Back in August I celebrated my 30th birthday, a major life milestone, and, although getting older has never bothered me, I felt like this birthday was going to be a game-changer; a crucial point in my life and falling in a year that I predicted would be filled with magic, I was excited for the big day to roll around.
Little did I know that Ben was planning the most incredible gift for me – a weekend away that was more than I ever dreamt I would have.
On the morning of 14th August, the alarm clock went off at 3am, signalling it was time for the fun to start. We packed our things into the car and drove to London Gatwick Airport. Being some sort of super-duper travel ninja, Ben managed to get me not only to the airport, but through security and into Wetherspoons for breakfast without me finding out where we were going – pretty impressive I think you’ll agree!
Off I trotted to the bar to get our breakfast and when I came back there was an envelope on the table which Ben told me to open…
ROME! He was taking me for a weekend in Rome!
At this point Ben very nearly saw me cry for the first time. I have wanted to go to Rome for years and suddenly, here I was, just a couple of hours from walking out of a plane onto its soil. I was overwhelmed, emotional and didn’t know what to say. My eyes filled up with tears and I grinned like the Cheshire Cat. One of my lifetime dreams was about to come true.
As we were running a little short on time, we wolfed down our food, grabbed our bags and power-walked our way to the boarding gate. I’m a very nervous flyer so tried losing myself in my book while looking unfazed, but Ben told me afterwards that I’d look terrified, so perhaps I’m not as good at hiding my emotions as I thought I was! The flight was ok though and I even managed to get a little sleep which I’ve never been able to do on a plane before.
Once we landed in Rome, greeted at the opening of the plane doors by 35-degree heat, we were taken by minibus to our hotel. We stayed at the Hotel Indigo and as soon as I walked into their foyer I was blown away. It was one of the most beautiful hotels I have ever set foot in!
As we arrived so early (9am) our room wasn’t ready for us to check in to so we left our bags with the porter, grabbed a map of the City and set off to the first excursion Ben had arranged for us – a tour of the Vatican, Sistene Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica.
The weather that day was incredible with its high temperature and minimal breeze but because of the religious nature of where we were visiting, we had to have our shoulders and knees covered so we were both wearing jeans and t-shirts. I can honestly say this is the hottest I have ever been in my life, we couldn’t even hold hands because we were both so hot! However, this was soon put right with a cool glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a big bowl of gelato each.
Once we reached Vatican City I was staggered; it’s hard to describe just how detailed and intricate the building decor and styling was – photographs don’t do it justice. The Sistene Chapel itself is incredible and the colours are still all so bold and vibrant, because of this you’re not allowed to take photographs in some areas as the flash of light from a camera could cause harm to the paintings, however, if you ever go to Rome, I definitely recommend you book yourself on to one of these tours as you learn so much and it really is fascinating.
After our tour was finished, we took a slow wander in the afternoon sun back to our hotel, where I finally got to see our room for the first time.
With artwork of cars on the walls and my dream bedroom colour combination (duck egg, white and bronze) this room was perfect in every possible way; it was as if someone had reached inside my head and used my thoughts to create it. It was beautiful and I couldn’t stop grinning as I looked around it.
The end of the first day finished with dinner at the restaurant on the roof of our hotel where we were treated to the most spectacular sunset behind The Vatican. As I’d only found out approx 12-hours before that we were going to Rome, I had to keep pinching myself as I looked around and thought, “I’m eating dinner on a rooftop in Rome with a view of the sun setting over The Vatican!” It was one of those moments in life where you suddenly become acutely aware of your existence and desperately try to capture every single thought, feeling and vision so you can revisit that moment in your mind time and time again in the future.
A perfect first day and a very happy Penny.
Check back tomorrow for Day 2…
(We made a video of our time in Rome, you can view it by clicking here or the image below)