Category Archives: Day 1

Day 1 – Nightlife

We got snagged the first day at the Colosseum by an American guy who would fit in perfectly in Philadelphia with a messenger bag, bright wheels on his bike tires, and a Pabst Blue Ribbon pounder. He told us about this “Colosseum Pub Crawl” starting at 9pm that night, and us, having nothing planned and not knowing of any bars in the entire city, figured a pub crawl was just what the doctor ordered to get the lay of the land.

We got off the Metro a the Colosseo stop and immediately found our guy waiting for us (and the other partiers he had scooped that day), and he and his buddies guided us to the first of four bars around Rome. This first one, called Pier1, was only two blocks from the Colosseum and consisted of an 8 foot by 8 foot basement bar…nice.  It was 20 euros at the door, which included cover at all fur places, a sweet “Rockin’ Roma” t-shirt, and free beer, mixed drinks, and shots…nice.  Needless to say, we took full advantage here from 9-10pm.  The bar tender, Musa, was very needy for attention, and you could tell that he used the same lines and stories every time this pub crawl came through. Nice guy though; kept the drinks coming.

We left Pier 1, got on the bus (which was free and had no problem with all twenty of us drinking beers on board) and took us to the next place, called Drunken Ship, and was arguably the best place so far.  It, too, was not very big, but they had beer pong in the back and – something I believe we should be implimenting in the States – the challenging team bought the game’s pitcher of beer. Thus, if you kept winning, you kept drinking for free – a just reward.

The next place (we have no pictures to show you becaue I left the camera in the hotel room), also was reached via bus, and was called something like Blue but we don’t remember the name or the location because it was so lame. It was like a crap version of Blu Martini in Old City, but without the people or any music from the last ten years. I think we heard TLC “Scrubs” twice while at this place.  This as been a trip-long trend we’ve noticed; the music has been so bad and so old, it’s mind blowing. I was expecting like, Pokerface or Right Round to just be about to hit here, knowing that Europe’s music is about 6 months behind ours, but it was wayyyy older. Like, mostly early and mid 90’s, and every once in a while they would throw in a track from 2004 like La Gasolina. Either way, this place was terrible, and we left quickly.

The last place on the list was Scholar’s Tavern, an Irish pub, which was also awesome.  They had March Madness and soccer on their twenty flat screens scattered around the rather large single room and lots of Irish and English guys would randomly break out into song when a soccer highlight of their team was shown on TV. It was like a little oasis of English (well, a version of English) in the center of Rome, which was nice for us.  They even had a student discount on drinks (!) if you were from one of the American universities that had sister campuses in Rome – we opted to say we were from Temple to keep the lie simple.  Drexel, obviously doesn’t have a Roma satellite campus.  Too many drinks were consumed by me, I got separated from Don and Duch at some point, they ended up about 5 miles south of the last bar and more from our hotel, I hitchhiked back to our hotel, and collapsed till morning.

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Day 1 – Ancient Rome

We figured that we should start our tour of Rome where the Roman Empire started (for the most part); in Ancient Rome.  We set out of Urbis to get Metro Passes (3-day bus and rail, at Aldo’s suggestion) at Termini Station, and set off south towards the Colosseo.  Coming up from the Metro Station and seeing the enormous Colosseum (or, it’s official name, the Flavian Amphetheater) rise before you is really something, you sort of forget that it’s the 21st century instead of the 1st.
Rome's Colosseum at Metro stop "Colosseo"

Rome's Colosseum at Metro stop "Colosseo"

Seeing a huge line waiting to get into the Colosseum, we decided to head towards the Palatine Hill, where our friend Rick Steves told us we could snag some cheap “triple play” tickets (for the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and Roman Forum) which would enable us to skip all the lines. Yes please. Upon purchasing the tickets, we decided that rather than backtrack to the Colosseum, we would just go through the Palatine Hill and Forum, then hit up the Colosseum third.

Jed, Duch, Don on Palatine Hill

Jed, Duch, Don on Palatine Hill

On the Palatine Hill, we saw the Stadium (above) where foot races and team games were held; we saw the lower court yard with this sick fountain (below); and we saw the famous Circus Maximus (also below), where Ben Hur could be imagined racing his chariot in an ancient version of demolition derby. 
Awesome fountain, or what's left of one.

Awesome fountain, or what's left of one.

While today the Circus Maximus doesn’t look like much, the Ancient Romans were nuts about their chariot races; apparently the C.M. held twelve races per day, 240 days per year, for roughly one thousand years, and could hold 250,000 rabid, gambling Romans (more than double America’s largest football stadium, Penn State’s Beaver Stadium).

Center is the Emperor's Skybox; right is the C.M.

Center is the Emperor's Skybox; right is the C.M.

Onward and downward to the Roman Forum, where the empire really flourished.  This was the area of Rome where the politicians, senators, money lenders, etc. could be seen talking and squabbling in their freshly starched togas

The Roman Forum

The Roman Forum

.After a stroll through the Forum, we headed back towards the Colosseum.  This stop did not disappoint; we went right past the line and into one of the last remaining ancient wonders of the world.  We took a walk around the first level, noting the labyrinth beneath where the floorboards and sand (or arena in Latin) would have been.  It was in this twisting maze below the carnage where the exotic animals – lions, tigers, hippos, crocodiles, etc. – were kept until it was their time to be sprung upon unsuspecting gladiators or prisoners.

The Colosseum's skeleton

The Colosseum's skeleton

A trip to the second level awarded us views like the one above, and it also gave us great shots of the Forum, Palatine Hill, and the Arch of Constantine (below) – a monument dedicated toward the ruler who changed Christianity from a crime punishable by death to the religion embraced by the entire known world. 

Arch of Constantine as seen from Colosseum

Arch of Constantine as seen from Colosseum

From there, we decided to knock out the last of Ancient Rome and head back to Urbis for a recharging (due to our little sleep on the plane and jet-laggedness). The last three items on the list were Trajan’s Market (below), Trajan’s Forum, and the world-famous Trajan’s Column.  The Roman Empire was at its pinnacle under Emperor Trajan, so I guess it’s alright that he has all of this stuff named after him (considering he was the one who had all of it built).

Trajan's Market and Forum

Trajan's Market and Forum

The Market was part shopping mall, part warehouse of stolen booty, part administration office, while the Forum was mainly comprised of two libraries a court of law, and a whole lot of plundered gold.  The 140 foot Column tells the long story of Trajan’s exploits and military victories, and if the frieze were rolled out, it would be longer than two full football fields.

Most famous column from antiquity: Trajan's Column

Most famous column from antiquity: Trajan's Column

Pooped, we Metro’ed back to Termini around 5:30pm, got a giant pepperoni pizza, a liter of Coca-Cola, three boxes of wine, and are passing out in the hotel till tonight. We’re considering doing the famous Forum Pub Crawl tonight (four pubs and a “discotecha” ending around 4:30am) but that’s only if our alarms go off to wake us from out jet lagged, food induced comas.  Tomorrow: Borghese Gallery, Plazza del Popolo, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, and more.

Arrival In Rome

We touched down in Rome’s Leonardo Da Vinci Airport after a hellishly cramped 8+ hour overnight plane ride.  We bought Trenitalia tickets from the airport into downtown Rome’s Termini Station, which is only a block from our hotel, Hotel Urbis.

Hotel Urbis from our window.

Hotel Urbis from our window.

Urbis is on the second floor of an old building with an elevator that doesn’t look safe enough for our luggage, much less us, located on a street completely lined with motor scooters.  It’s small, and we may be the only guests, currently, but that’s alright, there are lots of people coming in and out to use this computer and speaking rapid Italian with Aldo.

Duch getting acclimated to the small space

Duch getting acclimated to the small space

Aldo is our front desk guy/concierge, and is really cool, he talked with us about the immediate surroundings, pointed us towards a grocery store, and helped us make reservations for the Borghese Gallery tomorrow and the Vatican Museum on Monday.  He’s also planning a trip to Secaucas, New Jersey in a month, for reasons that neither Duch, Don, nor I could quite understand. Time to plan out our Saturday…