Ok so yes today is technically 2 days but redeyes are confusing and everything is blending together so here we go: Day 0.
Step 1: Get to JFK
I really underestimated this part. It took me over an hour and a half to get to the airport. It should take less than an hour. Let's not talk about how much my Uber costs besides the fact that I'm glad MISTI is paying for it. Naturally, me being me, I planned to get to the airport 3 hours before so I still had plenty of time.
Step 2: Security
Pro: This took maybe 10 minutes woo. Didn't even have to take anything out of my bag. Really made up for the drive. Gotta love TSA PreCheck and online check-in.
Con: Got yelled at by the TSA agent for holding onto my phone instead of putting it in a bin. Guess I'm officially a Zoomer (for the record my boarding pass was on my phone).
Step 3: Wait.
Somehow I still got to the gate an hour before boarding. Enough time to make my first Instagram post :) Luckily Naksha got there an hour before me so I had some company.
Step 4: Flyyyyy
Ended getting some moderate-quality sleep for most of the flight which was nice. Shoutout to Delta for the free eye mask.
Viewssss: Jamaica Bay, the Rockaways, and Riverhead (Long Island).
Plus cool plane sunset.
Plane food reviews
Nilgiri paneer with rice and carrots, naan, cucumber tomato salad, and fruit salad
I preordered a vegetarian lacto meal (dairy allowed) for the flight. Turns out this wasn't actually necessary since they had 1 meat and 1 vegetarian option for both meals but I did get served early which was kinda nice. Dinner was served right after we took off since it was a 7:30pm flight. The nilgiri paneer had a bit of a kick but not too spicy. Slightly strange texture but overall good. Rice was fine. Carrots were a bit off. The salad was very good, which was surprising given it was fresh fruit on a plane. I only ate teh grapes from the fruit salad but those were also good.
Tomato mozzarella sandwich and fruit salad
Not exactly sure when breakfast was served since I was asleep but sometime close to landing. Have this sandwich for breakfast was a little confusing but maybe an Italian thing? It was very soggy and most of the cheese was stuck to the tin foil. Also pretty salty. Not the best but I was hungry so I ate it anyways. Only ate the grapes again from the fruit salad and they were still good.
Flight got into Rome an hour and a half early. Really making up for that traffic now.
Step 5: Trainnnn
Oh yes, there is a train review. Come on, this is my blog, what else did you expect? I don't exactly remember the factors but these seem to make sense.
Efficiency: Train station was right across the street from the airport. 40 minutes from Aeroporto di Roma Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci to Roma (the main airport) to Roma Termini (the main train station) which seemed pretty quick to me. Then only a 5-minute walk to the hostel. Sarah and Ava said the bus took about an hour.
Comfort, cleanliness, and aesthetics: AC but crowded. We got seats, which were much fancier than expected. I thought everyone would get a seat since we had to get tickets but apparently not. Some baggage storage but Naksha had to hold onto her carryon bag because all the bottom shelves filled up and the top one was too high for us.
Bonus factors: Friend, exciting new city, outlets!
Overall rating: 8/10 (Naksha said 5 or 6 but she also gave the MTA subway a 0.5 or 1 so...)
By the time we got to the hostel, it was pouring :(. I think Sarah's body language captures it pretty well. There might be a correlation between the amount of rain and the length of this blog post...also an opportunity to try an interesting tea flavor at the hostel: rhubarb licorice nettle (+/- Google Translate translation error). Would recommend. Instead of going to a cafe for a mid-afternoon snack, I made some toast with olive oil because that's all that was in the hostel kitchen.
Side Story: Waste Management (yes, it's still raining)
Delta actually sorted their waste for recycling and had reusable plates. I was very impressed. My surprise might also be proof that I have not taken an international flight in 2.5 years.
Italy also separates waste for recycling, although the colors of the bins are not always the same, which is confusing (trash was green in the airport because why not). Here are the trash bins at the hostel we're staying at in Rome. Slightly disappointed the orange wasn't compost but the colors made sense which was nice.
The rain finally stopped woo! We headed out around 3:30 for our 6pm dinner, giving us about 2 hours to just walk around and see things.
First stop: the supermarket. Because snacks are important when you're heading to dinner.
A few observations:
So. Much. Dairy.
There are many (many) other chocolate spreads that are not Nutella.
Eggs don't have to be refrigerated?? When in Rome, do as the Romans do or something I guess.
I got a mixed nut/dried fruit mix, Naksha got some nuts, and Ava got some (very delicious) dried apricots.
Conversazioni, a statue of Pope John Paul II at Termini Station notable for its lack of a body.
Cool building. Not sure what it is. Most of the other buildings on this street were different pastel colors, giving the street an interesting vibe.
Colosseum, from afar.
A calendar of hot priests??? Idk that's what Ava called it and she might not be wrong. Leaving this photo in for all the Fleabag fans. Let me know if you think Ava's right.
Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore
That famous Roman traffic. The lack of pedestrian crossing lights on basically all side streets really added to the experience. Luckily, we were 2 New Yorkers and a Bostonian.
"That's a lot of rocks." - Ava
"Nice rocks." - Naksha
Honestly, we all found the Pantheon a little underwhelming. However, that is partially due to the crowds and the fact that we didn't go in. Worth a visit, but not the highlight of our trip.
This was the plaza right by the dinner location. Really cool fountain with four characters representing what were believed to be the world's four major rivers at the time. Seagulls were also fans.
Welcome Aperitivo at Terrazza Borromini
After a little hiccup due to the rain and lack of communication from our hosts, we made it to dinner! And wow were the views worth it. Just gonna let the photos speak for themselves here. We also had yummy food: 2 types of lasagna (1 classic eggplant tomato and 1 cheesy spinach), Arancini (fried meatballs, 1 plain and 1 with truffles), mozzarella and tomatoes, bread and olive oil, Taralli (curly breadstick-like crackers), and olives. And sparkling white wine, of course. Side meme: the man at the door called us "mit Boston" several times when we were trying to get in which was very entertaining.
Exploring Rome Pt. 2 Electric Boogaloo
I got nocciola (hazelnut) and stracciatella (chocolate chip) because I was too tired not to be basic but it was still very yummy. More reasons to get more gelato later...
I was a bit worried this would be disappointing after the Pantheon. It was definitely not. It's huge. Especially impressive at night because of the great contrast with the lit-up white travertine stone of the fountain (fun fact: the same material was used to construct the Colosseum).
Some interesting things seen on our way back to the hostel:
"A cool door" - Ava
"MiT," a brewery/coffee shop/cafe. Not sure why it's called that, but we got a kick out of it.