My 30th Birthday – A Weekend In Rome (Day 3)

Day 3 of our weekend in Rome arrived and Ben told me he hadn’t planned anything for us to do as he wanted to keep a day free for us to venture out and do whatever took our fancy. After eating Maltesers in bed for breakfast, we headed down to the basement of the hotel to spend a bit of time in their spa. We were the only people using it so had the entire space to ourselves, spending a little while in the sauna, an even shorter amount of time in the steam room (it was so hot!) and then floating about in the Jacuzzi pool for an absolute age. As I’m scared of water I stuck to the sides and steps like a limpet, but Ben seemed to be enjoying himself as he drifted this way and that with the power of the bubbles.


After our relaxing morning, we decided to visit the Vittorio Monument which we had walked past a few times over the previous couple of days. This is a building – a huge building – built in the Victorian era and situated right between Mussolini’s palace and the Colosseum.




The roof top was accessible by a lift for just 7 Euros and from the top you could see right across Rome. It wasn’t until I was up there that I could really appreciate the sheer scale of the City and all the buildings it contains.




The view from that rooftop was incredible and as I stood there with Ben, having celebrated my 30th birthday in a City I’ve dreamt of visiting for so many years, I felt so content and happy. I may not have an amazing job, I may live in a house I don’t own, and I may not have any savings in the bank, but at that moment, I looked at my life and the people I have around me, and I felt like the richest girl in the world.




The remainder of our day was spent drinking bubbles in a cafe outside the Pantheon (another ‘pinch me!’ moment), having dinner and taking a midnight stroll around the City to see the sights lit up after dark. Although we were both shattered by that point, I’m so glad we did it.


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I’ve told you all, more times that I could begin to count, that I was looking forward to turning 30 as it was a milestone; a chance for me to look back at the last decade of my life and forward to the next 10-years, spread out in front of me like a empty page waiting for me to write my story. This weekend was the perfect way to end one chapter and begin the next. I said goodbye to my 20s in Rome and I said hello to my 30s with a heart full of love and happiness. I couldn’t have asked for more than that.


Thank you Ben for the best weekend of my life.


(We made a video of our time in Rome, you can view it by clicking here or the image below)


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My 30th Birthday – A Weekend In Rome (Day 2)

My 30th Birthday – A Weekend In Rome (Day 2)

The sun rose on day 2 of our visit to Rome (read about Day 1 here) – my actual birthday – and I opened my cards in bed whilst drinking a coffee. A lazy start to the day but we had a busy day ahead of us with the second excursion Ben had arranged – a tour of the Roman Forum and Colesseum.


I was really excited about this tour because not only is the Colesseum one of the most iconic buildings in the world, but as someone who loves history and has a fascination with the human side of our past, the fact I was going to be retracing the footsteps of those that walked those corridors and climbed those steps thousands of years before me was one that gave me butterflies.


As our tour wasn’t until mid-afternoon, we started the day with a wandering around the local area, exploring and taking in sights like local Piazza’s, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and all the other little roads and alleyways we came across.


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We stopped for a spot of lunch in a little pizza place a short distance from where we were meeting our tour guide and had one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten in my entire life! It was so good!




As you can imagine, with its location the restaurant was pretty busy so the service was a little slow and we just made it to our tour in time before they set off – we honestly both thought we’d missed them but we got lucky as they’d waited behind for a few minutes.


The Roman Forum itself is staggering. The scale of it is like nothing I’ve ever seen before and it’s completely impossible to try and describe just how big everything was. Close your eyes and imagine how big you think the buildings are. You’re probably wrong, they’re HUGE.


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Our tour guide for the Forum and Colesseum was excellent and, being a resident in Rome as well as an archaeologist, he really knew his stuff, so we learnt an enormous amount. I can’t fault the tour at all, it was funny, well constructed and informative, without being too “here-are-some-facts-I-churn-out-all-the-time”.


After the Forum we queue-jumped (thanks to being booked on a tour) into the Colesesum itself and this is where I will struggle to write a coherent sentence of any value because no words can describe it. The size is like nothing I have ever encountered before, the craftsmanship is mind-blowing, and the history seeped in its walls is so ancient that it left me looking around for a shadow of its previous life; the crowds gathered in the 70,000 seats and the fighters who laid down (and usually lost) their lives for entertainment.




I walked around trying to take it all in, overwhelmed by the simple fact I was there.




There. In Rome. At the Colesseum.

By the time the tour finished, we were exhausted. It was a few degrees cooler than the day before, settling at around 32 degrees, and we’d done a huge amount of walking. My feet ached, my legs ached and my back ached, so we slowly and painfully headed back to the hotel where we were met by a lovely surprise…




… the hotel had left some champagne and sweet treats in our room with a little note wishing me a happy birthday! This was totally unexpected and such a nice touch, plus it was also very welcome for two weary travellers, so we settled down into our seating area with a glass of bubbly in hand while we recharged our batteries to head out for the night.




We decided to have dinner that evening in Piazza Navaro which we had visited during the day as one side of it is lined with restaurants, then we strolled back to the hotel and up to the rooftop bar for a cocktail each to toast the end of my birthday.




It was the perfect end to an incredible day and I went to bed feeling like the luckiest girl in the world.



Check back tomorrow for Day 3…


(We made a video of our time in Rome, you can view it by clicking here or the image below)


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My 30th Birthday – A Weekend In Rome (Day 1)

My 30th Birthday – A Weekend In Rome (Day 1)

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!


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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.


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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.


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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)


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