Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hallowe'en Cookies

You may recall that a few weeks back I volunteered to bake decorated sugar cookies for our playgroup Hallowe'en fayre.  Here is the post if you are interested:  http://janiceljlj.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/catch-up-thursday-and-friday.html.  Well, the fayre is this weekend so it was the moment of truth today:  could I bake and decorate reasonable cookies?  How stressful would the task be?  Would they be rubbish?

I baked the first batch of cookies yesterday and this morning after Big Boy went to the bus I started to make icing.  It was much easier than I thought!  I used the Wilton Meringue Powder recipe and the icing came out just as I wanted it.  I dyed a few colours and then I went to town on the cookies.  I don't love the baking part of these cookies but the decorating was great fun!  I took me a while to get a smooth line, but after I got the hang of it, it was quick and easy.

I managed to ice the first batch before Little Boy went to playgroup (along with making his lunch and sorting everyone out for the day) and I decided to bake another batch once he was at playgroup.  I iced those during nap time and now my cookie chore is finished!

I had fun and I like the cookies I produced, but I don't think I will make them often....they are a lot of work!




Kids in Rome

Activity

Rome is not Disneyland.  The activities consist largely of exploring historical sites and looking at art.  This can be difficult for kids to get excited about, so to keep the kids engaged, we had to do some preparation before the trip.

Before the trip I bought each of the kids Rome books.  Little Boy got:  "This is Rome" by M. Lasek.  (here is an Amazon link:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/This-Rome-Is/dp/0789315491/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382554307&sr=8-1&keywords=this+is+rome).  Big Boy got:  "Roman Activity Book" by Sue and Steve Weatherill (here is an Amazon link:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Roman-Activity-Book-Crafty-History/dp/1902915348/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382554522&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=roman+actviity+book) and "Not-for-Parents Rome Everything you ever wanted to know" by lonely planet (here is an Amazon link:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Not-For-Parents-Rome-Everything/dp/1742204988/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1382554590&sr=8-8&keywords=not+for+parents).

These books really helped to prepare the kids for what they would see and do in Rome and they raised their level of excitement both before and during the trip.  Little Boy's book is a picture book and he learned what the major sights in Rome would look like.  He actually recognized them from the book.

Big Boy's activity book was a bit of a let down.  He is a crafty kid, so I thought we could do a bunch of the activities before the trip.  Unfortunately the crafts involved supplies we don't usually keep in the house.  So he read the history and descriptive sections and he worked on Roman numerals.  When we were in Rome, he spotted Roman numerals everywhere!

Big Boy's "Not for Parents" guide was wonderful!  It talked about many of the major sights in Rome and it had engaging stories and jokes for kids.  Big Boy brought this book along and read the bits as we went.  This really helped him get excited about what we were seeing and it helped him put the monuments into context.

Before we went we also watched a Youtube video about a family that went to Rome.  The kids loved watching this "movie" and they remembered so much!

We also gave Big Boy his own camera, and he spent ages capturing his own photos of the trip.  I will discuss this in another post.

Overall, our kids were well behaved and actively engaged when we were out touring each day.  They were not particularly well behaved in our hotel room - I think they were letting off a little steam.  This is always a problem for us....I don't know how to get the "sillies" out!

Food

The food in Rome was not an issue for the kids.  The love pizza, pasta and sandwiches and they were able to have at least one of these at nearly every meal.  We bought muesli and yoghurt for breakfast in our aparthotel from a local grocery store.  The kids loved gelato and the little Italian cookies that we used to eat in Dubai.  Overall food was not an issue.

Stroller

The stroller did not really slow us down apart from on public transportation.  We had to empty and collapse the stroller every time we took the train and it was a pain.  

We could push our stroller everywhere we went but it would have been easier with our 3-wheeled buggy.  Unfortunately that stroller does not seat 2 children!

We could take the stroller into the Colosseum but we left it in a corner so that it was easier to walk around.  The same happened in the Forum and the Castel Sant'Angelo.  In the Vatican we checked our buggy as well as St. Peter's Basilica.  We could just drive the buggy right into the Pantheon.  The stroller would have been a hassle on the Spanish Steps, but we didn't have it with us when we walked them.

Walking

There is a lot of walking as a tourist in Rome.  Big Boy was game for all of it, but Little Boy still gets tired after a while (he's only 2!).  We had a stroller seat for Little Boy so during the day he switched back and forth between walking and riding.  In the evenings we went out without the buggy and Little Boy was able to keep up.

Washrooms

Washrooms in Rome in public places generally don't have toilet seats.  This can create interesting adjustments for kids....just a warning!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Big Boy and his Camera

I recently got a new camera.  Since I was no longer using my old one, we gave it to Big Boy.  Yes, you read that right, we are "those" parents who gave a 6-year old a real working camera.

I was hesitant to make the gift.  I wasn't sure that I could foresee all of the potential issues that could arise, and I was worried that it would be really annoying for him to have his own camera.  But my husband and I talked about it and decided to go ahead with the gift.

It turned out to be a great idea!  Having a camera to snap photos in Rome helped to engage him in viewing the monuments.  He took loads of pictures - not great ones because he is still shaky and the camera isn't the best - but the pictures represent his journey.

I thought Little Boy might be jealous and initially he was.  But somehow (this seems kind of like a miracle to me) Little Boy decided that if he had Big Boy's camera case, he could pretend it was a camera and that was good enough.  So my two older sons stood side-by side taking pictures while we took in the monuments and took pictures of our own.

Big Boy did take a long time with his photos.  There were lots of instances where we had to hurry him along, but it was worth it.  He was really looking at the details of the buildings, ruins, monuments, and art when he was deciding what photos to take.  The camera enhanced his experience.

Other tourists reacted to seeing Big Boy and Little Boy with their "cameras."  Lots of people took pictures of Big Boy taking pictures.  He was very serious about it and he really adopted a "pose" that suggested great artistic creation was happening behind his lens.  Little Boy is very cute in the first place, and when he was shadowing his brother with his pretend "camera" he was simply adorable!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Roman Accommodation - Residence Europa

On our recent trip to Rome we stayed at the Residence Europa, an aparthotel located just off the Via Nazionale.  Here is a link:   http://www.booking.com/hotel/it/soggiornoeuropa.en.html.

This was a great accommodation for our family.  It was a 2-room apartment.  The rooms were generously sized.  The first room had a murphy bed (the kids were so excited to sleep on it!) and a small kitchenette.  There was a short hallway and 2 steps.  The hallway contained the bathroom and shower room.  The second room was a double bedroom that easily fit a crib for Baby Boy.  This room had an enormous built in wardrobe and built in side tables.  It was extremely efficient and gave us lots of space to work with.


We only used the kitchenette for breakfasts and I did not try the burners but the fridge and dish ware items were functional.  There was also a small dining table.

The steps in the middle of our rooms provided Baby Boy a new spot to practice his standing.

The accommodation was located just off of Via Nazionale and was about 20 minutes walk from many of the major sights in Rome.  It was very close to a deSpar grocery store and there were shops and restaurants on the nearby streets.  

The hotel had a small elevator and it was located on a backstreet courtyard.  



Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Roma Pass

We purchased a Roma Pass at the airport upon our arrival in Rome.  We had researched the pass before the trip and we knew we would make good use of it.

The pass entitles you to free admission to 2 museums/monuments, discounted admission to other museums/monuments, and 3 days worth of travel on public transit (trains and busses).

We used our pass to enter the Colosseum and Forum (one museum/monument combined) and the Castel Sant'Angelo.  We also used it many times on the Metro.  Our pass more than paid for itself and it was easy to use.  

The children did not require passes and when we went into the monuments we were issued free tickets for them.

The only downside of this pass was that we could not figure out how to use it at the Borghese Gallery and because of this we could not go to the gallery because all of the tickets were reserved on the day that we were there.

Friday, October 25, 2013

So....what do we pack when we travel?

We have been travelling a lot this autumn and I have developed a routine for packing.  Each of the kids requires slightly different clothing given their respective ages and each destination dictates different clothing and supplies, but there are many similarities between trips.

We always take only carry on luggage.  On our way to the vacation spot, we carry our bags with us onto the plane.  On our way home we check the bags.  This system works well for us.  We don't need to pack more than what fits into carry on bags and we always arrive with all of our luggage.  On this trip to Rome we took 3 carry on wheely suitcases (one of them was Big Boy's novelty one that is tiny) and 3 backpacks.

In my backpack on the airplane I always have an extra set of clothes for each child - you never know when you need them!

I like to dress the kids in matching outfits whenever possible.  I find (honestly) that this adds a "cuteness" that can lead to extra tolerance from the various people that they might be annoying.

Here is my packing list for our 5 day trip to Rome.  Please note that we took rain jackets but we never wore them.  We also took hoodie sweatshirts that we only wore during our flights.

Big Boy (Age 6):  1 pj; 6 t-shirts; 3 trousers/jeans; 6 underwear; 6 socks; 1 hat; 1 raincoat; 1 hoodie; 1 book; 2 inhalers; 1 pencil case full of action figures (shared with brothers); and 1 notebook and pen for drawing

Little Boy (Age 2):  1 pj; 6 t-shirts; 4 trousers/jeans; 7 underwear; 6 socks; 1 hat; 1 raincoat; 1 hoodie; 1 pencil case full of action figures (shared with brothers); and 1 notebook and pen for drawing

Baby Boy (Age 11 months):  3 pjs; 5 onesies; 6 t-shirts; 4 trousers/jeans; 7 socks; 1 hat; 2 hoodies; 1 thick outer trousers; 7 disposable bibs; diapers; medications and creams; and 4 toys

Please note that we had too many onesies and t-shirts for Baby Boy and we didn't use one of the hoodies or the thick outer trousers.

Me (Mum):  1 pj; 5 t-shirts; 2 jeans; 1 skirt; 5 underwear; 2 bras; 6 socks; 1 raincoat; 1 hoodie; 1 book; 1 camera; 1 wallet; 1 iPhone; 1 hairbrush; contact lenses; very light/small make up bag; and sunglasses

Dad:  Honestly....it's a mystery!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Rome - Third full day

Ah...our last full day in Rome.  And it was a busy one!

Villa Borghese


We woke up and caught the train to Villa Borghese, the park that houses the Borghese Gallery (home of the "David" among many other spectacular works of art).  Here we had our second "travel fail" of the trip.

We had not reserved tickets because we wanted to use our Roma passes for entry and we could not figure out how to do that while reserving the tickets.  When we went up to the museum, all of the entries for the day had already been sold (presumably online), so we were not able to go in.  When we checked later, lots of other people online seemed unclear about how to use the Roma pass at the Borghese Gallery, but we could not find a firm answer.  (We still don't know what the answer is!)

In any event, we could not go into the Gallery, so we decided to explore the Villa Borghese park.  The park itself is spectacular.  It is filled with wonderful tall trees, wide strolling paths,  fountains, statues and vast lawns.  We let the kids play in the playground for a while.  It was just what they needed.  After a few days of adult-styled activity, running around in a playground was a real thrill.




Castel Sant'Angelo

I wanted to see the bridge and castle from the last scene in Tosca, so we took the train from Villa Borghese to Castel Sant'Angelo.  Before we visited the castle we had an outdoor lunch of pizza from a small deli at Piazza Cavour.

When we got to the castle, we explored the famous bridges in front of it and we took many pictures.  I was very disappointed to see people tossing their rubbish off of the side of the Ponte Sant'Angelo onto the dirt mounds surrounding the piling.  The rubbish was everywhere and the water was full of floating debris.

We used our Roma passes to gain admission to the castle and then we explored the castle as we made our way to the famous terrace to take in the view.  Big Boy was interested to draw the connection between the "Hadrian" who commissioned this castle and "Hadrian's wall" that we visited here in the UK last spring.





After we took loads of pictures, we started walking back to our aparthotel, stopping for another gelato break, of course!  My husband was shocked to learn that Little Boy actually preferred my tart lemon to his rich chocolate.  He actually traded me cones!  I think Little Boy has a pretty sophisticated palate.



Evening Stroll

After some rest at the hotel, we went for one last evening stroll, to see the Form, the Capitol and the Colosseum at night.  I had taken glow bracelets from home and the kids adorned their bodies with them.  Unfortunately, that attracted every salesman of glowing toys around!  My husband had "words" with one (about getting a "real job") after he would not take "no" for an answer about 4 times.

Then we had dinner at an open air restaurant before retiring to our hotel.  The kids went to bed very very late!





Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Rome - Last day (time in Rome and travel home)

The last day of any holiday is always tough.  I find that I watch the clock to make sure we get to flights and I won't commit to lengthy activities for the same reason.  Our last day in Rome was pleasant.  Our first flight on our home journey was scheduled for 5:30 p.m., so we had to catch a taxi at about 2:30.  This meant that we had most of a day to walk around and see a few more sights (or, more accurately, a few sights again).  We checked our suitcases into storage at the aparthotel and headed out!

Trevi Fountain

Our first stop was Trevi Fountain.  Before this walk, my husband did not get to take a good look at Trevi Fountain.  Every time we walked past it, he was stuck at the back of a crowd and unable to get a clear view.  On our last day in Rome, we got to the fountain early enough for clear views.




Spanish Steps

After Trevi Fountain, we walked over to see the Spanish Steps in the daylight.  We had lunch at a nearby pizzeria and then we walked over to the Via Nazionale near our hotel.


My last pizza on this trip to Rome!

Via Nazionale

At the Via Nazionale, things started to fall apart for us a bit.  The kids needed the washroom.  We didn't have anywhere to take them because we had already checked out of our hotel and there were no public buildings nearby.  So, we decided to use the washroom at the McDonald's on the Via Nazionale.  The plan was to use the washroom and buy some drinks.

Because there were steps near the door of the restaurant I stayed outside with the baby while my husband took the kids in.  They came out and then I went in.  The bathroom consisted of 2 small unisex rooms and it was the most disgusting bathroom I have ever been in.  It was filthy, there was no toilet paper and no toilet seat (it is standard in Rome to have no toilet seat).  In the room that my husband took the kids into, there was actual waste smeared on the wall.  Disgusting!

Based on this, we decided that we would not ever, in a million years, eat or drink anything from that particular McDonald's and we left without making a purchase.  I still can't believe how unbelievably filthy it was!

When I came out onto the Via Nazionale to rejoin my family, Big Boy was in the middle of a dramatic nose bleed.  We had to sit with him while it cleared up for a while.  Then we headed back to our aparthotel to pick up our bags.

We walked to a nearby taxi stand and caught a cab to the airport.

Once we got to the airport, we were told that we were too early to check in and we should come back in 10 minutes.  We waited 10 minutes and then the desk clerk told us that our flight was delayed.  The delay was enough to make our connection window one hour at Heathrow.  The clerk said we would not be able to take these flights because the layover was insufficient to connect with our next flight.

So my husband went over to the ticket desk and we were rebooked on flights through Frankfurt.   Funny thing - the Frankfurt layover was only 45 minutes!

Anyways, the flight left later than our original flight and we had about 2.5 hours to kill, so we went to the lounge in the Rome airport.  It was very disappointing.  It was stark.  There was not much food, nothing was particularly fresh and the food was not replenished during our time in the lounge.  The coffee machine was broken and the floor was not clean so we could not let the baby crawl around.

Big Boy spent his time in the lounge watching a movie while Baby Boy and Little Boy had naps. 

We caught our flight to Frankfurt and then we had to run through the Frankfurt Airport (literally - I know that seems unlikely for me!) to get through customs and catch our next flight.  We got to Aberdeen a couple of hours after we were originally scheduled to land, and our luggage arrived intact.

I have to say that the food on Lufthansa was delightful!

This was a product that we saw in a glasses store near the Spanish Steps.  I'm not sure what to think!  The sunglasses have no arms at all, they are only held onto the face with the soother!


Rome - Second full day

This morning we got up early because we had tickets to the Vatican.  We hustled out of the aparthotel to the train station and then we (idiotically) watched a few trains go by waiting for one with "space."  It soon dawned on us that all of the trains would be insanely crowded and we would have to jump in - mosh pit style - and hope everyone would make room.

We folded up the stroller, put the baby in the front carrier and grabbed the kids.  When the next train arrived we pushed our way on like locals.  It was packed!  There was no room to breath or move and certainly no place to sit down.  Thank goodness we only needed to travel a few stops!

Vatican Museum

We disembarked at the stop recommended for the Vatican and then followed the hoards of people leaving the train and heading for the Vatican City walls.  This was a mistake.  Our first major "travel fail" of the trip.  The people we were following were all heading toward St. Peter's Basilica.  By the time we realized our error, we had to walk an extra 1.25 km to get back to the entrance of the Vatican Museum.

This meant that we had a long walk along the outer wall of the Vatican City.  I have to say that I was shocked by the sheer number of hucksters trying to sell us tours, line-skipping tickets, and all manor of other advice and expertise.  This was in addition to the slimy sidewalk salesmen that sell fake bags, scarfs, little toys, and Rome souvenirs all over the city.   I find it hard to believe that these people aren't monitored or regulated somehow.  Their presence became really intrusive and irritating during our walk.  We could barely walk a few steps without someone else approaching us.  We were unable to carry on a conversation because we were constantly interrupted and when I glanced at our map it was open season....everyone had to run over with advice.  The salespeople were unrelenting and rude.  Also, I have to ask....again....why would I ever buy something from a person who got my attention by shouting "hey lady" at me?

Anyways....we made it to the Vatican Museum entrance and we got to skip the line for security because we had pre-booked tickets.  The line was long, but it seemed to be moving pretty quickly.  Also, it seemed to me that in the summer the line must be much longer because there were posts to control a very very long queue.

We checked in our stroller and backpack and then headed straight to the Sistine Chapel.



Sistine Chapel

The route to the Sistine Chapel is down a series of massive, long hallways.  They are beautiful - ornately decorated and hung with beautiful paintings and tapestries.  Some have art presented from various countries as well.  We ended up queueing down these hallways, but the wait was relatively painless because we could look at the art.  Even the kids enjoyed it.



Once we got to the Sistine Chapel, we stared in awe at the paintings.  We were fortunate - Baby Boy was fast asleep and Little Boy didn't seem inclined to make any noise.  Big Boy asked a few questions but was really quiet.  We got to enjoy our time viewing the paintings and we spent some time matching up the different parts with the descriptions in our guidebook.  Big Boy was impressed with the trompe l'oeil.  Little Boy had a funny comment:  "those guys in the paintings have bodies just like me!"  My husband answered with the dismissive: "Eh hem...yes they do...lets talk about that later..."

Raphael

After we exited the Sistine Chapel, we made our way to the Raphael rooms to view his works.  This was an awkward part of the Vatican to tour.  The rooms are large but they are connected with tiny doorways or hallways.  So the crowd of people making their way through the rooms expands when they enter a room and then has to squish down to exit to the next room.  It makes for a lot of pushing and shoving.  It also means that you are basically swept along with the crowd and unless you want to make a big issue of it, you have to travel at the same speed as the crowd. 

We made our way through these rooms and saw the main works and then decided it was time for a coffee break.

We had coffee and pastries at the Vatican coffee shop.  I have to recommend it - the prices were very good and the food was delicious.  The service was so-so, but that is what I came to expect in Rome.

When we were heading out of the Vatican Museum, we had to exit by passing through the Sistine Chapel again.  Little Boy had big eyes while he watched the security guards bust two people for taking pictures.  One lady stopped, but the other lady was brought over to the side of the room and forced to delete all of the photos off her iPad.  And she did it with attitude!

Vatican Post Office

The last stop of our visit to the Vatican was at the post office, where I bought some coins.

Then we picked up our stroller and back pack (both had mysteriously travelled from the cloak room at the entrance of the Vatican Museum to the cloak room at the exit of the Vatican Museum) and we headed for St. Peter's Basilica.

St. Peter's Basilica 

We had been to St. Peter's Basilica during our "travel fail" earlier in the morning, and the line was getting long at that point, so we thought it would be massive when we arrived.  We were pleasantly surprised with a medium length line (about 20 minutes) that moved quickly.  We took advantage of our time in line to have a few snacks.

At St. Peter's Basilica we checked our stroller but they would not allow us to check our backpack because it was not large enough...seems strange but rules are rules. 

We walked into the Basilica and it was breathtaking.  It was one of those situations where I could not decide where to look first.  We spent quite a bit of time wandering around and taking photos (you are allowed to take photos).




Metro

After we collected our stroller, we headed back to the metro hoping to jump on the train before rush hour started.  Mercifully the train was not as busy.  But we got into a fight....really.

Here's how it went down:

Our whole family easily boarded the train with the stroller folded up.  I was standing in the middle of the doorway section (but into the train...not blocking the door) with the baby on my front in a carrier while I held onto the pole.  My two older boys and my husband were with the folded up stroller off to the side of the door near the panel separating the door area from the seating.  The seating was all full but we all had a good place to stand.

A couple of stops later this older man wanted to get on.  He looked in and saw what he thought were spaces where my two older boys were standing because the adults in front of them blocked them from his view.  He yelled that everyone should move for him to get on (or at least that is what I thought he was yelling, it was in Italian).  When no one did (because my boys were standing there), he put his hands on the back of a couple of passengers and shoved them forward to make space to get on.  During his second shove he pushed me into the post and I almost squished the baby into it, but I caught it with my shoulder to avoid hurting him.  A helpful lady beside me showed me how to brace my arms on the pole to protect the baby.

Meanwhile, he kept pushing and was pushing into Big Boy who got the wind knocked out of him!  My husband started yelling for the guy to stop and he just kept pushing and pointing at all the supposed space that was empty.  My husband finally picked up Little Boy and said "see, see - you are squishing him."

But the man didn't stop pushing.  I got involved in another shove and the lady next to me started shouting about a bambino so I started yelling "bambino" at him and pointing to the baby on my chest.  Finally he wedged into a spot and the train started moving with everyone still yelling (including my husband, me and Big Boy).

The man got off one stop later.

After our interesting train ride we had a very late lunch and then headed to the hotel for a break and a shower.  We are not used to so many sweaty bodies pressing into us on a train!

After our rest, we decided to take the bus to Trastevere, a neighbourhood that is supposed to be quite authentically Roman.  We arrived at an empty bus stop and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  While we were doing all of this waiting, the bus stop was filling up.  Suddenly there were hundreds of people and we were all waiting for the same single bus.  They were already pushing and shoving with no sign of a bus in sight!  We could see where this was going....

We decided to abort our Trastevere plans and instead jumped on the metro to Piazza Popolo.  This is a swanky neighbourhood near the Spanish Steps.  It was lovely with beautiful shops and expensive restaurants.  Unfortunately we were not looking for a posh meal out.  We had a late and delicious lunch and we just wanted a small meal to finish the day.  We looked and looked for an appropriate restaurant and then the golden arches beckoned....we had a quick salad at McDonald's and called it a night in terms of eating.  Although I wasn't thrilled to be eating McD's in Rome, I didn't want to drag the kids to a long, expensive meal in a nice restaurant and that was all we could find in the area.

After dinner we walked around the Spanish Steps and then made our way back to our aparthotel via Metro.  

What an amazing day!






Monday, October 21, 2013

Rome - First full day

We are home and I have done loads of laundry....my head is refreshed and I have time and energy to blog about our trip now!  I plan to do quite a few posts - one describing each day of our visit to Rome and then a few more posts about specific topics.

This post will describe what we did on our first full day.

We woke up to lovely weather and ate breakfast at our aparthotel.  We headed out on foot with our stroller.  Our first stop was about 15 minutes walk from our aparthotel - the Colosseum.

The Colosseum

We walked up to the Colosseum early in the morning and there was not much of a line to get in.  We had to visit the ticket window to pick up complementary tickets for the kids to use with our Roma pass tickets.  We used our Roma pass tickets to get in and it was no trouble at all.

We took the stroller up the elevator to the upper floor of the Colosseum and we wandered around and took many photos of the top of the grand structure.  The views both inward and outward were incredible!  I also had to change and nurse the baby - that's a unique feeding spot!

When the building started getting busier,  we went back down to the main floor of the Colosseum.  On the main floor it was more difficult to push the stroller around because of some steps so we left the buggy off in a corner and walked around without it.

Overall we spent nearly 2 hours in the Colosseum.





The Forum and Palatine


After touring the Colosseum we walked across the square to see the Forum.  We once again used our Roma passes for admission.  The Forum is large and it seemed to be a disorganized mess of columns and other buildings.  While we were at the Forum we completed 2 walking tours from our DK Eyewitness Travel guide to Rome.

We also wandered through Palatine.






Lunch


After this busy morning we needed a break for lunch!  We walked toward the Capitol and found a small outdoor restaurant on the way.  The baby was asleep and the meal was wonderful - everyone had pizza but Big Boy, who had a plate of lasagna....and began his love affair with lasagna.

Capitol


After lunch we walked past the Capitol but did not wander around the square (we came back to it a couple of days later).

Pantheon


We walked over toward the Pantheon, and I fed the baby while sitting on the base of one of it's columns while my husband took Big Boy and Little Boy to find some bottled water.  After we regrouped, we wandered around inside for a while and enjoyed the cool, dark air.



After the Pantheon, it was definitely time for some gelato!  We stopped at a nearby Gelateria and had some pretty unique flavours....Big Boy had Bounty flavour; Little Boy had Nutella; my husband had Skor; and I had....wait for it....so unique....lemon!  I love lemon gelato but Big Boy's Bounty flavour was the best.

Piazza Navono


After our snack we wandered over to the Piazza Navono and saw all of the stalls with art and junk vendors.  We wandered back through a side street and saw a man making marionettes at a store that sold wooden toys (mainly Pinocchio toys).



Trevi Fountain

We walked past Trevi Fountain on our way back to our hotel.  Unfortunately my husband didn't get a great view of the Fountain (we came back to it later) because of the crowds that were pushing and shoving.



Train Station and Dinner

After a rest in our hotel room we went for a walk to locate the train station we would need the next morning.  Then we wandered the neighbourhood (near the opera house) and found a restaurant to eat in.  We were seated in the wine cellar of the restaurant and had a lovely, private table and an amazing meal.  My husband had ravioli with truffle oil and I had a spicy carbonara.  The kids had spaghetti bolognese.

Then we walked home and went to bed to rest up for the next day.



Saturday, October 19, 2013

Home

We are home.  It didn't go as planned but we got here in the end. 

It is - of course - a long story.  I will blog about it later, in a few days when I've caught up on my sleep!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

So far....so good!

Our holiday in Rome is going really well!

I don't have the capacity to draft a long blog post so I will do detailed descriptions of our activities when we get home. 

But just to let family and friends know the important stuff:

- we are safe;
- we are healthy;
- the weather is warm;
- we are seeing lots of interesting things;
- the kids are behaving; and 
- the food is heavenly!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Travel Day

Today we spent the day travelling to Rome.  We woke up at the regular time and instead of heading out to work and school we took a taxi to the Aberdeen airport. 

Our flights this trip are rewards from frequent flyer points and for some reason we are in business class (the one perk of a husband who travels frequently for business). When we arrived at the Aberdeen Airport the airline staff gave us vouchers to use in airport vendors because the lounge is closed for renovations.  The kids and my husband had a great time picking treats!

We had an uneventful flight to London and the we hung out in the lounge at Heathrow until it was our turn to board.  We had another uneventful flight to Rome. At the end of the flight we had some lovely views of the Italian countryside. 

We quickly passed through customs and as we had no checked bags we climbed right into a taxi to our aparthotel. The taxi driver drove like a maniac. At one point he actually drove straight into 2 lanes of heavy traffic because he was convinced they were supposed to stop for him.  The other drivers didn't seem to agree.   I learned a valuable lesson when he drove straight at a pedestrian crossing on a "walk" light....watch out no matter where you are!

We finally arrived at our aparthotel and paid the set taxi fare (€48).   By the way the train would have cost €28 with a 1.25 km walk. We decided on a cab because we were tired and hot and the extra cost seemed worth it. I'm glad we took a taxi because it rained really hard and we would have been stuck walking in the rain in an unfamiliar city. We would likely have been lost for part of the walk and the whole thing would have been really stressful. 

We checked into our hotel and I was very pleased. The apartment is much larger than I expected and very clean.  The layout is ideal for us. The kids get to sleep on a Murphy bed so they are very excited!

After we unpacked and settled in, we went for a warm evening stroll down the Via Nazionale.  We picked up some groceries and had a delicious dinner in a  pizzeria on a side street. 


 


Roman Holiday

We are off on holiday!  I'll tell you all about it when we're back!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Jackass

So....last year we were at the book store and there was a really cute book.  The book is called "It's a Book" by Lane Smith.  It is an illustrated children's book that explores the relationship that young children have with technology.  The book has been reviewed very positively and it was on sale - so we bought it....of course!

The book is lots of fun to read.  It is a conversation between some animals (notably one of the animals is a donkey) who want to know what a book "does."  They ask if it "does" a bunch of computer things - like "can it text?" or "tweet?" and each time the answer is a resounding "no!".  It's lots of fun to read and it's one of those books that you can read with a lot of expression.

At the end of the book,  one of the animals calls the donkey "jackass."  This is fun for the kids, because they know it's a naughty word, so they giggle when Daddy reads it to them.  Trouble is, Little Boy has imported "jackass" into his regular vocabulary.  The bigger problem is that my husband and I thought it was hilarious the first few times he used "jackass" and now he is unstoppable!

The other day at lunch, my husband was teasing Little Boy and Little Boy was shouting "stop it, stop it!".  Finally he looked squarely at my husband and said "stop it, jackass!" - it was so shocking that it was hilarious and I laughed until tears rolled down my cheeks.  Unfortunately Little Boy picked up on this and now he uses "jackass" way too freely.

We had a talk with him about the word today....hopefully he will catch on!  I wonder if this will seem like a silly problem when all 3 of my boys are teenagers and using much more unacceptable language!