Pompeii, Rome and Vatican City – Contiki Mediterranean Quest Tour
It was another early morning departure for us – this time, we said goodbye to Sorrento in order to head back north to Rome, but not before stopping to see the ruins of the ancient city of Pompeii.
We arrived in Pompeii and met up with our tour guide for the morning. He was great and kept referring to all the ancient city’s food storage areas as their McDonald’s. Aside from that, he also gave us a lot of great information on just what happened to this ancient city. The city of Pompeii existed just 5 miles from Mt. Vesuvius. In the fateful year of 79 AD, Vesuvius erupted and sent a 250 degree heat wave into the town – the eruption destroyed a population of 20,000 people instantly, as there was no time to flee. For about 6 hours after the eruption, it rained down ash (about 7 metres worth) which preserved the city exactly as it was left.
After our tour, we left the ancient city of Pompeii to go to Rome! As soon as we arrived, we wasted no time, and immediately set off to explore the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. These two areas are less than a 5 minute walk from one another and just jam packed with amazing evidence of what Ancient Rome looked like. We couldn’t get over the size and grandeur of the buildings – especially the Colosseum. The Colosseum was built in the first century, and only took 8 years to build. This was due to the hard work of many slaves who had to help in the construction. The original structure was covered in marble and could hold somewhere between 50,000 – 60,000 people!
After our sightseeing, we checked into our hostel and headed out with our Contiki friends for a group meal. At the restaurant, Desta had asked for a glass of wine but the server must have forgotten. She checked in a little bit later, and the server felt so bad he came back to the table with a full bottle of wine and poured as much as he could into her already large glass. We all cheered and the night got that much more merrier. After dinner, we set out for another little walk around the city before heading back to the hostel for the night.
Day 2 – We had our breakfast and then it was time to briefly depart the city of Rome to venture into the world’s smallest country, Vatican City. We entered the walled city with our tour guide (along with thousands of other tourists) to get a look at the world renowned Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. You’re not allowed to take pictures (or talk really!) in the Sistine Chapel – so, you’ll have to take our word for it that the paintings in the church done by Michelangelo are really amazing. We did snap some photos of other art scattered throughout the Vatican museums that we’ve included for your viewing pleasure.
St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world, truly lived up to its name! It was huge and the inside furnishings and paintings were so detailed. On our way out, Dermot also spotted a few Swiss Guards, presumably doing a great job guarding the basilica for the Pope. Good times.
After leaving Vatican City, our tour manager took us back through the city of Rome to some of its other great sights, including the Trevi Fountain, which was unfortunately under construction (but Desta made a wish anyways!), and the Pantheon.
After such a long day of sightseeing, you would think that would be it for us, but this also happened to be our final day on our Contiki tour, so we returned back to our hostel to get changed into our newly acquired t-shirts for our I Heart Roma/Contiki farewell/t-shirt signing party. We got the night started by teaching the group a little drinking game (we were pretty proud of ourselves). The rest of the evening was filled with so many laughs, drinks, and selfies. We didn’t want it to end!
Day 3 – Although the night ended pretty late, we woke ourselves up early to bid farewell to our Contiki friends (our part of the tour was over, but many would be continuing on a larger tour all the way back to London). We had such a great time on our Contiki tour and made friends that we are so excited to keep in touch with and visit in the future. This tour was just another reminder for us that the joys of life and travel are meant to be shared. We loved sharing these past 10 days with such an amazing group of people, and we feel so lucky that to have all these new friends all over the world!