Top 10 Rome Attractions

Oct 28


It is hard to pick just ten. There are endless sights to see in Rome and I highly recommend spending more than just two or three days in Rome. I happily stayed for six days and had a blast. I was lucky enough to stay near the Coliseum which I visited often. It was incredibly enjoyable to take a quick visit to the Coliseum before I went to bed each night. But now, here are the Top 10 Rome Attractions!

The Top 10 Rome Attractions

1. Trevi Fountain – The fountain is not far from the Coliseum and Forum. It is a gorgeous baroque fountain which has been featured prominently in several films such as Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. This fountain is very popular and during the day and early evening, you will have a hard time getting close to it. People crowd the fountain and won’t move their asses. Sorry just had a flashback. 🙂  However, it is worth the visit and a few bruises to your elbows. Don’t forget to throw a coin over the shoulder – I totally forgot. I blame the throngs of people.

Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy

Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy

2. Coliseum – This is THE place to visit in Rome. There is nothing else so impressive and awe-inspiring in all of Rome. The Flavian Amphitheatre started construction under Emperor Vespasian (of the Flavius family) in 72 AD and completed by Titus a decade later. It was built on the site of Nero’s Palace and the aim was to dissociate himself from the tyrant and to gain popularity by staging events such as gladiator battles and the massacre of animals. The Coliseum remained in use for 450 years but sustained damage in a lightning fire in 217 AD and an earthquake in 443 AD. Not long after, it ceased to be used for gladiator battles or animal hunts, possibly due to the rise of Christianity. The amphitheater soon was used for a multitude of things: a small church, a cemetery, housing, workshops and a castle during the next few centuries. In 1349, another earthquake caused great damage to the Coliseum causing the outer south side to collapse. Stone and marble were pillaged from the Coliseum for centuries and after the earthquake, much of it was used to build churches and other buildings in Rome. Even the bronze clamps were hacked out of the walls, leaving holes that you can still see today.

I will recommend a “Skip the Line” tour for the Coliseum. The lines are exceptionally long all day long. This way you get to skip the line and you get a tour guide during the tour inside. Do not miss the interior of the Coliseum – it is spectacular! There are many options online – Viator and expedia are two top choices.

Coliseum, Rome, Italy

Coliseum, Rome, Italy – right around the corner from my hotel

3. Basilica of Saint John Lateran – This is the Rome’s Cathedral and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome, who is the Pope. It is the oldest and ranks first among the four Papal Basilicas of Rome. It was built in the 4th century AD under Pope Melchiade.

Basilica of Saint John Lateran, Rome, Italy

Basilica of Saint John Lateran, Rome, Italy

4. Museo Nazionale Romano (National Museum of Rome) – There are many many fantastic items to see at this museum. My personal favourite is the Disc Thrower – a Roman copy from the 1st century AD of the lost Greek bronze status by Myron circa 450 BC. The Romans made many copies of Greek statues and we should be quite thankful since most of the Greek originals have been lost. The Romans copied the statues in marble which was cheaper than bronze. This copy in the Rome museum was discovered in 1906 in the ruins of a Roman villa at Tor Paterno.

Disc Thrower, Myron, Roman copy of Greek bronze, 1st c. AD, Museo Nazionale Romano

Disc Thrower, Myron, Roman copy of Greek bronze, 1st c. AD, Museo Nazionale Romano

5. Roman Forum – Aside from the Coliseum, the Forum is other super amazing place to visit on my Top 10 Rome Attractions. It is situated right beside the Coliseum and it was the central area of ancient Rome.  Commerce, business, religious affairs, justice, prostitution and all other affairs took place in the Forum. The funeral of Julius Caesar and Mark Antony’s famous oration took place in the Forum as well. This view was taken from Capitoline Hill.

Roman Forum, Rome, Italy

Roman Forum, Rome, Italy

6. Pantheon – This is one of the best preserved buildings in all of Rome. It is a Roman temple built by Emperor Hadrian after the Pantheon of Marcus Agrippa burned down in 80 AD and dedicated to the pagan Gods around 118-125 AD. The Pantheon stands today because Emperor Phocas gave it to Pope Boniface VIII in 608 AD and it was used as a church. Below is the tomb of Renaissance painter Raphael. Several Italian Kings are buried here as well (Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I).

Pantheon and the tomb of Raphael, Rome, Italy

Pantheon and the tomb of Raphael, Rome, Italy

7. Capitoline Hill and Museum – The Piazza del Campidoglio has several museums that make up the Capitoline Museum. A copy of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius is in the courtyard with the original inside the museum. There are numerous items in the museums from the Dying Gaul to the Capitoline Venus to a courtyard filled with fragments of the Colossus of Constantine. I particularly enjoyed posing beside his giant head and hand. 🙂 Below is the She-Wolf of the 5th century BC. This is a symbol of the city which dates back to the Etruscans with the twins added in the 15th century (Remus and Romulus – the founders of Rome).

She-wolf in Capitoline Museum, Rome, Italy

She-wolf in Capitoline Museum, Rome, Italy – 4th century BC but twins added in 1400 AD

8. Vatican including Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica – You cannot visit Rome without taking a trip to another state, Vatican City to visit the Vatican, its museums and basilica. Below is the magnificent Sistine Chapel, painted by the equally magnificent Michelangelo in the early 16th century and returning to add the Last Supper thirty years later.  Funny, Michelangelo did not want to paint the Sistine Chapel as he considered himself a sculptor before a painter. His David statue is a testament to his sculpting prowess but he underestimated himself as a painter. His work in the Sistine Chapel is breathtaking.

Sistine Chapel, Vatican

Sistine Chapel, Vatican

9. Spanish Steps – 135 steps to heaven! This incredible staircase was built in the 18th century. This is another very busy part of Rome. If you can stop by at night, do so.

Spanish Steps, Piazza di Spagna, Rome

Spanish Steps, Piazza di Spagna, Rome via Wikipedia

10. Appian Way – An ancient road in Rome that at one time, stretched 563 km from the Roman Forum to modern-day Brindisi. You can find numerous tombs in the catacombs on the Appian Way, another must-see on the Top 10 Rome Attractions!

Appian Way, Rome

Appian Way, Rome via Wikipedia

There is the Top 10 Rome Attractions. There are many others you can put on this list such as the Piazza del Popolo, Villa Borghese and Museo e Galleria Borghese. Those are also great Roman attractions.

What was your favourite part of Rome?

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How to Find Cheap Flights

Oct 21

Cheap Flights, Air Canada

Last minute upgrade to first class on Air Canada – not really a cheap flight but oh so delightful

Booking a flight yourself is A LOT of work. All travel-related booking is a LOT of work. Most of my trips have been planned by myself (see Germany; Italy; Russia; Greece; London). But if you want to find the best prices, this is the way to go. Below are some good tips on how to find cheap flights. Before I get into what resources you can use, let’s start with what YOU can do before researching your flights. Below are tips and practical advise on how to find cheap flights.

How to Find Cheap Flights

1. Flexibility – Be flexible with your travel dates. Flights are cheaper on certain days (during the week) so if you can be flexible with your dates, that is one of the most important factors in how to find cheap flights.  FareCompare says Wednesday is the cheapest day.

2. Book Early – I find booking early is a good way to get great prices. I book at least six weeks prior to travelling and sometimes even more. I booked all my flights for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics which starts in February in late August/early September. For big events, you have to book months in advance. I almost waited too long but the flights I wanted popped back up and it worked.

3. Multiple Airlines – Do not become attached to one airline. You should really be open to flying on other airlines or even multiple airlines during the trip. Mixing airlines can be cheaper.

4. Open Jaw – Flying into one city and out of another city is an open jaw ticket. These can be cheaper than flying in and out of the same city. So again, do not be attached to one airline or one city. You can mix and match your airlines and cities that you are flying in and out of. I have flown open jaw twice in the past couple of years: I flew into Athens and out of Rome in 2011 while also flying into Paris and out of London last year. The prices were cheaper than just flying in and out of the same city. Plus you can cover more ground if you do not have to return to start city.

5. Connecting Flights – Yes connecting flights are cheaper (somehow). So if you want a cheaper flight, take that flight that has two connections instead of one. It will be cheaper. Me? No damn way; I have no problem paying a bit more so I don’t have more connections but I’m a nervous flier and do not want to be getting on and off more than the minimum amount of flights that I have to. Yes even after all these years, I am still a nervous flier.

6. Smaller airports – Sometimes flying into a smaller airport can be cheaper: see Gatwick compared to Heathrow in London. This may be related to the airline you are taking as they fly into certain airports only (when I flew to London on my first trip, Air Transat flew into Gatwick only – still does).

7. Sign up for email alerts or notifications – Airlines and flight websites will send you an alert for deals on flights. You can even set up an alert for a particular route. Sign up for their newsletters as well; like them on facebook or follow them on twitter. Flight deals get posted everywhere.

8. Frequent Flier – You can become a member either via the airline itself or maybe with a credit card or hotel. Sign up for all rewards programs that you can. Most airlines and hotels have a reward program and are usually free to join. You can bank quite a few points or even end up with upgrades when you fly.

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

Top Websites to Use

Now: which websites should I be visiting each day? Where are the best deals? Honestly, this is a LONG list. There are many resources you can use. I will pick my favourites.

1. Kayak – This is a great resource. It searches multiple websites to find you the best flights. You can search +/- 3 days, filter by many options such as take off time, airports, cabins, aircraft and price. This has become my go-to resource for flights. Other sites that are similar (search multiple websites) are: MomondoSkyscannerVayama, Travelocity, and one that I have started using (which I love), Hipmunk. You can set up alerts with most of these as well; that is how I found my Sochi to Prague flight via Turkish Airlines back in August. I had given up hope that this flight would ever appear again and poof, I received an alert on kayak and I booked my preferred route. I like how Hipmunk displays its flights – a grid that you can filter by price, duration, departure and arrival times, and many others.

2. Expedia – I still use Expedia from time to time (especially for booking skip the line tours) but rarely book my flights through them any more. I can find better prices and routes elsewhere. I am not sure when it happened but I found their flights are not great anymore. Do not use this as your only resource. Use it only with the above list.

3. Airfare Watchdog – another great website for setting up alerts.

4. Directly with the airlines – You always should check with the airline’s website directly before you book any flight. You may find a cheaper price (I have) than the above. Also, make sure to check numerous times during different times of the week and day. Prices change quite often. One more thing of note: clear your cache/cookies often. That may affect whether the best prices show up. Also, you can check with an airline’s website in another country. I personally have not tried this but know of those who have found cheaper flights (it’ll charge you in a different currency).

5. Rewards Programs – Have you signed up for any rewards’ programs? You should do this with airlines, hotels, credit cards and so on. Most are free to join and if you use them enough, you will earn enough rewards to book flights and hotels. Recently, I used my credit card rewards (Visa) and booked my flight to Moscow (and return from Prague – hey, an open jaw) through their Avion program. Also check to see if your airline is part of a larger program – Air Canada is part of the Star Alliance with a long list of airlines (including Turkish Airlines) so if you use those other airlines, you will get points for one program. You can really bank points this way! My trip to Russia will include Air Canada, Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines and all three are part of the Star Alliance. Ch-ching – more points please!

These tips should give you a really good start to booking your own flights and how to find cheap flights. Obviously, your home base will play a large factor too.

Unfortunately, my home base in Edmonton, Canada plays a large part in my limited flight options. Air Canada suspended the direct flights from Edmonton to London for January to March 2014. Luckily for me, I had already chosen to fly out of Calgary which is three hours to south of Edmonton. I chose that because the flight I wanted had only one connection to Moscow and Edmonton had nothing less than two stops.

So go forth and book a flight. Here is an older post on surviving overseas flights to check out as well.

So what is your top tip for finding a cheap flight?

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Capture the Colour 2013

Oct 08

Thank you to Aryn from Driftwood and Daydreams for tagging me in Capture the Colour 2013 Contest from Travel Supermarket. This was quite a few weeks ago so I have procrastinated long enough. Time to start digging through my pictures and selecting the top picture in the following colours: yellow, blue, red, white and green. This is one of those times I dread digging through the thousands upon thousands of photos I have taken during my travels (mostly to Europe) but this was a lot of fun. Here is my entry into Capture the Colour 2013!


Berlin Wall Germany

Berlin Wall, Berlin, Germany

This is one of my favourite travel pictures – the Berlin Wall. At the time, I was simply snapping pictures of the Berlin Wall. I was in awe of the Wall. The fact that the beautiful yellow tree is in the picture and looks so gorgeous beside the Wall is an accident. Germany was absolutely breathtaking in October. Go, enjoy and drink beer.


Venus de Milo, Louvre, Paris

Venus de Milo, Louvre, Paris

One of the most important pieces of Greek art – the Venus de Milo (Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty or Venus to the Roman).  Created around 100 BC, it was discovered in 1820 on the island of Milos in the Aegean Sea. It rests in the Louvre in Paris now which is home to quite a few famous pieces of art (hello Mona Lisa); however this marble sculpture is equally impressive.


Stonehenge, EnglandStonehenge, England

Stonehenge, England

A beautiful sunny day in England on my first overseas trip saw me stopping at Stonehenge for an afternoon. Impressive is really the only word that does justice to this picture. Impressive! I listed this on my London Top 10 list Part 2 simply because you could not be that close to Stonehenge and not visit.


Vancouver 2010 Olympics - Gold for Men's Hockey

Vancouver 2010 Olympics – Gold for Men’s Hockey

I was lucky enough to snag tickets to the hockey gold medal game at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Canada. I held onto that ticket for over a year, hoping that Canada would make it to the gold medal game. They had a very rough preliminaries, had to go through a qualifying game against Russia (which I attended as well and enjoyed a significant and one-sided victory for Canada), checking the scores each night hoping they had won the quarterfinal and semifinal games. They did and I was there for the gold medal game – Sidney Crosby, the best hockey player in the world right now, scored the overtime goal (THE GOLDEN GOAL) and in this picture, he is waving our national’s flag. There is no better RED than the Maple Leaf in our flag!!


Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

I have been incredibly lucky during my travels for great and sunny weather. I have hundreds upon hundreds of photos I could use for this but I will select the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. Why? I have no idea but I do remember that day – it was my first time seeing and touching the ocean (hello Atlantic Ocean) and I was thrilled. It was just a great day. This photo has a slight filter on it but seriously, the photo came out almost perfectly. Oh and the Irish have awesome accents. 🙂

There is my entry into the Capture the Colour 2013 Competition. I nominate the following people whose sites I stop by quite often (not sure if they’ve been nominated yet or done one up; I think this contest closes tomorrow) – Miss Adventure; Roadtrip Girl; Off the Path; Vagabonette; and Traveling Canucks!

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