Prior to arriving in Rome, I was warned about crazy drivers on the roads… well, our taxi driver didn’t care much for the legal speed limit and thought he was God on the road. Subsequently, we got to our campsite (Camping Roma) fairly quickly while thanking our lucky stars for arriving in one piece. At this point, Jess and I realised that over the day, we had eaten breakfast in Paris, lunch in Vienna, and dinner in Rome – how lucky are we!
The following morning we adventured around the city using the Metro, which is a breeze to use compared to the system in Paris. In fact, we rather enjoyed ourselves while getting to grips with it, which I’ll put down to European excitement. As the weather was unbearably hot, the numerous ice-cold water fountains scattered on every street corner were a greatly appreciated blessing.
Our first port of call was the Colosseum and its surrounding remains, along with the museum; it was a surreal feeling taking steps through history that I’ve only ever read about in textbooks. This educational afternoon was succeeded by a great gelato hunt. Being in Italy, you would think that we would be falling over the stuff, but no, it was surprisingly difficult to find. Perhaps we were looking in the wrong places, but through pure impatience, we stopped to buy some at a Chinese food store. Ah delicious pistachio, I’m sure you were totally authentic.
Back at Campa Roma the next day, I noticed a wasp nest while taking down my washing line. I was so delicately careful not to touch the bloody thing, but they are ninjas. I don’t have a great track record with wasps as I’ve been stung several times in amusing scenarios. This time, I managed to provoke the lot of them so from Jess’ point of view, I dropped the clothes and ran away screaming, scoring eight stings along the away. I ended up using cold water to numb the pain in true backpacking style.
That afternoon we met our tour group. We decided to join Topdeck as we wanted to enjoy seeing Europe in a fun and social way with no responsibilities, yet while still remaining some independence. However, we were under the impression that this was day one for everyone on tour which unfortunately wasn’t the case. As it turns out, we were joining onto an existing tour group that began eight days earlier.
Our tour guide Molly (from New Zealand) took us to the campsite’s pool to meet the rest of the 46 member group. As it turns out, EVERYONE was from Australia, except for one girl Julie, who traveled solo from Korea. In fact, a large majority of the group were from the same uni as Jess and I which is either a strange coincidence, or Topdeck marketed us very well!
It was a little daunting joining in at first because we were the new folks to replace those who left the tour yesterday. Friendship groups had been formed, and it felt like everyone had known each other for years – one couple had got engaged and announced a pregnancy already! However, Molly assured us that eight days ago when they started in London, they felt exactly the same and that we would be fine.
That evening we had dinner together which broke the ice a little and later on, we spent a couple of hours drinking and getting to know people which made us feel better. However, it was a low-key night as most people were still recovering from an epic night in Florence earlier in the week, where evidently, we ‘had to be there’.
The following morning, we departed Rome and drove six hours to Italy’s east coast, taking in some gorgeous Italian scenery on the way. Once there we boarded an overnight ferry bound for Greece. I was surprised with the comfort of the journey, as the ferry was well equipped with restaurants, bars, communal areas and a private en-suite cabin. After dinner in the restaurant, we enjoyed drinks out on the deck and more importantly, Jess and I passed our unofficial initiation test into the group.