubby and I since we are both from the east.  Of course you know we had to pickup some Philly Pretzels!

 

We also grabbed a light lunch too.

The second leg was a bit longer -roughly 13 hours. We weren’t expected to get to our destination until 9am on Wednesday.

Yes, by the time we land it will 24+ hours later with minimal sleep all around.

The second leg also provided a dinner – we had the pasta – and for breakfast – yogurt with some side mixes like granola and dried cranberries.

When we landed it was nice out – roughly 70F.  Passing through customs was a breeze.  Grabbing our luggage and now off to find the shuttle pickup point/ driver to get to our B&B.

We found him.  He had G’s name in big print on an iPad.  The ride to the B&B took about 45min.  Traffic was typical of other countries we’ve been to.

Arriving at the B&B we couldn’t check in as the rooms weren’t ready.  We were able to store our luggage there and then headed off to grab something to eat.

We were truly exhausted.  Being up for the last 31 hours was taking a toll on us all.  We just needed to lie flat but that wasn’t going to happen for a few hours.

We walked around the area a bit then eventually made our way back to the B&B, where we sat in their garden patio awaiting for the rooms to be ready.

Woohoo, it’s 1:30p and the rooms are ready.  Awesome!  A flat surface to lie on and crash.  Which is what we did for a good 5 hours.  We needed it.  The lack of sleep was just awful.

All refreshed now and ready to go grab some authentic local cuisine.  We walked a generous 20min to the Placa Reial – a famous stop for getting great food – from what we have read online.

 

 

While walking around the Placa, we came across one restaurant that had tons of people and a long line.  This is the place to eat so we put our names in and waited; which was only a few minutes.  The place was called Les Quinze Nits.

Great food it was.  Three of us has the Penne with bolognese sauce and crispy parmesan and the odd ball out – my hubby – had the Tikka Masala Chicken.  Yeah I know right, you’re thinking dude you’re in Barcelona and having Indian Cuisine.  It was actually pretty tasty.  The Penne was awesome!  G and I got a pitcher of Sangria – man that was good and for cheap too – $11 for a liter.  I know I’m going to sleep tonight.  I’m sorry that I don’t have photos of the food, but will do my best in our future travels to grab some.

Tomorrow, we start exploring more of Barcelona; cannot wait!

It’s here…

Finally. After almost two years of planning. It’s been lots of fun reviewing the amazing sites and architecture online, but now we get to do it in person.

Follow us on our journey through Barcelona, Rome, Venice, Florence as part of our land tour and then through Greece, Turkey, more of Italy and Malta as we embark on a 12 day cruise through the Mediterranean.