A Cuppa Cosy Winter Holiday 2019 – Rome The Final Days

And so, we come to our final “what we did” post of our Winter Holiday. Our trip was jam packed from start to finish, although there was a definite difference to the second half of our trip. Vatican City was a nice way to “break up” the week we were there as that trip was about halfway through. We’d covered most of the Tourist Spots in our first few days in Rome (read that HERE), we covered Vatican City at that halfway mark (you can read that HERE), then Ancient Rome (one of my absolute FAVORITES read HERE)and now all we had left was New Year’s Day and then some.

So, a quick brief breakdown, Day 1 was spent at Castel Sant’Angelo, checking into our Bed & Breakfast, The Spanish Steps and The Trevi Fountain. Day 2 was spent at Piazza Navona, The Pantheon, and Piazza del Popolo. Day 3 was spent at Santa Maria in Aracoeli, The Alter of the Fatherland, and Quirinale Palace. Each day also consisted of a lot of just walking the streets of Rome- you see so much more by just walking around and you get such a great feel of the place. Day 4 was spent at Vatican City walking the halls of Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica. Day 5 was spent going back in time to Ancient Rome and discovering what life was like in a vastly different era. So, that brings us to New Year’s Day and Day 6 of our trip…

A Cuppa Cosy Winter Holiday - The Final Days

Day 6: New Year’s Day

Oh, New Years in Europe. New Years in Europe is like nothing I’ve experienced before. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t that big of a New Years party goer, but saw the Times Square parties on TV and have heard enough to stories to have what I think is a good idea and I can tell you… the United States doesn’t have much on Europe. And most of the celebrations continue through to the next day. The streets on New Year’s Day are full of celebration, most places are closed, and the atmosphere just feels fun!

We started off the New Year with a breakfast at The Loft, where we had previously eaten. Ate some delicious food, drank some delicious coffee, and then headed out to a very exciting event. We were able to attend the Pope’s New Years Day Prayer. IMG_5054Now, the prayer is actually the Angelus and he will also give a reflection on the Gospel of the day, and on the day that we were there, some additional commentary. Here’s a secret, you can go to this most Sunday’s at noon and participate in this very special moment. I have included a link to the commentary that he gave on New Year’s Day (HERE), and you can view his “schedule” HERE to check if he will be doing the prayer while you are there (if this is something you are interested in). The entire prayer and comments lasts about 15-20 minutes and he speaks into a microphone from the window to the right of St. Peter’s Basilica. It was an incredible moment, so moving and you could feel everyone around you just being swept away by his words and his speaking. It’s something to be experienced, whether you are religious or not.

After the address we decided to further our religious experiences and head over to the Great Synagogue of Rome.

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This Jewish Quarter is one of the oldest, most intact in the world and the Roman Synagogue and Museum reflect both the community and the history. There has been a Jewish presence in Rome since at least the 2nd Century B.C and the museum, located in the basement of the synagogue, displays the history of the community, several artifacts through the history, and is a wealth of information about the traditions and rights of passage of the religion. For me personally, having grown up in a Jewish family, I found it really welcoming and heartwarming to see so much of what I know in such a positive, beautiful light. It was neat to learn some facts about the history of the Jews in Rome and how they were saved during World War 2. Before we get into that, first you need to know that Rome is the ONLY city in Europe to never expel it’s Jews. Did it try to convert them? Yes, there was even a Jewish Ghetto in the 16th century, but it never expelled them (and the Ghetto was abolished in the 19th century- the last in Europe to do so). When the Germans occupied Rome in 1943 the Jewish Community was told it could be saved by giving 50kg of gold. The was given to the Germans and included contributions by non-Jews as well, but the agreement never ended up being upheld. About 2000 Jews were still sent to concentration camps.

Admission to the Museum includes admission and a short tour of the Synagogue.

The Synagogue itself is incredible, dating back to the 19th century and  featuring several different styles which you can see simply by looking from the ground up to the ceiling. You can see the various cultural and design elements (including Spanish, Egyptian, & Roman) and it feels like a good representation of what the community is now. After all, it is an eclectic meld of a wide variety of people from all around Europe. It also features a square aluminum dome which causes it to stand out amongst the other dome’s and, as such, is easily identifiable.  The Synagogue has been visited by 3 different Pope’s, the first of which being a surprise visit in the 1980’s (and marked the first visit since the early history of the Catholic Church).

Finally, we spent our first night of 2020 watching the Sunset over the Roman Forum.

I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it for a really long time, Roman Sunsets are incredible. I’ve always just really been a Sunrise fan, but this trip in particular reminded me just how beautiful a sunset can be.

Day 7:

Our final day in Rome was one that we weren’t really sure what to do with. We had almost the entire day to explore and weren’t quite sure what else to really do. Most of our “big ticket” items that we wanted to see we had seen, so we decided to just jump on the subway, pick a random spot and explore from there. Lucky for us the “stars aligned” and we wound up at Villa Borghese Gardens.

Listed as the third largest public park in the city, it’s a little haven of beauty in the city. Dating back to the early 17th century, when Cardinal Borghese decided to turn his vineyard into an extensive set of gardens. Within the gardens there is The Temple of Aesculapius, which has a beautiful lake around it and a Piazza that has been turned into a dog park, but was previously used as an equestrian track. There is also the famous Galleria Borghese (that you need to purchase tickets in advance to see) and its garden, the Villa Medici, which now houses a French Academy, a replica of the Globe Theatre, and a Zoo.

We wandered through the Gardens, which was a really nice little nature break, saw the Water Clock and Temple, stopped by the Borghese Gallery, and then headed to the Zoo. This is the Exposition Zoo, which features minimal caging and contains a little museum. I was really surprised by this zoo, the number of animals it contained, and how well cared for they were. Some of the things that I am normally concerned with in terms of zoo’s, were handled well at this particular one. The boys really enjoyed their time there, noting the Elephant, Snakes, and Crocodile as their best and worst animals (the crocodile because it was “scary”).

These couple spots seemed to be the perfect way to end our trip, which worked out well because shortly after our Zoo visit we headed to the train station and made our way back home.

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The entire trip still feels so incredibly surreal and one that I really loved. In my first post, I talked about how we handled this holiday a little bit differently than our Summer one and I can definitely see the benefits to both ways of traveling (the go, go, go vs. take it easy and truly vacationing). We just had such a lovely time and, yet again, a dream trip come true.

I hope that you enjoyed coming along with us! I hope I’ve done it just a little bit of justice for you.

Round the Kettle Ep 3: The Real Deal

I feel like whenever we have a coffee with friends, we always start with “So, how’ve you been?”  Seems like a good enough place to start these new posts, right?

So, how’ve we been?

***There is a reciprocal conversing bit to these posts, so tell me in the comments below how you’ve been and we can have a conversation!***

I’m sitting here, steeping a cup of a loose-leaf tea blend that I’ve really been enjoying lately called Fireside Plum, listening to a band that I’ve recently discovered called Imaginary Future. I really like their music and the duets they do with Kina Grannis. I would describe the music as alternative/acoustic/folk/soft love ballads (yep, it really took that many genres to narrow it down). The boys are tiring themselves out with loads of wrestling and playing, I can hear the giggles coming from our living room as I type. In fact, I should probably go check on them as giggles are more often than not a sign of something in the trouble realm…

Wednesday was Halloween. Quite the event for the kids and my least favorite holiday. I like the excitement that the kids experience and watching that, so that’s the good thing about it. This year the boys were Gecko from PJ Masks (if you’re a mom, you know) and The Cookie Monster from Sesame Street. We did end up going trick or treating this year, even though the kids are still a little too young to understand the idea (Colton is kind of on the cusp though). What were you or your children for Halloween this year? Do you do trick or treating or a party for Halloween?

Saturday, we decided to venture “into the city” and hit up the Zoo. The Zoo is always a big hit with our boys (and well really with anyone) and we definitely got quite the show from the animals. It’s really fun to watch the boys get excited over seeing the animals and we just enjoyed having a nice family outing. We get the luck of being able to attend The National Zoo off of a really pretty stretch of road (or at least the scenic route to the zoo is really pretty, going through the city is a different story…) and this was probably our last trip. One of our favorite bits about this particular zoo is the Orangutan Habitat. IMG_7742They have a “rope course” across the zoo where they can travel up in the air from one enclosure to another. Similar to how they would in the wild. It has got to be one of the coolest things to watch. When was the last time you went to your local zoo? Do they have a local attraction that you really love?

In terms of us and life, we are in an endless holding circle right now it seems. There are things that need to be done for our move, planned for, but we can’t as it’s either too early (seems crazy coming up on 3ish months) or we are waiting for other companies/people. It creates its own hectic/stress feeling and has to be the worst period of time when it comes to moving. We are both just ready to be getting to the moving and traveling bit (although I’m sure when we get to that part with two young active children, we are going to wish we were at the next part).

So, to combat that endless circle feeling, we’ve been trying to get out. Get out of our house, get into nature, different activities, go adventuring. Enjoy the parks and wildlife that we have around us. We’ve got a great park at the end of our street, a backyard area that is not only beautiful, but teaming with all sorts of creatures, and just generally in a nice area for the kids.

***Also, both boys are now at an age where adventuring out without a full diaper bag, or a huge bulky stroller is totally a possibility. It’s become a much less daunting chore to get both boys ready, fed, and out the door and we aren’t in such a rush to get back to the house, to meals, to naps. It’s made a huge difference to our days and our activities. So, if you are a mom who is maybe in the 2 under 2, or just have a really young child, it will get better. That stage isn’t very long and leaving the house will feel much easier soon!***

The great thing about having young kids is they are experiencing life for the first time, this means a simple walk in the park, which works wonders for me, captivates their attention and fascinates them! The colors have been beautiful, and it’s not been too chilly.

IMG_4692Fun fact: September through December is my all-time favorite time of year. We get the beauty of the leaves turning and falling, the crisp coolness of the early morning, gorgeous sunrises poking through the trees, hitting all of the vibrant colored leaves. Then everything slowly turns chillier, barer, until that first magical snow fall. It’s just such a wonderful and magical time of year. I’ve come to realize that Autumn just feels like my soul has been embodied by everything around me.

So, tell me, how’ve you been? I’m not really sure how these Round the Kettle posts are going to shake out (they definitely won’t always be this long or this “family update-y”), I’m sure they will take their own format as we go on.