Day 1 in Rome, Italy (10/24/21):
-Traveling from Egypt to Rome was an absolute nightmare. The spirits were $25USD, the taxi took me to the wrong terminal, and the metro to transfer to my correct terminal 2 miles away was closed so I had to take a second taxi. I checked in online but it wasn’t accepted at passport control so I had to go back and check-in again in-person.
-When I got to Rome, the immigration officer tells me that even though I have proof of vaccination, a negative PCR test, a self-declaration form, and a PLF form I am still required to quarantine for ten days because I came from Egypt. When I show him the self-declaration form and that Egypt is not a listed quarantine country he explains that there is a fine print where if a country is not listed in any category from A-E it automatically falls into E which is the worst category. I have a sad clown laugh and ask him, “So what do you want me to do then? I have no WiFi and I’m already here with accommodation.” He looks at his partner, stamps my passport, and answers, “Just make sure you stay here for ten days.” In other words, he gave me a HUGE pass.
-Italy might be my favorite place for food. Like Greece, it’s one of those countries where you can go anywhere and the food will be outstanding because they rely on traditional and fresh ingredients over everything. Time isn’t important, money isn’t either, it’s all about quality.
-The first two things I always do when I go to a new country is get a local SIM card with data and local currency. It was 6pm and I had been up since 3am so I withdrew 150 euros without even realizing there was a ridiculous, additional 14% conversion rate. I lost 21 euros just like that.
-I love the way women dress here. They’re not caked in makeup or wearing unnecessarily revealing clothes. They’re simply fashionable and classy and I find that sexy as hell.
-There is a lot to see and do here but I can see a seasoned traveler knocking out the majority of attractions in a few days. Truth be told, you don’t spend hours in a basilica or looking at a monument. You look around for a few minutes, take some pictures, then move on generally.
Day 2 in Rome, Italy (10/25/21):
-I haven’t seen a single stray yet. I’ve seen a bunch of well-behaved, leashed dogs. Even on buses and the metro. Rome is extremely dog friendly and that’s a huge pro for me.
-If you’re born in Orlando and used to waiting in long lines for rides in our theme parks – queues here will be nothing. If you’re not, book tickets for major attractions online or get there right when it opens. Otherwise, you’ll be in a queue wrapped around the building 200+ deep. I’m not exaggerating. Pictured is the queue for the Pantheon this morning.
-I don’t think Rome is that expensive to visit compared to places like London or Singapore. I just went to a recommended local restaurant. This grandma came out and greeted me like I was her grandson, then strolled around telling all the customers an Americano was here trying her food. She sold me 9 dishes and 2 glasses of wine for 27 euros. I felt pregnant afterwards.
-The metro only has two lines so getting lost is pretty much impossible.
-The bus is confusing though. You can’t buy tickets on the bus. Instead, you have to buy tickets online, at certain shops, or at the metro station. Then validate them on the bus, but I have a hunch most locals just hop on and no one enforces ticket validation. Kind of like the Paris metro.
-My new gameplan is to work my way to Naples, Pompei, and the Amalfi Coast. After that, I’m flying back to the US to apply for my Chinese Z visa as they need my passport obviously.
-The weather here is the best. No rain or gloom. Not windy, not too hot or cold. You can wear just about anything and be comfortable.
Day 3 in Rome, Italy (10/26/21):
-Rome’s Pantheon is overrated. I waited in line for 40 minutes and spent maybe 5 minutes inside. The Pantheon in Paris has way more to see.
-I look forward to every meal here from a cappuccino in the morning to gelato at night.
-The McDonald’s here has macaroons and fried olives. I’m not sure why that fascinates me.
-Rome is definitely not the place to party but it is the place to experience art and culture.
-I’ve ended up speaking Spanglish 90% of the time and locals generally get my meaning.
-Rome is the most pro LGBQT+ city I’ve encountered. There’s a restaurant called “Coming Out” and no one bats an eye at the older couples holding hands or the flamboyant ones just being themselves. I love it.
Day 4 & 5 in Rome, Italy (10/27/21-10/28/21):
-I’ve lost count of how many wedding shoots I’ve seen here and I don’t blame them one bit. Rome is the embodiment of romantic.
-Turns out buses do get checked by police here and they don’t play around.
-Vatican City lives up to the hype. It’s everything you think it’s going to be and more. You can spend the day there and not get bored.
-I feel like Egypt and Turkey have grown my awareness and resistance to hustlers exponentially.
-I’ll say it till the day I die, just learning how to say a few basic words like please, thank you, cheers, one, and hello in the local language will take you miles with locals.
-The statues here make me feel like I’m living in “Attack On Titans” because they are all massive but so life-like.
-I totally understand now how Italians are always dissing on Italian-American dishes. The food here is really in a league of its own.
-Villa Borghese is the best park I’ve ever been to. Clean, well taken care of, full of happy doggos, and fun for tourists, locals, families, and couples alike.
Day 6 in Rome, Italy (10/29/21):
-Drivers yielding to pedestrians everytime is a big pro for me.
-The Colosseum and surrounding attractions are hit and miss for me. I loved being in the arena because when I was a fighter I always imagined that’s what I was stepping into. For most people, I think it will simply be a new Facebook profile pic.
-I prefer seeing sights myself over guided tours. I don’t remember 95% of the information told and I prefer going at my own pace. Also, I hate people.
-Rome I think is the most tourist friendly city I’ve ever visited. I haven’t had one negative experience here so far.
Day 7-9 in Ercolano, Naples, and Pompeii: (10/30/21-11/1/21):
-The Ruins of Pompeii are cool but there isn’t much to actually see. If you aren’t into history or are pressed for time – Pompeii is skippable.
-That being said, seeing the casts of people who died in the eruption though was nucking futs.
-I’m in an eco hostel in the small town of Ercolano and it’s an experience. I have to say, it’s a really unimpressive town thus far and not taken care of. Everywhere there is overgrown flora, dog crap, loiter, and graffiti. Even got lucky and found two dead rats and a bird on the street.
-This sounds weird saying but Italians don’t use a lot of seasonings or spices. They rely on the freshness and sauces for flavor.
-The public transportation here is super confusing. There are several trains that share the same line and then divert at different points so it’s easy to get lost. Also, most of the trains are old and covered in graffiti so it’s hard to tell them apart sometimes.