HopeTravels Part I :: ROME

Lifestyle

Just over a month has passed since returning from my first trip to Europe—Italy, specifically. After processing my thoughts and going through 1200+ photos, it feels like a distant, magical dream— one of which I am excited to finally share with all of you!

View of the Vatican from the rooftop gardens of Hotel Atlante :: Summer 2015

View of the Vatican from the rooftop gardens of Hotel Atlante :: Summer 2015

While contemplating what direction to take this blog mini-series, so many things came to mind: New friends, exciting adventures, stretches of curiosity, respect and kindness between complete strangers over hundreds of thousands of miles.

A renewed faith in the hope of humanity, in helping those foreign to your world and your way of life; love and light, smiles and an unspoken understanding of the world in that moment, deriving from the sheer excitement of crossing paths with a kind stranger that you may never meet again— all of these things come flooding into my memory when reflecting over my recent travels.

Streets of Italy :: Summer 2015

Streets of Italy :: Summer 2015

I’ve never been one to make a pun on my own name. Truthfully, its bothered me my entire life as the hope jokes and pick-up lines roll in continually. But after my trip, “HopeTravels” seems more than appropriate. Of all of the sightseeing, new friends and experiences, I’m still amazed at the overwhelming feelings of the warmth & welcome from everyone we met while abroad.

The Colosseum :: Italy :: Summer 2015

The Colosseum :: Italy :: Summer 2015

If I didn’t have a severe case of wanderlust before this trip, I most certainly do now. From the people, to the amazing food and the incredible historic sites, I came home feeling fortunate and enlightened. Traveling absolutely broadens your horizons, and I learned more than I could have ever expected through these new experiences.

With our new friends from Birmingham, UK :: Italy :: Summer 2015

With our new friends from Birmingham, UK :: Italy :: Summer 2015

I could go on in detail for days about the explorations and adventures of my holiday, but there is no better place to start than from the beginning. As many of you followed the Facebook documentation of my travels, you witnessed the hiccups of missed flights and the redirection of our adventures through Miami and London, and then finally on to our final destination, Rome.

The London Eye at dusk :: Summer Travels 2015

The London Eye at dusk :: Summer Travels 2015

When using the term adventure(s), I assure you, there is no other appropriate term to describe our travels.  As we navigated these new cities and cultures, challenges did arise, but when you have the opportunity to visit three major world hubs, it doesn’t seem to matter. You take advantage of it. You go with the flow, and problem solving is second nature.

The 48 hours spent in Miami and London were whirlwind experiences. With no luggage or knowledge of either city, we just kind of “winged” it— making friends and cramming in as many sites and as much fun as possible. By the time we actually got to Rome, I felt like we’d been traveling for weeks, but that didn’t matter either. We’d finally arrived in ROME!

London ---> Rome :: Summer 2015

London —> Rome :: Summer 2015

I remember stepping off of the plane somewhat tired and so ready to reunite with my luggage— but overwhelmingly, I was excited!

If it weren’t for the graciousness and generosity of so many, our trip wouldn’t have been the same. Fortunately, Claire, Kate & I had a fairy godmother/travel agent, Becky, who essentially planned the trip for us, set everything up at our hotels and connected us with some locals, Alex and Michela, whose help was invaluable!

Adorable shop on a back street in Rome :: Summer 2015

Adorable shop on a backstreet in Rome :: Summer 2015

Alex was kindly waiting to pick us up at the airport to take us to our resort, and what a relief it was to actually have a ride with all that luggage! Several days into our trip, we reunited with Alex, his wife Michela and their beautiful daughter for an amazing dinner at a trendy, local spot where we sat poolside at dusk, enjoying some Italian wine, authentic food and wonderful company.

Between helping us out with rides, giving excellent suggestions on how/where to do things in Rome + following up over Facebook to make sure we didn’t need anything else, their kindness and generosity towards us throughout the trip leaves me speechless.

We were fortunate enough to have made many more friends over the course of our trip, too! On our first full day in Rome, we met Sid and Harby, a married couple from Birmingham, while on a tour of the Colosseum.

Italy (1 of 1)-10_pp

We started out as photo buddies— I would take a photo of them, and they would reciprocate the favor. We began to chat more and more over the course of the tour, sharing stories and tons of laughs, and post tour, decided to hop on the metro together to grab a bite for lunch.

After lunch, the plan was to split. Claire, Kate and I were headed to a Vatican tour, and Sid and Harby were headed back to their hotel, just a block or two from the Vatican, to rest as Harby is expecting their first child soon! (YAY!:))

Claire, Kate and I rush to the meeting spot for our Vatican tour only to realize that we were scammed (long story), so we checked in with our new friends. It was Harby’s birthday, so they invited us up to the rooftop garden of their hotel and had a chilled bottle of champagne waiting to with share us.

Rooftop garden of the Atlante Hotel :: Rome 2015

Rooftop garden of the Atlante Hotel :: Rome 2015

The rooftop garden had the most incredible 360 views of Rome! It was simply a magical afternoon full of bubbly, sunshine and great conversation as we enjoyed Rome’s breathtaking landscape while celebrating new friends.

View of the Vatican from the Atlante Hotel rooftop Garden :: Summer 2015

View of the Vatican from the Atlante Hotel rooftop Garden :: Summer 2015

Alex & Michela and Sid & Harby are only a few examples of the fascinating, incredibly kind people we met. Just reflecting back over these memories makes me smile as I think about the refreshing, in-depth life conversations had and special moments shared. I remember the laughs, the advice and close hugs as if it were yesterday, and it makes me want to give more happiness and share more positivity in my every day life here at home.

Catch the rest of our Italian adventures next week!

Until then,

Hope