I woke up tired then ever because I only slept for three hours and before that, had months and months of constant work. But I was so excited because Anita and her brother were picking me up and in a few hours we would fly from Trieste to Rome. Freaking Rome! The place I wanted to visit since I started studying art history 5 years ago. In my mind, the only thing I could think about was taking millions of photos and getting lost with Anita through beautiful streets and cute little coffee shops. I was so excited in the morning that I forgot my charger and an extra battery for my phone. But I didn’t care, the only important thing was that I packed all my photography gear, three extra batteries and 5 memory cards. Gotta be prepared.
We Arrived in Trieste around 6 am and had some time to kill before our flight, so we went outside for a cup of coffee and a smoke (Anita doesn’t smoke, I’m the only one guilty). I always loved taking self-portraits and in recent months I’ve started doing it more often. But unfortunately I couldn’t take my tripod with me because it weights around 5 kg and my shoulders would probably kill me. Now I know for a fact that they would because in 5 days, we walked 96 miles and I don’t know which part of my body hurt more. But I managed somehow when it came to taking my advanced selfies.
Earlier this year I bought myself Converse shoes. Basic black ones with high ankle, for working and so on. What a mistake that was. My feet were killing me after few hours on the field, not to mention how much they hurt when I came back from Prague. So I decided to invest into Adidas cloud foam. My dad ordered them online and they came to my address evening before traveling to Rome. I was so excited to wear them, because my mom has the same ones and she’s never taking them off. Unfortunately for me, they sent one shoe 38 and the other 39… So an hour before all stores closed I got myself these white Nikeies. I managed walking in them for a day, then just quit and wore moccasins I got from H&M. I can’t even describe how much my feet hurt. People, if you wanna visit Rome, invest in some really, really comfy shoes.
I flew by plane once in my life before this and it was 10 years back (omg 10 years already, I’m getting old), when I visited London with my parents. I can’t remember being that scared of flying, but this time.. Oh my, every time the plane would shake for a bit, I though ”Yup we’re gonna die.” I don’t own a TV and actually never watch it, even when I’m visiting my parents, but the last movie I saw on TV in Giulia’s apartment while she was getting ready for a night out was ”Non-stop” where Liam Neeson fights some terrorist in a plane full of people or something like that. Doesn’t even matter, the movie was happening on a plane and everybody was freaking out so yes. I was scared af. Hahaha I know it’s stupid, I’ll overcome it in time. But no matter the fear, I was still persistent in taking badass photos from the plane window. That really calmed me down. And Anita who talked with me for an hour and saying ”You know there’s more accidents on the roads than in the air?” and I was just like ”I don’t care, if you’re on the ground, you’re on the ground, but here… Where would we go if something happens?!?” So yes I was a big pain in the ass.
We arrived at Rome in just an hour, but it felt like the longest one hour of my life. Because airport is a bit further away from the centre of the city where our hotel was, we had to take the bus for a few stops. While waiting for that bus I smoked around three cigarettes to chill a bit. They were the most delicious ones I had in forever. The check-in was at 2 pm, so we left our stuff at the reception and decided to find something to eat. Everything, and by that I mean literally everything was so expensive. I suppose if you live in Rome you already know some cool places that have way cheaper food and coffee, but when you’re a tourist, a hungry tired tourist and only thing you have is your iPhone navigation, you’ll satisfy with anything. So we found some okay place with sandwiches, took two, and chilled in the shade for an hour, just to restart ourselves.
One of the most amazing things about Rome is that you can have clean water from any fountain, so you don’t have to buy overpriced water every few hours. We bought ourselves weekly tickets for 24€ each and with those, you can ride in any public transport you like; bus, metro, train, anything. We walked like crazy people and Anita in one moment said ”I think we wasted our money with buying these”, but after two days and literally walking everywhere, we quit and drove. So tickets weren’t that bad idea after all.
After getting lost for a couple of hours and eating at McDonald’s because we were still hungry, we went to the hotel for a check in. Anita specifically asked for a room with a balcony because we were overhyped to take some amazing photos there, while drinking coffee and eating our breakfast in the morning. The nice lady Marianna that worked at the reception, showed us to the room and said ”You wanted one with a balcony?”, both of us smiled and responded yes, excited to see the view and everything, but unfortunately for us, the balcony was covered with scaffolds and you could barely go out on it. We were totally disappointed, but started laughing because what are the odds that they’re gonna renovate the facadeof the building in the middle of tourist season. I was just happy because I could smoke and drink my morning coffee on that poor balcony.
Anita unpacked her stuff and changed her clothes while I took a power nap. I was so exhausted from everything, I just couldn’t keep my eyes open. Every time I nap in the afternoon, I wake up with an abnormal craving for sugar and coffee, so we found some cute coffee shop with fresh juices, smoothies and muffins, I ate my sugar and we spent the rest of the day scouting for locations. The plan was going to bead early and waking up really early to bypass all the tourists and crowds on important places we wanted to see and take photos of.
Gossip Girl scene- sipping our ice coffee on the steps. What a badass moment. This could also be a Nike commercial-”Everybody has them, even Instagram girls that don’t do sports.”
Every now and then when I see an amazing frame I could capture, I wait until there’s no traffic on the street and stand in the middle of the road until I get what I want. I get so into shooting that I forget cars are coming by, so people would horn at me, calling me crazy and gesticulating I’m out of my mind. But hey, anything for a good photo right? (Don’t worry mom, I’m always careful)
Just sittin’ here, pettin’ my lion.
Our last stop of the day was Pantheon. It was way too late and we couldn’t come inside, so we just found some cool place beside it, chilled and enjoyed our Italian gelato. This was the first one out of ten more we ate here. If you’d ask Anita, she’d eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and every meal in between. Square in front of the Pantheon was always full of people, and we would come here every night to just sit down, talk, listen to people playing live music, sounds of the streets and taking it all in. I must say this is the first time in my life that I actually went on a trip and didn’t go out every night, drink and sleep for only two hours before we had to get up and go through all museums and galleries. I mostly travel with my college group of art history, but four of my friends and me are always the worst kids and we wanna get the most out of every trip, so no matter how tired and exhausted we are, we would go out every night, come back to the hostel an hour before the breakfast, sleep for that hour, eat whatever is left then continue with the group. So this was a totally new and refreshing experience for me. I was so tired at the end of every day I don’t even think I’d have that little energy to go out at night. Bed was my best friend.
The next morning we woke up quarter to 5 am… My soul screamed ”Just let me sleep”, but I slapped myself mentally and said to myself ”Stupid girl, you’re in freaking Rome, get up! Adventure waits!”. So we got ready and went out in search for coffee and food, because I’m not functional before my morning coffee. We found some coffee to go and sandwiches that were so old and disgusting I just wanted to go to McDonald’s. I know you’re judging me for McDonald’s, but it’s really hard to find good food when it’s your second day in Rome! At McDonald’s at least you know what you’re getting.
Our first stop was the Trevi fountain. We came around 6 am and it was full of people! I mean are you all crazy? (Asks the person who did the same thing). But somehow we managed to find a good spot for our photos. Anita is a total fashion queen that brought eight outfits for the trip in a suitcase that’s smaller in dimensions than my pc screen. You girl are a pro, no doubt. When we were shooting this, she had three or four outfits with her and she changed in some allies while the cars were passing by. I was so amused hahah. You have to be a real badass person to do this and she didn’t even blink. By the time I took her photos at the Trevi fountain, people cleared out a bit and I found a sweet spot for my advanced selfies. No tripod remember, so I took one of Anita’s spare shoes and adjusted my camera for a perfect shot. I’m over pleased with myself and the photos I took.
The first one is a self-portrait and second one was shot by Anita. Because I didn’t explain how focus works on my camera all the photos have sharp background and blurry Stella in them. Canon focuses in the middle of the shot when you look through the viewfinder. So for shifting focus the easiest way is turning on live view on your display and taping on the subject you wanna focus,as soon as you tap the screen, he takes the shot. 5D Mark IV magic. I love him to death. In this post I’ve decided I’m gonna share only travel photos of beautiful places we visited, plus a few spontaneous shots of Anita while she wasn’t looking. The photos we took for her blog and Instagram are so badass I wanna do a whole blog post with only those photos.
After our productive morning we went back to the hotel where I took a power nap. Of course I did. The plan for the rest of the day was beaching at a sand beach in Ostia, a little city one hour drive from Rome. So we packed our stuff and chilled there for the entire day and as you could guess, I took another power nap. The city was beautiful, but the beach was closed off with fences, so we struggled a bit to find the entrance. If you wanna beach there, you have to get yourself umbrellas and a deck chairs, so we invested 20€ in two chairs and an umbrella. I wanted to tan asap and I didn’t put any sun screen (stupid girl), so I went for a swim (first swim this year) then fell a sleep in the harsh sun. Two days after the beach I’ve noticed I have sun burns. My arms scratched like crazy and were red like my nail polish. The only bad thing is that the beach closes at 7 pm. and of course we were the last ones to go, because we loved it so much and wanted to stay forever. Since we didn’t have anywhere to make our morning coffee and had to actually step out of the hotel before having one, we decided to visit a big supermarket in Ostia to get some ice coffee for the rest of our more mornings here and keep it in our little fridge we had at our hotel room. That was probably the best idea we had the whole trip. The supermarket was fairly cheap comparing with ones you have in Rome, so we bought ton of food, veggies and of course wine. My favourite foods during the Summer is bread, mortadella and sweet-salty tomatoes. That was exactly what I had for dinner that day. The only problem was that we didn’t have a knife to chop up the tomatoes, or a plate to put it on, so I managed. I tore the tomatoes apart with my hands and made myself dinner plate from Pulll&Bear bag. Little barbarian I know, but the craving was real.
The next day was a complete disaster from the beginning. We went to Circus Maximus only to find that it’s in a terrible shape, full of garbage, not properly presented, intervened on by the locals, trying to make a concert and event place out of it. My morning coffee was terrible. And we barely managed finding the right bus for returning to centre and were lost between the lines for a good amount of 45 minutes. Since the last time we visited, Pantheon was closed, we decided to give it a go today only to find that the service is on and God knows how long it’s gonna last. So we sat there for an hour, eating gelato, then just quit and continued with other things we had planned. We took the bus to Borghese Gallery surrounded with beautiful park and decided we’re gonna visit the exhibition. I was so excited because Borghese Gallery keeps one of the best works of my favorite painter- Caravaggio and notorious sculpture by Gian Lorenzo Bernini Kidnapping of Proserpine. The gallery was unbelievably crowded because it was Sunday, and we had other things to see before the world cup football match, so we chilled in a park. It was really a beautiful place, and I decided I’m not going home without seeing Caravaggio and Bernini ”in person”. Anita got us the tickets for Colosseum, Palatine hill and Roman Forum so that was our next stop.
In the middle of the tour, my Canon’s batteries died. All of them. I think it was around 40 degrees outside and they were emptying faster than they would in normal conditions. I was pissed because I wanted to take some close ups of old columns before we go. Thank god the ticket had a time limit of two days, so we could go back tomorrow and see everything we missed. After short visit to the hotel to get my batteries charged and changing from sweaty clothes, we were determined about finding some pub we could watch the world cup game. On the streets, we saw a few people wearing Croatian jerseys, so we followed them to the Metro like two stalkers because they looked like they knew where they’re going. Fortunately, they were extra kind and invited us to join them in the pub. The game was really intense and we screamed so much that I actually lost my voice. We won the second place and were really sad about the outcome because we were really close. The night ended with Anita and me sitting at the Spanish steps, drinking wine, while some two pain in the ass Italians were trying to talk to us and being boring af. That was our cue, so we just went back to the hotel. We couldn’t believe what a terrible day this was and just took a shower and went to sleep.
Waking up after a day like that was really hard. I was unbelievably tired. In the morning Anita told me some alarm went off during the night and woke her up every now and then. I didn’t hear a thing because I believe I was in a state of coma. Plan for the day was visiting Vatican. I was excited out of my mind, because I wanted to visit the Sistine chapel since I first knew who Michelangelo was, and that was around the age of thirteen. As always hungry and craving coffee, we sat down at some local coffee and sandwich shop where I had the most terrible sandwich of my life. The bread was so hard my teeth started hurting and the people were really rude to us because they didn’t wanna speak a word of English. I mean, if a place is a tourist place, it’s in your best interest to learn most basic sentences in the most universal language in the world and that is English. But it wasn’t that much of a surprise because I’ve experienced this at other parts of Italy too. Since our day started like this I was actually scared that everything will go south again.
Near the entrance to the Vatican Museums, some guy approached us and asked if we wanted a guided ”skip the line” tour for the museums for 35€ . It sounded like a reasonable price, and since we didn’t buy the tickets in advance we said yes. What a terrible mistake that was. Not only that we waited in line for two and a half hours, our guide was terrible. I don’t think that woman passed the most basics of art history. We came at the entrance and she wanted to actually skip the line, started arguing with other tour guides, gave in at the end and we stood in line forever under the most harsh sun. Luckily, we met some two cool guys from Australia and spend most of our waiting time talking to them and complaining about the ripoff. They told us they actually paid 57€ for the tour. We didn’t tell them our price, because I believe they would kick someone’s ass. The Vatican Museums are one of the most beautiful places I visited in my entire life and I’ve done my fair share of galleries and museums. The whole tour lasted for four hours and since our guide talked nonsense, I just took off my earphone and explored the place by myself. I was amazed by how many important things she just passed by. I got lost three times and Anita had to search for me. I know all tours of this kind share the most basic tourist information, but there are so many incredible little details about the art pieces that could make the tour much more exciting and interesting. I was really disappointed and decided next time I visit the museum, I will get myself a student ticket for 8€ and pay for museum’s own guide. You get a little device, press numbers according to the piece of art you wanna listen about and you’re there at your own pace.
After three-hour walk through crowds and crowds of people, we were waiting in line for entering the Sistine chapel. You aren’t allowed to take any photos inside or speak loudly and you can’t even stay longer than five minutes because so many people are entering the chapel every second. My legs started shaking and my eyes were full of tears. The whole scene of The last judgment and the ceiling itself were done by Michelangelo’s hand. I haven’t seen anything like that in my entire life.. The place looks like a portal into another dimension. The figures are unbelievably realistic, so realistic that one of Australian guys asked me ”Is that a sculpture or a painting?”. I almost fainted. Yes, Michelangelo was that good. So good that you can’t even tell the difference if you don’t know anything about it. He was the first artist pronounced a genius while still alive, and by that act he broke all traditional believes that painters and sculptors were just tradespeople. In that moment, art was born. What I loved most about the tour is that you get so tired from tying to squeeze out of the crowds and you walk and stand and your legs hurt and everything is so tight between rivers of people and in that one moment you exit everything through huge doors only to find you’re standing in the epicenter of Christianity- the porch of Saint Peter’s basilica in the square of Vatican. Writing this my whole body immediately stared getting goosebumps just like it did then when I realised where I’m actually at. There are moments in your life you just ask yourself ”What the actual f** is happening and where am I? Is this even real? Oh my God.” This was one of those moments.
Our tour guide abandoned us in front of St. Peter’s basilica and said were on our own for exploring. Thank God. We spent another 45 minutes inside the basilica where we saw Michelangelo’s last piece and that is Pietà, covered with bulletproof glass because someone tried to shoot it a few years back. People are seriously insane. I couldn’t feel my legs hurting or the hunger, or a craving for a cigarette while we were inside and I didn’t smoke for 4 hours straight. I was amazed by the size and the magnificence of the basilica. I couldn’t leave before we entered the catacombs where I actually saw the grave of St. Peter and the remains of Constantine’s basilica from 4th century. I even touched one column. I was close to excitement I felt when I touched Matt Berninger’s shoulder on The National concert one month before the trip.
Exiting the catacombs my feet started hurting again, so I took of my shoes, sat down and smoked a few cigarettes, just taking it all in before we were on our way back. It was such an incredible experience for me because I’m studying art history and we repeat these things over and over again, we know the little details and learn about this, but never see it in person. I must say I appreciate everything much more now when I saw it in person, and I finally realize why about some artists we learn in detail and why some we only mention. You can notice the difference only when you see everything in person, when you can see all the spreads of paint on the canvas, their unique writing, strokes of the brush or carvings in the marble. I’m over grateful for this opportunity and I can really say it changed me deeply.
We were on the edge of our strengths, tired and hungry. You can’t find any decent food in Vatican under 15€ which is way overpriced for us, so we decided for the one thing we love and enjoy most- McDonald’s. We searched for one for a couple of minutes with our iPhone maps and in one moment Anita just said ”There it is!” and I was like ”Where?”, ”In front of you, are you blind?”. It didn’t look like McDonald’s at all. I love how they incorporated the building to match the old buildings in Vatican. It had huge windows and McDonald’s sign was golden and curved. We ate so much food we barely managed to get up, I was specially pleased with the fries that had cheese and bacon topping. Praise the lord.
Since we still didn’t visit the Palatine hill and Roman Forum and our entrance tickets lasted only a couple more hours, we decided that will be our next stop. A thing that saved us and brought us back to life was delicious ice-cold gelato we ate after McDonald’s. I’ll never forget that.
It was a bit cloudy in the afternoon so it was way easier to live though the day. But the Forum was something else. All I could do while walking through the remains of old temples and houses was thinking about how people lived back then and about everything they did. I’m just gonna shut up for a moment and let you enjoy the photos I took there.
A big wave of happiness just came over us and we couldn’t feel the pain in our feet anymore. We talked about how we could walk for another hundred miles if we wanted to. Anita had a long orange dress and played Roman while I took her photos with her phone. She said she wanted them just as a memory to show her grandchildren. We had so much fun. Even though we were exhausted, we still didn’t wanna go back to the hotel, so we decided to hang out at our favorite place- Pantheon. Of course we had one more gelato and talked for hours while people were singing and playing songs from Coldplay and Pink Floyd. It was a perfect evening. The only two things we still didn’t do was eating pizza and pasta. On our way back to the hotel, some guy approached us with a menu filled with all kinds of pizzas, so we just said yes and asked for the table outside. It started raining, we were sitting outside, laughing at ourselves while drinking free prosecco as a treat for saying yes to the offer. The pizza was delicious and we took what’s left for breakfast. Rain started falling heavily on our way back to the hotel, so I just gave in, took off my shoes and walked a few miles barefoot. It was the best feeling in the world.
We decided we’re gonna wake up really early to miss the crowds and take some cool photos at the Spanish steps. So we sat the alarm for 4:30 am. When I first heard the alarm I’ve noticed it’s raining outside, so I just turned around and continued sleeping. Anita is a rare type of person who wakes up at the first alarm. When she woke up, the first words that came our of her mouth were: ”Pizza.” I laughed so much and then continued sleeping until 5:30 am.
We knew it’s too late for Spanish steps and they’re gonna be overcrowded anyways, so we decided to visit all the places still left unseen, and tomorrow before our flight, we would wake up really early and take some photos, then take the bus to the airport. I said I’m not leaving Rome before I visit the exhibition at Borghese Gallery and that was the first place we went. If you’re an art history student, the entrance is 2€ , BUT, they won’t let you pay that price if you don’t have certificate from your college. So if you only show them your student card you pay 8€. I said fuck it and paid the student price and I didn’t regret it for a second. Seeing Bernini’s work in person was probably one of the most amazing things that ever happened to me. They’re so realistic and human it amazes you and you can’t move a bit. Also Caravaggio.. When you look at works from other painters, you can actually see the brush strokes on the canvas and the way they shape the figures. When you look at Caravaggio’s work you can’t see a thing. Everything is a shiny straight surface and the painting looks more like it’s printed then painted. I was getting lost around the gallery for hour and a half while Anita was waiting for me in the park. I bought two books about Caravaggio and ton of presents for my girls and myself of course.
We drank our coffee and were on our way to the market, because you can’t leave Rome without some really dope shots at the market. But before that, let’s take a moment to enjoy the overload of cuteness we witnessed at the Borghese park. (Also, if you wanna drink a good cup of coffee in Italy, ask for cappuccino, always.)
The market was really cool, they sell absolutely everything and have Macedonian fruit salads for really cheap price. Of course I had one, because from all the shit food I ate during the last couple of days, my body was craving vitamins. At this market some of the most amazing photos were created.
Our next stop was Trastevere, a little neighbourhood in Rome know for its cute little restaurants and coffee shops, way less tourists and beautiful streets. We were determined for finding some cure restaurant and have pasta for lunch. That was the only task left for accomplishment so we can go back home and say ”Yes we did everything; pasta, pizza and gelato, the Italian way.”
But before the pasta, we ended up at the most beautiful botanic garden I’ve ever seen. We spent 3 hours there and took so many amazing photos I just can’t keep it together. I actually can’t wait to publish the photos of Anita’s outfits next Wednesday on the blog. The locations match perfectly with every outfit she planned out.
Hungry and tired again we started searching for our pasta place, but we couldn’t find one since this part of Rome wasn’t that much of a tourist place, so we just called it a day and decided to return to the Pantheon as always. We were sure we’re gonna find some cute restaurant for lunch. And that’s exactly what happened. We had delicious pasta, I drank my fourth Cola for the day (I know I’m an addict) and went to find that our favourite gelato place by the Pantheon was closed. We thought of a conspiracy theory; an owner of gelato place beside the one we would always go to, killed the owner because his gelato was better+ cheaper and the other guy didn’t have any traffic. We lost our minds completely and started laughing to ourselves. So we found another place, had ton of gelato and spend countless hours sitting by the Pantheon just enjoying the energy of the place. That was our last night in Rome and I’ve realized I’d never be bored here, even if I came to the same place every night for the rest of my life. There’s just something about the people and old vibes of the city, feels like the city for me. I wondered if by some time I would start taking everything for granted, if I actually moved here, but I don’t think I ever would.
My heart and soul were full or love and positive energy, of happiness and gratefulness, joy, just overall joy for having the opportunity to travel to the place I always wanted to visit. But there was one more thing we had to do before we went back home- taking badass photos at the Spanish steps at dawn, before any tourists came. Determined as always we got up really early, drank our coffee and soon were on our way to the Spanish steps. By arriving there I just started hysterically laughing because no one was actually there (just a few crazy vloggers/bloggers like us). I was happy out of my mind. We didn’t have any time for hesitation, so Anita changed her clothes and we started shooting. Ugh I’m so freaking excited about these, I have to share some of them! I just have to!
HOW YA’ LIKE THEM ORANGES?
We did it all. We actually managed to do it all. On our way back to the hotel Anita sprained her leg and could barely walk to the airport. Her leg doubled in size, she started shaking and I was really scared she would faint in the plane. I wasn’t sure whose gonna faint first, me or her. The flight was of course terrible. I sat in the middle with one old dude by the window, with breath so bad even the best ones would puke. I listened to mind washing minimal to calm myself down while old grandpa laughed at my fear of flying. Midair stewardesses were offering beverages and perfumes duty-free, so the old guy tested few of them in front of my nose. I almost fainted from 10 different smells I had all mixed up inside my nose. Walking out of the plane I was praising the lord again. We had to wait for three hours before our next bus from Trieste to Rijeka, so we got ourselves some pizza, I gave Anita the Canon to rate all the photos she wants me to send her and I just took a big towel from my suitcase,put it down on the floor of the train station and fell a sleep. No fucks were given.
Overall, this was probably one of the most amazing trips ever, full of ups and downs, adventures I’ll never forget. Thank you Anita, thank you Rome, and thank you God for the fact that our plane didn’t crash. I hope you enjoyed this ramble. Thank you all so much, I love you to bits. S.