It seems like everyone has been to the Balkans, the countries formerly known as Yugoslavia. Croatia in particular is a hot-spot. I’ve wanted to travel to this part of the world for some time, but Craig has vetoed it. He’d rather go to India, which I have been vetoing. This year we reach a compromise: I will go to India if he will agree to the Balkans.
We start in Italy, flying into Rome, arriving in a torrential downpour that has the pilot worried we won’t be able to land due to significant lightning strikes, with many of us passengers, myself included, envisioning a Houston-like deluge in which we drown in streets turned to rivers. Miraculously the skies clear as we are riding the train from the airport into the city.
Rome is aka “the eternal city”, and for good reason. It has been inhabited forever. Ruins from the earliest days of the first Roman Empire are strewn around the famed Coliseum. Layer upon layer of civilization are heaped beneath the modern city. We visit a museum housing artifacts dug up as recently as the 20th century. A bronze statue named “the boxer” was unearthed in 1885 and is thought to date back to 300 BC. Imagine digging in your garden and finding a precious antiquity?! Imagine what might still be down there? What will future generations find that we’ve left behind? A bunch of Trump towers? Apple devices? Pampers are reputed to last forever, so I guess there’ll be a lot of those.
Modern Rome is one of our favourite cities. The light, the warmth, the patina of age on the buildings, the shopping, the shoes, the food. We return to Gusto for the 20 Euro all-you-can-eat buffet. It is a great spot for lunch and within walking distance of all of the sights and our hotel.
Our hotel, the Navona Colors – http://www.hotelnavonacolors.it/en/ – is a 5 minute walk from the Piazza Navona, a lovely old European square. We spend time there sitting in the cafes, watching the other tourists and the locals, wondering about what life was like during the 16th & 17th centuries, when most of the buildings were erected.
I can’t say we don’t think about the recent terrorists attacks. It seems impossible to imagine such chaos when all around us is the peace and calm of the end of summer in Rome. There are not many tourists and most of the locals still seem to be at the beach, escaping the heat. We see many police, standing guard, guns at the ready. And all of the main sights are blocked to vehicular traffic. We feel safe and vaguely threatened at the same time. Welcome to modern travel!
The photos below are classic Rome: the Trevi fountain, Vittorio Emmanuel memorial, Mussolini’s balcony, Spanish steps, the Colosseum, St. Paul’s cathedral, Piazza Navona. The best way to view the photos is to “single click” on the first one and start a slide show.