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TRSW Nov 12th, 2007 05:39 PM

8 Nights Each In Rome And Paris Without An Itinerary Or TRSW's 'Where Ever My Happy Little Feet Take Me' Trip Report
When I first started planning this trip back in March, I was originally going to spend the whole time in Paris. But then I thought, as long as I was this close to my beloved Italy, how could I not go!!

So I decided to split the time between Rome, which I visited in 2005 and Paris, which I visited last year. Since I had 'done' the major tourists spots during my first time in both cities, I decided not to plan anything, other than 2 GTG's in Rome, and just go 'where ever my happy little feet take me' when I woke up in the morning.

I know to some this may sound boring, but after a very stressful year, it was just what I needed and it worked out, with a couple of hiccups, just great.

I have uploaded the pictures from Rome at and will have the Paris ones up within the next couple of days.

Tuesday October 23rd

I flew on the new nonstop service on Air France from Seattle to Paris. The food and service on the flight was top notch. The only problem I had was with the gentleman sitting next to me. This man was half my size and believed he was entitled to the armrest, which I really don't have a problem with, but please keep your legs in your own space. He had a really hard time grasping this concept throughout the flight.

The flight landed on time, but we were parked way way out in the middle of nowhere and were bussed to terminal 2E. My connecting flight was at 2F. Instead of being able to walk across to 2F, I had to take the long bus trip all the way around Terminal 2.

I made my connecting flight with plenty of time to spare. The flight to Rome was on time, but for some reason it took forever for the luggage to come out. After getting my luggage I am met by driver from Rome Shuttle Limousine holding a card with my name.

We get to my apartment which is near Piazza Santa Maria Maggorie, at about 6pm and the owner is there to meet me. The apartment is a little studio but at 480 euro for 8 nights, it is perfect. The only problem is, the wifi is not working. Luckily there are many Internet cafes near the apartment.

As I start to unpack, I find that I have made a MAJOR error! I forgot to pack the battery charger for my camera!!! Not good, as photography is going to be a major part of this trip.

Instead of panicking, I finish unpacking, then go in search of a camera store to see if they have a battery charger. After about an hour, I come across a shop that has my camera in the window, so I head in.

Between my bad Italian and Marios limited English we are able to communicate what I need. Well, he has only one in stock. But Mario wants to make sure it works before I leave. He plugs it in and, you guessed it, the thing doesn't work. Mario takes into the back to have his partner see if he can fix it, which he can't. Mario tells me to come back tomorrow at 4 and he will have a new one for me.

Dejected, I leave and head to the Supermercato by my apartment and stock up for the week. I head back to the apartment, unload the groceries, have a dinner of cheese, crackers and Parma ham, with a couple glasses of vino.

After a long day, I decide to call it a night.

raspberryberet Nov 12th, 2007 09:01 PM

keep it comin' TRSW!

sharon1306 Nov 12th, 2007 09:09 PM

Nice pics. I like the way you've organized them.

LoveItaly Nov 12th, 2007 09:10 PM

Oh good! I have been waiting for your trip report Tom! I haven't looked at your last photos as the weekend was busy..but tomorrow evening I will.

And now for the next installment of your time in Rome..I hope you have time to post tomorrow!

travelgirl2 Nov 13th, 2007 12:00 AM

I love the 'Where Ever My Happy Little Feet Take Me' style of traveling!

SusanP Nov 13th, 2007 01:41 PM

Now come on, Tom, you can't give us that little teaser and not give more! :-d Looking forward to the rest. I like that style, too, just going where the mood strikes.

plafield Nov 13th, 2007 02:37 PM

Can't wait to read more! After thinking we woud split our next trip between Rome and Paris, we finally decided to stay in Paris for all 12 days so I'm loving reading about Rome (we were there last year and I fell in love with it!)

Keep it coming please!

TRSW Nov 13th, 2007 04:12 PM

Thursday October 25th

After a good nights sleep, I was starving and was happy that I had stocked up on groceries the day before. It took me about 5-10 minutes to figure the coffee maker.
While the coffee was brewing, I whipped up a ham & cheese omelet and some toast. A god way to start the day.

After breakfast, I headed out towards Santa Maria Maggorie. It was a gray overcast day (a theme that would last most of the trip). After the church, I headed off in the general direction of The Pantheon to find the restaurant La Pigna to make reservations for the 31st for a GTG with fellow Fodorite jabez, his wife and a couple of ladies from SlowTrav.

I know I could have called to make the reservations, but with my sense of direction and poor map reading skills, I thought it would be best to get lost today rather than the night of the dinner.

On the way, I walked through Parco Di Traiano and Parco Oppio which led me to the Colosseum. So I head down Via D Fori Imperiali and took the time to check out a photograph the Markets of Trajan. I bet it was a happening place back in the day.

I don't know if it is just me, but has the traffic gotten more hectic in the last 2 years? Oh well, crossing the streets is always an adventure even when there is a police officer directing traffic:

After making the reservations, I head over the Pantheon. It was just as amazing this time as it was the first time I was there. From here, I pop into a little sandwich shop, grab a Panini and a bottle of water and head back in the direction of the Forum.

On my first trip, I kind of zipped through the Forum. This time I took my time taking it all in and snapping pictures. I had forgotten how hard walking through the Forum is on your feet. After a while I had to give up.

After the Forum, I thought about touring the Colosseum, but the end of the line was nowhere to be seen. That and the fact that clouds were getting darker as though it would start raining at any moment. So I headed back to the apartment to rest and download the pictures I had taken.

While I was at the apartment, I saw one of the funniest things on TV. It was SpongeBob Squarepants in Italian. At 4 I took off for the Photo store to pick up the battery charger. True to his word, Mario had a brand new charger. He took it out and made sure it worked. He even took 5 euro off the price because I had to wait a day. On the way back to the apartment, it started raining, by the time I got there I was soaked.

Around 7 I headed out for dinner. I wanted to try Trattoria Monti, but they won't be open for another hour so I go across the street and head into La Vecchia Conca Via Carlo Alberto 26/A Tel# 06 44.66.576. I ask for a table for one and they seat me next to the lobster tank.

I start with Prosciutto E Melone I love this dish, they garnish it with tri-colored peppercorns, which add nice touch and crunch to the sweetness of the melon and saltiness of the prosciutto. For the main course I have the grilled lamb with roasted fingerling potatoes. Very tasty and the lamb was very tender.

For dessert, I thought I had asked the owner for a menu, but instead, he brings me this cookie like crust covered in what is like not quite set cheesecake and topped with fresh strawberries. Very yummy!!

With water, 1/2 liter of the house red and coffee it was 48 Euro. Well worth it. When I leave, it is raining lightly so I head back to the apartment and call it a night.


Tomorrow - Meeting a fellow Fodorite and being kindly insulted.

SharonG Nov 13th, 2007 05:23 PM

Love it and it is just what I want to do on my next trip.

TRSW Nov 14th, 2007 02:03 PM

Friday October 26th

When I wake up I don't even have to look out the window to know it is pouring rain. I can hear it! So once again I make myself an 'American' breakfast.

After breakfast I head across the street to an Internet cafe to check emails and send out some photos. By now the rain has let up and the clouds are starting to break up.

So once again I head towards Santa Maria Maggorie in hopes of catching the Hop On-Hop Off bus. But there is some kind of demonstration going on and the streets are blocked off.

So I take off on foot in the general direction of the Spanish Steps. About halfway there my feet change thier mind and the next thing I know I am headed towards Piazza di Popolo.

When I arrive at the Piazza, off to the left are two sets of black 'walls'. Along the top, in what looks like reflective tape, on one is the word Roma and the other Octobre 2007. I haven't a clue what these are. After some time of walking around and picture taking, I head towards the Tiber River.

Once across, I head in the direction of Castel Sant Angelo. Shortly after I pass Ponte Umberto, I will have the first of three scam attempts in the next 24 hours tried on me. This one was the 'Found Ring' trick. I admit the lady was pretty smooth in the way she palmed the ring. But once she approached me, I just kept on walking. Thank you Fodorites who have mentioned this scam before.

This year the Castel is open so I head on in. It's lunch time by now so I head to the cafe in the Castel.
The experince is like those MasterCard commercials;

Really mediocre pasta 7 Euro
Good white wine 4 Euro
The View Priceless

It is also here that I see two examples of the 'ugly tourists'. In both cases, the different parties didn't even try to say anything in Italian to the young lady serving them. Instead they just talked louder and slower, and once she left, I overheard both parties complaining that she didn't speak English. So when she took my order in my poor Italian at least she smiled and laughed.

After touring the Castel, I started the trek back to my apartment. By the time I got there it was around 5pm and the doggies were dying.

I have plans to meet fellow Fodorite Keira-Caitlyn at 7 for dinner. We meet up at Santa Maria Maggorie then start scoping out places to eat. We go by Trattoria Monti but once again it is not open.

As we are walking around, we pass a Big & Tall shop for men. After we pass, a gentleman is passing out fliers for the store, takes a look at me and says "Sir we have clothes just for you" Ah, to be politely told that I am 'girthly challenged' was pretty funny.

After a while, we give up and head to La Vecchia Conca, the place I had dinner the night before. I have deep fried risotto balls and a Salame Picante Pizza. The pizza is huge and there is no way I can finish it.

After dinner we head out and look for a Gelato place. Now I thought there was no such thing as bad Gelato. Guess I was wrong. This stuff was mediocre at best. After this we go our seperate ways with plans on meeting up on Sunday to check out the Trastevere area. Once back at the apartment I put on a load of laundry and do some photo editing before I call it a night.


Tomorrow - Two more scam attempts and the Fashion Police be DAMNED!!

Zerlina Nov 14th, 2007 02:17 PM

Tom, Trattoria Monti probably doesn't open before 8:00 in the evening. In any case, it has been so talked up recently that you'd likely need a reservation, particularly on a Friday evening.

SRS Nov 14th, 2007 02:20 PM

What a lovely report! I am looking forward to more.


TRSW Nov 14th, 2007 02:25 PM


I eventually made a reservation for my next to last night. And it was worth the wait.


SeaUrchin Nov 14th, 2007 03:55 PM

Tom, I love your photos, they are outstanding as usual.

Barb Nov 14th, 2007 03:56 PM

Tom, your photos are just stunning!! and I am loving your report of Roma, my fav city, well, maybe second fav since Dubrovnik.

Kay_P Nov 14th, 2007 04:03 PM


TRSW Nov 14th, 2007 04:35 PM

SeaUrchin and Barb,

Thank you for the kind words, I am glad you like the photos. The link for the big & tall shop should be

There was one too many w's in the last one. Another installment later tonight. Right now I need to feed the boy and myself.


husker99 Nov 14th, 2007 07:46 PM

If you find yourself in Rome near the Termini Station, there is an awesome family trattoria, The Trattoria Cecio, on the Principe Amadeo. It is about 2 blocks west from the train/bus/metro station. It was right across the street from our B&B, The Giovy. Both places were wonderful and reasonable. The Cecio is a family owned/run place. It is always busy because of the prices and the wonderful food. Get a reservation for the evenings. We found it so nice that we ate there for all 5 of our evenings in Rome. It never got boring. The sons (the waiters-the parents were the cooks) speak good English, so communication was easy. The food was obviously good since we kept going back. We tried all sorts of things, including typical Italian things. We never had a bad meal. It was always a good experience. We highly recommend it, especially since the dollar is so bad. The owner of our B&B said that this where her family eats and there were lots of Italians eating here.

This place is about 2 blocks east of Santa Maria Maggiore.
If you want to economize and shop at the grocery for a meal or so a day, the grocery just east of S. Maria Maggiore is very reasonable and has a lovely wine/liquor department as well.

TRSW Nov 14th, 2007 08:22 PM

Saturday October 27th

For some reason I wake up before dawn and as much as I try, I can't fall back to sleep. So I decide to make the best of it and after a couple of cups of coffee I am off and running.

Since it is so early, I get to watch the sunrise as I am walking, which is a really cool way to start the day. It also leads to some really cool photos and probably one of my favorites of the whole trip, the sun rising over the Vittorio Emanuele Monument

Today I decide to go and check out the market at Campo di Fiori. And it is a good thing I got an early start, because once again my great map reading skills have led me astray. Which is not really a bad thing. I get to walk through areas I did not see on my first trip to Rome.

To me, there is just something so magical about watching a city awake and come to life before it gets really busy. Even more so when you are not in your home city.

Eventually I find Campo di Fiori and the market is just getting underway. I buy a small basket of fresh raspberries to nibble on while I walk amongst all the stalls and take pictures of all the flowers and produce.

I stop at a small cafe for a pastry and a cup of coffee. It is while I am here that I decide to make dinner at the apartment tonight. So I stop and pick up fresh tomatos, onions, garlic, basil and oregano back in the Campo.

From here, even though Keira-Caitlyn and I are going to check out the Trastevere area tomorrow, I head across the river and start expolring the area on my own. I really liked this area. Such a contrast to the rest of Rome. Quiet and peaceful. A little more slow paced.

While at an open air market, there is a lady with two dogs that are so cute. And for the first time in three trips, I am really really missing my Diablo. So much so, I ask her, more like pantomime, if I may pet them. She says sure. Talk about two really sweet and friendly dogs. They are just like Diablo in the fact that they just love the attention.

After wandering the streets some more (actually I was lost) I make my way back to the river and start to head back in the general direction of my apartment. Just before I reach Ponte Palatino, the second scam attempt occurs.

This time it is the 'Versace Salesman' ploy. A car pulled up alongside me and the driver said he was in town for a fashion show and that he works for Versace. He tells me he is having engine problems and asks for directions to the French Embassy, which he says is near the Vatican. I show him on the map how to get to the Vatican. To show his apperciation, he says he has a gift for me and tries to hand me a bag. He says it is a Versace jacket that will fit me and I can have it for 20 euro.

I just laugh and start to walk away. I mean for one, he just happens to have a size XXL. He gets upset and calls me a damned American and drives away. He turns onto Ponte Palatino, gets halfway across, stops and starts the whole thing over with another gentleman, with the same results.

So I keep on heading back towards my apartment. No more than 30 minutes later, scam number three is attempted. This time it is 'The Phony Police Officer Looking For Counterfiet Money' scam.

Now this one is the funniest out of all three. I was walking along Circus Maximus. As I left the dirt and turned onto the sidewalk, I noticed a blonde lady standing there smoking and reading the newspaper. After I got about 100 or so feet down the sidewalk, I am approached by a 'tourist' who speaks limited English. He says he is trying to find a place I have never heard of. He has a pretty beat up map, so when I start to pull mine out, out of the corner of my eye, I see a hand signal.

Next thing you know, from the other direction, a man in uniform steps up and flashes a badge that says, get this, in ENGLISH, Police. He tells me and the other 'tourist' that there has been alot of funny money floating around and asks to see our passports. I tell him all I have is a photocopy. Then he asks to see our wallets.

My fellow 'tourist' pulls his out and for some reason all he has is $100 bills. I tell him I don't have one. He then asks to see my money, which I tell him I don't have any. Then I notice that his uniform says 'Bluebird Ferries', again in English. I chuckle to myself, turn and leave. And guess who is standing about 15 feet away. Yep, the smoking lady still reading her newspaper.

Once again, I am grateful to all you Fodorites who have alerted us to these scams.

By the time I get back to my apartment, once again my feet are killing me!!! With still more than a week and a half left on this trip, I say, DAMN the fashion police and decide to buy some new shoes. After some searching, I find a Sports Clothing store and end up paying 99 euro total for a pair of new Nikes and Addidis. Money well spent. For my feet will not be sore again for the rest of the trip.

For dinner I make a sauce out of the produce I bought at the Campo earlier in the day. But the apartment has crap for knives, so everything is quite chunky and I have to let it simmer for a couple of hours. I toss it with two different kinds of fresh stuffed pastas I got at the Supermercato. Add a laof of fresh bread, some cheese and vino and it was a nice quite dinner at home. I even had enough leftovers for dinner the next night.

After dinner I head out to take some night shots of the Colosseum. When I get back to the apartment, I start another load of laundry and do some more photo editing then call it a night.


Tomorrow - A lazy day, just what a soul needs.

TRSW Nov 14th, 2007 10:41 PM

Sunday October 28th

Today turns out to be one of the reasons this trip was concentrated on only two cities and why there was no set itinerary. I just wanted a day to take it easy.

I know, I am in one the greatest cities in the world and I decide to just spend the morning hours editing my photographs. How boring, huh?

While I am going through my photos, I have the TV on for background noise. Now here is something novel about MTV Europe compared to MTV here in the US. They actually play music videos.

Also, I receive a phone call from a friend that I use to work with. I hate her do to the fact that she is now living my dream, she is living in Italy. Siena as a matter of fact.

Jennifer has bad news. We had been trying to coordinate meeting up tomorrow in Orvieto. But Jennifer has come down with the flu and has to cancel. No big deal, but I should have seen the foreshadowing for later in my trip.

At about noon I head out to meet Keira-Caitlyn at the Colosseum for our exploration of the Trastevere area. There had been a bicycle race earlier in the day and Via Di Fori Imperiali is closed off to traffic and we are able to walk down the middle of the street. On our way we stop off at the Cat Sanctuary.

When we get to Trastevere we stop for gelato first, then grab lunch. I don't remember the name of the place and the food was just soso.

After walking around for awhile, we decide to head back towards the center of Rome. When we reach the Colosseum, Holly's feet are killing her and decides to take the metro back to her hotel.

Once back at the apartment, I grab my laptop and head to the Internet Cafe to check emails and send off more photos to family and friends.

After that, it is a night of leftovers and kicking back and taking it easy. Tonight on TV I see The A-Team in Italian. This is just too funny!!


Tomorrow - More weather by 'Sybil' and saying goodbye again to a very close friend.

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