03 June 2007

When in Rome -- dine with Simone!

Rome was amazing. After being the tour guide for Venice and Florence, it was Kelly's turn to lead us around Rome and figure out what to see. She did an awesome job and there was very little that we didn't see that we wanted to. What we missed we chose to because we had run out of gas. We spent the first day walking through the Piazza Navona, going to the Pantheon, which was my favorite, and walking along the Tiber while Kelly pointed out significant places. We also found our favorite restaurant in the world; Al Pietro.
It is owned by an Italian couple and he is the chef and she is the host. We found it in our tour book and it was highly recommended. When we went in at 8:00, we were the second couple to arrive in a restaurant that could only seat about 30 people and had a total of 9 tables; including the 3 outside. The other couple in the place was from Atlanta and we immediately began chatting. Our hostess served us fresh baked cheese bread topped with truffles and served us a drink of fresh basil, bourbon, cuointreau and champagne. It was nothing short of divine. She showed us the fresh pastas she made that morning along with the fresh veal cutlets, scallopine, sea bass, squid and prawns that had arrived that morning. Kelly and I shared fresh made fettuccini topped with homemade tomato sauce with bacon bits in it along with the veal scallopine topped with cheese and truffles. The wine was outstanding and the evening became more memorable as the other couples arrived. As the evening progressed a couple of newly weds from NY came in and we chatted with them and the Atlanta group before two guys from Denmark came in to celebrate the closing of their big business deal. The four groups took up all the tables in the front room and we were chatting across the room to one another. The guys from Denmark were drinking $150 bottles of red wine (I know it but I just can't remember at the moment) and consistently kept ordering them and pouring them to all in the room. They put down four bottles before Kelly and I bought a bottle for the room but it was a €25 bottle. The placed closed at 11 but we all stayed until one; except for the Atlanta couple.

The next day we toured ancient Rome, the Nevi fountain and the Spanish steps.
It was in ancient Rome that we ran into a guy doing a free tour for English speakers. He was amazing and we met him the next day for his tour of the Vatican museum. At the end of the second day we met my parents and promptly took them to dinner at the place we had eaten the previous evening. Yes, it was that good. The third day was spent in the Vatican. We slept till almost noon before getting up and heading over there.
The tour of the museum was awesome but I was somewhat disappointed by the Sistine Chapel. It was amazing, of course, but I thought it would be larger. I think it had been hyped up so much that it couldn't have ever lived up to the expectations they place on it.
Kelly and I were wiped out by the end of this. We took a taxi to my parents hotel where we picked up my mobile phone, which we had provided to them in Venice as a way to keep in touch, and had a farewell drink before heading back to the hotel to nap before dinner. Kelly and I had a modest dinner that evening and we were too tired to sit in the restaurant to finish the bottle of wine we ordered. So Kelly put the cork back in it and stuffed it in her big bag and we took it back to the hotel to watch a movie and drink our wine. We didn't even finish the bottle. We were too tired.

The next morning we got up early and caught a 9:45 flight back to London via Zurich. We touched down just after one and we went to pick up the dogs before collapsing on the couch. We loved the trip and can't wait to go back but we are glad we got all of the tourist things out of the way and now we can enjoy the cities the next time at our leisure.

I am busy again now and I have been assigned a client in Dubai; where I sit today writing this. I will be here on and off for the next three to four months in addition to trips to South Africa, Egypt and possibly Kenya. My work will keep me away from Kelly for at most two weeks at a time so it will be a hard next few months. Kelly and I will get some great trips out of this on the firm bill but it's hard being away so much. Dubai is amazing but it has too much construction going on for it to be really impressive.

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