Friday, April 3

ROME - Day 1

Out the door at 7am to walk to the train station with kids and backpacks loaded! Ryan was the navigator, tour guide, and pack horse of the excursion. I had Morgan in the Baby Bjorn all week but got pretty used to it. We had an uneventful train ride enjoying watching the countryside whisk by. Interesting to see the topography of the land go from open farm land to bunched up green hills dotted with farms. Once in Rome we dropped the heavy backpack at the hotel and had two hours to kill before our first tour so we started walking. More pigeons to chase while we ate lunch in front of Santa Maria degli Angeli. McKay, our Master of the Pigeons, kept ordering this other little boy around - I later figured out I had to introduce each new fellow bird chaser to McKay as his friend in order to avoid future confrontations. Such a bossy little guy!

We got back to the hotel to properly check in, settle into the hotel and feed Morgan before our afternoon tour and evening out. Our tour guide left much to be desired in her site descriptions and English, but we began with the Colosseum where Easton was ready to climb every available surface, even crawling behind people perched to rest their legs to which many remarked, "Boys will be boys." Easton became my walking buddy for all adventures and I had to really suck it up many times to hold those filthy little hands.

If there wasn't a bird to be chased, McKay was likely to be found sucking his thumb and contorting an ear while sitting somewhere or meandering at a snail's pace in our general direction. Because of his pace, Ryan often had McKay on his shoulders anytime we needed to be on the move. This kid truly conserves his energies for his favorite activities - bird chasing and eating! It was not uncommon for McKay to literally fall asleep on Ryan's shoulders or when placed to sit somewhere! Later that night, I had taken Easton into a McDonalds to use the bathroom. As we were coming out I saw a lot of flash photography by a horde of people snapping pictures of McKay fast asleep against our backpack on the stoop of the McDonalds. While waiting for us, Ryan had sat him down to give his own shoulders a rest, but McKay didn't even stir. A street artist asked if he could take his picture and that began the photo shoot. Ryan was laughing hysterically and strangers were coming up to congratulate us. Very surreal, but so very McKay!

Back to our itinerary on the Caesar's Rome tour. I would show pictures, but Ryan accidentally deleted them which made him so heart sick! It was bound to happen at some point, and we were able to hit some of the highlights again the next day. I will say that it is quite incredible how ingenious and massive these sights were! Ancient Romans knew how to think big! There was an impressive little tour book which had overlay pages so you could see what each site looked like now versus then. I don't know that I'd recommend our tour because I think we could have done better on our own with the audio guides Ryan found online and getting this little tour book. A fabulous site with a quick overview of what we saw and heard is

At the end of the tour, we left the group as they boarded the bus - much to their incredulity - and made our way to the impressive Pantheon. We eventually ended up having dinner in the Pantheon's piazza while enjoying the street performers. First a clown who gave grumpy McKay quite the terror, then a nice band trio, and then a fabulous opera singer. I really liked our pastas and pizza, but Ryan needs to have meat on his plate to consider it fabulous I think. We did agree that the hot chocolate was delicious - like warm pudding. We bribed the boys daily with hot chocolate and gelato and I still feel no guilt. Such an itty bitty easy price to pay in order to stave off melt downs!

Then we made our way to Trevi fountain where McKay (still sleeping since the McDonalds episode) slept on the steps while we snapped pictures and just soaked it all up. There is just something so mesmerizing and relaxing about the sound of running water! Even though we'd walked all day, the sites really didn't seem all that far apart and since we were absorbing every street and neighborhood before us, Ryan and I didn't seem to tire of the walking. I really liked the pace we took things at this entire Italy trip. We walked virtually everywhere and mostly at a kid's pace so I really felt like we were able to soak up a lot and not feel rushed even though we saw a lot.

Finally we decided to head to the hotel and were luckily able to track down the metro train. Even when completely spent, the boys thought trains were quite the adventure. I think it was just after 11 once again before we even got to our room and crashed. Our Monuments tour was picking us up at 7:45am!