Mia goes M.I.A. Ancient Rome

Screen Shot 2017-08-21 at 3.37.17 PMWhen I walked down the streets of Rome, I couldn’t help but imagine the history of the ancient world that once called these roads home. More than 2,000 years ago Ancient Rome was one of the most powerful cities in the world. A city controlled by emperors, watched over by gods, protected by gladiators. Taking a walk through the streets of modern day Rome is almost like taking a walk back in time.

In a city with so much history there is a lesson to learn at every turn and so I decided to join a City Wonders tour to discover as much of these ancient wonders as possible.

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The tour took me through the walls of the Vatican, where the art of Michelangelo truly takes your breath away. Shivers were sent down my spine as I looked up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The colours and detail that were painted thousands of years ago remain intact and vibrant to this day.

I then walked from the Vatican to St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world and another true masterpiece. The floors covered in beautiful marble, the walls decorated with priceless sculptures, and there in the centre the most astounding chapel. The ceiling here is so high it can actual fit the entire Statue of Liberty. It is a sacred place, where only the Pope himself is allowed to pray because below these floors lies the burial site of Peter himself.

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I then traveled even further back in time as I stepped into the Colosseum walls. The massive stadium which housed 65,000 Romans took only eight years to build. While most of the building has been lost in time, it was once a grand stadium decorated with life size statues and covered in marble seats. Where gladiators would fight beasts and crowds would watch in amazement. As a sports journalist trying to picture this time was interesting for me, since this is where my industry technically started although I do not believe they had any sideline reporters back then.

The tour finished in the Roman Forum. I walked through what was left of the grand palace, past the homes of gods, and even laid eyes upon what was left of the memorial marking the spot where Julius Caesar was cremated. It was during this part of the tour that my guide mentioned something truly amazing, that this is just the part of the ancient world left on the surface.

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“Rome is like a lasagna”. Those were his exact words. Instead of tearing down the old, they would just build the new on top, meaning that the majority of ancient Rome is still hidden below the surface. In fact, only 6% of Rome has been excavated and a whole world still waiting to be discovered.

With new homes and buildings on the surface, excavating the area has become a lot harder, but with archaeological advancements there is hope that more of the past will be uncovered.

As I walked back to my hotel I couldn’t help but wonder what was laying underneath me. Was it beautiful sculptures? Was it pieces of the ancient palaces? Was it stunning marble floors from old homes? The truth is, these questions may never be answered. The truth is the ancient past of Rome may remain in the past forever.

 

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Mia goes M.I.A: Making the most of a short trip

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Trying to explore a country but don’t have a lot of time? Well I have some tips for you About 9 years ago I took the trip of a lifetime with my best friend. Two weeks exploring eight countries in Europe. As you can imagine 14 days and 8 countries didn’t leave us a lot of time to explore the beauties of each one but instead get little sample sizes.

Yet despite being in some of the most beautiful places in the world like Switzerland or Austria for approximately 24 hours, we truly made the most of each experience and had the opportunity to see some of the main attractions these countries had to offer. We also had a chance to experience local culture and lifestyle. Planning a short trip? Here are some of my tips on how to make the most of your time.

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1) Have a game plan 

When we were in Rome for less than 48 hours we wanted to see the Vatican, Roman Forum, and the Colosseum, seems like a lot right? Not if you plan ahead. We bought skip the line passes ahead of time. Despite going on a busy Saturday, we waited less than 20 minutes.

If you have some “must not miss” places on your list, plan ahead. See if you can skip the line, or if there are tours because they will always get priority access. Try and research to see if some attractions or places are less busy early in the morning or late afternoon. That will save you time which is precious when you are on a short trip.

2) Don’t be afraid to go with the flow

When we were in Paris for one night, I really wanted to see the Eifel Tower sparkle at night time, but my friend didn’t want to spend our whole 20 hours at the tower, so we compromised. We climbed the tower during the day and saw some stunning views of the city, and at night time we went to see a show at the Moulin Rouge. The show was incredible and I really got to experience even more of the Parisian culture in a short time.

Things are always going to come up, whether it’s a group disagreement, closures, or bad weather. Be ready to not get your way especially if you are only there for a few days. Instead make the most of what you do get to experience.  Hey, if you didn’t get to see the Eifel Tower sparkle, just means you will have to take another trip to Paris someday. At least that is what I tell my boyfriend.

3) Don’t Rush 

You aren’t going to see everything, unless you have found a way to clone yourself (If so, show me your ways). For example, when I was in Amsterdam I really wanted to see both the Anne Frank House or the Van Gogh Museum. Instead of rushing through the museums in hopes of seeing both, we decided that Anne Frank was more up our alley. We were really able to explore the entire museum, listen to our guide, and appreciate the history. I was so glad we had a chance to explore one museum to the fullest.

When you have a limited time, you may feel the need to rush around town in hopes of seeing everything, but if you do that, you won’t really het to see anything. By making compromises you will really get to enjoy what you do see. You will get to truly explore and learn about the areas that you do make time for.

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4) Logistics, logistics, logistics 

On our trip, my friend and I made sure we took the first train or bus out every morning. This ensured we would have a full day and night exploring cities.  We purchased our tickets ahead of time, and would check to make sure everything was on time. When you have a short amount of time every minute is precious, and you don’t want delayed transportation to affect your trip.

Make sure to do your homework ahead of time. Make sure everything is running on schedule and what will be the quickest way to get to your next destination or attraction you are visiting. The more you know before you go, the less time will be wasted on figuring things out.

5) City tours are your friend

When we were in London for just two days we decided to plan a trip on a hop on hop off bus. We had a chance to see all the major attractions like Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, etc. in only a few hours. Plus we had a knowledgeable tour guide giving us information.

With so much to see and do in such a short time period, it’s nice to have someone else do the work. They know the best routes and the history. You get to sit back, relax, and take all the pictures your finger can handle.

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6) Plan to return 

There is an old myth that if you throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain in Rome you will return there one day. I made sure to do that because a day and a half in Rome was just not enough, and guess what, I will be going back there this summer and I cannot wait.

The best part of a short trip is you get a little taste of what the incredible city has to offer, and it just makes you want to come back for the whole meal. You get to see which parts you really loved, and find out more about cities that you would love to go back and visit for a longer time. Let’s just say it is an appetizer ahead of a main course.

I hope these tips help you plan a short trip of your own. No matter how much time you have, you can make the most of any vacation and get a glimpse of the beauty this world has to offer. So get out and explore. Bonne Voyage!