Back in the states

We kept a pretty low profile while in London. Lots of Judge Judy and gas station food.

The day finally came and we boarded our very empty plane back to the states.

A quick, not really, ten hours later we had made it to Miami. After a few basic checks we were officially on the other side of immigration and had made it back “home”. Whew!

It was pretty exciting to be back on US soil. Just something about the comforts of the known.

While in London the kiddos and Dad had convinced me to book a house in Orlando with a pool and  spa while we awaited our flight back to the cold white North.

Oh man am I happy I humored them! Ha!

Not only did we get a deal because, well, Airbnb’s aren’t exactly thriving at the moment but it has given us a chance to “self isolate”.  And of course it’s been pretty awesome to soak up some sun and enjoy the water.

We’ve got a few more days here and then we head north. We’ll face a 14 day mandatory quarantine up there, but it sounds like there’s still a ridiculous amount of snow on the ground so what else are you going to do, right?!?

Today we made a video recapping our European Adventure.

I’m so grateful we got this experience. Even with a health crisis at our heels. I mean would the Cunningham’s do it any other way?!?


Check out my new page “Rome”

“Rome”

Where to start:

When I first started planning our Europe trip, it obviously started with a budget. You can find lots of information on how to prepare for any trip HERE! So at this point, I’ll assume you’re all caught up, and we can move on with Europe specific planning.

First off, you’ll need to set your time frame and determine your locations. Then you’ll need to plan your route and decide what types of lodging fit your budget and style. Simultaneously you should research flight options and activities and keep plugging all this info into your spreadsheet.

 

CLICK HERE TO SEE HOW WE DID ROME!

 

LODGING

Obviously, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out where we were going to stay. Typically down in Central America, it’s all about the hostel. But if you’ve read my budget travel tips, when you’re traveling as a group, hostels are not always the best value. Think about it, if the going rate for a bed in a mixed dorm is $10, you’ve already committed to spending $40 and you don’t even have your own bathroom. So it’s best to expand your search to everything from traditional hotels to renting private homes. We never stayed in a hostel during our European tour. Mostly we used Airbnb and Booking.com with a few random sites here and there. All the prices listed include taxes and fees.

ROME – Airbnb – Near San Lorenzo – $69 per night

CLICK HERE FOR WEBSITE

Rome is another pricey location. Rome is a fairly condensed city, but at the same time, it’s impossible to position yourself within walking distance to everything. This Airbnb was situated near the Colosseum and within a 15-minute walk from the Termini Station. I actually really liked the neighborhood, there were lots of supermarkets and clubs, and restaurants. All very reasonably priced because the area is not a main tourist hub. Plus, you can either walk to the termini or catch the bus, and within a few stops on the metro, you will find yourself in Piazza Navona or Trevi Fountain. From that aspect, Rome is very small. There’s also a tram stop just outside of the home that takes you to Vatican City.

One thing to note when staying in Rome is that when lodging at an Airbnb, the host will ask you to pay a city tax on top of the posted Airbnb rate. This is roughly $4 per day per person, that’s quite a bit when you think about it. So, when you’re doing your research and comparing prices, just make sure you account for the tax. Most hotels had it included in their price, but any direct owner lodging you will most likely need to add it in. Something else to keep in mind is the lack of a living room. During our stays in Rome and Pompeii, we lacked a living room. Not a big deal for us, but something that you may not realize at the time of booking.

ACTIVITIES

It’s true what they say. Rome really is just an open-air museum. You can walk around the entire city absolutely free and see many of the famous sites that make Rome one of the most visited cities around the world. With that said, there may be a few things you wish to pay for. A few notes on activities. When you’re researching things to do in an area, it’s really easy to get lost in the mix. And it seems as though it gets harder and harder to find Official Websites. There are so many skip-the-line websites, and perhaps you decide that the increased fee is worth it, but first, you have to locate the base price on the official website to make that determination. There are also many audio/walking guides available on your phone as an app. However, some of these require internet access.

  • Trevi Fountain – Free – We started at the Trevi Fountain and found it easy to walk to many of the famous sites.
  • Pantheon – Free – The Pantheon is completely free to enter, you do need to assure that you are dressed properly as it is a place of worship. 10 FACTS ABOUT THE PANTHEON
  • Church of Saint Louis of the French – Free – This beautiful church is also free. And you can see beautiful works from Caravaggio. Once again, ensure that you are appropriately dressed. INFO ABOUT THE CHURCH
  • Piazza Navona – Free – Another famous landmark. A beautiful fountain sits in the plaza among the shops and restaurants. INFO ABOUT PIAZZA NAVONA
  • The Spanish Steps – Free – And yet another famous landmark. INFO ABOUT THE SPANISH STEPS
  • Columns and Obelisks of Rome – Free – As you wind your way through the streets of the city, you will come across many famous obelisks and columns. All free to view as they are huge landmarks in the many plazas. CLICK HERE FOR A WALKING TOUR OF THE COLUMNS AND OBELISKS OF ROME

All of the above activities were easily accomplished by walking around the city in just one afternoon. As you can see, visiting the highlights of Rome is easy and very affordable.

We opted to purchase a guided tour of the Colosseum, which included an upgraded underground tour as well as entry to Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. There are many guided tours available, and it can be hard to sift through all the info. See below for specific information.

  • Colosseum Underground/Area Floor, Palatine Hill, Roman Forum Tour – $340 – The Colosseum can be toured a number of ways at varying fees. OFFICIAL WEBSITE CLICK HERE FOR BASE PRICES AND INFO I used the previous website as a baseline when deciding how we wanted to tour the colosseum. I was very excited about doing the underground tour and having a guide. I often feel that a guide can make history come alive. Otherwise, sometimes it just feels like you’re looking at yet another old rock or column. Also, with some of the more popular sites, they can have very long lines. Even during low season while we were there in February 2020, the colosseum still shut down by 11 am. So if you hadn’t arranged tickets, you would not be getting in. With that said, we could have done the Colosseum for far less than $340 for the four of us. So, was the underground tour worth it? Yes and no. Had I gone to Rome and not done the tour, I would always wonder if we would have had a richer experience by doing a tour. However, many of these sites are under construction, which definitely takes away from the experience, especially in the underground of the Colosseum. Our guide was great, she had lots of information, but I’ve definitely had more personal and educational tours. Knowing what I know now, I still would have prepurchased tickets as I would want to have my entry guaranteed, but I don’t know that I would pay the extra money for the underground. If you are interested in a guided tour I would highly recommend THE ROMAN GUY I do feel that their prices were the best and as I said our guide was great!
  • The Vatican – $70 – This was a late addition in our travels, but I am so glad we did it. I can’t imagine going to Rome and not visiting the Vatican. The collection of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel are so special you just can’t miss it! We purchased base tickets and opted to tour the Vatican on our own, but our tickets guaranteed us entry within our time slot. I didn’t feel like we needed a guide, although guides always add more to the experience. OFFICIAL WEBSITE CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS

FOOD

There’s no way around it. The food in Rome is expensive. We really cut down on our costs by doing a lot of supermarket shopping and cooking in the Airbnb. However, we did have a great little pizzeria near our house, which was great to try some traditional Italian food at great prices. It was definitely a locals place, which probably helped account for the good value. Plan to spend at least $15 on a mediocre plate near Piazza Navona and the like. My best suggestion is to eat off the beaten path. It happens to the best of us. We get hungry in the most touristy stop we can find, and when that happens to our family, we try and get just enough to tide us over until we can get somewhere with reasonable prices. Sometimes all it takes is gelato or one slice of pizza. Pizzeria La Casetta in San Lorenzo was our favorite. Great little locals place with a traditional carbonara to die for. Carrefour was our supermarket of choice as we found good variety at really good prices.

TRANSPORTATION

Before our arrival, we arranged our airport transfer through the Airbnb host. Most of you know by now that when we arrive in a new location, especially in the evening, we like to make things as simple as possible, and that usually means more costly. We paid $55 for our airport transfer. Our Airbnb was approximately 45 minutes from CIA. That’s something else to remember about Rome. They have two main airports. FCO and CIA, very important you know which one you are arriving and departing from. As for our transportation around town, we walked to and from the termini, which was about a 15-minute walk from our lodging. We did hop on the metro a couple of times and utilized the tram system.

The metro in Rome is very simple, nothing like the underground in London. There are just a few lines, and honestly, it’s quite a small network. It seems that every time they attempt a new tunnel, more ruins are found. CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS AND INFO The Rome metro tickets are about the same as in other European cities. You can purchase a ticket for a couple of Euros, which is good for approximately 75 minutes. These tickets can always be used on all methods of transit. While the underground system is quite small, the bus system in Rome is one of the world’s largest. You can also purchase 24 hour, 3 day, and week-long passes. It really just depends on where you’re staying and how you will utilize public transit. There’s also a tram system that is easy to use. It doesn’t necessarily get you to the tourist hubs, but there is a tram that gets you to the Vatican that we found very useful. From where we were staying, it was just about door to door service. You can purchase tickets at digital kiosks and at most tabacchi shops. If you know you’re going to be traveling roundtrip, I always recommend purchasing extra tickets. The tickets are not valid until scanned, so you can put them in your bag and save them for later. We’ve found that the kiosks are often down in some of the remote stations, and you don’t want to get caught without a valid ticket!

For us, for our departure, it was easy enough to walk to the main termini and catch a Terravision bus back to the airport. You can easily purchase tickets on their website HERE It’s only about $6 for a one way, and it’s a direct route from the termini. You don’t even need to print the tickets, just simply present the image on your phone.

TOTAL BUDGET

Lodging Total Lodging Per Night
$548 $78
Food and Misc Total Food and Misc Per Day
$353 $50
Transportation
$105
Activities
$399
Total Rome Expenses Total Per Day Total Per Person Per Day
$1,405 $201 $50

Check out my new page “Europe Flights”

“Europe Flights”

Where to start:

When I first started planning our Europe trip, it obviously started with a budget. You can find lots of information on how to prepare for any trip HERE! So at this point, I’ll assume you’re all caught up, and we can move on with Europe specific planning.

First off, you’ll need to set your time frame and determine your locations. Then you’ll need to plan your route and decide what modes of transportation you will use. Simultaneously you should research lodging options and activities and keep plugging all this info into your spreadsheet.

I determined that we had about 7 weeks, and it was in our best interest, mostly for financial reasons, to fly to each new location. Train travel sounds like a dream, but it is expensive, at least for the short time frame I was looking at. Perhaps if you had months and several different countries, a Eurail pass might be beneficial, but every situation is unique, and you just have to find the sweet spot for what you’re doing. We are primarily hopping from city to city via budget airlines. We also plan on renting a car in a couple of spots. Once I determined that flying was our main mode of transportation, I hit Google Flights and started checking routes and prices.

How did we determine our route?

It took me a long time to decide what path we should take. I literally have columns and columns on a spreadsheet where I took each location and priced our flights in every direction. Here’s a little glimpse into the madness:

As you can see, we had a set of areas that we wanted to travel to, and it was just about finding the right order. Cost is always at the forefront of my decision making, but if the price difference is negligible, then I start thinking about flight Length, flight departure and arrival time, and overall flow of the trip. You may have an experience that limits your dates in a specific location, or perhaps prices are significantly higher at one time or another. All these things need to be considered when planning your route.

After I sifted through my research and got a rough idea of our itinerary, I was confident in booking our big flights. We decided to fly to London and fly out of Paris. This was mostly driven by cost. Overall the cheapest cities that I found to fly in and out of were London, Barcelona, and Paris.

Our Long Haul Flights:

We opted for Norwegian Air. It’s here that it pains me to say I overpaid for my flights, ugh! I hate it when that happens. I purchased our flights in late August for a February Departure and a March Arrival. I was so close. Basically, the flights went down about a week after I made my purchase. I overpaid but about $20 on our departure and about $40 for our Arrival. I was happy with the price I paid, but obviously, I could have saved a little more, I just get too trigger happy I suppose! Now that I’ve been tracking the price, I can see that the flights have been roughly the same since the beginning of September and don’t appear to be fluctuating.

Total for our Long Haul Flights:

Norwegian Air (No Seats/Cabin Bag 10kg)

MCO-LGW $160pp

CDG-FLL $189pp

Roundtrip $349pp

Family Total $1396

While it’s not the best price in the world, I still think it was a fair price. This does not include seat selection or baggage. Every passenger on Norwegian gets 1 bag at 10kg or roughly 20lbs. And while we did not pay to select seats, we did wind up getting seated together. In fact, it was one of the best flights I’ver ever taken. No frills, no food, no perks. But we were very satisfied.

Our Hopper Fights:

After we got our long haul flights booked, I was able to hit our reservations at both ends. For anyone who knows me, they know that I am horribly noncommital. But for anyone who understands budget travel, they realize that spontaneity and budget don’t go hand in hand. So for me, I start with the things I know are not going to change, leaving what little room I do have for spontaneity along the way.

The first flight I booked was from LGW-ATH. This was a must because no matter what, we had to get out of London, and once again, it came down to price. Based on all of the research, I determined that this was the cheapest way to get to Athens.

Easy Jet (Prepaid Seats/Cabin Bag 10kg)

LGW-ATH$34pp

Family Total $136

The next flight I booked was from RAK-TLS. Now, this is where it gets a little weird. We really hadn’t talked about Marrakesch, but one of us got a wild hair, and I ran with it. I happened to find an amazing flight from Marrakesch to Toulouse, France. Only $25 per person. I thought, WOW, this was a deal. Marrakesch is generally a little more expensive than say getting from Paris to Rome, so coming across something like this was awesome.

Plus, Olivia had gone on her European tour over the summer and really wanted to take us to some spots along the coast of France and Spain, and the only way this was going to happen was on a road trip. So, we decided that we would fly into Toulouse, rent a car, dip down into Spain and then drive back up to Paris. Back to the amazing flight, I decided to take a chance and book a flight out of Marrakesch even before I had a flight to the city, but I figured it would all work out.

Easy Jet (Prepaid Seats/Cabin Bag 10kg)

RAK-TLS $25pp

Family Total $100

Next up, I booked our flight from ATH-CIA. By now, I had a pretty good plan of where we would be staying and for how long. Marrakesch was still a bit up in the air, but once again, I only had us going as far as Athens, so we had to get somewhere, and Rome made the most sense. At the time of booking, we were either going to fly out of Naples or Rome to get to Marrakesch, either way, flying into Rome from Athens was way cheaper than Naples.

Ryan Air (Prepaid Seats/Cabin Bag 10kg)

ATH-CIA $34pp

Family Total $136

Lastly, I booked our flight from NAP-RAK. This one really got dicey. I track flights regularly, review historical averages, and scour the blogs for good prices. But sometimes you just get sucked into wanting to save even more. It’s kind of like a gambler’s mentality, ha! Anyways, I missed out on a good flight, and then the price shot up and wouldn’t come down. Day after day, I waited and refreshed with no luck. Then one day, the price finally came down, and I jumped on it immediately. This was the last piece of the flight puzzle. While it wound up being an expensive flight, I am pleased with the price we paid.

Ryan Air (Prepaid Seats/Cabin Bag 10kg)

NAP-RAK $75pp

Family Total $300

Check out my new page “Europe with Teens”

Europe with Teens

We’ve dreamed of visiting Europe for years, I mean, who hasn’t? And for 2020, we finally made it happen. The countries on our list:

England

Greece

Italy

Morocco (Yes, I understand this is part of Africa)

Spain

France

More specifically, we will be spending:

7 nights in London

7 nights in Athens

7 nights in Rome

7 nights just outside of Pompeii

6 nights in Marrakesch

6 nights on a road trip through Spain and France

3 nights at Disneyland Paris

and

7 nights in Paris

Obviously, Europe is a big place. But I think we are hitting the touristy highlights. Some would say that getting off the beaten path is a truer way to soak up the culture and have a meaningful trip, but when it comes to Europe, I think I’ll save that for my second tour. For now, I want to see what has made Europe famous, the Louvre, the Parthenon, the Colosseum. All the greats!

You also may be wondering how Morocco got put on the list. To be honest, I did want a little bit of an authentic experience, and I felt that Marrakesch may offer that, but mostly it came down to cheap flights. You’ll find plenty of budget specific information on each countries page.

As for the kiddos, they are now 15 and 13 and have really matured quite a bit since that first trek to Central America. They’ve been exposed to so much world history over the years, and we really hit the books and You Tube hard prior to our trip just trying to soak in all the history and prepare for actually being here.

During the summer of 2019, I really began to realize that my kiddos were starting to become their own little people. Actually big people. At 13 and 15 I just don’t have much time left with these guys, and quite honestly I wanted to do a big trip to capture this moment in time. Of course, we will continue to travel and vacation and spend time with each other, but you never again have what you’ve got right now, so you might as well do something with it!

Plus, Europe was the only general destination that I could get the kids to agree on, moreover they were both really excited about Europe. So away we went!

Rome Day 7

After our busy couple of days, and I hate to say it, a panicked moment about health around the world, we opted for a home day on our last day in Rome.

We’ve tried hard not to get too caught up with the virus shenanigans but sometimes it’s hard to avoid. But really unless we’re going to call it quits and head back to Alaska we can’t let the fear of getting sick dictate the trip. I think we’re really more concerned with travel restrictions and logistics of what it would look like if we got sick.

And I was having a bit of travel meltdown. Believe it or not as amazing as this looks on the blog it takes a lot of effort to put it all together. And we forget sometimes that this isn’t exactly vacation but traveling to gain experience. Sometimes I suffer from option overload and I hate not knowing everything. I plan all the things, but it’s just impossible to plan for everything or remember all the things I’ve read about.

But I digress. For now we’re taking it one day at a time!

So for our last day in Roma we opted for market frozen pizza and jugs of wine.

Who knew you could even buy frozen pizza in Italy! Ha!

Rome Day 6

Off to the Vatican.

We hadn’t planned on visiting the Vatican while we were here but the more we thought about it we realized we couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

And to be honest it’s one of my favorite things we’ve done.

The museums are incredible. And of course the Sistine Chapel is unreal. We did a bit of homework to ensure we had a greater appreciation. But seriously the size of the collection housed in the museums is unbelievable. And walking into that chapel is, I don’t know, just a surreal feeling.

When we got to the Sistine Chapel we had only been in a couple of minutes and a priest came out to bless everyone and asked us to join him in prayer. Wether you’re God friendly or whatever that was one of the coolest moments of my life. I’ll never forget that. And in that moment I was totally thinking of my Grams, she definitely was “with us”.

Anyways enough mushy stuff 🙂

No pictures really. It feels a bit odd to take pics sometimes and there are no pictures allowed in many of the rooms.

We did get a picture of the Basilica. We didn’t go inside as the line was quite long. But overall Vatican City is definitely worth visiting.

Rome Day 5

Ok time to get caught up. We haven’t had the greatest internet but I’m going to see what I can accomplish. Ok here we go…

Today was our official tour day. We paid an exorbitant amount of money to get into the underground of the Colosseum, tour the Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill with an archaeologist. Not only do you get a guided tour but you get guaranteed skip the line entrance.

Which it turns out was way worthwhile because the Colosseum shut down at about 11 am due to capacity and the line was insane!

Ok. On with the tour.

We started at the Colosseum and hit the arena floor and the underground where the gladiators would wait to fight, and where they kept the animals.

Did you know that historians have found evidence that they would flood the Colosseum floor and have naval battles just like real life battleship? Crazy!

We also learned that despite what we’ve been taught the gladiators, even though they were slaves, were treated very well, and more often than not, did not fight to the death. After all it was expensive to train, feed, and clothe your fighter. You don’t want to put in all that work and have him die.

In fact at the end of a fight sometimes the winner would be determined by the crowd and they may want one of the fighters put to death, and if the emperor was in attendance and gave a thumbs up he would actually pay the gladiators owner for the loss.

The sad news, the animals definitely did die, buy they had an on-site butcher that would carve up the animals and give away the meat, so there’s that!

Palatine Hill was where all the emperor’s and the Senate lived. Situated on a lush hill between the Colosseum, the Forum, and Circus Maximus, where they held chariot races. It was the center of Rome and Emperor’s Augustus and Domitian called it home.

The Roman Forum is an area where Rome’s most important government buildings once stood. A marketplace and center of the empire.

I was exhausted by the end of the tour. All in all I’m glad we did it. The Colosseum underground was a little lacking, they’re doing so much renovation, from London to Greece to Rome, it seems as though all of Europe is under construction. Ha! But had we not done the tour I would have felt like we missed out.

Now we head to the Vatican.

Rome Day 4

Today we decided to scope out the Colosseum. We had a dedicated tour set up for the next day but we just couldn’t wait. Plus I thought maybe we could get some good evening pics.

We had been walking for about 25 minutes and just as we came to the top of the hill we were met with the amazing sight of the ancient amphitheatre. So cool!

We walked around the entire complex admiring the massive structure from a distance. Soon enough we would be inside.

We continued on the main road toward numerous monuments and ruins. It really gets hard to keep up with what’s what.

The area consists of the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Trajan’s Market, Altar of the Fatherland, and more.

Trajan’s Market/Forum/Column

Trajan was emperor of Rome between 98 and 117 A.D.

Trajan’s Market is believed to be the first shopping mall in history. Built between 100 and 110 A.D.

Trajan’s Column is a Roman triumphal column that commemorates Roman emperor Trajan’s victory in the Dacian Wars.

The Roman Forum is a rectangular forum surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. It served as a public area in which commercial, religious, economic, political, legal, and social activities occurred. Historians believe people started gathering in this open air forum around 500 B.C.

We walked around the Forum and Palatine Hill on our tour so more on this later. But as you can see you can easily see several amazing sights without paying a single Euro!

The Victor Emmanuel II National Monument aka Altar of the Fatherland aka The Wedding Cake, is a national monument built in honor of Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a unified Italy. Built between 1885-1925.

The views are what drew us to the building. You can see for miles up there!

We got so lucky catching this at sunset.

Rome Day 3

Not much to report today. Another school day but we did follow it up with an amazing dinner out.

We found a little place by our Airbnb and it’s cheap and fantastic!



I had a traditional carbonara and it was amazing!

And of course we stopped at the market for some treats.


Can you believe we got an entire bottle of prosecco for $2.99!?!

Rome Day 2

We set our alarms for an early 10 am and started our day with a typical Italian coffee. I had to watch a YouTube video to figure it out, but it was pretty self-explanatory. Yum!

We thought we’d walk around and check out the area and maybe the metro. Little did we know we would hit just about every major tourist site in Rome! First stop Rome Termini, the main station in the city. About a 20-minute walk from the house. It was a little confusing finding an entrance, but once we did, it was easy enough to find our way to the metro. Surprisingly, Rome has one of the smallest metro lines in all of Europe, but they pair that with one of the most complex bus systems with more than 350 routes.

One of the reasons the metro is so small is because, more often than not, when they go to dig a new tunnel, they find ancient ruins, Athens has the same problem. We weren’t really planning on going into the city center, but we found ourselves buying tickets and heading towards Trevi Fountain.

A quick 2 stops later, and we were out and about in the city. Signs are everywhere in English, pointing you to the main tourist spots.

The fountain was originally built as a water source for the people of Rome, like most fountains at that time, purely functional. Originally built in 19 BC. The fountain we see now was constructed in 1762. Today they recycle the water, so probably not wise to drink it. Although Rome has many springs around the city. The God featured in the fountain is the Greek God Oceanus, not Neptune, as most believe. Moreover, Oceanus was actually a Titan.

The theory goes that if you toss a coin, 3 is encouraged, into the fountain over your shoulder, you’ll ensure a visit back to Rome. It’s estimated that the fountain earns about 3,000 Euros per day!

After spending some time at the fountain, we continued to walk. No where in particular, but we knew the Pantheon was close by and maybe we would stumble across that.

On our way, we found an impressive column, one of several in he city. The Column of Marcus Aurelius is a Roman victory column in Piazza Colonna. It was built in honour of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, modeled on Trajan’s Column, and commemorates the northern war. Today the apostle Paul stands at the top.

Rome really is like an open air museum. Everywhere you turn is another fountain, obelisk, column, or another stunning monument.

The Obelisk of Montecitorio, also known as Solare, is an ancient
Egyptian, red granite obelisk. Brought to Rome in 10 BC by the Roman Emperor Augustus.

Look at that, we found the Pantheon. Another free monument.

The Pantheon is a former Roman temple, now a Catholic church, completed by the emperor Hadrian and probably dedicated about 126 AD.It is the best preserved Ancient Roman monument. It is a bit of a mystery how the Pantheon
managed to survive barbarian raids when all the rest of Roman monuments had been destroyed. The exact composition of the material is still unknown and appears to be structurally similar to modern day concrete!

Just outside the Pantheon, an amazing obelisk. The Fontana del Pantheon was commissioned and originally constructed in 1575.

As we continued walking, we saw another old building that was deserving of more picture taking.

And then we realized we could go inside. Amazing!

The Church of St. Louis of the French was built in 1518 to welcome the increasing French community in Rome. The famous painter Caravaggio (1573-1610) was commissioned to paint for this church.

Not far from the church is Piazza Navona. Another famous square. It was amazing we had made it to all these locations in a matter of hours.

At this point we were getting hungry and I wasn’t about to pay the crazy prices for food near the tourist center so we headed for the metro and what did we find…

The Spanish steps. Yet another famous landmark. Crazy!

And the Column of the Immaculate Conception. Which is a nineteenth-century monument depicting the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Wow, we really did almost do Rome in a day, ha! Not quite, but we definitely saw way more than I thought we would on our leisurely walk.

Back on the metro, we headed for the house. Got cleaned up and went in search of food. But, we were in that weird siesta time that we had been warned about. Restaurants usually shut down about 3 pm and don’t open back up until after 7 pm. So we hit the market and made pasta again. No complaints from me. We saved money, and it was pretty tasty.

Wonder what tomorrow will hold?

Rome Day 1

We packed our bags and made the short walk to Syntagma Square, found our bus stop, and grabbed a bite to eat. I finally got my traditional Greek yogurt and it was amazing!After we filled our tummies we hopped on the bus and after a quick ride we made it to the Athens airport.Security was easy and it was a short wait to board our flight. Ryanair is certainly no frills but you can’t beat the price.Only about an an hour and forty-five minute flight from Athens we were now in Roma!I had prearranged a driver so we didn’t have to worry about getting to our Airbnb in the dark so it was a pretty low stress trip.We’ve arrived!After we got settled we headed for the supermarket. Thankfully it was quite a big store so we picked up some goodies and some dinner. The prices weren’t too bad. All this for about $30, we’re certainly not in Greece anymore!After a yummy dinner of pasta and chocolate biscuits for dessert it was time for bed!