Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Rome - Wed - 4/29/15

The alarm went off at 9am and after a few minutes I forced myself out of bed, feeling like I was being waken in the middle of a deep sleep again. This is definitely the hardest part of my days in Rome (I know, poor me) but I am slowly getting accumulated. Within 5 minutes I started to feel okay and forced Eric up.

Dressed casually, we headed down to our elaborate and free breakfast buffet. The Sotheby's conference was in full force and agents in suits were swarming every inch of the lobby. They had their own private breakfast so our restaurant wasn't too full. I ordered my usual cappuccino and americano. Eric had to track down water, which seems to be a hot commodity in this hotel and is never readily available. As I ate a variety of Italian cakes, coffee flavored yogurt, and fruit, we discussed our upcoming day and I told Eric more about my friendship with Aman, whom we'll see later today! 

There was a waiter who kept grabbing plates off our table way too quickly, American style. Annoying! The lax service in Italy is one thing I really enjoy. It's so beyond obnoxious when servers are hovering nearby waiting to grab your plate the second you finish.

After our restroom ritual was finally complete, we headed out into the absolutely beautiful day. The weather was perfect and we deserved it after last nights rain. Eric navigated us through the streets, trying to avoid areas with too many tourists. I stopped many times to take photos of interesting shops and buildings.

Quaint organic market near the Westin

I like the name!

Flower Obsession

How neat are these news stands that are all over the city?

Our first destination was Plaza Navona, which turned out to be quite charming.

Eric standing in Plaza Navona

Nutella readily available at one of the many gelato shops

The tourist traps around this plaza were extra tempting and beyond cutesy. There were tons of artists gathered in the middle of the plaza with their paintings on display. I would love to buy one for home but was worried about transporting it safely. We took your standard shots of the church and fountains and headed out, being extra careful for pick-pocketers!

Art in the plaza. I want one!

Charming terrace in the plaza

Church in the plaza

Me in front of the church

Street Performer - I had to shoot from a distance otherwise you have to pay for a picture!

So many kids stores in Rome!

Eventually I came across the most hilarious street performer, or a man who attached his head to a fake baby's body in a stroller. His legs were hidden so all you saw was this huge human head in a stroller sucking on a pacifier making baby noises. It was so disturbing and fascinating at the same time. I tried to sneak a pic for free but the guy noticed and stuck his head down. Can you imagine doing that type of work? I would guess that it requires an intense regimen of hard core drug usage.

Disturbing street performer - he hide his face because I didn't pay to take a picture!

It was a short walk to the Pantheon, our next stop. We managed to sneak a bathroom break in a restaurant with really clean bathrooms, which was a huge win! The Pantheon, like all the attractions in Rome, was impressive to see in person. It's so large and so old and I couldn't help but wonder how in the world it was built with such little technology 2,000 years ago!

Eric in front of the Pantheon

The Pantheon up close and personal

The area was busy but not too overly crowded so we walked in and hung out for a bit.

The most fascinating thing I spotted inside the Pantheon was this outrageous mullet

Interior of the Pantheon

Afterwards we headed back to the hotel and showered to get ready for the rest of our day. 

Palm trees in Rome

By 3pm, we hopped into a cab and took off for Trastevere. The plan was to meet Aman at 6 in the main square, but we arrived early to explore the town. We started by attempting to trace the steps of our foodie tour from the night before. This only worked for the first ten minutes and then we couldn't remember anymore.

Trying to trace our steps from the food tour...

We randomly found the cheese shop from our foodie tour

I found a cute store and spent some time looking around. If this boutique were located in the US, you would be immediately greeted by an overly eager and desperate saleswoman. This behavior generally prevents me from shopping in boutiques back home. In Italy, however, you are completely ignored as if you don't exist. I therefore felt comfortable enough to browse without a desperate salesclerk watching my every move. I decided on a small serving platter and a retro necklace. I haven't decided yet if these will be gifts or if I'll keep them for myself.

Cute shop where I bought a few souvineers

I was enthralled with the character of this bookstore! You'd never come across a shop like this at home (maybe in Cambridge...)

The narrow cobblestone streets of Trastevere

Mmmm tasty window display

We then wandered through the streets and finally found a neat restaurant named Baylon Cafe to unwind and have a little snack before dinner. This place had great style and a hip vibe. We ordered red wine, a salad (trying to eat my veggies), and prosciutto with mozzarella. Until recently I never realized how much I like prosciutto, mmm.

Our table at Baylon Cafe

I noticed the Italians like to put corn in salads, yum

I think you know what this is...

I tried to use the bathroom before we left but the stank in there was too overwhelming. It was the kind of stench that's so strong, you almost feel like you ate it. Absolutely disgusting! Unfortunately, I have found that the public bathrooms in Italy are generally filthy and unkept. This definitely isn't always the case, but it certainly seems to be an issue here more than in the US!

We continued through the streets and came across John Cabot University, which is the school MSU partners with for study abroad! At State, I was dying to do this program and just couldn't afford it. It's so funny to see the school in person after so many years!

John Cabot University - I am sure my Mom remembers how badly I wanted to study abroad here!

This window sill captured my attention

Eric looking fly as we walked around town

Eventually, I felt tired of walking and dodging the endless stream of aggressive motorcyclists and mini cars. I literally wanted to kick the next one that zoomed by me at high speed! Enough already!

We found our meeting place early, and had a glass of prosecco while waiting for Aman to show up. I liked that this restaurant served little appetizers to go with our cocktails for free (mini sandwiches, olives, potato chips). Midway through our prosecco, we had to move to avoid the yucky second hand smoke coming from table next to us. Joy.

Aman showed up and I spotted her across the plaza. I got up to greet her and she looks almost exactly the same! It's funny how some people from high school look exactly the same and some completely different.


As expected, we had a lovely evening with Aman. It was Eric's first time meeting her. She reminded me that the last time I saw her was 2 years ago, or April 2013 right before she moved to Italy and right before my wedding. I think back to our cross country running days in high school and can't believe that here we are in Rome together! Of course we did a ton of catching up while taking a walk around and stopping at a few of her favorite shops. I bought 2 more necklaces.

I love this necklace!

We then headed to Meridionale, the restaurant where Aman had made a reservation. Her boo, Kenny, was supposed to meet us but he wasn't feeling well. We enjoyed a 3 hour meal and had a great time! When we first arrived, Aman started reading through the whole menu, describing every option to us. Finally, Eric noticed that she was given a menu in Italian and we were given menus in English. Lol. I enjoyed hearing Aman's explanation either way.

The food was unique and very delicious. The atmosphere and decor was awesome. We were so happy she took us here because we would have never found it on our own. At 7pm the place was empty and by the time we left around 10pm it was packed. I love how late they eat in this country!

It was fun learning about Aman's international life in Rome. She does communications work for a large research company, which is where she met Kenny, who is from Peru. It seems that she is quite content with life in Rome and is trying to figure out her future like the rest of us. Her family is visiting in July and they are renting a large villa in the Amalfi coast. Wish I could go!

After dinner, Eric snapped a cool pic of us in front of some interesting graffiti, and off we went. Now that our evening is over, I wonder when I'll see Aman again.... Maybe her wedding in Peru?

June 2008 - Aman visits Nina in Boston

April 2015 - Nina visits Aman in Rome

1 comment:

  1. another great day in Rome!!! You may want to quit your day job and become a writer. Very captivating and entertaining. Love it.