On the second day, we decided to see the famous historical amphitheater and also the world’s largest, Colosseum. On the way to Colosseum we saw the vendors of counterfeit branded handbags such as Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Chanel, Gucci etc in various places. I remember reading that it’s against Italian law to even buy it. I wonder if people actually buy it.
On reaching to Colosseum, we saw that there was a huge queue for entering. Luckily we had been advised by a friend to buy tickets for both Colosseum and Roman Empire Forum at the entrance of forum where the queue is much shorter. We got our tickets in less than half an hour and proceeded to the forum first.
The forum is surrounded by important ancient ruins. People of the ancient Rome came to this place for trade and participating in public events such as public speeches, criminal trials and sports matches etc. The architectural bits and pieces that remain preserved to this day in the forum attract a million visitors every day.
It was a beautiful, sunny, hot day. We saw a lot of important ruins well described in English and Italian language in the info plate nearby.
After seeing forum, we went on to see Colosseum. The elliptical Colosseum is one of the most remarkable examples of Roman architecture and engineering. The construction began on 70 AD and completed after 10 years. You can imagine how old this structure is! The amphitheater was used for a variety of public events such as contests, animal hunts, executions, dramas etc. Today although it remains partially ruined because of earthquakes and stone-robbers, it’s still one of the most iconic man-made structures and one of the biggest tourist attractions of Italy (and world).
We had the tickets already so we just went in.
After witnessing thee spectacular Colosseum, we went for some Italian lunch nearby. I was not impressed because the pizza was nothing that special and neither was lasagna.
We went back to the apartment and decided to shower and pack for our flight the other morning.
Since the bus schedules were ambiguous we decided to leave in the evening, spend some time in the center and spend some hours in the airport before the flight. We ended up waiting exactly 50 minutes for the bus. And the bus journey was just the first leg of our journey. We had to then switch to train and another bus for reaching to the airport. The other strange thing that we found about Rome was that the names of subway and train stops (for the same place) were different. Since we had a subway map but were on a train, we got off one stop early. We ended up losing another hour or so in reaching to the center. After we reached to the center we checked the schedule for the shuttle buses leaving for airport and the earliest one was at 4 in the morning! We had 5 hours to kill.
And that was when I saw the ugly side of Rome. Flocks of homeless, smelly people and dirt, filth everywhere around the main Termini station. It was such a surreal experience to see poverty in a rich European country. Many of those homeless were sleeping right outside the Termini station in cardboard boxes. We walked around a bit, exploring and saw many such weird, dangerous looking people. Not to mention the terrible smell and urine patches along the walls.
We went to McDonald’s (24 hours, luckily) for some food. I’ve never been a fan of McDonald’s. I think it is the crappiest fast food chain. But we had no options so went ahead. That was also when I saw such a dirty bathroom with no papers or soap. I was so disgusted with the whole experience that my body had started itching. We spent an hour or two in McDonald’s and went outside. And dammit, was it so hard to find a bench! Must have been a way of keeping off the homeless population. In Lodz (Polish city where I live in), I am used to seeing parks and benches almost in every neighborhood. But that obviously wasn’t the case in Rome.
Finally the bus arrived at 3:30 and we could get in. I was so sleepy, tired and uncomfortable by then that I ended up falling asleep the moment I got on the bus. Luckily a fellow passenger woke us up when we reached the airport. Ciampino airport was crowded and the bathrooms were not clean. But we were at least at the airport. Finally, we arrived to Poland (Katowice). The weather was sunny and the day lovely. We drove 3 hours north to Lodz and took the much needed 8-hours sleep after arriving.