I am sorry for not updating with my blog the last month, as I have been very busy I now have three jobs and also been attending job interviews, catching up with friends and family whenever I can, as well as travelling to Rome for a few days, so of course I have been extremely busy.
Whilst I have two days off this week, which is very rare working in the arts and tourism industry, I thought I would catch up on my blog and keep you updated. This blog in particular covers travelling alone, and anxiety, but also about tips of when travelling alone and in Rome.
I always wanted to view Rome and I love travelling, and have always wanted to visit Italy, Italy of course. I don’t know why in particular, but it was on my bucket list to visit the Vatican City and Museum. I am not religious, but my late grandma was, and for some reason, I find religion a fascinating subject and of course one for debate. I look into religion and culture a lot and the rules and regulations and the effects religion has on certain people and societies.
However, I remember sitting on my old bed in my parents house with the laptop after booking a trip to Dublin with my two best friends Emma and Tash, then I sat and saw a cheap deal on Expedia for a trip to Rome and I checked the prices for September in Rome. However, I had booked to go to Rome before with a former boyfriend for his birthday and due to us breaking up, we didn’t go either of us, as it ended on not the best of terms, and at that time I didn’t have the guts to go alone, this was due to me suffering from depression and anxiety very severely at the time and I wanted to be close to friends and family. However, my confidence and my anxiety and panic attacks I have now learnt to control very well, this is due to me leaving my old catering job, at which was making me thoroughly miserable and I have had experiences that have made me stronger as a person, so with that I have developed the confidence to visit a foreign city alone.
I was sitting alone at the airport and I only had hand luggage for a few days away, I was sitting in the departure lounge and I was full of excitement but a little anxious at the same time. As my first solo flight and trip away alone, I had done my research and tried to make sure I had everything I needed to make sure I was covered in case of any problems.
The first thing was saving up and having enough euros to get me through the trip, as well my credit card for any emergencies, which came in great handy at times. I also checked trip adviser for transfers from the airport too, I was advised that taxis from the airport to the hotels were around eighty euros for the black cab especially, however Rome white taxis I found are more reasonable prices. I watched videos and travel vlogs on Rome on youtube. Really good travel vlogs are Hannah Witton and her solo trip to Stockholm, just type in Hannah Witton. I know it was about a trip to Sweden but it gave you great tips for travelling alone especially. I also got a really cheap Italian phrase book for when walking about Rome. It’s also important to get a city map. I found what was really good and handy for when visiting other places in Rome, was the twenty euro bus tour ticket, with Green Line Tours. They not only can be valid for twenty four hours, but also they go around all the hot spots Rome has to offer. I visited a number of destinations and got talking to people from other countries on this bus. I met a lovely couple from Canada who were of course travelling through Italy and had visited Florence. It also saves you walking around looking for things and if you don’t want to take the metro, the Green Line Tours Bus, comes every ten minutes and you can hop on/ off whenever you like; it’s also good if you want to sit down relax and view all the culture around you.
My first night Rome, I felt my stomach doing somersaults as I stepped off the plan having my passport checked. I stepped out the exit for the airport looking for my Rome cabs booked transfer at 8pm at night, when it is dark, I was tired and exhausted and of course a little nervous. I walked around looking for a plaque with my name, I couldn’t find it, then I was stopped by a cab driver, who said he would take me straight to the hotel for fifty euro, however, I was walking around for an hour looking for my transfer, and then I realised it had not shown up. Do not book Rome Cabs shuttle bus for a transfer! They are very unreliable in my experience. I then saw a bus going to Rome Termini Station and I knew from my previous research that I needed a metro from Ottaviano Station to get me to my destination, so I paid five euro to get on this shuttle bus. I was quite panicky that point when I got on the bus and a lot of the people were on it and of course none of them spoke English. The bus didn’t have a specific time to leave so I was getting very worked up as to what time I would end up arriving in Rome City Centre. As I sat down the bus eventually pulled off and we were on our to Termini Station. As I got to Termini, as I had heard about pick pockets at Termini I tried my best to avoid the ticket machines, as I was aware from travel vlogs that the pick pockets use that as an opportunity to try rob you. I went into a travel customer service desk and of course you can buy these Rome travel passes for twenty eight euro allowing you discount into some of the museums and unlimited metro travel for a limited period of your trip, plus a map. I got on the metro to Ottaviano, and I was on my apartment, however, I was very lost and very tired and as lazy as I sound I walked to the nearest white taxi rank and got my taxi to the hotel apartments.
As I settled in I managed to get the WiFi password and used my travel adapter to plug in my Ipad as my phone didn’t work in Italy, having internet on my Ipad really helped as I could keep in touch with friends and family back in the UK in case I got lonely at any point. I had a good night’s sleep after having a shower. I actually quite liked having a hotel room for one, and not having to share a double bed or worry about my strange habit that I have been laughed at by many of my friends, laughing in my sleep. A luxurious double bed of my own. However, the first thing I aimed to do when I got up the next morning was to get to my main tourist destination, The Vatican Museums, I was only a short walk away from it, and I got up as early as possible to visit the Vatican. I was stopped by a tour rep who told me about a guide taking booked tours for English speakers around the Vatican Museums, this tour cost me forty euros, included an English speaking tour guide, mine was an American called Mark, and the tour covered the Vatican Museum, Sistene Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica. My scheduled tour began at 11.45 am. I met a young couple from New Zealand, I also met two Mancunians and two Brummies, which was good for me as I felt closer to home and not so alone by that, as I had two sets of Northerners in my tour group.
When you first walk into the Vatican Museums, it’s like going through airport security, as you have to put your belongings through a scanner. When we went around and into the museums it was like walking around heaven mixed with Buckingham Palace, it was that majestic and so many paintings. It was so surreal, then when you walk into the chapel it is so religious and very holy, candles of peace and secret doors covered by colourful renaissance tapestries of angel, the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ. So many Catholics and none Catholics over the world and big tour groups squashed together, it is so populated and it leads the entrance to the grand St Peter’s. As I finished my tour, I wandered outside, the streets outside the Vatican vacinity were crowded with people taking pictures, eating gelato and of course a lot of beggars. I really had to question things, it was heart breaking seeing homeless people outside the Vatican begging for money and praying with their Rosaries. So many tourists and the size of the Vatican it is incredible how massive it is and yet a lot of these Catholics outside begging, they had no one and had nothing, why does the the Vatican make so much money on tourism and gift shops, why not donate some of the money make and provide these people with a homeless shelter or hostel with food and a bed for the night?
The experience of Rome was beautiful, walking around the Vatican City at night, where it is all lit up and bright lights is just a magical experience and even more picturesque. I found Rome a very holy city, and also very busy. Of course this is going to sound very typical tourist, but if ever you go to Italy, try Italian gelato [ice cream] so freshly made and incredible, the amount of unique flavours you can mix up in a cup or ice cream cone is amazing. I had blueberry [as I am obsessed with blueberries], pistachio and cappuccino and the following day I had more ice cream, mango, bubblegum and mint flavours. Honestly I am not usually one for ice cream but it helps in the Mediterranean heat and if you have a sweet tooth.
Of course travelling alone I did get lonely at times but it is good as well as you get to have some ‘me’ time, if anything it made me gain even more independence. I find that other than the pic pockets Rome is not that crime heavy and most people, especially Italians are very friendly and speak very good English anyway. The one main danger in Rome is more the roads, the Italians drive like crazy over there, if you were to be in any danger over there you’d more likely face it by being run over by a car.
Of course I have a lot to cover in this blog, I will be writing a part two of my trip to Rome and some travel tips in Part 2 of Roman Holiday. If anyone has any tips on travelling and different European or non European cities and their experiences please leave any comments. I’ll be posting part 2 of Roman Holiday later this evening!