My first solo trip – Rome, Italy

I had a week booked off work this month, and I knew I wanted to go away but didn’t have a clue where to go.

Originally, I had wanted to go to Marrakech but my friends had pulled out of that.

I was due to go on a TEFL course Friday – Sunday and then I was off work from Monday – Sunday the following week. Just before I went on my TEFL course, I decided to tick a couple of things off my bucket list in Rome.

I packed two bags, one for Rome, and one of my weekend TEFL course in London.
I got the train to my Mother’s house (who lives near the airport) and dropped off my bag for Rome. I got another train from there and carried on to Kingston for my course.

So on Saturday night I booked flight tickets, and on Sunday I booked one night of accommodation in a B&B close to the airport and emailed them to arrange a pick-up.

I completed my course, headed back down to my Mother’s for the night, changed my bags around, bought a few last minute bits and then headed to the airport.

This was to be my first solo trip, where I didn’t have any one waiting to meet me on the other side.

At the ripe old age of 24 I was finally putting the big girl boots on and doing what I wanted, when I wanted, rather than waiting around for someone else.

I arrived at the airport, and with it being last minute and all I had totally forgot to check what terminal my flight was going from! So I hastily scuttled off into a corner whilst people streamed around me like stampeding wildebeest as I tried to get wifi signal and find out where the heck I was supposed to be going.

North. It was North terminal.

Panic over, and once in the right section of the airport, I had an amazing lunch in Gatwick airport at Comptoir Libanais.

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Mezze platter & refreshing Toufaha lemonade, SO good!

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I may be a tad biased towards Lebanese food but I would definitely recommend.

My luck from my previous time flying (to Lithuania) continued with another row all to myself.

 

We descended over a pretty green landscape and into Rome Fiumicino Airport in the early evening.

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The friendly housekeeper for the B&B named Raymond introduced himself and lead me to the car, then laughed as I went to the wrong side and climbed into his drivers seat.

B&B Letterario is quite a nice little place, about a 10-15 minute drive from the airport, Raymond advised me that they also have another B&B in the Centre of Rome quite close to the Vatican.

The decor theme was right up my street…

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My room was lovely; I stayed in “Kawabata” and next to me was “Hemingway”

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In my beautifully decorated room – I had a wonderful comfy bed, a clean and modern en suite bathroom and great amenities.

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I had kind of been hoping to meet people there, but the B&B is more of a pit stop and a bit out of the way if you want to be in the centre of Rome and seeing the main sites. There were only two other guests for much of the evening, a couple who didn’t seem to speak English and that I barely saw.

I asked where I could go for dinner, he told me there was a restaurant up the road which was about a “10 minute walk”, in actual fact it was merely a few steps up the street.

This place, I think it was called Ratatouille, could probably have done with a bit of an update. It felt very 90’s, like, they had peach rag rolled walls and everything.

I was the only person in the restaurant, the chef kept staring at me and then shouting at the football on TV.

I ordered some red wine (which apparently by default comes sparkling) and a pasta dish. The waitress brought over a pretty large garlic pizza bread, and put this down in front of me.
I was bit confused about whether she had got my order wrong, whether it was complimentary, or some sort of trick to get me to spend more money.

The food was good, but I felt so awkward that I ended up typing a stream of consciousness on my phone to keep myself busy and give the impression I had friends.

It mainly went along the lines of “What am I doing here? My sense of direction is terrible, was this really a good idea? I really hate football, someone sounds like they’re dying of TB in the kitchen, God I really hate football” and so forth.

I got back to the B&B, went to open the door and realised it was locked. I pulled out the keys I had been given and tried each one but none of them seemed to work. I climbed onto a garden chair to try and look through the window and grab someone’s attention but I was too short and the window too high.

Wonderful. Just bloody great. What if I was locked out all night and had to sleep on a sodding garden chair in the cold?!

I whatsapped Raymond, explaining I couldn’t get in, he came up almost instantly bless him, and pointed to a key in my hands which he then placed in the lock and twisted. The door open and I awkwardly thanked him and apologised profusely.

I had a shower and slept like a baby. In the morning over breakfast, I quickly googled hostels in the centre of Rome, scoured the Hostelworld app and also checked recommendations people had sent me.

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I took a screen shot of the directions to The Yellow hostel and figured i’d make my way there and see if they had any rooms available as it looked pretty good.

I quizzed Raymond on how to get to the city centre, after a slight misunderstanding we clarified that I needed to go round the corner after checkout, find the tobacco shop, purchase a bus ticket from there, and wait at the bus stop for the bus that said “Fiumicino”.

From the airport I could either get another bus or the train to Termini station, which was situated in the centre of Rome.

I checked out and thanked him, stepping out in my sunnies and new dress feeling like a floaty 70s goddess.

 
But it was bloody freezing. I pep talked myself that it would probably warm up and headed down the road. I could see the shop across a field and figured I would cut across rather than walking the whole way round.

About halfway across the field, the sprinklers went off.

I squawked and ran across that field faster than a fat kid chasing an ice cream truck.

Needless to say, the Tobacco shop owner was rather bemused by the soaking wet English idiot in a summer dress than fell through his shop door.

Having purchased the ticket and some of his cigarettes I headed back (around the field) to the bus stop.

I walked past gardens filled with lemon trees and sat on the bus stop bench, which was annoyingly close to the field with the sprinklers and wherever I stood or sat I could still feel the water spray me.

Everyone driving past was staring at me. I suppose they were probably thinking “Who’s this knob sitting in a summer dress when it’s so cold and getting sprayed by sprinklers”?

I nearly got on the wrong bus but realised my mistake and got back off much to the confusion/annoyance of the driver.

I did eventually get on the right one, and the first thing I did when I got back to the airport was dive into a toilet so I could change back into my jeans and hoodie as I was freezing my tits off.

The toilet seat kept springing up and I could hear a male voice talking as I changed, I genuinely thought I had hastily wandered in to the mens toilet and dreaded walking out of the cubicle, but it turned out just to be a cleaner and I was indeed in the correct bathroom after all.

I made my way to the airport train station, purchased a single ticket on the self service which then charged me twice but the train was departing in two minutes and so I didn’t really have time to do anything about it.

I hopped on the train and watched the other stations come and go as we headed to Termini station.

 Now for the fun part!

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More about Rome to follow…

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Freelance writer who loves reading, cooking & travelling. Rarely spotted without red lipstick. Penchant for whiskey on the rocks.

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