The Colosseum, Roman Forum and Trevi Fountain

Just because I am “working” in Rome does not mean that I will miss out on the sites! I got to spend the day with a friend I met in Paris and explore some parts of Rome. We went to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum with a two hour lunch in the middle. Apparently, there was so much blood on the grounds of the Colosseum, fresh sand had to be brought in to soak it up and cover it up. YUCK!

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I didn’t actually know about the Roman Forum until I got here and I must say, I absolutely loved the history. The details of everything and the knowledge of how old everything is, absolutely blew me away.

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To end the day, we went to Trevi Fountain at some point after midnight. The pictures do not do the size of the fountain any justice but give a little bit of perspective. With the lights on and some good friends around, we had the perfect end to a perfect day. Rome continues to wow me with every cobblestone I walk over.

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Catacombs and crypts and creepiness oh my!

Finally I had a day off and decided to adventure to the catacombs of St. Callixtus. Try to imagine that this place contained the tombs of popes from the 2nd to 4th centuries. The place was a bit creepy and absolutely awesome.  IMG_0028 IMG_0029 IMG_0031 IMG_0033 IMG_0036

I planned to see a band called Red Rooster and ended up falling asleep and sleeping for 13 hours. Thus far, Rome has not been a disappointment.

Another normal night in Rome

Working while traveling makes for a completely different travel experience. For the next 6 weeks, I will be volunteering at The Yellow for 35 hours a week. In return, I receive breakfast, lunch, dinner, a bed and laundry. I found this all through Go Eco which has some amazing opportunities.

I haven’t done much exploring around Rome yet, but plan to take full advantage of my days off. I was taken to this great little restaurant called La Carbonara for a delicious dinner of pasta and prosciutto. The atmosphere was fun and friendly and the food was absolutely delicious!!!

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As we were walking back to the hostel, a gentleman in a car whistled and hollered at us from his car. We brushed it off like it was no big deal but he thought it was a bit of game. As we turned the corner he followed. We would zigzag away and he would come our way. Finally, we outsmarted him to the point he was unable to turn his car around and ran back to the hostel. This is just another reason that you never walk alone at night…anywhere!

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A Roman holiday

When in Rome do as the Romans do. This means go to dinner at 10:00pm and go to sleep around 2:00am. This part of my trip is also a bit different as I am volunteering at a hostel in exchange for breakfast, lunch, dinner, room and laundry for 6 weeks.

I have taken the last few days to get acclimated to “working’ and today I finally went out and explored for a bit. The sites did not disappoint.

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The best part was some gelato from the #3 ranked place on Trip Advisor. I will absolutely be exploring a ton on my days off and really getting to know Rome and digging into all the history. Who knows? Maybe I will even learn some Italian!

 

 

My day in Beauvais

My ticket to Rome was booked on Ryanair out of Beauvais. This is about 1.5 hours outside of Paris and I didn’t want to deal with getting to the airport in the morning. So, I booked a room on Airbnb and took myself on a little date in Beauvais. Sadly, this meant I had to check out of the amazing hostel I was staying at, The 3 Ducks!

In Beauvais, there was a small festival in town where there was a race of homemade go karts. Picture box cars with the theme music to Spiderman or Mario Borthers playing as they peddle around a track. I pulled up a seat at the Brasserie Victor Beauvais and ordered a foie gras salad and some rose. The food was absolutely amazing and I enjoyed my time people watching and taking in the sun for over two hours!

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As I was walking back to the house, I stumbled upon the Cathedral of Saint-Pierre. I love that I can just be walking down the street and find 13th century gothic architecture without even knowing it was there.

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One thing to note, although my airfare from Paris to Rome was dirt cheap ($39), I had to pay another €16 (about $24) to take a bus to the airport and spend the time getting there. If I wanted to make my 9am flight, I would have had to leave at about 5am. If you have the time though, it’s worth it to save the money.

 

 

Versailles

In 2001 my parents took me to Versailles and I recall enjoying the gardens and thinking the palace was absolutely massive. 13 years later, I returned and had a new perspective and new appreciation of what the place was actually about. I found that I was able to appreciate the art and the history quite a bit more as well as grasp the magnitude of the statement the king was making by choosing to have the palace in Versailles. The idea that a government would leave a main city and move to the outskirts is absolutely mind boggling and yet, that is exactly what happened and after various additions, became the Versailles that we all see today.

All patrons are given a free audio guide to assist in the tour of the 50,000 square feet of space. A few fun facts:

– There were apartment nights when the king would allow common people to come in and feast

– There was a billiard night where he expected his wife to dance because they were not a private couple

– Dinner was served at 10:00pm and people were allowed to watch the king eat, but they were not able to join

– The mirror room was designed as a showing of wealth as the materials and size were incredibly uncommon at the time

The tour of the palace was amazing and I followed it with a walk in the gardens and a bit of a nap. Once again, the pictures need to do the talking.

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I grabbed a quick dinner and finally had some tartare that was heavenly!

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Of course, I had another night with new and old (two days) friends at the Eiffel Tower. We drank wine and laughed and chatted and I even ballroom danced under the lights to some music on the Iphone. Everything about Paris was perfection!

Paris by day and Paris by night

A few days in Paris and I feel like I have been here forever! I met up with a friend from home who was in town and had some delicious foie gras and rose and a wonderful day exploring the area.

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As we were walking back, we stumbled upon Notre Dame and the Madeleine.
I met some friends at the hostel and we grabbed a few bottles of wine and went to the Eiffel Tower and watched the lights. It was absolutely amazing!
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The next day started with a few macaroons and a trip climbing the stairs of the Eiffel Tower. The view was fantastic and I am so happy I chose to take the stairs instead of the elevator. This is a must do when in Paris!

 

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Next up was a walk to the Arc de Triomphe to take the token walk down Champs-Elysees to The Louvre. I will let the pictures do the talking!

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As we were walking home, we stopped by the river and caught some live music. The day was perfect and I could not have asked for anything else!

 

 

Everyone almost gets arrested in a foreign country…right?

I can only describe my day with a little play by play recap:

– Get up and go to breakfast to meet my new travel friend Jenn to decide what museum to go to

– Met some people from Tennessee who want to go to a castle about 30 minutes out of town by train which sounds fantastic

– Take said train only to get on a bus and get lost in Langensbold

– Decide to stop for a beer and walk around the cute town instead

– As we are heading to a church, get stopped by the police on a residential street corner

– Interrogated by the cop and asked for our passports and where we were all weekend and all these other things

– Told we look exactly like some people who caused some trouble on the weekend

– Had our picture taken (just me and Jenn) and told all would be okay if we didn’t match the descriptions of the people from the weekend

Somewhere during all this I thought we might have a bit of a money shakedown and took my credit cards and debit cards out of my purse and put them in my bra. I thought if I get robbed, then it’s just the cash I have on me which is not the worst thing in the world. I also wrote down the name of the officer in case things were not quite up to par. In the end, he ended up being very nice and apologized for any confusion.

Needless to say, Jenn and I booked it back to Frankfurt and the other two continued on to the castle. I don’t know about you, but I think we look pretty innocent.

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I had a ticket to the opera tonight to see La Fanciualla Del West. The prior events of the day had me a bit shaken but I still went. The opera was in Italian with German subtitles and the orchestra was so loud I could not hear the singers. I made it through the first act and then had to leave. I’m glad I went for a bit but was truly in the wrong mindset after my day.

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The Devine Comedy in Frankfurt

Finally the museums were open and I got to spend my day as I pleased. I chose to go the MMK Museum for the The Divine Comedy exhibition and was not disappointed by anything that I saw.

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This piece is by Bili Bidjocka and called Graces & Intentions & Graces. You can see pencils hanging from the painting where you can write your own message and I wrote Carpe Diem as I thought it was the perfect thing to say! The piece is based on the proverb: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

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These pieces are by Kendell Geers and called Ligne de Fuite. The pieces are a meditation on violence and poetry, the struggle between creation and destruction, and the fragile balance between flesh and the spirit. The artists says, ” I dedicate my exhibition to everybody who still believes and will never abandon hope.”

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This piece is by Julie Mehrtu and called In Fragment. This piece is inspired by the cityscape of Berlin.

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This piece is by Wangechi Mutu and called Metha. This piece is for the 1994 Rwanda massacre and the tables are used to signify the tables where the bodies were stacked. The bowls filled with milk and wine are direct references to the beginning and end of life, thus serving homage to the people killed.

Another piece I loved was a soundscape called The Dream by Frances Goodman. It was about a 10 minute piece of women speaking about the pressure society has put on them in regards to marriage. Some of the quotes that stuck out were:

“Marriage is an element of conquering.”

“Marriage has an element of pity.”

“How do you know what forever is?”

“I feel like I’m getting older; I feel like I’m reaching my expiry date.”

Quite a few women touched on the difference of the question at 25 versus 30. I guess one would say that I related to this piece.

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Sushi in Germany?

Just because I am in a certain country, does not mean I have to eat the local food the entire time. Today I had a craving for sushi and found a great place with bottomless sushi! It was absolutely delicious and made me very happy.

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I haven’t totally strayed away from the German way. I tried the apfelwein and I must say, it is a bit of an acquired taste that I do not have.

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One of the best parts of staying in a hostel is meeting interesting people and hearing their story. This evening I met a 69 year old gentleman from Berlin who decided to up and travel the world with his walker. For every person he met, he would sing some sort of song. I have a feeling he will be the hit of the place in a few days.

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