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Rome

September 11, 2014 – Thursday – Rome walking tour, Italy

Rick Steves Best of Europe in 21 Days tour

Upon our arrival in Rome, our driver Sylvain has to maneuver through some pretty challenging turns and narrow streets to get us to the drop off point in the city at Repubblica Square. Driving a vehicle that large in Rome is a real challenge! Once we are parked, we schlepp our bags the few blocks to Hotel Nardizzi Americana in sprinkling rain. A bunch of us have lunch on our own at a nearby salad bar deli. I have a delicious prosciutto panino (we say Panini in North America, which is actually the plural form of panino in Italian).

Group photo in front of the Roman Forum
Group photo in front of the Roman Forum

We go on an extensive walking tour of Rome this afternoon with a local guide who succeeds in bringing the Coliseum, the Roman Forum, and the Pantheon alive for us all. Several of us are tired after all the walking this afternoon, so we return to the hotel on our own using the Rome subway. Jennifer taught us well earlier in the day when we started our tour by taking the subway, so we have no problem reversing the route.

Three of us have dinner at Ristorante Esperia, which is a trattoria only a couple of blocks away from our hotel. I have Spaghetti Carbonara, which is very rich and tasty. We all enjoy our meals, although the wine is a bit expensive.

Rome
45 photos
The Colliseum and the Arch of Titus
The Colliseum and the Arch of Titus
The Colliseum being restored
The Colliseum being restored
Detail on the Colliseum exterior
Detail on the Colliseum exterior
The Colosseum arena showing the hypogeum's partially restored floor
The Colosseum arena showing the hypogeum’s partially restored floor
The Hypogeum's passageways under the former floor
The Hypogeum’s passageways under the former floor
The Colosseum arena showing the hypogeum
The Colosseum arena showing the hypogeum
Colliseum raked seating area
Colliseum raked seating area
Arch of Titus
Arch of Titus
Roman Forum and the Via Sacra Roman road in front of the Palatine Hill
Roman Forum and the Via Sacra Roman road in front of the Palatine Hill
Jennifer and our group inside the Colliseum
Jennifer and our group inside the Colliseum
Roman arches made of bricks
Roman arches made of bricks
The hypogeum walls detail
The hypogeum walls detail
The back of the Colliseum from the Arch of Constantine
The back of the Colliseum from the Arch of Constantine
Original cobblestones on the Via Sacra Roman road
Original cobblestones on the Via Sacra Roman road
Arch of Titus
Arch of Titus
Arch of Titus central soffit coffers
Arch of Titus central soffit coffers
Arch of Titus reliefs
Arch of Titus reliefs
Santa Francesca Romana Basilica
Santa Francesca Romana Basilica
Santi Cosma e Damiano
Santi Cosma e Damiano
Columns in front of the Santi Cosma e Damiano
Columns in front of the Santi Cosma e Damiano
Antoninus and Faustina Temple
Antoninus and Faustina Temple
The Roman Forum is a busy place...even today!
The Roman Forum is a busy place…even today!
Temple of Saturn with anti-crepuscular rays behind
Temple of Saturn with anti-crepuscular rays behind
Temple of Saturn
Temple of Saturn
Carved piece of a Roman column
Carved piece of a Roman column
Septimius Severus Arch
Septimius Severus Arch
Temple of Saturn
Temple of Saturn
Group photo in front of the Roman Forum
Group photo in front of the Roman Forum
Septimius Severus Arch, Roman Forum and Temple of Saturn
Septimius Severus Arch, Roman Forum and Temple of Saturn
Statutory embedded in a wall of the Capitoline Museum
Statutory embedded in a wall of the Capitoline Museum
Fashion shoot beside a statue of Zeus/Poseidon
Fashion shoot beside a statue of Zeus/Poseidon
Window detail in the Musei Capitolini
Window detail in the Musei Capitolini
A copy of the David in the Musei Capitolini
A copy of the David in the Musei Capitolini
Cordonata descending from the Piazza del Campidoglio
Cordonata descending from the Piazza del Campidoglio
Elephant and Obelisk in the Piazza della Minerva
Elephant and Obelisk in the Piazza della Minerva
Rear view of the Pantheon where the old Roman wall is located
Rear view of the Pantheon where the old Roman wall is located
Front entrance to the Pantheon
Front entrance to the Pantheon
The Pantheon interior
The Pantheon interior
The Pantheon interior dome
The Pantheon interior dome
The Pantheon interior
The Pantheon interior
Our group using the Rome metro on our own
Our group using the Rome metro on our own
National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II
National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II
Castel Sant'Angelo on the Tiber River
Castel Sant’Angelo on the Tiber River
Joggers run beside the Tiber River
Joggers run beside the Tiber River
View of the ancient city from the Piazza del Campidoglio
View of the ancient city from the Piazza del Campidoglio

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Lima to Cusco

2011 Incan Empires Cruise

Saturday, December 3, 2011 – Lima to Cusco, Peru

I am seated with an Ecuadorian couple (who live in San Diego) at breakfast this morning in the dining room aboard the ship. The man is very impressed that I am on a self-booked tour to Machu Picchu, and validates my expectation that this site will be the highlight of the trip. He tells me Machu Picchu is actually in a tropical climate, which will be wetter and warmer than Cusco, and which will also be cool in the mornings but pleasantly warm by afternoon. I have my trusty Hally Hansen sailing jacket with me, which has an outer rainproof coat and an inner fleece jacket, so I should be able to cope with changing conditions, including rain, which is common at Machu Picchu this time of year.

Rotterdam arrives on time at 10AM despite being delayed by a Peruvian navy ship that had priority in the harbour. It’s exciting to finally be in Callao (Lima’s port) and on our way. We debark the ship and immediately see my name on a placard, and meet the young woman who will guide us to the airport and help us find our flight to Cusco. Although I’m sure we would have managed on our own by taking a taxi, it is so much easier to have someone else deal with the transfer and check-in using Spanish. This is the start of our private group tour (just my two friends and myself) which I arranged through Bestway Tours and Safaris.

Since the port and the Lima airport are both located in Callao, we don’t have to drive through Lima proper, so the transfer to the airport takes less than a half hour. We have about three hours to kill in the airport before our flight departs, so we settle into the food fair area outside the secure gate area – Starbucks and MacDonalds are both available, as well as chicken and sandwich places. We eat our own snacks instead. I spot quite a few passengers from the Rotterdam in the airport. Flight announcements are in Spanish and English. We find this area of the airport to be very noisy, so we move through security to the boarding gate waiting area, which has nice padded seats and is a bit quieter.

A plateau and lake with snow-capped Andes Mountains enroute from Lima to Cusco
A plateau and lake with snow-capped Andes Mountains enroute from Lima to Cusco

Our LANPeru flight to Cusco leaves on time, and it is not full. The scenery outside the window is nothing short of spectacular. As we climb away from Lima, we can appreciate just how huge the city is. The flight across Peru on our way to Cusco takes us over the Andes mountains, which are simply amazing. As we approach the valley where Cusco is located, there is beautiful scenery at every turn the aircraft makes on approach (see banner photo above). After landing and retrieving our bags, we find the bonus outside – the weather is warm and sunny in Cusco, unlike the coastal cities of Lima and Trujillo, which were cold, foggy, and overcast.

Hotel waiting room with fireplace, flower arrangement and Christmas tree
Hotel waiting room with fireplace, flower arrangement and Christmas tree

Our guide and driver meet us at the Cusco airport and take us to our hotel, the Casa Andina Private Collection – an amazing hotel right in the centre of the city. Although we haven’t had a chance to explore it fully since it is so labyrinthine, what we have experienced is very nice indeed. Our three nights here will be very comfortable. Our rooms have king beds and all rooms look over courtyards, which means they are very quiet. The hotel was created from an 18th century manor house. Having free access to high speed Internet is a real bonus for me…hopefully I will have time to catch up on blogs and email while I’m here.

We all are a bit wobbly and not feeling 100%, although it is hard to tell if the cause is spending the last 11 days on board a ship, or the high altitude, or a combination of the two. In any case, we are coping well, since the symptoms aren’t preventing us from exploring this interesting city. Cusco is a safe city to wander through day or night since it is so tourist-oriented. We have a wonderful wood fired pizza for dinner at a little pizzeria only a block from the hotel called La Pizza Carlo – recommended by our guide, TripAdvisor, and me too!

A painting of the Inca Cross: a snake, a puma and condors with Machu Picchu
A painting of the Inca Cross: a snake, a puma and condors with Machu Picchu

After dinner, I buy a watercolour painting from an artist hawking his wares outside the hotel. It is an abstract of an Inca, an Indian, a puma and Machu Picchu, which I find out later depicts the Chakana or Inca Cross (see Inca mythology). I sometimes purchase small paintings as mementos while traveling, since I routinely pass by all the other souvenirs.

It is time for bed and some rest, since we have a full day tour of the Sacred Valley tomorrow. I wake up at 3AM and decide to stay up for awhile. By then I’m feeling considerably better than I was earlier, which is encouraging. I use my time to go online to update my blog and drill through a bunch of emails. After an hour, I crawl back into bed and rest for an hour or so before arising again as the morning starts.