Rome with REN

Marius' former boss invited us to join the REN trip to Rome (May 9-12). Marius went on Wednesday morning with his former colleagues and a couple of other companies. The first few days were spent in meetings for them. I arrived Friday night. I wasn't sure when exactly I would get there because the winds were too strong in Amsterdam - the famous windmills must have been making lots of power. Some of the other significant others from REN and I arrived to Rome around 9pm. We stayed at a hotel within eye-shot of the Colosseum, it was pretty darn cool. Of course the first night in town we had an authentic Italian multi-course dinner: cooked mixed veggies, pizza, pasta, cheeses, pizza and tiramisu. Yum!

Saturday morning we had a three-hour group walking tour from the Colosseum, past the Roman Forum, Pantheon and finishing up at Piazza Navona. Basically the bigger tourist attractions on the east side of the river. Naturally, REN had a fancy 5-star lunch planned and Marius and I had the privileged of being invited. It was very fancy - and out of my comfort zone - but a nice experience. Dinner was also a Michelin listed restaurant. 
[Walking into the Pantheon]
[Marius is all dressed up for our fancy lunch with REN]

[The menu]

On Sunday we were glad that we could just share a pizza at a little cafe. We walked to the Vatican and happened to stumble in on Sunday mass. I completely forgot that it was Sunday! So we heard the last few minutes of Pope Francis's sermon. We didn't understand a word, but everyone else cheered. It was PACKED in St. Peter's Square and groups of people were holding banners and flags. The line was too long to try to go inside the Sistine Chapel, so we headed back. Marius and I took the long way back to the hotel and meandered past the Trivi Fountain with some gelato icecream. Dinner we were on our own and found a nice little restaurant where we had ravioli and enjoyed getting to sleep before 11pm.

[The Pope is up there in the top window!]
[The Swiss Guard]
[St. Peter's Square]
Monday we got up, enjoyed breakfast, and then took the subway to the Vatican City. The goal was to go into the Vatican Museum. We stood in line for 2 hours to get inside. Scamers kept trying to convince us to pay €40 each to "skip the line" and get inside the museum sooner, but we knew that a ticket only cost €16 (€8 for me since I claimed to be a student and was younger than 26). Marius enjoyed messing with the scamers and said things like: "I want to stand here. I want to get tan," "Can you sing for me?" and "Are you from Britain? You look like a teacher in Harry Potter" ... he's bad, but it was funny. He got some of the guys to laugh. We finally got inside and walked through the Raphael Rooms and into the Sistine Chapel. It was not how I thought it would be. Impressive, yes, but just not how I pictured it. Pictures weren't allowed, but I was sneaky with my GoPro. 

Overall, a great first impression of Rome. Not nearly enough time for me to get my fill, so we will have to go back again for more Italian pizza and museums!

[Circus Maximus - where the brutal horse races took place]

[Walking through the Vatican Museum]

[Sneaky sneaky! - inside the Sistene Chapel]

[Trevi Fountain]

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