Well I finally made it! This is my final day-by-day post covering my trip to Europe this past September. Reaching the end of these posts is somewhat bittersweet. I’ve really enjoyed putting together these detailed, full-day recaps for each leg of our trip to Europe, but I also look forward to being able to return to posting about my day-to-day life on a more regular basis. (Lots of time and effort went into sorting through all my Europe photographs and prepping them for the blog!)
After one night on an airplane, four nights in Paris, five nights in Florence, and three nights in Rome, we awoke on our final full day of the trip to a perfect warm Italian day with lots of sunshine and temperatures in the 80s.
After enjoying the free breakfast in our hotel we took the metro from Termini to Flaminio. Our first stop was the Piazza del Popolo, a large urban square in Rome.
Another couple asked us to take their picture by the Fontana del Nettuno in the square, and then they returned the favor for us. Actually we’re weren’t verbally asked, per se, since we didn’t speak the same language as our fellow tourists, but holding a camera out and pointing to the button seems to be a pretty universal sign for “please take my picture”!
Yeah, that’s us.
Yet another 13th century Egyptian Obelisk in Rome, taken from Egypt.
Our next destination was our only other item on the agenda for the day! Given that it was our last day and I was still feeling quite under the weather, we gave ourselves a light itinerary.
And that big destination was the Villa Borghese, a spectacular park in the heart of Rome, with a 3.5 mile circumference. This place was HUGE!
Shortly after entering the park, here I am, wondering if I am going to make it through the day! We strolled slowly through the park at a most leisurely pace, and took many rests.
We walked down a pathway to see a fountain in the distance more closely. Upon further inspection, the huz was not impressed. Seriously, this fountain had about 1/2” of water in half of it, and the fountain was spraying about three inches in the air. For some reason we found this hysterical.
We just walked and explored and it was so much fun!
The park was so large that many of the people we saw were employing means other than their legs for getting around – which may or may not have included Segways, bicycles, tricycles, carts with pedals, and horse-drawn carriages. I tried to take a picture, but only got horse butt. Fail.
Boats were also available for rent at this pond.
After being at the park for a couple hours, we kept seeing signs with an arrow pointing toward a “bioparco.” We don’t speak Italian, but had a feeling that “bioparco” might mean “zoo,” so we kept following the signs for a long time! Finally, believe it or not, we randomly came across a ZOO in the middle of Rome!
To put things into context, we are big zoo fans and have been to many around the world; including Detroit, Toledo, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, St. Louis, Belize, and more. And so to randomly encounter a zoo in the middle of the crazy urban city of Rome just seemed wild – and perfectly timed – for us!
The Bioparco di Roma was a very nice zoo and as it turned out, we mostly had the place to ourselves!
We watched this silly guy sticking his trunk out of his gate for a solid 15 minutes. He just seemed to be desperately grasping for anything edible – dead leaves, straw, sticks, anything – and then would carry it to his mouth. Meanwhile, not 20 feet behind him, another elephant had just been fed and was basically enjoying an all-you-can-eat buffet while this poor guy was completely oblivious.
These meercats were beyond hilarious. I love the little guy laying on flat his back, letting it all hang out.
Tortoise lunch time. Nom nom.
Japanese Macaques, grooming each other:
By the time we made it back to the metro, it was late-afternoon. We headed back to the hotel to rest and start packing before dinner.
Dinner was chosen by going for a stroll through the streets near our hotel, near Termini Station.
Ristorante al 39 was the place we chose! I must reiterate how much I love that the restaurants in Europe (well, at least in France and Italy) post their menus at the door.
We dined on the patio for our final dinner.
I ordered wine – look at the size of that glass! We each received an amuse-bouche of tomato bruschetta as well.
Then, given it was our last night in Europe, we absolutely had to go in search of gelato! (Which it turns out was not as easy a task in Rome as it was in Florence!). Mmm!
After dinner, we slept for a few hours before being picked up by a taxi around 3:45 AM and heading to the FCO airport. We ended up being WAYYYY earlier than needed (after a FAST, 90 mph cab ride to the airport which scared the bejesus out of me!) and sat around forever, in a deserted airport.
Several hours later, we took a 90 minute flight to Paris (CDG), where we had a layover for a few hours. After going through customs and some crazy terminal hopping, we ended up in the super bourgie 2F terminal, featuring Ladurée and an oyster bar.
There were slim pickings in the dining department, and we ended up with some super expensive to-go food from a food stand, which for me was an Indonesian noodle-y box with peanuts which was surprisingly delicious, yet small-portioned and wildly-overpriced. Sorry no pic! This was sort of our breakfast/lunch.
Next up, it was the dreaded 8 hour, 45 minute flight from CDG to DTW. Many passengers were running late, and the plane waited for them, which pushed our departure time up another 45 minutes, too. (Yikes, more time sitting in the dreaded airplane seats. I feel especially bad for my 6’4” huz in these situations.)
We tried to sleep but it just wasn’t happening.
Luckily, our Air France flight had small TV displays at each seat. I read an entire book, watched two full movies – Sleepless in Seattle and The Five-Year Engagement – and listened to the entire Dark Side of the Moon album once or twice. Plus we were served a meal after departure, and another meal a few hours later. Phew. It was just soooo long, I was really starting to mentally go a little crazy, I think.
Finally, finally, finally…
…after much anticipation, we landed in Detroit around 5:00 PM, took a cab ride home, and made it safely to our house by 6:00 PM. Which felt like midnight to us. Then we ordered Domino’s pizza. As if we hadn’t had enough carbs over the last two weeks – pizza, pasta, bread, gelato. That’s what we like!
Over the course of our long, long exhausting day of travel, my cold “broke,” or vastly improved very quickly. I got on the plane congested and head-achy, and got off the plane with no congestion! Unfortunately, also over the course of our long day, the huz got on the plane feeling healthy, and got off the plane with a head cold that had developed. After five days of me becoming ill, getting worse, plateauing, and resolving, we thought he was out of the water but we were so, so wrong. He ended up being sick for a few days after our trip as well, while I was feeling so much better. But overall the cold was relatively mild, so if that’s the worst thing that happened, we have absolutely no room for complaint!
I certainly hope that you’ve enjoyed reading my trip recaps as much as I’ve enjoyed composing them! I am next planning a summary post of our entire trip in a nutshell, as well as some posts covering how we packed and prepared for the trip. If there are any specific topics or questions you might want covered, feel free to leave it in the comments, and as always: