My Trip to Rome

The last time I was in Italy was around four years ago for our last family holiday to Florence. I remember thinking, 5 days was a few too many days for the small city and wished we had hopped on the train to explore Rome or Milan. Wanting to fit another city break in before the cold weather hit, me and my sister decided we wanted to go back to Italy and visit Rome.

On my city breaks, I like to book my flights pretty early in the morning. Not only is it a little cheaper, but then you get to make the most out of your day when you arrive on the other side. The only downside is that I usually have to book an Uber to get to the airport because the tube doesn’t quite run early enough. Just like my trip to Copenhagen, I planned out using Google Maps where I wanted to visit in Rome.

Google Map of Rome

We opted to stay in an AirBnB in Nomentano, which is a little neighbourhood north-east off the city centre. There was a Lidl a short walk away which was very handy for us to pick up quick breakfasts, fruit and bottles of water in order for us to survive in the afternoon heat. Our little apartment was roughly a 40 minute bus ride from the city centre. In hindsight I probably would have opted to stay closer into town so that we wouldn’t need to spend so much time travelling in and out every day.

The weather was amazing in back in September. Sunny blue skies, all day every day :) As well as so much tasty pasta and pizza to satisfy my carb cravings with a refreshing Aperol Spritz and Lemonsoda.

Pizza, Pasta, Gelato

Before the trip, I purchased the Omnia Card, which gives you access to free/discounted entry to attractions, skip the line privileges and also free travel across Rome for 72 hours. I wanted to make it as easy as possible to see the sights in and around Rome for a reasonable price.  All you needed to do was pick up the card from their office and then off you went! For skip the line entry you would need to book a slot at the office, gather at the meeting point, then head off with your guide to the tourist attraction.

The downside to this card is that it is quite pricey. I think it is only worth purchasing if you are in Rome for at least 3 days and want to squeeze lots of attractions in and don’t want to keep shelling out cash at every stop. Skip the queue is very handy however, the organisers only have specific times for certain attractions. Once they are booked, they tell you to come back to the office the following day to book, which is very frustrating when you want to make the most out of your trip in the city. The travel pass is very useful to hop on and off the metro or the local bus links around the city, but most attractions are within walking distance of each other so is not necessarily needed all the time. We mainly used it to get into the centre in the morning and back to the apartment in the evening.

Both metro and buses only cost €1.50 a trip, so it’s relatively cheap if you wanted to travel around without the pass. However be very careful when using public transport in Rome! On a bus, the driver is quite literally just the driver. You must buy a ticket before you board, either at a station or a corner shop/news stand and you must remember to stamp the card in the machine when you board. The same goes for trains, after purchasing the ticket, there is usually a machine on the platform where you need to insert your ticket so it gets stamped. The inspectors will pick on tourists, and if they discover any problems, they will fine you on the spot. Unfortunately this happened to me on my second day. I had put my bus ticket in the machine to get stamped however, there was an issue with the magnetic strip on my ticket and I got fined €50 even though it wasn’t my fault. This definitely put a dampener on my trip.

Pantheon

Pantheon Rome

Vatican Museum

Sphere within a sphere

St Peter’s Basilica

Roman Forum

Colosseum

My favourite thing to see in Rome was the beautiful intricate fountains dotted around the city as well as walking down the quiet cobbled streets and admiring the beautiful architecture of the historic city.

Fountain

My Trip to New York

I can’t quite believe that I hadn’t been abroad for a holiday in about three years. The last trip away I went on was a family holiday to Florence, Italy back in 2015. The rest of the time off I’ve had in between was mainly spent at home and just catching up with life, or even just working through my annual leave… haha! So this trip felt like a real treat for me.

I found cheap flights online so I thought, why not? £300 return, can’t really go wrong there! I was slightly worried about what the weather was going to be like in October, but actually I was pleasantly surprised with temperatures reaching the mid 20s. To be fair, even back home in London it was very similar with very little rain.

I booked to stay at a AirBnB in Brooklyn. It was one of three private rooms within a flat. I would say that it was quite pricey considering it was a shared property. There wasn’t much to do in the neighbourhood but it was quite convenient to get into Manhattan using the subway.

I was slightly nervous about the flight because I hadn’t actually flown long-haul since going to Hong Kong 10 years ago. I didn’t really have any problems with jet lag. I flew out of London at 5pm and arrived at 1am (10pm local). Getting some sleep on the flight definitely helped. Slept through the night and was right as rain the next day. Coming back home took a little more time to adjust. Got back to London at around 8am and crashed out for the whole day as soon as I got home. I quite literally dropped all my luggage at my front door and jumped into bed.

I am such a planner. I like to know what I’m doing, when I’m doing it and where. The problem with this trip was that I had very little spare time in the weeks coming up to the trip. I had done very little research and literally had nothing planned out for the week. I even left my packing to the very last minute, which I never do!

Navigating the subway system was a challenge. There are so many different lines both numbered and lettered with different colours. It was such a puzzle to try and get your head around. What I like about the London Underground is that there are signs and maps absolutely everywhere and you also know exactly which direction you are travelling in. The really confusing thing about the subway is that there are signs that say things like “To Lefferts Blvd or Far Rockway. PM rush hours also to Rockway Pk. Late nights A on local track”. If you are a tourist, with little knowledge of the the geography of New York City, then the subway is definitely tricky to use. Some signs even say things like for late nights, transfer to another line, but then there is no sign to tell you how to get to the other line. If it wasn’t for my phone and GoogleMaps, I don’t think I could have managed to get around.

When I think of New York, the first thing that popped into my head was Grand Central Station. I had recently just watched the first episode of Gossip Girl, so decided to start my visit there. Then I went on to visit all the tourist destinations including Central Park, Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge and Times Square throughout my stay. I also spent quite a bit of time shopping too. 5th Avenue reminded me of Oxford Street, but grander. And of course the majority of my money was spent in Sephora picking up gems that are slightly trickier to find in the UK.

Grand Central Station

Empire State Building

Friends Apartment

Brooklyn Bridge

Times Square

New York Public Library

Central Park

I had a lot of fun on my trip to New York and I would love to plan in a few more trips for myself next year. I think the experience would have been even better if I had done a lot more research about where to visit, where to eat and all the other things in between.