Today in Rome

We are at the Spring House hotel, a Best Western property. Very modern and spacious room, but no hotel cats here. We are literally next to the wall of the Vatican, and only a few blocks from the metro. Today's adventure involved a trip to the Colosseum and the Forum, and once again - much to Ryne's dismay - lunch was sacrificed to schedule.

We downloaded Rick Steve's audio tours of both sites, ready to avoid any guided tour pressure - and they do jump right on you as soon as you exit the metro. However, when we were getting in line for tickets, we were able to make a deal for a guided tour of the colosseum and the forum for only 16 euro above the regular ticket price - basically, no charge for the kids - with an assurance of a "native English speaking guide." Well, the colosseum guide was definitely not a native English speaker, but he did speak well, and was quite hilarious. His descriptions of the games were very colorful - beasts "exploding" into the arena from below, roaring of animals and crowds, blood and guts...slaves pouring perfume down narrow gutters to combat the smell...and so on.

Ryne and I had chocolate gelato from one of the snack carts, and I bought a frozen Coke light - I was so excited to have an ice cold diet coke that I opened the bottle before the ice had melted enough and 1/3 of it fizzed out the top. But I didn't care. It was so good.

After that, we had a tour of the Palatine with a British guide who must have started her day with 15 double espressos. She was very enthusiastic, thankfully not in an annoying way, and gave a a great tour of the hill and an overview of the forum. We then wandered all over the forum for a while.

Back to the hotel neighborhood to pick up the laundry...we went looking for a laundromat, even though the hotel staff told us there weren't any ("It's not like America, you know"). They suggested we use the hotel service - 7 euro for each pair of pants, 3 euro for underwear. I don't think so! We didn't find a "self service" wash, but we did find a small place that just did it for an outrageous price, but much less than the hotel, plus we didn't have to take the time ourselves. And it's done.

Tomorrow we hope to get to Pompeii.