D-day is nearly there! Yay. I will be hanging out an Out Of Office on my blog very soon but I will check in now and then with a sneaky picture or post if I have the time.
The easiest way to fly to Rome from Mauritius is with Turkish Airlines via Istanbul. A 9 our flight, followed by a 3 hours transit and then a 2 hour final leg to Rome. Actually easy considering the 5000 (and some) miles we will cover. The transit times with Turkish are so much better than with Emirates via Dubai. Husband is a bit grumpy that we don’t fly the A380, but a 3 hour stop compared to over 5, is no brainer for me. So TK it is!
I don’t take much with me in the plane (even for the kids) – but here is how I organise myself:
- In my cabin bag: A pouch for all our travel related papers (hotel bookings, travel insurance papers, all our plane tickets, copies of our passports and other papers we might need as husband is not EU citizen, I always carry stuff just in case we are asked by the customs). Camera gear also goes in there, my kindle with a couple new books and my phone charger.
- In my handbag: passports with boarding cards, landing cards (if needed), a black pen, my phone.
- Pictures on my phone of our passports – just because I have 4 landing cards to fill out at times and I can’t be bothered to sit with our passports.
- Hand cream (I love the small tube by l’Occitane en Provence) and lip balm.
- Finally: candy – one bag for the kids and me to share… and one bag for the cabin crew!
We land in Rome in the morning and I love that because it gives me the whole afternoon to get out and enjoy the city.
I have got some quotes for transfers between the airport (FCO) and the hotel. Intra-muros there is a ‘non’-meter fare of €48 by taxi – but outside the city walls it is on the meter. Our hotel is like 50m outside the walls, on the other side of town – so I preferred to book a transfer – in a limo it’s from €55 to €65 one way. We could also take the train to Termini and then find a taxi – but we are flying with 2 kids and 1 month worth of luggage, so I can’t really be bothered.
I already wrote about how overwhelmed I was to get myself organised for our Rome visit. The first thing I did: I got myself a guide book – I bought ‘DK Eyewitness Travel’ for Rome 2017. It is very easy to use – with maps, visitors checklists, history of Rome, timelines etc. It really did help me to get a sense of the city.
Then I started to organise our visits:
- Organise the no brainers
- Organise days by area
- Find the restaurants
- Kiddos factor
The No Brainers (for me):
- The Vatican. I read up quite a bit about guided visits. Early visits with breakfast (7am), after sunset visits with cocktails – I mean you can do anything, if you just want to pay! Then I decided to go on the Vatican Museum website and see what they had available. Even though it is quite a big chunk in the ‘visit’ budget I decided to book the Vatican by Train tickets. I booked the only option left (a month in advance): The Vatican Full Day Plus and it includes: early entrance to Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, Vatican Gardens, Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo and the Gardens of the Pontifical Villas (Villa Barberini in Castel Gandolfo). €141 for 2 adults, 1 child, 1 free as under 6. It starts at 8am and finishes at 6pm. We are however missing on the list: the St Peter’s Basilica and other points of interest close to the Vatican such as Castel Sant’Angelo so we will have to come back on another day.
- Forum, Colosseo, Palatine Hill. That is another big visit and we are setting off a day to do it. (€12 / adult – free for kids). We probably won’t be needing that but then we can do something else.
Organised our visits by area
I decided to breakdown our visits by area. I know I want to visit the Capitoline Museums for example. I select the area on google maps, and see what are the other points of interests that I can do on an easy walking tour. My list for the Capitoline Museums looks like this:
– Piazza Campidoglio with the Capitoline Museums (€15 / per adult with up to 2 children)
– Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli and staircase
– Victor Emmanuel Monument
– and then extras in case I have more time (temple of Jupiter…).
Then for all the places I have selected I have quickly taken notes of opening/closing times and days. Nothing worse that scheduling something and turn up and it is closed because it is July! Most of the sites open around 8:30-9am which is nice & early and close around 7pm – some of them (most!) closing for lunch (from 1pm to 4pm) – It means that the days are long but you can get a proper rest in the early afternoon. I always find it hard to know how many things I will have the time to look at, simply because I don’t know the city and how much the kids (and the husband) can take!
Once I have my areas I look for the places where we can potentially eat. Food in the family is very important – and I am not spending a week in Italy to eat bad food. I generally look for reviews on blogs, Tripadvisor, Google ratings. As a rule, I take the top 5% of trip advisor and look at the restaurants. I put them on the same google map as the attractions and I end up with 6-8 to choose from in one selected area. We will choose where to eat once we are there. I download the offline Google map on my phone and I have the addresses of the restaurants – it is then easy to find the ones close to where we are when it is foodie-time. I also find that the offline google maps work really well.
Of course it is Rome so I also looked for Ice Cream Shops for the kids and coffee stops for the parents – Aperitivo times have to be covered as well!
City tour with the kids:
We are, as I said, travelling with the kiddos, therefore I need to plan for small stops, so I don’t get too much moaning. For me, a destination like Rome, is all about organisation and also flexibility. We have 5 whole days and 2 half days for our visits. I have 11 areas, but 1 whole day already set off for the Vatican, 1 day for the Forum and co. So we will have to see what we have the time to do.
Then I also have planned 1 day Big Bus Tour – so I can still get the kids around without too much complaining. I have been looking at the Roma Pass – but I cannot really decide if it is worth it or not, so I will see how it goes.
I have no idea if my planning will work – I hope so because it took me quite some time to come up with a system I could use. But if any reader has some tips or link for reviews on something special please hook me up and leave a comment! If I went completely wrong please tell me also, so I don’t waste my time.
So there we are! Time to start packing and get everything ready.
Here is an example what my maps look like!