2   56
9   155
3   50
5   93
1   21
0   28
3   60
8   138

Saluti to Rome

What does the Italian capital of Rome have to offer ? Five days of ‘dolce vita’ (A life of heedless pleasure and luxury). This was a very special trip as I got to share it with my entire immediate family. Our first family trip in twelve years. When you turn 30, it is imperative to spend that entire year celebrating and experiencing the world.

What does it mean to have a large bucket list ? Simply a desire to acquaint yourself with more than what you know. To see every last morsel of what the earth has to offer. Its addictive right ?

Where did I stay in Rome? 900 Via Nazionale, Luxury Apartment (Airbnb)

The apartment was a very short walk to both The Colosseum and The Trevi Fountain. The total cost was €1135.50 for 4 days and 4 nights (€189.25 per person/6 in our group) The apartment was SPECTACULAR. The décor was elaborate and beautiful. The space was glamorous and spacious. It literally emulated everything that symbolises Rome. Our host Stefania couldn’t have been any more accommodating. She even allowed us the use of the apartment on the day of our check out, since we had a late flight and she had no other guests coming. A totally unnecessary kindness that added to the comfort of our trip.

Here’s a detailed look at my five day itinerary, in the hope of making your next trip to Rome a very unique one.

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Day One

  • Trevi Fountain
  • An Italian style breakfast at Dante’s Caffe (€9 for three Espresso’s & three delicious Italian pastries)
  • Palazzo Venezia
  • Arch of Constantine
  • ★★★★★ Experience – Guided tour of The Colosseum, Palatine Hill and The Roman Forum with Headout Tours. A three hour experience with an audio headset and an amazing tour guide for €34.30. https://www.headout.com/tour/3075/italy/rome/guided-tour-with-skip-the-line-access-to-colosseum-roman-forum-palatine
  • Dinner at La Taverna (Authentic Italian food at a great price) and close to Colosseum. We topped it off with a drink and a view in Hotel Forum’s American rooftop Bar (€17 for an Aperol Spritz)
  • To finish off the evening we went to Trastevere (The top spot when the sun goes down)
  • ★★★★★ Experience – Dinner at La Tavernetta 29 Da Tony e Andrea. This was one of the food highlights for us on the trip. Full of locals, it was vibrant and buzzing. Incredible Italian food and drink. (Less than €200 for starters & mains for 6, including drinks, free breads and sorbets)
  • Last stop on our fulfilling first day – Gregory’s Jazz Bar which was on route back to our apartment for a cheeky Whiskey Sour.

Wearing my audio headpiece for the tour of The Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill.

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Day Two

  • The Spanish Steps & Trinita Dei Monti
  • Villa Borghese & Borghese Gardens – Since it was raining we decided to rent an electric buggy to see the entire grounds, which was great fun (€30 for one hour/ for four people)
  • L’argo Di Torre Argentina – A cat sanctuary in Rome where hundred’s of cats live and get adopted. The location is also tied to Roman history here where the famous emperor Caesar was murdered. Don’t forget to follow the stairs underground to see where the adoptions takes place.
  • ★★★★★ Experience at Mr 100 Tiramisu. Yes you heard me right 100 types of Italian Tiramisu. This gorgeous wine & cake bar is both indulgent & cool. We stayed for hours and even visited a second time before we flew home (€62 for 2 custom made Tiramisu’s, 4 glasses of wine, 2 limoncello’s & a large cheeseboard)

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Day 3

Today we decided to do something different and take a day trip to the sea. Since the weather was blistering, an afternoon in the Italian sea seemed like heaven. We agreed to head for Santa Marinella, 40 minutes from the city.

  • Since Rome Termini was the closest main train station, we began our adventure from there. The station is very overwhelming and even though I planned the trip meticulously, I still found myself confused about where to go.
  • There are customer service agents walking around the floor and we were guided through the process. The tickets were roughly €17 return.
  • On arrival to the beach I was blown away at how many locals were around, I don’t remember hearing or seeing any tourists. To rent a day bed was €12 & you can also buy food & drink there (Be aware most local bars & restaurant’s close midweek)

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Day 4

  • Circus Maximus
  • The Aventine Hill, View point at Giardino Degli Aranci & The famous Aventine Keyhole (literally a famous keyhole in a door)
  • Pyramid of Caius Cestius ( The ONLY Egyptian Pyramid in Europe) This sight is also the legendary tomb of Remus, one of the founders of Rome.
  • Close by i jumped into a great little local cafe for an espresso, i also decided to bring back some Italian cakes for breakfast for the family (€9.80 for an Espresso & 10 pastries)
  • One Rooftop drink at Hotel Minerva just at the back of The Pantheon (€16 Prosecco & €20 Aperol Spritz)
  • By night we visited The Fiumi Fountain at The Piazza Navona & The Pantheon

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Day 5

  • St Peter’s Square & St Peter’s Basillica
  • The Vatican Museum (The Sistine Chapel) We booked skip the line tickets which is an absolute essential. Do not visit The Vatican Museum without them. I would also advise avoiding high season, every site says this but i didn’t pay much attention. This was my least favourite experience on the trip due to the crowds and ques inside the museum (not even outside). It was so overcrowded, beyond warm and literally no emergency exits to be seen. There were very little opportunity to take in or enjoy the amazing artwork around as a result of the intense push forward from the hundreds of people coming behind us.
  • Saint Angelo’s Castle

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Follow the link below to see the detailed google map that I created. Including top Roman sights, best local places to eat without the mental price tags, vintage shops, rooftop bars and cool places to listen to music.

Click the link here to my personally create map of Rome https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Qhx60LpVFhLUgpGDqV9OSkrg3Lizbcbi&usp=sharing

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Why you want to spend 72 hours in Lisbon.

CHEAP, CULTURED & FUNKY !

I decided to FINALLY visit the beautiful tiled city of Lisbon in Portugal. The trip was to celebrate the big 30th birthday. I’m glad to report it did not disappoint and my only real regret is not booking one more day. A city break with everything to offer.

Celebration trips usually deserve a lot more planning, but life unfortunately got in the way of that happening. Regardless, the spontaneity was charming and part of the fun and exploration. Three days in a city without anything except a Lisbon city guide gifted to me by my fabulous mother. The potential at the beginning of the trip was really unlimited.

My arrival

  • Arrived in Lisbon Airport early (Don’t buy coffee in the airport)
  • Straight to the Metro which can be found right outside T1 in Lisbon Airport.
  • Picked up our Viva Viagem Card from the machine, we usually went with the daily 24 Hour metro ticket for €6.40.
  • Took the Red Line to Alameda and switched to the green line. We jumped off at Anjos. In total took roughly 30 minutes.
  • Arrived at our cool hostel called Lisbon Poets Hostel which i booked on www.Hostelworld.com. The hostel cost us €150 in total for three nights with a private double room (small room) with an ensuite, the price included breakfast too(€25 each per night is fairly wicked) http://www.lisbonpoetshostel.com/en/

Day 1 Itinerary

  • We first visted the famous and impressive Rua Augusta Arch & The Praca Do Comercio square. A very dramatic sight to start with as they overlook the sea and attract a vibrant energy.
  • Walk around the corner towards The Santa Justa Lift.
  • Walk up hill towards the amazing Castelo De Sao Jorge, through the small streets of Lisbon. Where the homes are all uniquely tiled, screaming with personality and colour. The castle offers some of the best views of the city and its still one of my trip highlights.
  • Walk down towards Alfama and grab a photo of the rooftops.

Day 2 Itinerary

  • We kicked off day two with a breakfast in our lovely hostel including pineapple, coffee and some lovely granola. Freshly baked bread from the local baker as well.
  • Our second day was focused around The Belem & Alcantara area, which involved taking the train/bus. The transport in Lisbon is so quick and easy to navigate.
  • Our first visits included The Monument to the Discoveries (Padrao Dos Descobrimentos) and The Torre De Belem
  • After spending years in art college i was so excited to see an Andy Warhol and Picasso piece with my own eyes. They can be seen at The Modern and Contemporary Art Museum in Lisbon, which is called Museu Coleção Berardo.
  • We finished off our time in Belem at Mosteiro Dos Jeronimos which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Rather than taking more public transport we decided to rent city scooters, which are available all over the city. Not only are they so much fun but they are so handy to navigate the city. Download the Lime App and upload money to your account, you can then unlock any Lime Scooter across the city for the period required.
  • On our Lime Scooters we left Belem for Alcantara, we took a straight route down along the water front, which was beautiful. It lead us straight to The April Bridge & from them we made our way to LX Factory. We were so lucky to catch their Sunday market that day.

Day 3 Itinerary

This was the toughest day for us as we had to make a decision between a day to Sintra and the renowned Pena Palace or take a day trip to the beach. Usually FOMO would take over and i couldn’t bare the thought of missing a top site. Maybe its age haha, but i decided a day away from the crowds would be more suitable. Take a moment to actually catch my breath and recharge the batteries, after all that’s what a holiday is all about.

  • The decision was made to visit the beautiful town and beaches of Cascais.
  • Rather than our usual Viva Viagem card for €6.40 which only includes buses and metros, we decided to go for the 24hr Viva Viagem which also includes rail, metro and bus. This ticket cost roughly €10. The journey took us less than an hour.
  • We wandered The Old Town and The Marina first, Took some cool photographs at The Fortaleza da Cidadela, visited the collapsed caves of The Boca do Inferno (Hell’s Mouth) and sat on rocks gazing at the turquoise waters surrounding The Casa de Santa Maria.
  • After lunch we literally spent the entire afternoon until 7pm relaxing, sleeping and swimming at the beautiful Praia de Rainha beach. After a lot of research this seemed like the best beach, very scenic, private and not crowded.

Food

One of the best things about Lisbon is the cheap and delicious food. I didn’t do much planning around cafes or restaurants, which i definitely regret. We still stumbled upon some great food regardless. After talking to other people we possibly missed some gems though, so i would highly recommend having a little list. Here’s some small gastro highlights ;

  • Pastel Da Nata – The famous Portuguese tart. There are a few really famous locations to grab one of these tarts, but the ques are RIDICULOUS. We grabbed ours from a lovely little local place right beside our hostel called Pastelaria Tebas. Super cheap and
  • We actually found this cafe restaurant by accident. Flower Power by Carlos Fillipe – https://www.facebook.com/Flower-Power-by-Carlos-Filipe-109866389083999/ We had been trying to find Park Restaurant Bar but decided to leave after almost an hour at a table without being served and crazy ques for the bar. The entire experience was very disappointing given it was meant to be a top spot. Then we came across Flower Power. Incredible customer service and the world BEST chocolate cake.
  • Ginjinha – Local Portuguese cherry liqueur. Great way to finish off a meal at any bar or restaurant in Lisbon.
  • O’Galhardo Tapas Bar – A beautiful little spot not to far from St Georges’s Castle. Quaint outdoor seating area where you can take it all in. https://www.facebook.com/ogalhardoalfama/

I hope you enjoyed my small piece on the incredible city of Lisbon. If you are looking for a European adventure, one with sun, fun and culture. Then Lisbon is your place to go.

Kelly x