18 September 2011


When I first proposed to Katharine a year and a half ago I had a plan for a honeymoon which involved five weeks around southern Africa in a pickup with a camper shell. Starting in Cape Town, up the west coast into Namibia, along the Skeleton Coast, east along the Caprivi Strip into Botswana. A quick stop in the Okavango, across the Kalahari and back to Cape Town. A chance for me to visit some old stomping grounds and an opportunity for Katharine to see an amazing part of the World. Then we found out that Sophie was on the way and Africa went on hold.

So then we decided on a camper van around Norway, it’s a big country and there is lots to see and since we were leaving it would be nice to have a final fling. But then things got busier and busier and the chances of an extended holiday got proportionally less and less likely. So when I went on “permission” (paternity leave) we decided to squeeze a week in Rome in before Katharine went back to work.

We stayed in the traditional area of Trastevere just by the river. Narrow chaotic streets, small squares, cafes and restaurants on every corner – mopeds whizzing in and out of smart causally dressed people. It was everything you imagine Rome should be. We stayed in a very cool little hotel, with a small courtyard so we could put Sophie to bed and set out in the evening. We were able to walk to all of the sights we wanted to see and spent a full week over dosing on history. Highlights were:
1. Just being in Rome, it was beautiful
2. The Pantheon, 2000 years old and stunning
3. Ancient Rome, was surprised at how small it was but wandering around the forums and up to the Palatine Hill was great
4. The Coliseum, clich├ęd but still stunning. To imagine the gladiators, the wild animals and the roar of the crowds – amazing
5. The Vatican – had mixed feelings about visiting the home of the Catholic church but from a historic and architectural perspective it was stunning
6. Walking up the hill to the Garibaldi monument and seeing the views of the city.

The Italian people are super friendly, especially to children. Sophie was a huge hit. Not just to middle aged women who always love babies, but to everyone from macho waiters and taxi drivers to tour guides and general passers-by dotted on her. In the restaurants they never complained when we took the pram in (unlike Wetherspoons in Edinburgh who threw Katharine out, despite the fact they were empty). It was a great place to be with a young child.

The traffic is legendary, but despite being busy and chaotic its really not that bad. I have never seen so many Smart cars and they seemed so right. Larger cars, even polos and fiestas looked big, ungainly and out of place.  The People are amazing drivers and they can squeeze their small cars into tiny parking spaces. They don’t care too much of they get banged or stretched and tens of thousands of people get into and around town each day. Best of all, it works.

I can’t recommend Rome enough it was fantastic. Having listened to the History of Rome podcast and was really keen to see the ancient parts but was also blown away by the Renaissance and modern bits as well.

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